CHICAGO (trendat/CBS News) — Gov. JB Pritzker has activated 125 personnel from the Illinois National Guard to support Chicago Police, with a verdict soon expected in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd.
The National Guard members will begin arriving in Chicago on Tuesday to pre-position and support the CPD as needed. They are from the Illinois National Guard’s 33rd Military Police Battalion and are specially trained in riot control operations, the Governor’s office said.
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“At the request of Mayor Lightfoot, I am activating members of the Illinois National Guard to support the city in keeping our communities safe,” Pritzker said in a news release. “It is critical that those who wish to peacefully protest against the systemic racism and injustice that holds back too many of our communities continue to be able to do so. Members of the Guard and the Illinois State Police will support the City of Chicago’s efforts to protect the rights of peaceful protestors and keep our families safe.”
“Our greatest priority at all times is ensuring the safety and security of the public,” Mayor Lori Lightfoot said in the release. “While there is no actionable intelligence at this time, we want to be fully prepared out of an abundance of caution. Our city has a long history of peacefully expressing its First Amendment rights and I encourage residents to exercise their rights to free speech this coming week thoughtfully, respectfully and peacefully.”
Pritzker also directed Illinois State Police to support Chicago Police with additional troopers.
The Chauvin trial went to the jury on Monday afternoon after 14 days of testimony, with 44 witnesses taking the stand. The jury will be sequestered until they come to a decision.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher was first to deliver closing arguments earlier Monday, urging jurors to focus on the video showing Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
“Believe your eyes,” Schleicher said. “Unreasonable force, pinning him to the ground — that’s what killed him. This was a homicide.”
Schleicher said Chauvin showed “indifference” to Floyd’s pleas for help and continued restraining the man even after he was unresponsive, ignoring the bystanders who were urging him to ease up.
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The bystanders, he said, were strangers to Floyd, “randomly chosen by fate” to witness “a shocking abuse of authority — to witness a man die.” The group was powerless to help as the police restraint continued, Schleicher said, but they were able to “gather those precious recordings” and testify about what they saw.
“This case is exactly what you thought when you first saw it — when you first saw the video,” he said. “It’s exactly that. It’s exactly what you saw with your eyes. It’s exactly what you knew. It’s exactly what you felt in your gut. It’s what you now know in your heart. This wasn’t policing, this was murder.”
In his closing argument, defense attorney Eric Nelson said the state has not proven its case beyond a reasonable doubt and have not been able to definitely show how Floyd died.
He said the state called a series of experts to testify positional asphyxia was the sole cause of Floyd’s death, but to suggest Floyd’s drug use and heart disease did not play a role “flies in the face of reason and common sense,” Nelson said.
Nelson has argued a combination of Floyd’s underlying heart disease, adrenaline and the fentanyl and methamphetamine he had ingested prior to the arrest amounted to a fatal combination.
Nelson said Chauvin followed his training and didn’t intentionally use unlawful force on Floyd. He called the case “tragic,” but said it was an example of “officers doing their job in a highly stressful situation.”
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.
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Following Floyd’s death last May, there was widespread unrest in Chicago and around the country – prompting Mayor Lightfoot to announce a curfew and also a National Guard deployment.