Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, prosecutors said Monday, correcting the 8:46 timing that has become a symbol of police brutality.
In opening statements of Chauvin’s criminal trial, prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell repeatedly emphasized the new 9:29 timing, telling jurors they were the “three most important numbers in this case.”
He broke down the timing of Chauvin’s kneeling into three sections: 4 minutes and 45 seconds as Floyd cried out for help, 53 seconds as Floyd flailed due to seizures and 3 minutes and 51 seconds as Floyd was non-responsive.
Chauvin’s defense similarly accepted the new timing as accurate to support its own arguments.
“The evidence is far greater than 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” attorney Eric Nelson said in his opening, noting the many interviews and documents that he said would prove Chauvin is not guilty.
The 43-second difference between 8:46 and 9:29 has little impact on the case itself, but the 8:46 number had taken on a power of its own since Floyd died under Chauvin’s knee on May 25, 2020.
Protesters, including Democratic members of Congress, have held moments of silence for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, kneelings and “die-ins.” Comedian Dave Chappelle released a standup special about police violence and anti-Black racism titled simply “8:46.” The number even has its own Wikipedia page.
And just minutes before the trial began Monday, members of Floyd’s family and allies, including Rev. Al Sharpton and attorney Benjamin Crump, went down on one knee for 8:46 to commemorate his death.
The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office has now corrected that timing several times.
The 8:46 timing initially was included in a criminal complaint against Chauvin.
That number was based on bystander video of Floyd’s death that went viral and led to public outrage. The video, which is over 10 minutes long in all, begins with Chauvin already on Floyd’s neck, so it was not immediately clear how long he had been on Floyd prior to the video’s start.
In June, weeks after the initial complaint, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office told CNN that Chauvin actually had his knee on Floyd for 7 minutes and 46 seconds.
“These kinds of technical matters can be handled in future amendments to the criminal complaint if other reasons make it necessary to amend the complaint between now and any trials,” the county said in a statement, adding the error “made no difference” in the decision to charge the former officer.
Evidence from the officers’ body cameras released in later months led to the the timing of over 9 minutes.