The eyes of fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, darted back and forth when he heard the guilty verdict in the death of George Floyd, 46. Some defendants collapse in emotion on hearing their fates. Others are as expressive as a blank piece of paper. Chauvin was hard to read since he wore a mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but his eyes rarely seemed to settle on any part of the courtroom.
Jurors took about seven hours and 45 minutes to deliberate from Monday afternoon to Tuesday afternoon. They found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree murder.
The state said Floyd died from 9 minutes and 29 seconds of restraint by Chauvin and other officers. The defendant did not get up from kneeling on the victim’s neck, even after bystanders called him out and paramedics arrived. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said Chauvin was motivated by “ego-driven pride,” refusing to do what the crowd demanded.
Defense lawyer Eric Nelson maintained that his client was following training, acting in ways that took into account the safety of those at the scene, including the victim. CPR was not applied there because, from the law enforcement point of view, the bystanders created a potentially dangerous scenario, he said.
This contradicted state’s witnesses including Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who said that Chauvin violated policy. Lt. Richard Zimmerman, head of the homicide division, said he was never trained to kneel on the neck of a prone, handcuffed man because doing so would be deadly force. In other words, the defendant violated his training. Prosecutors maintained that the bystanders respected the badge.
The defense also highlighted Floyd’s heart and drug history. As indicated in the autopsy by Dr. Andrew Baker, the victim had fentanyl and meth in his system, and also had arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease. But Baker determined Floyd’s death was a homicide. State’s experts ruled out a heart attack, drug overdose, and a sudden cardiac arrhythmia as the cause of death.
Defense expert Dr. David Fowler, former Chief Medical Examiner of Maryland, maintained Floyd died due to a sudden cardiac arrhythmia, with significant contributory factors including the drugs.
Note – April 21, 2021: The release of the verdict forms showed that jurors deliberated for about seven hours and 45 minutes, not 10 hours.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]
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