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EXPLAINER: How is 'reasonableness' key to Chauvin's defense?

The concept of reasonableness has been crucial at trials of officers ever since the landmark Graham v. Connor ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court 32 years ago.

Attorneys and witnesses have frequently used the words “reasonable” or “unreasonable” during the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder and manslaughter in George Floyd’s death.

It’s no coincidence. The concept of reasonableness has been crucial at trials of officers ever since the landmark Graham v. Connor ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court 32 years ago.

It said the reasonableness of a particular use of force must be judged “from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene."

That meant jurors should not consider if they would have used that level of force. They must only look at it from the perspective of what reasonable officers would have done.