FINAL THOUGHTS ON CHAUVIN TRIAL BEFORE THE FINAL VERDICT
As I write this, the jury has been deliberating for about nine hours. They deliberated for four hours on Monday after sitting through two closing arguments (prosecution = 2.5 hours; defense = nearly 3 hours), and the Judge’s instructions (nearly an hour). I sat through all of that as well, except for when I had to take Amber for her afternoon walk with my phone tuned to the trial.
Both sides made compelling arguments, but most cases are not won on the basis of closing arguments, they are made on the basis of the evidence. One of the striking pieces of evidence that was shown during the prosecution’s argument were the photos of George Floyd’s face and shoulders revealing the road rash left by his desperate attempts to breath. The public had not had a chance to see those photos during the trial, but we got a glimpse during the closing. The wounds were deep and prominent on his beautiful black skin. It made you want to turn away, but by doing so you are ignoring the elephant in the room.
The prosecution argued that the case is not against the Minneapolis Police Department, it is against the defendant, a bad cop who violated his training and oath to protect and serve. The defense argued that the defendant was acting reasonably because Mr. Floyd was actively resisting, on drugs, and a threat to the well-being of the officers. They had to get him under control and keep him that way.
Neither side mentioned the elephant in the room; the undeniable fact that the defendant thought Mr. Floyd was a greater threat because he was a big, Black man on drugs, who could potentially wake up with “superhuman strength,” and it was taking place in a “dangerous neighborhood.”
The only reference to race during the closing arguments was when the prosecutor called the bystanders “a veritable bouquet of humanity” of different races, genders and ages. This was the same prosecutor who during his opening statement channeled Congressman Lewis in describing the bystanders as getting into “good trouble.” I don’t think it was an accident that the prosecution chose a Black lawyer, Jerry Blackwell, to be the first and the last person to speak to the jury in this case. It remains to be seen which will make a lasting impression.
The judge during his instructions to the jury implored them to set aside biases, prejudices, and stereotypes during their deliberation. This was being said to a jury that is more racially diverse than the entire community of Hennepin County, which is 70% White. The jury is made up of five men and seven women, including four White women, two White men, three Black men, one Black woman, and two women who identify as multiracial. They range in age from their 20s to their 60s. Let's hope they pick a woman to be foreperson, so the process evolves orderly and seamlessly.
The final point Mr. Blackwell made in his closing was that defense wants the jury to believe that Mr. Floyd died because of his bad heart. The defense attorney suggested that because his heart was bigger than normal due to his hypertension, that is proof that he died of a heart attack. “You were told,” Mr. Blackwell said to the jury, “that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. Now having seen all the evidence, having heard all the evidence, you know the truth. And the truth of the matter is – that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”
The pundits and experts on the radio and television are not willing to predict the outcome of this case. History suggests the outcome will not favor the side of true justice. However, I am going to go out on a limb and predict that Chauvin will be convicted of all charges, including the highest charge of 2nd degree Murder. I believe the evidence clearly shows that he inflicted substantial bodily harm (3rd degree assault) to Mr. Floyd which resulted in his death. All you have to do is look at the wounds on his face and shoulder. The state does not have to prove that Chauvin intended to kill Mr. Floyd. The state also has to prove the use-of-force employed was reasonable, excessive and unlawful. This, I believe, is a foregone conclusion. The rest of the charges will fall naturally into place.
No matter what he is found guilty of, he will not spend nearly enough time in jail to make up for the death of Mr. Floyd. The duration of his sentence will be left in the hands of the judge, who I fear has his own bias in favor of the police, so he will go easy on Chauvin.
As I've stated many times before, the best outcome of this case will be serious changes to the way policing happens in this country. At the same time, it would help if we could repeal the Second Amendment and require people to get a license if they want a gun for hunting. I end by Quoting Cheryl Wheeler who sings, "But if it were up to me, I'd take away the guns."
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