One guess as to how the Chauvin-Floyd trial might end
The following are some basic facts established during the three-week trial of Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Both sides have rested their cases, and Chauvin's defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, is preparing his closing argument for Monday.
George Floyd said many times before he was put on the ground that he couldn't breathe. It was also established that Chauvin's knee was not on Floyd's throat, so that couldn't have asphyxiated him. Some of the time Chauvin was restraining Floyd, it was established that Chauvin actually had his knee on Floyd's shoulder blade, where not all of his weight was on Floyd. Rather, he shifted his weight around at times from his knee to his lower leg and foot. Also, it was established that Chauvin's knee restraint could not have stopped the blood flow in one of Floyd's carotid arteries, and even if he did, blood would have continued flowing to the brain through the carotid artery on the other side of the neck.
He had severe arteriosclerosis, AKA major artery blockage, that most likely triggered the heart attack that killed him from the methamphetamines, a hyper-stimulant, he had taken and the exertion of resisting arrest. And he had three times the lethal dose of fentanyl in his system. Opioid overdose depresses the respiratory system, which would explain why he kept saying he couldn't breathe.
Finally, it was also established that putting a knee to the neck of a person in the prone position was an authorized form of restraint by the Minneapolis Police Department at the time. The only question is, was the length of time keeping Floyd in that restraint warranted? A couple of witnesses for the prosecution said yes, and one for the defense said it was warranted. Eric Nelson repeatedly brought out as well the danger police face when a suspect appears to be no longer resisting arrest but then snaps back into a highly aggressive mode, which explains why Chauvin kept his knee on George Floyd until the ambulance arrived.
Another contributing factor to Chauvin's actions that Nelson brought out of multiple witnesses was the hostile crowd that was yelling and swearing at Chauvin during the nine-plus minutes of restraining Floyd. Nelson also repeatedly got some of the witnesses for the prosecution to acknowledge that a hostile group of people acting in a threatening manner toward Chauvin made it that much more difficult for him, along with the other three cops, to keep the entire incident under control.
Finally, a little bit of a wild card: On the last day of testimony, Nelson asked the forensic pathologist he put on the stand if inhaling carbon monoxide could have been a contributing factor in Floyd's death, since he was lying near the exhaust pipe of a squad car that had been running the entire time. The forensic pathologist for the defense said it could have been a contributing factor, but there wasn't much evidence to back it up, so it doesn't seem to make sense why Nelson went with this line of questioning. It will be interesting to see if he brings it up in his closing argument.
This was definitely not a case of murder. I'm thinking Chauvin will be convicted of manslaughter, AKA involuntary or negligent homicide. Personally, I think he should be found not guilty of all charges, but because of the extremely high-profile nature of the trial, the jury will probably feel as though some kind of guilty verdict is necessary, especially because of the pressure to avoid igniting more rioting.
Nelson will most likely hammer his theme in his closing argument, as he did in his opening argument, that based on reason and common sense, examining all of the evidence will make the jury understand that the legal standard for a not guilty verdict — reasonable doubt — was well established during the trial. Therefore, Nelson will say, they must acquit Chauvin of all charges brought against him: second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter.
It won't be long until we know how this tragedy comes to an end.
Image via Flickr, Public Domain.
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