Who is Steve Schleicher? Derek Chauvin trial prosecutor says George Floyd death wasn't policing: 'It was murder'

'The defendant is guilty of all three counts. And there's no excuse'


                            Who is Steve Schleicher? Derek Chauvin trial prosecutor says George Floyd death wasn't policing: 'It was murder'
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher is serving as a member of the defense team in the George Floyd case 'on a pro bono basis' (maslon.com, Getty Images)

In a city on edge against another round of protests like the one that sparked last year over a video of a Black man pressed to the ground with a policeman's knee on his throat, the jury on Monday, April 19, heard the murder case against former Officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd on a Minneapolis street on May 25, 2020.

The prosecution, however, argued that the now-fired cop behaved appropriately and that 46-year-old Floyd died of a heart attack and illicit drug use. “Use your common sense. Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher said, pointing to the excruciating bystander footage of Floyd being held down for up to nine minutes, 29 seconds with Chauvin's knee on or next to his throat as spectators shouted at the cop to get off. "This wasn't policing, this was murder," NYT quoted Schleicher as saying. "Nine minutes and 29 seconds of shocking abuse of authority. "The defendant is guilty of all three counts. And there's no excuse."

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin poses for a mugshot after being charged in the death of George Floyd (Getty Images)

On April 19, Schleicher spoke during the prosecution's closing statements in Chauvin's courtroom. The prosecutor said that Floyd was “just a man, lying on the pavement, being pressed upon, desperately crying out. A grown man crying out for his mother. A human being."  The attorney hoped to persuade the jurors that Chauvin killed Floyd by pinning him to the ground for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

Prosecutors claim Chauvin's conduct was irresponsible and irrational, and that he should be convicted not only of manslaughter but also of two counts of murder. The Minneapolis policeman is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

The three charges need the jury to conclude that the policeman's actions were a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd's death - and that his use of force was unreasonable. The mandatory punishment on each count is different: Forty years for accidental second-degree murder, 25 years for third-degree murder, and 10 years for second-degree manslaughter.

A memorial site where George Floyd died May 25 while in police custody, on June 1, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. George's brother Terrence Floyd visited the site today and called for justice and the prosecution of all four officers involved in the incident.

Who is Steve Schleicher?

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison selected Steve Schleicher to serve as a member of the defense team in the George Floyd case "on a pro bono basis." During the summer of 2020, the nomination was made.

"Out of respect for Judge Cahill's gag order, I will say simply that I've put together an exceptional team with experience and expertise across many disciplines. We are united in our responsibility to pursue justice in this case," Attorney General Ellison had said at the time, as reported by The Sun. Schleicher is a partner in Maslon's Litigation Group in Minneapolis and a seasoned criminal lawyer.

A mural painted by artist Kenny Altidor depicting George Floyd is unveiled on a sidewall of CTown Supermarket on July 13, 2020, in the Brooklyn borough of New York City. (Getty Images)

Maslon's Litigation Group's website describes Schleicher as a seasoned trial and appeal attorney specializing in criminal justice, government and internal prosecutions, and high-stakes civil cases. Maslon's Government & Internal Investigations Group is co-chaired by him. A security firm with a contract at a major NFL stadium, as well as a data security breach and IP theft conspiracy at a major car manufacturer, are among Schleicher's notable investigations.

Schleicher has represented a leading medical device maker in product liability litigation in various state and federal courts around the nation as liaison defense counsel for a leading corn seed producer in a consolidated case involving over 65,000 claimants. The prosecutor is a graduate of the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, according to his LinkedIn profile.

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