George Floyd’s voice resounded for the last time in the Minneapolis courthouse on Monday. «Noo, please, i’m not a bad guy! ”He begged. Sitting on the bench, agent Derek Chauvin, 45, listened impassively, without showing the slightest emotion, just like on May 25 when his death set the entire country on fire. “Not even his sunglasses moved,” prosecutor Eric Nelson recalled during the trial.
The officers who came to the complaint that Floyd had paid for a pack of cigarettes with a counterfeit $ 20 bill need not have detained him. They could have fined him and given him a court summonsbut instead they decided to handcuff him and detain him. Floyd, a six-foot tall man who suffered from claustrophobia, resisted arrest by pleading with them with all his might. “Please, officer, what is this about? Please, I’m not one of those bad guys!
They ignored him. Chauvin, a known racist at the club where he worked at night, according to the owner told the press, decided to teach him a lesson. He took him out of the car, despite having him already handcuffed, something totally outside the protocol. Floyd thanked him with relief, not imagining it would make him bite the asphalt. The policeman knelt on his neck and let him beg until his last breath: 9 minutes and 29 seconds, three more than it took him to die. Why? “Out of pure ego”, resolved the prosecutor Steve Shteicher yesterday when closing the case. Pride of the worst caliber. He wasn’t going to let pedestrians tell him what to do. He was going to do whatever he wanted and he was going to have it there for as long as he wanted ».
He had Floyd’s life and death under his knee, but the pedestrians who have testified at trial had him in their sights on the phone. The video went viral, gave the Around the World, sparked the biggest race riots since the death of Martin Luther King and ultimately put him on the bench on three counts: second degree murder, third degree murder and manslaughter. If in the next hours or days the jury that deliberates finds him guilty of one of the first two, he will leave the room handcuffed, but if they favor the lesser charge, the gates of hell will open again.
With the fresh wreckage in mind, merchants have propped up doors and shop windows and taken away everything of value, including clothes from dry cleaners and bottles of alcohol from stores. And not just in Minneapolis. Even in Washington DC they have secured Public Buildings, waiting for the jury to reach a verdict. During the trial Chauvin has chosen not to testify. Anything he had said could have been used against him.
This Monday the two parties had their last chance to convince them. For the prosecutor Shteicher Floyd’s death was “exactly what they saw” in the video: “a murder”, he sentenced. All that matters is what the 12 righteous men who have patiently listened to him for three weeks, sitting in separate desk chairs, at a safe distance, determine. The work has been so heavy that yesterday, in full final arguments, the judge took the unusual measure to give them a break, given how the defense stretched.
All lawyers want you to take the time to “carefully” examine the details of the case and, in particular, the judge’s instructions. Among them is the order to find him guilty of all charges “if the death was the natural result of the acts of the accused.” Hence, the defense strategy has been to cast doubt on what caused the death of Floyd, addicted to opioid drugs, who also had used methamphetamine and he had heart problems.
Among the string of 45 witnesses who have paraded through the arena, there are many medical experts, who have wanted to attribute his death to anything else, from the cocktail of drugs he had ingested to the carbon dioxide that was released by the car with which he exhaled his last breaths. It will be enough to sow “A reasonable doubt” on any of the jurors, who need to unanimously agree to a verdict on at least one of the three charges. If they cannot agree, the judge will have to repeat the trial, but until then the last word has been Floyd. “No, please, officer, I’m not a bad guy!” He begged again yesterday before the courtrooms, which have had the entire country in suspense. Chauvin didn’t listen to him. It remains to be seen if the jury will do so.
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