I’ve spent as much time as I could spare in the last two weeks watching the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder, witnessed around the world, of George Floyd. I admit there were times I couldn’t watch. The replays of all the witness videos, the street videos, and each body-cam video worn by the four officers involved, it was too much. It was snuff filmpalooza, on steroids. I feel for the jurors, the witnesses, Floyd’s family, but especially for George Floyd.
The prosecuting attorneys knocked it out of the park every day, and today was no different. But really, a guilty verdict should be a slam dunk thanks to the witnesses who recorded what happened.
In contrast, after the first 90 minutes of Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson’s closing statement, I concluded that his strategy was literally to bore enough jurors to death to trigger a mistrial.
Let’s talk about that closing argument. Nelson compared deliberating the verdict to baking chocolate chip cookies, saying you can’t make them without every ingredient. In my opinion, the jury was provided with every ingredient they could possibly need to both make cookies and yield a guilty verdict for Chauvin, on all counts.
Nelson continued to confuse, moving on from cookies to the phrase “reasonable doubt.” He said there is a high standard, and they must eliminate all “capricious, fanciful” doubt.
“Space aliens flew in, inhabited the body of Derek Chauvin, and caused this. That’s fanciful.” -Eric Nelson
I can’t translate that.
Oh look, Chauvin has Floyd in a chokehold.
Nelson focussed on the minutes before Floyd was pushed down in the street before the (9:29) knee on the neck clock started ticking. For some reason, the defense thought Chauvin would benefit from body-cam footage showing various angles of a panicked George Floyd being shoved into a tiny back seat of the police car. Floyd tells the officers he’s claustrophobic. You can see he is in distress. He wanted to comply, tried to breathe, and said he’d count to three. One photo of that back seat shows Floyd’s shoe (after it fell off,) only fit on the floor of the car sideways. It was that small. He needed compassion.
This death sentence escalated from the use of an alleged fake $20 bill.
Okay, TMI time- I suffer from claustrophobia and I can not imagine being handcuffed (incorrectly at that,) and caged. I need a Xanax.
Nelson must believe his client will be convicted because he already announced to the judge his intention to appeal the verdict.
That was after his two motions for a mistrial today were rejected. His first reason was that the prosecution ridiculed his ridiculous closing statement. They pointed out the lies. Nelson took witness testimony out of context and misrepresented what was required to establish a guilty verdict. He said jurors would have to believe Chauvin intended to commit an unlawful act, that they could not find him guilty of murder if other contributing factors led to Floyd’s death. (Not true.)
If Chauvin’s 9-minute and 29-second assault of George Floyd ended with his death, Chauvin is guilty.
(*spoiler) He IS guilty.
The other request for a mistrial was based on his belief that the jury should have been sequestered. He said two tv shows this week based their storylines on the trial and he also complained about Congresswoman Maxine Water’s words. The Democratic Representative from California, Maxine Waters, attended a Black Lives Matter really in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota over the weekend. Her statement to the press has Republicans claiming she is inciting violence:
“I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty, and if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to stay on the street. We get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.”
There is nothing in those words; nothing that incites violence. The people who are accusing her of the act are the same members of Congress involved in the attack on the Capitol.
When that was mentioned Judge Peter Cahill denied the request for a mistrial.
“I’ll give you that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
Then he raised his voice and went on to say the Congressional branch of government should stay out of Judicial branch business. I’m paraphrasing.
I watched the trial today on Washington Post Live. Within minutes of the judge’s reprimand to Congress, a reporter on Washington Post Live interviewed Minnesota Representative Illian Omar asking her thoughts on the trial.
Although the jury is now sequestered I was so shocked at the interview that I didn’t hear her words. Representative Omar may not have heard the Judge’s reprimand at that point, but the station’s producers should have, and they should have canceled the interview. No one wants this trial repeated. Shame on you Washington Post!
This ire isn’t really about Congress. Judge Cahill knows he made a mistake in not sequestering the jury and it will result in an appeal. Who better to blame than a POC. Maybe it’s strong women he has a problem with. I didn’t like his treatment of the female firefighter who testified in the first few days of the trial.
Something else surprised and disappointed me in this trial was that Chauvin’s prior misconduct was not entered into evidence. His use of excessive force has been the subject of at least 22 internal investigations over his 19 years on duty, only one resulted in discipline. Perhaps had the police policed itself better George Floyd would be alive today.
Today’s closing arguments ended the trial with the following words spoken by prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell.
“George Floyd didn’t die because his heart was too big. He died because Chauvin’s heart was too small.”
Every year over 1000 Americans die due to interactions with the police.
Between the daily mass shootings and the never-ending list of police incidents, I’d say we have a gun problem in this country.