Chauvin Trial Not Quite The Slam Dunk We Were Lead To Believe

Photo of George Floyd and Arresting officer Derek Chauvin

College basketball has wrapped up its season just in time for the next media spectacle. Who doesn’t enjoy an incredible slam dunk? Based on all the headlines and news reports, that is what Derek Chauvin’s trial was meant to be.  It would appear the prosecution has this case all wrapped up with a nice bow. But appearances can be deceiving. This trial may not be the easy alley-oop the State thought it would be.

Former Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with his role in the death of George Floyd.  During an attempted arrest, Chauvin is alleged to have pressed his knee down on the back of Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes, 46 seconds, leading to his death. George Floyd, 46, died at 9:25 pm CT on May 25. 2020. The trial started on March 29, 2021, and is projected to last for at least two more weeks.

Comedian Chelsea Handler weighed in with her vision that due process is unnecessary since audio and video footage of George Floyd’s death exists. Chauvin’s guilt seems like a forgone conclusion to Handler, among others. Upon reviewing media coverage (or lack thereof) surrounding the events leading to Floyd’s death, and the past two weeks of trial analysis, one can hardly fault Handler and others for thinking so.

 

 

Media outlets seem to have been offering headlines and stories devoid of any testimony details favorable to Chauvin’s defense. One example is an NPR article that only details the testimony of witnesses saying Floyd was deprived of oxygen.  These stories can lead readers to a false sense of clarity regarding the facts of the case.

Other outlets have offered a more impartial analysis of the entirety of testimony to include particulars favorable for the former officer. For instance, a Gateway Pundit article shed light on excerpts from the trial that indicate all may not be as it seems.

The Pundit highlighted testimony from Dr. Brandon Langenfeld, the emergency room doctor who ultimately pronounced Floyd’s death. Dr. Langenfeld testified about the dangers of fentanyl, a drug found in George Floyd’s system. He noted the synthetic opioid depresses the lungs and can cause drowsiness. The Opening Statement of the defense claims a witness observed Floyd being sleepy before police arrival.

Lieutenant Johnny Marcil, a part-time use-of-force instructor, also testified. The defense presented a photo to Mercil of a paramedic checking Floyd’s carotid pulse.  Lt. Marcil conceded the medic would not have been able to check the vital sign had Chauvin’s knee been present atop the carotid artery. The lieutenant was also presented with photo evidence and often agreed it appeared Chauvin’s knee lay across Floyd’s back and not on his neck. The concessions helped to dismiss the suggestion that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for roughly 9 minutes straight.

A video still taken from testimony during trial showing a side-by-side comparison. Citizen verse body cam.

A video still taken from testimony during trial showing a side-by-side comparison. Citizen verse body cam.

Minneapolis Chief of Police Medaria Arradondo was shown side-by-side videos. One was from a citizen, the other from an officer. The citizen’s video appears to show Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck. However, the officer’s video shows Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s shoulder blade. Chief Arradondo admitted up until he was confronted on the witness stand with the footage, he had been under the impression that Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck. During re-direct by the prosecution, they try to re-establish that Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck earlier in the incident.

These details are building blocks the defense counsel uses to erect a wall upon which they can paint in big, bold letters, “REASONABLE DOUBT.”

These foundational blocks are substantial because they come at the expense of the prosecution and their witnesses. Once they mount their defense, they will continue to build upon that foundation, brick by brick.   Will it be a big enough wall with big enough letters to convince the jury? The defense will need to build that wall big enough and high enough to thwart the prosecution’s attempt to hit this one out of the proverbial ballpark. Only time will tell.

Digesting the facts of this trial can be a significant challenge. With selective coverage being presented by many outlets, observers need to be cautious not to depend solely on the headlines offered by the supposed pillars of journalism.

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