- BBC World News
Derek Chauvin’s name is inextricably linked to the wave of protests that shook the United States in mid-2020 over the death of George Floyd.
His face went around the world when he appeared in the video that showed the last minutes of the African-American’s life.
Chauvin was the police officer who during more of nine minutes he kept his knee on Floyd’s neckWhile he was lying on the floor, he repeated: “I can’t breathe.”
This Monday the trial began against the former police officer for the events that occurred on May 25, 2020. charged with murder in the second degree (intentional) and murder in the second degree. Three other officers will be tried later this year in the same case.
Following Floyd’s death, Chauvin was expelled from the Minneapolis Police and was arrested and placed in a maximum security jail. In October, he was released on parole on a $ 1 million bond.
In the state of Minnesota, the position of murder on the second grade requires the prosecution to prove that Chauvin intended to kill Floyd or that he killed him while carrying out another crime.
Regarding the charge of murder in the second degree, Minnesota statute includes it for someone who causes the death of another person by negligence by creating an unreasonable danger and knowingly risking causing death or great physical harm.
The prosecution also wants to add the crime of murder in the third degree, which punishes those who without intention to kill perform dangerous acts for others who show a “depraved mind, without respect for human life.”
Many complaints, few punishments
Derek Chauvin, 44, worked in the Minneapolis Police Department for nearly two decades.
At that time, I know the they opened at least 15 research, according to information from the Internal Affairs department of that police force.
However, only in two cases were there consequences: received two reprimand letters.
In theory, the closure of the cases without sanctions indicates that the complaints could not be proven.
Although the number of 15 complaints may seem high, Maria Haberfeld, who works on police training and discipline at the City University of New York School of Law, pointed out that this is not such a high number.
The average number of complaints filed against Chauvin equals less than one per year, a figure that is not unusual in the case of police officers who are dedicated to patrolling the streets, as the expert explained a few months ago to The New York Times.
His job at a nightclub
In parallel to his employment as a policeman, Chauvin worked for years in the security team at nightclub El New Rodeo in Minneapolis, a place where George Floyd was also employed, although it is not clear if they ever met.
As Maya Santamaría, the former owner of the premises, told the newspaper Star Tribune A few months ago, Chauvin worked there almost every weekend, parking his police car in front of the premises and helping security officers with problematic clients.
Before becoming a policeman, Chauvin worked twice for a few months as a military policeman for the US Army.
The ex-cop married Kellie in June 2010. A few days after George Floyd’s death the woman initiated the divorce proceedings.
In the divorce application document, it was indicated that the couple did not have children together and owned two homes, one in Oakdale (Minnesota) and the other in Windermere (Florida).
What are the keys to the verdict?
The video of George Floyd’s death sparked anger in the US and other countries, but getting Chauvin convicted will be a different matter.
The first problem is the charges. To convict him of second degree murder, jurors must determine that Chauvin had committed or was attempting to commit a felony that caused Floyd’s death.
The second-degree murder implies that Chauvin knowingly risked causing death or injury through his negligent actions.
The defense is expected to point out that Floyd had health problems or used drugs as a probable cause of his death, although the judge has already indicated that the prosecution only has to prove that Chauvin’s actions were a “substantial causal factor.”
The defense will also argue that Chauvin was authorized to use force in his role as a police officer, in an attempt to undermine the accusation that he was trying to commit a serious crime.
The prosecution will rely on the video evidence, which is solid and shows the time when Floyd was pressed on the neck while the people present pleaded for him.
It will also present evidence of Chauvin’s actions in other cases. These include a case in which the officer immobilized a woman by placing his knee on her neck.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.