The trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd has begun, with prosecutors showing the jury video of Derek Chauvin pressing his knee on the black man's neck for several minutes as onlookers yelled at him repeatedly to get off and Floyd gasped that he couldn't breathe.
A 911 dispatcher, Jena Lee Scurry, has told the court she was watching what was happening to Floyd on a street camera. She said she had "a gut feeling" that something was wrong and called a police sergeant "voicing my concerns".
Scurry, who had been in the role for almost seven years, said it was the first time she had made such a call. "My instincts were telling me that something was not right, that something was wrong."
She said the view on her screen didn't change and the officers remained in place alongside the patrol car for some time, despite her looking away and looking back multiple times. "It was an extended period of time."
The video footage of the live feed has not previously been shown to the public.
The dispatcher said she wasn't asked for any more resources to be sent to the scene but her instincts told her something was not going well.
"I took that instinct and I called the sergeant. The sergeant is the police officers' supervisor."
Scurry told the court she said to the sergeant she "did not want to be a snitch" but she was uneasy at what she was seeing on the monitor.
Outside the court, protesters gathered and were stopping vehicles in the street, insisting drivers sound the horn in support of Black Lives Matter. "Honk for justice," they shouted.
Earlier, in his opening statements, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury that the number to remember was 9 minutes, 29 seconds — the amount of time Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the pavement with his knee last May.
The white police officer "didn't let up, he didn't get up" even after a handcuffed Floyd said 27 times that he couldn't breathe and went motionless, Blackwell said.
"He put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him, until the very breath - no ladies and gentlemen - until the very life, was squeezed out of him."
Defence attorney Eric Nelson countered by arguing that Chauvin arrived to assist other officers who were struggling to get Floyd into a squad car as the crowd around them grew larger and more hostile.
"Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career," Nelson said.
Nelson also disputed that Chauvin was to blame for Floyd's death.
The defence attorney said that Floyd had none of the telltale signs of asphyxiation and had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system. He said Floyd's drug use combined with his heart disease and high blood pressure, as well as the adrenaline flowing through his body, to cause his death from a heart rhythm disturbance.
"There is no political or social cause in this courtroom," Nelson said. "But the evidence is far greater than 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
"The medical examiner's autopsy noted fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd's system but listed his cause of death as "cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression."
Underscoring the central role that video will play in the case, the prosecution played the footage for the jury during opening statements. The video was posted to Facebook by a bystander who witnessed Floyd's arrest after he was accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.
"My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts," Floyd says, and "I can't breathe officer."
Onlookers repeatedly shout at the officers to get off the 46-year-old Floyd. One woman, identifying herself as a city Fire Department employee, shouts at Chauvin to check Floyd's pulse.
The widely seen video sparked outrage across the US and led to widespread protests and scattered violence, along with a national reckoning over racial injustice and police brutality.
The timeline differs from the initial complaint filed last May by prosecutors, who said Chauvin held his knee to Floyd's neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds. In the following weeks, demonstrators staged "die-ins" lasting 8 minutes, 46 seconds, and 8:46 became a rallying cry in the case. There was no immediate explanation from prosecutors.
A jury of 14 people will hear the case — eight who are white and six who are black or multiracial, according to the court. Two of the 14 will be alternates. The judge has not said which ones will be alternates and which ones will deliberate the case.
Legal experts had predicted the prosecutors would play the video to the jury early on.
"If you're a prosecutor you want to start off strong. You want to frame the argument -- and nothing frames the argument in this case as much as that video," said Jeffrey Cramer, a former federal prosecutor and managing director of Berkeley Research Group in Chicago.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
The prosecutor said bystander witnesses would include a Minneapolis Fire Department first responder who wanted to administer aid. He said Chauvin pointed mace at her.
"She wanted to check on his pulse, check on Mr Floyd's wellbeing," Blackwell said. "She did her best to intervene. When she approached Mr Chauvin …. Mr Chauvin reached for his mace and pointed it in her direction. She couldn't help."
Almost all of the jurors selected during more than two weeks of questioning said they had seen at least parts of the video, and several acknowledged it gave them at least a somewhat negative view of Chauvin. But they said they could set that aside.
About dozen people chanted and carried signs in the middle of the street outside the courthouse entrance as Floyd family attorney Ben Crump, the Rev Al Sharpton and members of the Floyd family passed by on their way inside. The group also carried a makeshift coffin, on top of which they placed flowers.
Crump said the trial would be a test of "whether America is going to live up to the Declaration of Independence". And he blasted the idea that it would be a tough test for jurors.
"For all those people that continue to say that this is such a difficult trial, that this is a hard trial, we refute that," he said.
"We know that if George Floyd was a white American citizen, and he suffered this painful, tortuous death with a police officer's knee on his neck, nobody, nobody, would be saying this is a hard case."
The trial is expected to last about four weeks at the courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, which has been fortified with concrete barriers, fencing and barbed and razor wire. City and state leaders are determined to prevent a repeat of damaging riots that followed Floyd's death, and National Guard troops have already been mobilised.
The key questions at trial will be whether Chauvin caused Floyd's death and whether his actions were reasonable.
For the unintentional second-degree murder charge, prosecutors have to prove Chauvin's conduct was a "substantial causal factor" in Floyd's death, and that Chauvin was committing felony assault at the time. For third-degree murder, they must prove that Chauvin's actions caused Floyd's death, and were reckless and without regard for human life.
The manslaughter charge requires proof that Chauvin caused Floyd's death through negligence that created an unreasonable risk.
Unintentional second-degree murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison in Minnesota, with up to 25 years for third-degree murder, but sentencing guidelines suggest that Chauvin would face 12 and a half years in prison if convicted on either charge. Manslaughter has a maximum 10-year sentence.
"This case to us is a slam dunk, because we know the video is the proof, it's all you need," Floyd's brother Philonise said Monday on NBC's Today show.
"The guy was kneeling on my brother's neck ... a guy who was sworn in to protect. He killed my brother in broad daylight. That was a modern-day lynching."
US President Joe Biden will be monitoring developments in the trial, a spokeswoman said.
"He certainly will be watching closely, as Americans across the country will be watching," Jen Psaki said.