A City Prepares for a Trial

(John Hinderaker) Derek Chauvin goes on trial for murder in the death of George Floyd on March 8. His trial has been separated from that of the other three officers who have been charged; theirs will begin in August. Chauvin is the principal defendant.

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I believe it was the day after Floyd’s death when Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey publicly questioned the fact that the four police officers were still free men. Why weren’t they already in jail? And Governor Walz has publicly pronounced the officers guilty of “murder.” Meanwhile, though, it has come out that Floyd’s blood contained two or three times a lethal dose of fentanyl. He also showed the classic symptoms of a fentanyl overdose, complaining repeatedly of an inability to breathe and foaming at the mouth. His autopsy revealed that his lungs were heavier than normal, reflecting the accumulation of fluid that occurs with a fentanyl overdose. So it is far from clear that Derek Chauvin murdered anyone, or indeed that the four police officers had anything to do with Floyd’s death, which apparently, based on the evidence now available, was caused by a drug overdose.

But it is much too late for the authorities to acknowledge that their case against Chauvin et al. is far from airtight. They are committed. What we don’t know is whether an impartial jury can be empaneled, and whether any jury will have the courage to return a verdict of not guilty. Everyone in Minneapolis knows that the authorities were not able to defend even the Third Precinct Station House, which was taken over and burned by rioters. Nor were they able to defend a two-mile stretch of Lake Street, or other areas in Minneapolis and St. Paul that were destroyed by mobs. What juror will be willing to count on the authorities to protect his own house from being burned down, if he fails to return the verdict that is demanded by the mob?

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