If you were to listen to the legacy media, the trial against Derek Chauvin regarding the death of George Floyd is a foregone conclusion.
As a result, many have been driven to the same extreme as Leftist comedian Chelsea Handler, who effectively argued against due process when she tweeted, “So pathetic that there is a trial to prove that Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd when there is video of him doing so.”
So pathetic that there is a trial to prove that Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd when there is video of him doing so.
— Chelsea Handler (@chelseahandler) March 30, 2021
However, the reality is that the outcome is far from clear. Here are four key components of the Derek Chauvin trial which add — at the very least — levels of reasonable doubt which would be required to reach a “not guilty” verdict.
At least two of the charges are likely “overcharged”
Chauvin is facing three charges: second degree murder, third degree murder, and second degree manslaughter.
Both charges of murder are likely examples of “overcharging,” in that the case against Chauvin in both instances is weak given the context of the environment, training provided by his department, and the lack of evidence regarding Chauvin’s intent.
In order to find Chauvin guilty of second degree murder, the prosecution will need to demonstrate one of the following, beyond reasonable doubt:
- That Chauvin caused the death of George Floyd intentionally but without premeditation.
- That Chauvin caused the death of George Floyd without intending to kill him while “committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence.”
- That Chauvin caused the death of George Floyd without intending to kill him “while intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon the victim,” while Floyd was “restrained under an order for protection and the victim is a person designated to receive protection under the order.”
These are all difficult — if not impossible — to demonstrate beyond a reasonable doubt. Similarly, in order to find Chauvin guilty of third degree murder, the prosecution will need to demonstrate that “Chauvin’s action (or actions) were ‘eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind,’ and displayed a disregard for human life.” These are similarly difficult to demonstrate given that Chauvin’s actions were arguably in line with training provided.
Autopsy and the debate over Floyd’s cause of death
Central to the accusations leveled against Chauvin — and most significantly, the second and third degree murder charges — is the claim that he caused Floyd’s death. As noted by Ben Shapiro, Floyd’s “autopsy report shows that Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system and had a serious heart problem, and that Chauvin’s neck hold did not in fact cause damage to Floyd’s trachea.”
“That means that while Chauvin’s neck restraint may have contributed to Floyd’s death by ratcheting up his blood pressure, for example, it’s uncertain that it caused Floyd’s death more than, say, the excited delirium from which Floyd may have already been suffering,” Shapiro added.
During the trial, Chauvin’s drug use was explored in great detail. The doctor who declared George Floyd dead testified that he believed Floyd died of cardiac arrest caused by oxygen deficiency, or asphyxia, and that initially, one of his “leading theories” was that excited delirium, which can be caused by drugs, triggered the lack of oxygen. He added that he thought this was unlikely at the time, however, because paramedics did not indicate to him that the then-unidentified man was sweating or appeared agitated — both very common in drug overdoses.
“However, Langenfeld, who was the prosecution’s first witness, later acknowledged to Eric Nelson, a defense attorney for former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, that drug use, specifically fentanyl and methamphetamine use, could cause hypoxia or asphyxiation,” added The Daily Wire.
Not only that, The Daily Wire reported that “Morries Hall, an alleged drug dealer who was with George Floyd during his arrest on May 25, [refused] to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination,” with Hall’s lawyer contending that “her client’s testimony could lead to a third-degree murder charge in the death of Floyd, because of his alleged drug activity with the 46-year-old just before the arrest.”
During the trial, George Floyd’s girlfriend also testified that they both struggled with addiction and drug abuse, describing one incident in March “where she rushed Floyd to the hospital after he complained of stomach pains.”
In addition, one debate regarding a statement from George Floyd adds further reasonable doubt to the conclusion that Chauvin caused his death. One defense attorney alleged that Floyd appeared to complain of eating “too many drugs” during his arrest, while others argued that Floyd had said “I ain’t do no drugs.” The audio, while unclear, does provide enough uncertainty to conclude that it’s reasonable to conclude that Floyd said either of these two statements (or perhaps another claim). Therefore, it’s reasonable to acknowledge that Floyd’s potential and immediate drug use and ongoing health issues were possiby primary factors in his death.
Unclear how long Chauvin’s knee was on George Floyd’s neck
As noted by The Daily Wire earlier in April, “During the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, a witness called by the prosecution told the court that numerous photos shown of the arrest and detainment of George Floyd show Chauvin’s knee and leg on Floyd’s back and between shoulder blades, as opposed to his neck.”
“Lt. Johnny Mercil, who was in charge of use-of-force training at the time of Floyd’s arrest, confirmed to defense attorney Eric Nelson this week that Chauvin, at least in portions of the arrest shown, was detaining Floyd by using what’s called a ‘prone hold,’ which is permitted,” The Daily Wire added.
Much of the focus of the trial — and the media’s coverage of the trial — has been the claim that Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, and that haunting imagery has been used as the platform of countless arguments and protests that followed. If the pivotal details of this timeline — specifically how long Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck — are deemed questionable, then many of the consequential assumptions which followed could also come under further scrutiny.
The full timeline of events adds necessary context
While the narrative promoted by the legacy media regarding the events which culminated in George Floyd’s death is a simple chronology — George Floyd’s arrest, and the undeniably agonizing period on the ground as he is held in place by Chauvin — there are other elements of the timeline which add at least an element of reasonable doubt to Chauvin’s direct culpability in Floyd’s death.
Firstly, the aggression of the crowd which had surrounded the arrest scene added a variable to the instance which prolonged both the arrest itself and the delivery of medical care.
“A witness called by the prosecution in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin said this week that bystanders’ threats would ‘rise alarm’ for an arresting officer, leading him to continue the detainment of a suspect, which in this case was 46-year-old George Floyd,” reported The Daily Wire.
After Mercil notably confirmed that Chauvin did not have Floyd in a “neck restraint” while he was detaining him, Nelson asked the use-of-force expert if an officer’s environment would affect how long he restrains a suspect. Mercil answered “yes.”
If bystanders were “cheering” on the officer, Nelson outlined, that’d be one thing. But “if they were saying, I’d slap the f*** out of you, or, you’re a p****, or, you’re a chump, would that reasonably tend to rise alarm to the police officer?”
“Yes, sir,” Mercil responded.
Secondly, the arrest of George Floyd involved more than the now infamous minutes ending with his death. For example, he complained of breathing difficulties before being pinned to the ground, actively resisted arrest and refused to get into the squad car after he was detained.
While these details do not necessarily absolve Chauvin of responsibility or culpability, they add further variables to an over-simplified equation which can easily result in the existence of a reasonable doubt.
The purpose of any criminal trial is to allow an objective jury to conclude whether sufficient evidence has been provided which demonstrates beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the charges leveled against them.
Despite what the legacy media claim, the trial of Derek Chauvin is far from a foregone conclusion. While the jury will reach their final conclusion based on the presented evidence, it’s important to push back against the pre-emptive outrage targeting any “not guilty” result by acknowledging that doubt does indeed exist.
It is now up to the jury to decide whether that doubt is reasonable.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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