News Analysis by Carol Elizabeth Owens
“Guilty. Guilty. Guilty.”
That is what a diverse group of twelve jurors unanimously stated on April 20, 2021 about former Minnesota, MN police officer Derek Chauvin, whose knee on George Perry Floyd, Jr’s neck during an arrest in 2020 became a world-wide symbol of police brutality against Black people in the United States.
Floyd’s life ended under the weight of Chauvin’s knee, and his death triggered escalation of on-going social, political and legal questions and protests about proper policing and justice, especially where the accused detainee/defendant is a person of color — most notably, a Black person.
With frequency in America, police officers have retained their jobs, and are either not indicted on criminal charges or are acquitted (found not guilty) when death of accused detainees/defendants occurs during police action. Again, this is especially the situation when the deceased is a Black person.
Chauvin was fired by the Minnesota Police Department. He was arrested and indicted. At trial, he faced three homicide charges: second-degree manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder.
Consider the matter of Daniel Prude here in Rochester, NY. A statement issued by New York State Attorney General Letitia James on Feb. 23, 2021 informed us that “a grand jury voted not to indict any police officer on charges related to the March 2020 death of Daniel Prude.”
While the cases involving Floyd and Prude arose in different states and involve respectively distinct differences of facts, both of these Black men, as well as many other men and women of color, died under circumstances involving police action.
In this context, there is much for people to learn and appreciate about Minnesota v. Chauvin.
The prosecution’s rebuttal argument [Apr. 19] at the criminal trial against Chauvin provides an interesting starting point and fine lens for viewing the full case. Readers may desire to find, see and/or read the rebuttal on-line.
During rebuttal, Chauvin’s prosecutors took a final opportunity to expose evidence-based defects in Chauvin’s defense(s). Rebuttal also gave the prosecution a chance to strengthen its own direct points about Chauvin’s wrongdoing and its related impact upon Floyd.
Ultimately, the prosecution met with unprecedented success in the State of Minnesota.
The jury, comprised of Black people, White people and multi-racial people, found that Chauvin, a White man, formerly a municipal servant sworn to protect and serve, was guilty — on each of the three criminal charges against him, two of which were murder, for a Black man’s death.
The jury’s three guilty verdicts against Chauvin reveal to us something that we all know in our hearts: our lives matter.
George Floyd’s life mattered — period.