Jurors yesterday began a first full day of deliberations in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murdering George Floyd as US cities braced for a verdict in a case that sparked nationwide protests against racism last summer.
After deliberating for four hours on Monday, the jury in "Minnesota vs Derek Chauvin" reconvened at 8:00 am Central Time (1300 GMT) on Tuesday.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter for Floyd's May 25, 2020 death, which sparked protests against racial injustice around the world and is being seen as a landmark test of police accountability.
Chauvin, who is white, was captured on video kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes as the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man said repeatedly "I can't breathe."
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said President Joe Biden had spoken with Floyd's family on Monday to "check in with them and also share that the family was in his prayers."
Prosecutors and the defense presented their closing arguments on Monday and Judge Peter Cahill sent the case to the seven-woman five-man jury.
The racially diverse group is being sequestered during deliberations and their identities will not be known until after the trial.
In his final instructions to the jury, the judge noted the gravity of the case, which comes amid heightened tensions fueled by other police killings.
"You must not let bias, prejudice, passion, sympathy or public opinion influence your decision," Cahill said. "You must not consider any consequences or penalties that might follow from your verdict."
A conviction on any of the charges -- second-degree murder, third-degree murder or manslaughter -- will require the jury to return a unanimous verdict.
Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, faces a maximum of 40 years in prison if convicted of second-degree murder, the most serious charge.
Three other former police officers involved in Floyd's arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill are to go on trial later this year.
Amid fears of potential unrest, National Guard troops have been deployed in Minneapolis and Washington, the nation's capital.