Chauvin faces second- and third-degree murder charges and a second-degree manslaughter charge after George Floyd died in police custody last May. Prior to Floyd’s death, Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes amid repeated pleas from Floyd that he couldn’t breathe.
Jurors will deliberate this week after closing arguments on Monday conclude a trial that’s been ongoing for three weeks.
NBA’s role in social justice protests
Floyd’s death prompted an outpouring of civil unrest across the nation last summer that extended to the NBA community. The league adopted “Black Lives Matter” as its theme when it resumed its COVID-19-delayed season in the NBA bubble last season with the message sprawled in bold font on NBA courts. Players wore social justice messages on their uniforms and walked out on playoff games following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
As tension mounted around the Chauvin trial, another police-involved killing of a Black man shook the Minneapolis area last week. Veteran Brooklyn Center police officer Kim Potter shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb.
Police Chief Tim Gannon claimed that Potter meant to fire her Taser at Wright but shot her pistol instead. Potter and Gannon have since resigned, and Potter faces a second-degree manslaughter charge.
NBA postponed Wolves game after Wright death
Wright’s death prompted protest in the streets and the postponement of sports events in Minnesota, including last week’s Timberwolves-Nets game.
According to Wojnarowski, the NBA league office is ready for “a night or two” of postponed games this week and has instructed teams “to be vigilant about the impact of a potential verdict.”