Another, Clearer Take on the Chauvin Trial
I leave it to you to decide why, from the Trayvon Martin case to the George Floyd case, the media has so consistently misrepresented the facts. Whether it is that unskilled reporters are covering these matters, or that the press is simply looking to attract consumers with florid tales, or that the media looks forward to destroying urban areas with false tales of murderous white racists (amid a shortage of real ones), I cannot say. But it was shocking to me to get letters from heads of very good independent schools who had bought completely into the initial media accounts of an out-of-control white cop deliberately murdering a black suspect in his custody. It occurred to me then that if people like these could be sold the false narrative, officer Derek Chauvin was surely in for a judicial lynching.
Once again, I turn to Legal Insurrection, which has consistently provided the most detailed and reliable accounts of high-profile trials and warn readers away from the AP, the New York Times, the Washington Post, and TV and cable news if you have any respect for truth. (I’d also note that it is my experience that reporters’ deadlines often conflict with the way trials proceed, so that too often the prosecution (or in civil matters, the plaintiff) case is presented just before deadline and the cross examination occurs too late to be covered in that day’s edition, leaving only a false, one-sided version of the day’s action.)
There, a highly-skilled defense counsel, Andrew Branca, has been monitoring the trial and has posted so far nine daily accounts of the trial proceeding. Like me, Branca feels the publishing deadlines overvalue the direct testimony and underrate cross examination.
On Saturday, William A. Jacobson, the owner of the site, provided a wrap-up of the trial coverage to date. Here are the key points:
(1 [T]he widely accepted narrative that Chauvin kept his ‘knee on the neck’ for 9 minutes has been thoroughly debunked by the prosecution’s own witnesses and the body cams. There was pressure by Chauvin’s knee, but it was not continuously on the neck, and was mostly on the back and shoulders, according to prosecution medical witness testimony. Recognizing this evidentiary problem, the prosecution case has shifted from the initial several trial days of claiming that pressure from the knee to the carotid artery cut off blood flow to the brain causing loss of oxygen and inability to breathe, a claim rejected by the prosecution’s own medical experts, to a broader claim that Floyd being restrained while handcuffed in the prone position with pressure from multiple officers impaired his ability to inhale.
There are very significant evidentiary problems ignored or misrepresented in the mainstream media as to (1) cause of death, (2) whether Chauvin caused the death, (3) whether the force used by Chauvin was unlawful, and for some counts, (4) Chauvin’s intent. People who only read the mainstream media coverage of the case are ignorant of these issues.
2. The use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. Floyd was larger and heavier than the arresting officer, was resisting arrest, and complaining of being unable to breathe even as they tried to seat him in the squad car.
3. Floyd was high (on three times a fatal dose of fentanyl) and foaming at the mouth and had earlier experienced some of the same symptoms from a drug overdose for which he had been hospitalized.
4. Both fentanyl and amphetamine pills were found in the squad car where he had briefly been placed:
To the extent the drugs ingested by Floyd also contained methamphetamine, however (and we know that the found pills contained both), then they also contained a stimulant, which could explain Floyd’s energized state in forcibly resisting lawful arrest against multiple officers for some 10 minutes.
The meth would also explain why Floyd’s pupils didn’t demonstrate the pin-prick constrictions of fentanyl overdose but were instead dilated -- a condition the state used to argue, again, that it could not have been fentanyl that killed Floyd -- the dilation would be induced by the meth component of the drugs.
All of this, of course, suggests an alternative cause of death other than Chauvin’s knee, and that is the self-induced overdose of Floyd via that pill ingestion on May 25.
5. The widely viewed video that seemed to show Chauvin had pressed against Floyd’s neck was misleading because of the camera’s perspective. The body cam which had been in the custody of Minnesota authorities revealed that his knee was on Floyd’s shoulder. That is consistent with the autopsy finding that his carotid artery had not been compressed nor had he died of asphyxiation. This should be a consistent warning again of overreacting to videos of disputed events -- camera angles can provide misleading versions. Curious, isn’t it, that the government has had this exculpatory evidence in its possession all this time and only produced when required to for this trial, not earlier when it might have checked the rioting?
6. [T]he use of pressure and body weight to restrain a suspect was adopted by the MPD because it was a lesser intensity of force than the prior practice of using strikes -- either barehanded, or with batons, or even with weighted gloves -- to compel compliance. [snip]
The take home message for the jury is that Chauvin’s knee, far from being a public execution in a public street, was a lesser force than would otherwise have been required.
7. Angry bystanders interfered with the officers’ ability to control Floyd and obtain more quickly medical treatment for him. In effect, they at least contributed to his death.
More colorful than Branca’s daily accounts is Ann Coulter's who refers to Chauvin as a “white sacrifice.”
She begins what we knew months ago but was buried in most press accounts:
In lieu of citing some B.S. media “fact check,” I shall quote directly from the autopsy report by the Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner, Andrew Baker:
“No life-threatening injuries identified --
“A. No facial, oral mucosal, or conjunctival petechiae
“B. No injuries of anterior muscles of neck or laryngeal structures
“C. No scalp soft tissue, skull, or brain injuries
“D. No chest wall soft tissue injuries, rib fractures (other than a single rib fracture from CPR), vertebral column injuries, or visceral injuries
“E. Incision and subcutaneous dissection of posterior and lateral neck, shoulders, back, flanks, and buttocks negative for occult trauma”
In short: No bloodshot eyes and no trauma to any part of Floyd’s neck.
And yet, day after day, prosecutors, witnesses, and the media tell us that Chauvin “squeezed the life out of” Floyd. The medical evidence establishes that whatever else caused his death, it was NOT asphyxiation.
She reminds us that in the middle of jury selection the city of Minneapolis gave the Floyd family a $27 million settlement, certainly telegraphing to the jury that their already scorched and torched city would see a repeat if he is not found guilty. Of what we don’t know, the prosecution seems to be stuck on the notion that Chauvin's treatment of Floyd, already suffering cardiac problems and high on a threefold fatal ingestion of fentanyl (plus amphetamines), makes him guilty of something, and, at the moment, that "something" seems to be having pinned Floyd’s shoulder to the ground four minutes longer than absolutely necessary.
Equally colorful is her description of one of the prosecution’s witnesses, Genevieve Hansen:
So Genevieve, the state’s star witness on what the cops did wrong, testified that she would have done pretty much everything the officers did. But she would have been a lot bossier about it.
As much as Genevieve’s one year with the fire department made her an expert on when a police officer should begin chest compressions, the Minneapolis Police Department’s own experts directly contradicted her this week. These were, again, prosecution witnesses.
On Tuesday, Lt. Johnny Mercil, the MDP’s use-of-force trainer, and Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the MPD’s medical support coordinator, testified that it would be appropriate not to provide care to a suspect who had just been fighting with officers, or in the presence of a hostile crowd.
Chauvin had both those circumstances.
Trying to do damage control, the prosecutor asked Officer Mackenzie to define a “hostile” crowd. She said, “a growing contingent of people around, if they’re yelling, being even verbally abusive to those trying to provide scene security.”
Hey -- remember those weeping bystanders last week? Their own testimony confirmed that they were “yelling and even being verbally abusive to those trying to provide scene security.”
I don’t see how the city, whose own actions contributed to this case, can avoid more rioting no matter how the case is resolved -- either in protest of a not guilty verdict or in celebration of a guilty verdict. Indeed, the geniuses there initially planned to hire six “social media influencers” to fight “misinformation” about the case but have dropped that plan.
And the Washington Post, disseminator of so much false information about the case, ran a piece by its columnist Margaret Sullivan attacking Coulter and Tucker Carlson’s emphasis on Floyd’s drugged state as an attack on the victim, comparing to those who claim a rape victim “asked for it.” She can’t understand why we are concerned about “mob justice.” Of course, she can’t. Her paper helped light the match to Minneapolis.
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