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George Floyd's brother says case against Derek Chauvin is 'a slam dunk'

Philonise Floyd said his brother George Floyd's death was "a modern-day lynching" as opening statements begin in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.
/ Source: TODAY

George Floyd's brother believes the criminal case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin should be "a slam dunk" as opening statements in the trial are set to begin on Monday.

Philonise Floyd and attorney Benjamin Crump spoke with Craig Melvin on TODAY Monday ahead of a trial in which Chauvin is facing three charges connected to the death of Floyd this past May. A video showing Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for about nine minutes as he cried out for help sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality around the world this past summer.

"We're feeling good," Floyd said. "We know that this case to us is a slam dunk because we know the video is the proof. That's all you need. The guy was leaning on my brother's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds.

"A guy who was sworn in to protect, he killed my brother in broad daylight. That was a modern-day lynching."

Chauvin, who was fired from the police department after Floyd's death, has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The second-degree murder charge carries the most serious penalty of up to 40 years in prison.

"I really feel it was at least second-degree murder," Floyd said. "Third-degree murder, that's just there, but second-degree murder, it clearly showed that he killed my brother.

"My brother was standing up just fine until he put him on the ground with his hands behind his back in a prone position, face down, and he decided to kill my brother," he said.

Crump was asked about Chauvin's defense team most likely arguing that Floyd's death was not due to Chauvin's actions but to a combination of pre-existing health conditions as well as fentanyl, methamphetamine and THC that autopsies found in his system.

"This is the same old playbook," Crump said. "They're gonna try to assassinate his character. The fact that they found a trace amount of drugs in his system is just a distraction because George Floyd was breathing, walking, talking just fine until Derek Chauvin put his face down with his knee on his neck. The thing that killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force."

Crump was also asked about a 2019 video of Floyd being arrested in which he exhibits similar behavior to his fatal encounter with Chauvin last year.

"I want to make it clear, this is not a hard case," Crump said. "Everybody keeps trying to say this is a hard, difficult case. If George Floyd was a white American citizen, nobody would say this is a hard case. Everything they're trying to do is assault his character so they can distract us from what happened in the video.

"As Philonise said, we all know what killed George Floyd was a knee on his neck while he said 'I can't breathe' 28 times. So America, the whole world is watching. Do we really have equality and justice for all?"

Floyd's brother will be in the courtroom on Monday as 14 jurors, including two alternates, listen to opening statements in a trial that is expected to be broadcast live and could last for several weeks.

"It just won't be me alone, George will be with me and my Lord and savior will be with me, too," Floyd said. "This is not a hard case. We just want justice. We want a conviction. If you can't justice as a Black man in America for this, what can you get justice for then?"