Ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin spoke for the first time at his murder trial in the death of George Floyd — to tell the judge he will not take the stand in his own defense.
In an on-the-record exchange with his lawyer in court Thursday morning, Chauvin, 45, said they had discussed the decision whether to testify “multiple times,” including “a lengthy meeting” on Wednesday night.
“Have you made a decision today whether you intend to testify or whether you intend to invoke your Fifth Amendment privilege?” defense attorney Eric Nelson asked the ex-cop.
“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” Chauvin answered.
He was then questioned by Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill.
“The decision whether or not to testify is entirely yours,” the judge said. “In other words, it is a personal right. Mr. Nelson makes a lot of the decisions in the trial. But one he cannot make for you is whether or not you testify.”
“The decision has to ultimately be yours and not his,” Cahill added. “Is this your decision not to testify?”
“It is, your honor,” Chauvin said.
Defendants at trial have the option to testify, but doing so would open them to cross-examination by prosecutors. In Chauvin’s case, he could be grilled about prior use-of-force allegations against him and his service record.
Chauvin is seen on viral video pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes while he was being arrested for passing a counterfeit $20 bill.
The trial is expected to conclude on Thursday, with closing statements currently due to take place on Monday, the judge said.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s police-custody death on May 25.