MINNEAPOLIS – The former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in George Floyd’s death said Thursday that he won’t testify in his own defense, invoking his right to remain silent and leave the burden of proof on the state.
It was a high-stakes decision. Taking the stand could have helped humanize Derek Chauvin to jurors who haven't heard from him directly at trial, but it could also have opened him up to a devastating cross-examination.
“'We have gone back and forth on the matter' would be kind of an understatement, right?” defense attorney Eric Nelson asked Chauvin in court, without the jury present.
“Yes it is,” Chauvin replied.
Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter. Here's a look at some of the issues that likely went into Chauvin's decision not to take the stand:
WHY MIGHT CHAUVIN HAVE WANTED TO TESTIFY?
Images from bystander video of Chauvin pinning Floyd to the pavement, his face impassive, have been played nearly every day at trial and are likely seared into the minds of many jurors.
The face mask Chauvin has been required to wear in court because of the pandemic has hidden any possible display of emotion during testimony. Taking the stand would have given him a chance to explain the video and show another side, maybe giving the jury a reason to convict him only of manslaughter.