Like many, I have been following the trial of Derek Chauvin who has been charged with murdering George Floyd.
The fact that so many spectators tried to intervene, because they could clearly see what Chauvin was doing was wrong, is telling. One even called the Police on Chauvin. A firefighter offered assistance as he was concerned Floyd needed aid, and the officer refused. Chauvin’s actions were disgraceful and lacking in humanity.
The Minneapolis police chief testified that now-fired Officer Derek Chauvin violated departmental policy in pinning his knee on George Floyd’s neck and keeping him down after Floyd had stopped resisting and was in distress.
Continuing to kneel on Floyd’s neck once he was handcuffed behind his back and lying on his stomach was “in no way, shape or form” part of department policy or training, “and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said.
Arradondo, the city’s first Black chief, fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Floyd’s death last May, and in June called it “murder.”
His testimony came after the emergency room doctor who pronounced Floyd dead testified that he theorized at the time that Floyd’s heart most likely stopped because of a lack of oxygen.
I understand Chauvin was willing to do a plea deal to lesser charges for ten years jail. If convicted of second degree murder the maximum sentence is 40 years in prison and likely to get around 15, experts say.
The murder has to be proven beyond reasonable doubt, and the medical evidence is key:
The defence argues that Chauvin did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s use of illegal drugs and his underlying health conditions caused his death.
Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson questioned Langenfeld about whether some drugs can cause hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen. The doctor acknowledged that fentanyl and methamphetamine, both of which were found in Floyd’s body, can do so.
The county medical examiner’s office ultimately classified Floyd’s death a homicide – that is, a death at the hands of someone else.
The full report said Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” A summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death.”
Under cross-examination from Nelson, Langenfeld said Floyd’s carbon dioxide levels were more than twice as high as levels in a healthy person, and he agreed that that could be attributed to a respiratory problem. But on questioning from the prosecutor, the doctor said the high levels were also consistent with cardiac arrest.
There is no doubt Chauvin acted unlawfully and in violation of Police policy. He knelt on the neck of a helpless unresisting person for over eight minutes, ignoring the calls from Floyd that he couldn’t breathe.
Whether his unlawful actions reach the threshold of murder, the jury will decide.