As the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in George Floyd’s death headed into its second week, Democratic Congresswoman Ilhan Omar said residents remain “nervous” about the outcome.
On Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Omar was reminded that few trials involving police officers result in convictions, and he asked, “Are you and your city prepared for the possibility of a jury hanging or a not guilty verdict? “
“The community is nervous about it,” said Omar. “We have seen that justice has not been served in our community for many years. I think there is a lot of trust in [state] Attorney General Keith Ellison and the prosecutors in this case, but we are all anxious to see how this trial unfolds.
“It was really horrible to see the defense try George Floyd instead of the former police officer charged with his murder.”
Floyd, 46, died last May when Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest. The murder sparked international protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The vast majority of protests were peaceful, but in Minneapolis and other cities some turned violent.
Faces of chauvin charges involuntary manslaughter in the second degree, manslaughter in the third degree and manslaughter in the second degree. He has pleaded not guilty. Three other officers will face separate trials.
On Monday, prosecutors are expected to call the head of the police department, Medaria Arradondo, as a witness. It is rare, if not unheard of, for a police chief to testify against a former officer. Experts have said that Arradondo’s testimony could open the door for more bosses to be called in in the future.
“He will tell you that Mr. Chauvin’s conduct was not consistent with the training of the Minneapolis Police Department,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury in his opening statement. “You don’t beat around the bush with words. It’s very clear. He will be very decisive: that this was an excessive force ”.
Arradondo’s testimony is expected to be a powerful tool for prosecutors seeking to rebut the defense’s contention that Chauvin’s decision to kneel on Floyd’s neck was consistent with the use of force guidance.
Dr. Cedric Alexander, former chief of police and director of public safety for DeKalb County, Georgia, told The Guardian this week that calling Arradondo was a “quite remarkable move on the part of the prosecution.”
“It is very rare that you see a chief appear for the defense or the prosecution,” he said. But each of these types of events brings its own set of circumstances. And in this particular case, where you have a knee in your neck and they ask you: ‘Was it a trained technique?’ To be able to have the chief of police … to testify under oath is clearly going to be of importance. “
Laurie Robinson, a former assistant US attorney general who co-chaired the Barack Obama Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which was launched after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, said: “ The boss is under tremendous pressure.
“This may be the toughest police chief job in the country right now, amid the tensions surrounding this trial, the pressures from the community facing the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, the calls for changes in the department and community protection. that is dealing with the rise in gun violence and crime. “
Arradondo will not be the only Minneapolis official to testify that Chauvin’s actions deviated from department policy. Lt. Richard Zimmerman, who heads the homicide department, testified Friday that in four decades in the force, he had never been trained to restrain an arrestee with one knee to the neck.
“If your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill them,” he said. “Once a person is handcuffed, the threat level drops completely. They are handcuffed, how can they really hurt you? “
Floyd was handcuffed before the police forced him to the ground.
“I didn’t see any reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt,” Zimmerman said. “And that’s what they have to feel to use that level of strength.”
Zimmerman was one of 14 officers who sent a letter to Minneapolis residents a month after Floyd’s death, saying they “wholeheartedly condemned” Chauvin’s behavior.
Many in the city found the first week of the trial traumatic, as witnesses spoke and video of Floyd’s death was shown.
“It has been very difficult,” Omar told CNN. “I think the only part left to me is the fact that everyone who took the witness stand said they felt powerless. That’s a sentiment we know all too well here in Minneapolis when it comes to police abuse.
“…[The trial] just unearthed so much trauma for many of us. But we have each other. And we will get over it. “
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism