Chauvin’s prosecutors work for a traumatized community
During the ex-officer’s trial, witnesses provided personal and vivid accounts of their experiences since the day of George Floyd’s death. “There were nights when I apologized to George Floyd and apologized for not doing more,” said Darnella Frazier, the teen who recorded the eyewitness video of Floyd’s death, told the jury. Photo: Chris Tuite / ImageSPACE / REX / Shutterstock During the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, who completed his first testimony on Friday, a wave of witnesses came before the jury, many of whom presented deeply personal and vivid accounts of their experiences on May 25 2020. At times, the trial has felt unique compared to other murder cases involving officers who made it to court, partly because of the law enforcement strategy, but also because of the very specific circumstances surrounding the death of George Floyd, the 46-year-old. old black man killed during a police hold back. The court document may name the State vs Derek Chauvin case, but as one reporter covering the trial pointed out, the first week of hearings often felt like a verbatim repetition of “the people v” with prosecutors working on behalf of one of traumatized community work the violence they experienced. During the opening litigation, District Attorney Jerry Blackwell told the jury that they would hear of “a true bouquet of humanity,” including children, the elderly, salespeople and off duty first responders, each of whom witnessed Floyd die under Chauvin’s knee where he himself was found handcuffed for 9 minutes and 29 seconds. The result was both a forensic and a meaningful testimony. Darnella Frazier, the teenage girl who recorded an eyewitness video of Floyd’s death, told the jury, “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my father. I look at my brother. I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all black. “She added,” There were nights when I got up and apologized to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting, and not saving his life. ” Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old witness who confronted Chauvin after Floyd was taken away in an ambulance, was asked by prosecutors to explain how he felt seeing Floyd die. “I feel helpless. I don’t have a mom either. I understand him.” Genevieve Hansen, a firefighter trained in initial medical response, spoke of watching the incident and feeling powerless to intervene. “I got there and could have provided medical help. That’s exactly what I should have done, “she said in a trembling voice. She collapsed describing how “totally desperate” she felt. The testimony was raw, but it will serve a very real purpose for the prosecution who charged Chauvin with second and third degree murder and manslaughter to determine what happened. First, Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that he and the other officers were distracted by the crowd of onlookers while holding back George Floyd, whom Nelson characterized as unruly and chaotic. The firsthand testimony of the witnesses is a complete contrast to this portrayal. But it’s also important to compare this prosecution to other recent police officer murder trials, where prosecutors sometimes had to rely on limited or no testimony from onlookers. For example, in the trials against Baltimore police officers who are alleged to have killed Freddie Gray, prosecutors sought to determine that the 25-year-old unarmed black teenager had been subjected to a so-called “hard drive” that resulted in a fatal spine injury rely on expert evidence rather than eyewitnesses. In the case of Walter Scott, an unarmed black man killed in North Charleston, South Carolina, prosecutors relied on a single witness, Feidin Santana, who saw and filmed the incident. Santana’s solitary eyewitness testimony was insufficient to secure the condemnation of the trial of former officer Michael Slager, who was the only other eyewitness to testify in his own defense. The trial ended with a hanging jury, and Slager later pleaded guilty to severing the federal charges. Portraits of black people killed by police can be seen on a fence around the Hennepin district courthouse. Photo: Jack Kurtz / ZUMA Wire / REX / Shutterstock The fact that the prosecution can provide consensus on a large group of bystanders is a great strength in their case. If the first four days of testimony mark the first phase of the prosecution, it seemed clear by the end of the fifth day that attorneys were moving into their second phase, where Chauvin’s experts and former colleagues from the Minneapolis Police Department began doing this to testify His use of a knee and neck restraint was a disproportionate use of lethal force. “Completely unnecessary,” said Richard Zimmerman, who testified against his former colleague on Friday. “When your knee is on someone’s neck who can kill them,” he added. The testimony is already very damaging to Chauvin’s defense. During the opening litigation, Chauvin’s attorney made it clear that much of his defense would focus on suggesting that the lengthy use of restraint was justified because Chauvin had acted according to the department’s guidelines. “The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary part of policing,” Nelson told the jury. But this point will likely be further weighed down by statements next week. In a rare, if unprecedented move, prosecutors will call Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo to testify against his former officer, adding even more weight to the argument that Chauvin’s actions were contrary to departmental policies. The third phase of law enforcement seems to focus on the conclusion that Floyd’s death was caused by the reluctance itself. The critical component for this is the medical examiner’s report detailing the cause of death for the murder caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest making subdual, restraint, and neck compression difficult for law enforcement”. The autopsy also revealed “other significant conditions” including fentanyl poisoning, recent methamphetamine use, and signs of heart disease. The public prosecutor’s office has indicated that a pathologist from the Hennepin District Medical Examination Office, Dr. Lindsey Thomas will testify in court about the results, which are likely to be challenged by defense witnesses and cross-examination. Although the document itself is final administratively – that Floyd died directly as a result of the reluctance to which he was placed – it continues to be challenged in court. And Nelson made it clear in the opening arguments that he wants to cast doubt on some of his findings. He will argue that Floyd died of irregular heartbeat due to a number of complicating factors, including Floyd’s drug use. Prosecutors were already on the offensive to combat this argument and called Floyd’s partner Courteney Ross to testify about the couple’s fight against addiction. However, it is likely that the problem will repeat itself continuously throughout the process, which will resume on Monday.