I will make a bold prediction that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin may only be convicted of the lesser charge of third-degree murder of George Floyd on May 25, 2020 (Memorial Day).1 I would not be surprised because of the many previous exonerations of police officers nationwide since 2010 involving the deaths of apprehended suspects regardless of race. However, I hope that I am wrong, his twelve jurors decide otherwise, and convict him of second-degree murder along with second-degree manslaughter when his trial begins on March 29, which will attract worldwide media attention, and be broadcasted live on Court TV along with Minnesota Public Radio News’ Facebook page (https://m.facebook.com/MPRnews/). Although three other police officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, were all present at the death of Floyd, I will not comment on their fate despite their obvious culpability not to intervene and whose trials begin this August for aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Before the trial begins I strongly suspect that Derek Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson, who is funded by the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association’s legal defense fund, will argue that George Floyd died from fentanyl intoxication, methamphetamine abuse, hypertension, coronary heart disease and ultimately a heart attack.2 This same viewpoint has also been at times vociferously and publicly supported by such conservative commentators as Dennis Prager and Tucker Carlson.3
I think that the Minneapolis City Council made a terrible mistake on March 12 in the timing of its unanimous $27 million pre-trial wrongful death settlement with the estate of George Floyd.4 I may be wrong, but it strongly appears that the time has passed for the defense to argue for a delay of trial, change of venue from Hennepin County and a “tainted murder-trial jury pool.”5 However, I am not an attorney. The defense continues to be highly concerned that the “city’s decision to settle [with the Floyd estate’s lawsuit] rather than fight the civil case could be seen as an admission of guilt.”6 I must admit that I somewhat agree with the defense in all these matters. The defense most certainly will continue to argue that Chauvin has already been convicted in the press throughout much of the United States since last Memorial Day especially by such prominent Minnesota politicians as Governor Tim Walz, Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the state’s Attorney General Keith Ellison.
In short, the defense will use evidence obtained from Floyd’s autopsy and toxicology reports, and portray him as a repeat felon, a belligerent and uncooperative drug addict or junkie with advanced coronary artery disease as the true cause of death and certainly NOT asphyxiation.7 The defense will definitely not portray him as a secular saint or victim of police brutality. In direct contrast, the prosecution will argue that Chauvin’s unmerciful and cruel kneeling on Floyd’s neck for almost nine continuous minutes was the true cause of death.8
Unfortunately, Derek Chauvin’s police bodycam video (and audio) is not expected to be available to the public before or during his trial.9 It is a shame because Chauvin’s video footage would have provided the best possible perspective on Floyd’s death, but it may have jeopardized Chauvin’s chances of a fair trial involving jury selection, and also caused more civil unrest and property damage. I have watched most of the available police bodycam video of two other former officers, who were present at Floyd’s death: Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. Unfortunately, their video footage provided a partially obscured and narrow field of vision and only a partial view of either Chauvin or Floyd.10 Plus, their released video footage does not fully show the full horror of Floyd’s death. The fourth officer, Tou Thao, who was present with Chauvin, Lane and Kueng, depicted very little video footage of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck.11
In my opinion, it is the graphic cell phone video of Darnella Frazier, a local 17-year-old high school student, who depicted Floyd’s horrific death resembling a slow motion execution, as he agonizingly and repeatedly begged, “I can’t breathe” at least fifteen times.12 Frazier’s video of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck with his soulless facial expression and left hand casually inside his left front pants’ pocket vividly and brutally depicted Floyd’s last few minutes of life beginning at the 30 second mark of the video.13 One courageous adult male bystander, who was standing on the sidewalk in front of Cup Foods on East 38th Street less than fifteen feet behind the police vehicle, directly referred to Chauvin, by succinctly and repeatedly exclaiming, “he [is] enjoying that s**t!” This bystander’s remark totally summarized the cruel sadism of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck beginning at the 3:20 minute mark of Frazier’s video.14 What is not in general dispute and almost unbelievable is that Chauvin continually kneeled on Floyd’s neck “from 8:19 until 8:28 p.m. for a total of nine minutes and 30 seconds” according to both the Lane and Kueng video footage.15
What is also unbelievable is that Chauvin was still kneeling on Floyd’s neck during a Code 3 call to the Minneapolis Emergency Communications Center (MECC), which meant there was an “emergency situation to be answered immediately” requiring “responding units to reach the scene as quickly and safely as possible” and “the use of red lights and siren for emergency driving.”16 However, what was most unbelievable was that “even after Floyd’s eyes closed, after his body went limp, and a full seven minutes after the officers called for medical assistance, Chauvin, who is also charged with manslaughter, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck [my emphasis].”17
I personally do not care how much fentanyl or methamphetamine was in George Floyd’s body. The man was in a prone position on the street, handcuffed and Derek Chauvin always had three police officers with him for additional assistance. It would have been far more merciful for Chauvin to have shackled and briefly tazed him “into submission” instead of putting his knee directly and sadistically on the neck of Floyd for over eight continuous minutes. The American holiday of Memorial Day was the ultimate nightmare for George Floyd. Afterall, how far can a 46-year-old man run with his hands handcuffed behind his back, and both his ankles shackled? I suspect not too far.
As I initially watched the agonizing video of Floyd’s death I lost count of how times he said, “I can’t breathe” and “Mama.” In actuality, his death at times resembled a slow agonizing execution resembling a harrowing asphyxiation from Zyklon B in an Auschwitz or Majdanek gas chamber during World War II. If Derek Chauvin had been an officer in the United States Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force or Coast Guard, and had treated an enemy combatant in the same manner as he treated George Floyd and was prosecuted, he would have been most assuredly convicted of the war crime of murder without much jury deliberation.
It has always been a myth that Nazis only existed in Germany from 1919-45. Since 1945 it strongly appears that “Nazis” transcend ethnicity, time and borders, and the United States and any other country is obviously not an exception. That is why I would describe former police officer Derek Chauvin, despite having been married to a Laotian (Hmong) woman from 2010-20 and a U.S. Army veteran, as a Nazi in blue, but thankfully this type of man with a badge is in an extreme minority in our country. Or is he?
Robert L. Maronic / March 29, 2021
1 Eustachewich, Lia. “Judge Reinstates Third-Degree Murder Charge Against George Floyd Cop Derek Chauvin.” New York Post. 11 March 2021. Please see https://nypost.com/2021/03/11/judge-reinstates-third-degree-murder-charge-against-derek-chauvin/ or https://web.archive.org/web/20210327203841/https://nypost.com/2021/03/11/judge-reinstates-third-degree-murder-charge-against-derek-chauvin/. Archived 27 March 2021. Eustachewich wrote, “third-degree murder in Minnesota, one of the few states to carry the lesser charge, is defined as causing ‘the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life’ and without intent to kill.” However, this “lesser charge” can result in a maximum prison sentence of twenty-five years. See https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/609.195 or https://web.archive.org/web/20210319220449/https://www.revisor.mn.gov/statutes/cite/609.195. Archived 19 March 2021.
2 Bernstein, Lenny and Holly Bailey. “At The Heart of Derek Chauvin’s Trial Is This Question: What Killed George Floyd?” The Washington Post. 10 March 2021. Please see https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/george-floyd-fentanyl/2021/03/10/c3d4f328-76ec-11eb-9537-496158cc5fd9_story.html or https://web.archive.org/web/20210327205422if_/https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/george-floyd-fentanyl/2021/03/10/c3d4f328-76ec-11eb-9537-496158cc5fd9_story.html. Archived 27 March 2021.
3 “Dennis Prager Says The Police “Were Completely Decent” with George Floyd.” Media Matters for America. 29 September 2020. For his remarks see https://www.mediamatters.org/dennis-prager/dennis-prager-says-police-were-completely-decent-george-floyd or https://web.archive.org/web/20210328042644/https://www.mediamatters.org/dennis-prager/dennis-prager-says-police-were-completely-decent-george-floyd. Archived 28 March 2021.
Anglesey, Anders. “Tucker Carlson Says George Floyd Died of Drug Overdose in Video Watched 3 Million Times.” Newsweek. 11 Feb. 2021. For his remarks see https://www.newsweek.com/fox-news-tucker-carlson-george-floyd-death-1568615 or https://web.archive.org/web/20210328043414/https://www.newsweek.com/fox-news-tucker-carlson-george-floyd-death-1568615. Archived 28 March 2021.
4 Parks, Brad, et al. “Minneapolis Will Pay George Floyd’s Estate $27 Million after City Council Votes to Settle Lawsuit with Family.” CNN.com. 12 March 2021. See https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/12/us/george-floyd-minneapolis-settlement/index.html or https://web.archive.org/web/20210328044332/https://www.cnn.com/2021/03/12/us/george-floyd-minneapolis-settlement/index.html. Archived 28 March 2021.
5 Fitz-Gibbon, Jorge. “Derek Chauvin Lawyer Says $27M Floyd Family Settlement Tainted Murder Trial Jury Pool.” New York Post. 15 March 2021. See https://nypost.com/2021/03/15/derek-chauvin-lawyer-says-floyd-settlement-tainted-jury-pool/ or https://web.archive.org/web/20210328045836/https://nypost.com/2021/03/15/derek-chauvin-lawyer-says-floyd-settlement-tainted-jury-pool/. Archived 28 March 2021.
7 Orecchio-Egresitz, Haven. “George Floyd’s Drug Use Could Play a Significant Role in Ex-Officer Derek Chauvin’s Trial.” Insider.com. 19 March 2021. See https://www.insider.com/george-floyd-drug-use-derek-chauvin-trial-2021-3.
9 Willis, Haley, et al. “New Footage Shows Delayed Medical Response to George Floyd.” New York Times. 11 Aug. 2020. Updated 6 Jan. 2021. See https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/us/george-floyd-body-cam-full-video.html or https://web.archive.org/web/20210321123009/https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/us/george-floyd-body-cam-full-video.html. Archived 21 March 2021.
10 Bailey, Holly, et al. “Body Camera Footage Shows Struggle Leading to George Floyd’s Fatal Police Encounter.” The Washington Post. 10 Aug. 2020. See https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2020/national/floyd-bodycam-video/.
11 “Body Cam Footage from MPD Ex-Officer Tou Thao Released.” WCCO-CBS Minnesota. 13 Aug. 2020. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zjreli6uuCk.
12 “George Floyd Dies after Being Detained by Minneapolis Police Officers.” Fox 9 KMSP. 26 May 2020. See https://www.fox9.com/video/687903.
15 Willis, Haley, et al. “New Footage Shows Delayed Medical Response to George Floyd.” New York Times. 11 Aug. 2020. Updated 6 Jan. 2021. See https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/us/george-floyd-body-cam-full-video.html or https://web.archive.org/web/20210321123009/https://www.nytimes.com/2020/08/11/us/george-floyd-body-cam-full-video.html. Archived 21 March 2021.
16 7-100 Communications (“7-103 Priority Call Code Numbers and Procedures”). Minneapolis Police. See https://www.insidempd.com/get-connected/policies-procedures/7-100-communications/#:~:text=CODE%20THREE%3A%20EMERGENCY%20SITUATION%20%E2%80%93%20To,FOUR%3A%20Situation%20is%20under%20control or https://web.archive.org/web/20210328220125/https://www.insidempd.com/get-connected/policies-procedures/7-100-communications/#:~:text=CODE%20THREE%3A%20EMERGENCY%20SITUATION%20%E2%80%93%20To,FOUR%3A%20Situation%20is%20under%20control. Archived 28 March 2021. In my opinion, an ambulance and paramedics should have been called when George Floyd started to exhibit highly erratic, panicked, emotionally distressed, and confused behavior sitting in his SUV parked on Chicago Avenue, and when he was later standing and sitting on the adjacent sidewalk before being placed inside the rear of a police squad car repeatedly complaining about claustrophobia. Chauvin and the other three police officers showed very little human compassion for Floyd from the moment of his initial arrest and subsequent death.
17 Winter, Deena. “Derek Chauvin’s Trial Will Hinge on Autopsy of George Floyd.” Minnesota Reformer. 22 Feb. 2021. See https://minnesotareformer.com/2021/02/22/derek-chauvins-trial-will-hinge-on-autopsy-of-george-floyd/ or https://web.archive.org/web/20210328220901/https://minnesotareformer.com/2021/02/22/derek-chauvins-trial-will-hinge-on-autopsy-of-george-floyd/. 28 March 2021.