I have a sense of dread over the Chauvin trial

As I’m sure you all know, the trial of the cop who murdered George Floyd is going on in Minneapolis right now. I’ve been watching it out of the side of my eye because the whole thing is ominous. What is worrying me is that Chauvin is indefensible, and his lawyers are floundering, and the prosecutors are firing on all cylinders. Everything appearing in the conventional media is uncompromising.

The witnesses are so damned effective. They brought in a series of teenagers who witnessed the killing and the casual disregard of the cops for the life of that black victim. It’s horrifying testimony.

“When I look at George Floyd, I look at look at my dad. I look at my brother. I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all Black,” Frazier said. “I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends. And I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them.”

“It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologized to George Floyd for not doing more,” she added. “And not physically interacting.”

Shortly before she was dismissed from the stand, Frazier added that she tries not to blame herself or the other bystanders for what happened to Floyd.

“It’s not what I should have done,” she said, before referencing Chauvin, seated several feet away in the courtroom. “It’s what he should have done.”

The defense line is that Chauvin was “distracted” by a violent mob and that it’s the fault of the witnesses that he didn’t release pressure on Floyd’s neck, and tried to portray them as a milling gang of thugs threatening the police.

You may think that it’s a good thing, that Chauvin is going down, that justice will be done.

Let me remind you of the usual fate of cops arrested for murder.

In the United States between 2005 and 2020, of the 42 nonfederal police officers convicted following their arrest for murder due to an on-duty shooting, only five ended up being convicted of murder. The most common offense these officers were convicted of was the lesser charge of manslaughter, with 11 convictions.

I see this as a crap shoot. The end result is going to hinge on the decision of a jury that has spent a lifetime soaking in the rancid broth of white supremacy and implicit racism, and is going to be, in many cases, trying to find excuses for Chauvin, and will be looking longingly at convicting him for lesser charges. The more powerful the prosecution, the stronger the public reaction if he gets nothing but a slap on the wrist.

I’m afraid that if Chauvin is not convicted of murder, Minneapolis is going to erupt in righteous outrage (this is not an argument that he should be convicted to satisfy the public). There will be demonstrations all over the place. Freeways will be blocked by protesters. I will join in the protests. Remember: no justice, no peace.

I sure would like some peace.


  1. Matt G says

    I served on a trial in which two jurors (a white woman and a Cuban man) made every effort to not convict a white male doctor of shoplifting. The case against him was airtight, and the defense was beyond pathetic. Can’t say I’m hopeful here.

  2. naturalistguy says

    I don’t share your pessimissm about the jury myself, having followed the selection process prior to the start of the trial. This is worth a listen on the subject.

    Analyzing jury selection and race in the trial of ex-cop Derek Chauvin – MPR News

    As jury selection wrapped up in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, what can the process tell us about how the trial will play out?

    With cameras in the courtroom, we had a front-row seat to the questioning that took place of potential jurors — even though the jurors’ faces were never shown to protect their identities.

    During jury selection on Monday, two potential jurors were struck — one by the prosecution and one by the defense — after talking about their views of the Black Lives Matter movement.

    And earlier in the selection process, the prosecution questioned whether the defense’s rejection of one juror was on the basis of race.

    Even while their names are protected, the race of the first 14 jurors seated has been widely reported: three Black men, including two who are immigrants; one Black woman; two women who identify as multiracial; two white men; and six white women.

    MPR News host Angela Davis talked about jury selection in the Chauvin trial on Tuesday, as a 15th — and final — juror was selected. Davis also talked with two members of the In the Dark podcast team more broadly about their reporting on the role race plays in jury selection and what that can mean for a how a trial plays out.

  3. says

    It seems the defense is that Floyd killed himself; he just had really bad timing. Or something. Oh and 3 big cops needed that level of force to help Floyd, who was handcuffed, because that crowd of horrified onlookers was distracting.

    All this because Floyd allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 which has not appeared yet. The cops are getting a trial, but Floyd never got a trail, did he? I’m just waiting for the defense to say “you can’t go by how this looks” – because “how this looks” is what led Chauvin to publicly murdering a man over an alleged fake $20. I wonder what percentage of Minnesotans secretly hope Chauvin beats the charge. 50%? More?

  4. kathleenzielinski says

    Even if I agreed that Chauvin needed to put his knee on Floyd’s neck to subdue him, why in the hell did he need to leave it there for 9 minutes?

  5. andiek712 says

    I watched a video that The New York Times put on YouTube, breaking down the events. What struck me, and what for me is the point that proves this was murder, was the fact that George Floyd appeared to be handcuffed and already in the police vehicle before Chauvin even arrived on the scene. How can Chauvin argue that Floyd was resisting arrest or needed to be subdued when he was already in the police cruiser? Chauvin had to yank him out of the cruiser to throw him to the ground and kneel on his neck. Chauvin’s intentions at that point could only be wanting to commit violence against Floyd. He was committing violence against a black man for nothing more than the sake of committing violence against a black man.

    I’m a firm believer in the concept of innocent until proven guilty, but I can’t get past this. I watched several videos of the events again yesterday and I just don’t see any way Chauvin could be found innocent. Of course, that doesn’t mean he won’t be…

    I sincerely hope justice is served. I think things are going to be rough no matter how it turns out, however, so please everyone stay safe if you can!

  6. garnetstar says

    The firefighter’s testimony was devastating. She really knows what she’s talking about (she’s also an EMT) when someone is in medical trouble, and they did not listen (a woman, you know) or even let her help.

    I don’t know what the defense to “A registered EMT is telling you that the guy is dying and offering to save him, but you ignored her, refused and he dies” is.

    Also, someone in a building across the street has a really good security camera that provided pretty high-res color footage of everything, from over the polices’ shoulders, including the exact make-up and behavior of this “violent crowd”. It was actually very small: there were almost as many police officers as people in it. None of them were the slightest violent or threatening, and the most “milling” person in the crowd was the firefighter, who was vociferously and loudly saying that Floyd was dying and asking to helo him. I was surprised, because of course before I saw that I imagined a large crowd, but there were only a few people, mostly what I would call stunned to a stop, calling out and begging to not kill Floyd, but not in any way “milling” or “distracting”.

    I’m also pessimistic about a murder charge: you have to prove intent, and, though andiek712 @5 has a very good point, intent is difficult for people to agree on. I think it was personal: Floyd and Chauvin worked as security in the same night club, and they knew each other. Floyd supposedly once chided Chauvin for being too rough with people who were being evicted. That’s be enough: Chauvin pulls up, sees that it’s the “uppitty n—-” who he doesn’t get along with, and determined to show him who’s boss. That’s intent, IMHO, even if it wasn’t conscious intent in his own mind.

    A lesser degree of murder? Some kind of manslaughter or negligent homicide? More likely, but will indeed cause problems in the community and elsewhere.

    Ever since Trayvon Martin’s (poor child) murderer was acquitted, I’ve been very cynical.

  7. GerrardOfTitanServer says

    I’m also pessimistic about a murder charge: you have to prove intent, and, though andiek712 @5 has a very good point, intent is difficult for people to agree on.

    It’s at least reckless or aggravated manslaughter. At least.

    What really does me is the additional two minutes that he sat on his neck at the end while he was unresponsive. I have tried many times, and I have completely failed to find any possible reason, any intent, behind that action except malicious intent or intent that is so unbelievably reckless that I don’t even care and I would vote guilty on murder charges anyway.

    What pisses me off even more is knowing that his three accomplices in uniform probably won’t also be found guilty of murder, or even charged with murder. (Please correct me if I’m here. I’d love some good news.) Preemptively: “I was just following orders” is not a mistake, and the only thing that the three accomplices in uniform had to do to avoid legal culpability for a murder charge is to walk away and stop providing material support for a murder in progress. Might they lose their jobs? Yes. I don’t care. That wasn’t a good enough excuse for Nazi prison guards, and it shouldn’t be a good enough excuse here either.