Derek Chauvin is the first pop trial I have been able to watch wall to wall. Previously, I was working and saw snatches of trials at best.
Seeing it all allows me to judge which snippets the media chooses to focus on, but, more importantly, I am learning some things I did not know, some very surprising to me.
This is not an exhaustive list, just top of the mind moments.
Courteney Ross was a believable and touching witness. She seemed so . . . Nice.
From the moment she started talking about Floyd — which is what she called him, despite the prosecutor’s light suggestion that he be referred to as “Mr. Floyd” — her face lit up. They had been together three years more or less, mostly more, and it is clear she loved him.
She testified they both used prescription opioids, when they could get them, and street drugs when they could not.
But they did not use them daily, according to her testimony, there were times when they ceased use and later returned to them again.
This stopped me. Almost everything I have read in the media suggests that opioids are highly addictive, so very addictive almost no one can kick by themself. That’s why some say we need the misnamed (and now blocked in Philly) “safe injection sites.” Because they can’t kick them.
The argument is these people are hopelessly addicted. Ross and Floyd apparently were users — brought to drugs first by pain — but not hopelessly addicted.
The most jarring thing I heard, because I already knew of Chauvin’s actions, was that Floyd had one job, and maybe more, as a security guard.
Who hires a guy with a record as a security guard? Here is the record.
I mean, sure, he was a big guy and intimidating, but doesn’t anyone do a background check?
Do you hire a security guard with a conviction for aggravated assault?
That is the “other” side of Floyd, the one that balances the soft side testified to by his girlfriend.
Finally, the police testimony revealed the amazing number of cops it takes to secure a crime scene, and to canvass the neighborhood in search of witnesses.
It seems to me Minneapolis has pretty good procedures, with higher ups to be notified of serious incidents and for tight control over a crime scene.
That brings us to Chauvin’s control over Floyd.
The guy who passed the counterfeit $20 did mildly resist arrest and had what seemed to be a real, if irrational, fear of being put in the rear of the police squad car.
No police witness — or paid analyst (such as former Philly PC Charles Ramsey) — had a problem with Floyd being cuffed and put on the ground.
The trial will hinge on what happened next, the time — once 8 minutes and 46 seconds, but now longer(?) — Chauvin casually pressed his knee on the helpless and unresisting suspect’s neck.
I can’t slice and dice the intricacies of the three charges against Chauvin, and the jury is aware the whole world is watching. Total exoneration will result in riots, for sure.
That’s why the court should have allowed a change in venue, to a city not drowning in Floyd coverage.
It takes only one juror to prevent a conviction, and that is what the defense is playing for, but how can the jury not agree that death is too high a penalty for counterfeiting, or for even resistsing arrest?