Derek Chauvin is facing trial for the death of George Floyd. The American criminal justice system is not like that

The public death of George Floyd under the knee of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin


Last May sparked a heated debate over social issues regarding black racism, police response and the entire American justice system.

But in the next four weeks, the dispute over Cauvin's case within Hennepin County, Minnesota, the court will move beyond legal clarification. How did Floyd really die, talking about treatment? How did Cauvin know that Floyd could die? What does “intentional negligence” mean?

With the first statements in the case starting on Monday, the gap between vulnerable civil and legal issues will be widening, said CNN senior analyst Laura Coates.

"Ideas of overwork, ideas of police reform, ideas of police response, ideas of organized injustice, ideas of black victims at the hands of white defendants - all of that will be touched and become elephants in the room, but in court nothing can obscure the government's evidence in this case," Coates said. .

For the first time in Minnesota, the trial will be broadcast live to meet Covid-19 attendance limits, giving the public the opportunity to experience the most important case of the Black Lives Matter period.

With just the start of the trial, Floyd's case has improved far more than the deaths of many Black people in police custody. Such mass deaths do not lead to the cases of the officials involved, including the cases of Michael Brown, Eric Garner and Tamir Rice. Those high-profile cases did not go unnoticed by the masses.

Perhaps the most similar case to Floyd's was the 2013 trial of George Zimmerman, a neighbor's television station accused of killing 17-year-old Trayvon Martin. It was Zimmerman's innocence in that case that led to the launch of #BlackLivesMatter as a hashtag and movement.

Now, eight years later, a return to the television court could provide a test of how much has changed since - and how the American justice system has been able to turn the shelves outside the court walls.

How two lives collided

George Floyd fainted and died on the knee of former Minneapolis police chief Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020.

Floyd, 46, was born in North Carolina and grew up in Houston and moved to Minnesota as an adult to start over, working as a security guard at a restaurant.

Derek Chauvin, 45, had been a senior official in the Minneapolis Police Department since 2001 until his dismissal following Floyd's death.

Their lives clashed on May 25, 2020, when police were called to a man who had spent $ 20 counterfeit at a Minneapolis store. Two police officers were directed to a car parked with Floyd in the driver's seat, handcuffed and pushed to put him in the back of a police car, according to an amended complaint.

Chavin and another police officer then arrived at the scene and tried to find Floyd in the car, the complaint said. Chavin allegedly dragged Floyd to a safe position and placed his knee on Floyd's neck and head. His knee rested and Floyd pleaded, "I can't breathe," he said "I'm going to die" and finally stopped breathing, the complaint said. He was pronounced dead at the hospital shortly afterwards.

The last moments of Floyd's life, captured on video by astonished and angry people, are vividly portrayed by what black Americans have long said about the ways in which the justice system oppresses Black people.

His death sparked major protests under the Black Lives Matter banner in cities across the country as well as incidents of looting and riots.

"Your family will remember George, but your nation will always remember your name," said Rev. Al Sharpton at Floyd's funeral. "Because your neck was not the one we all represent, and how you suffered is the way we all suffer."

Where the case will focus

However the case will not contradict Floyd's brand or eligibility for Black Lives Matter. Instead, it will focus on two things: the cause of death and Chavin's intent.

An autopsy of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner listed the cause of Floyd's death as a heart failure due to "law enforcement, compression, and neck compression," and ruled he had a murder. The medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, also noted arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use "as other important conditions."

Cuvin's defense attorneys point out that those circumstances were a major cause of death.

In an August file filed last year in defense of the defense, attorney Eric Nelson said Cauvin was acting in accordance with police policy and had no intention of harming Floyd. He pointed out that the cause of Floyd's death was not Cauvin's knee but the result of drug overdose combined with existing heart problems, a previous Covid-19 disease and other health issues.

To find a guilty verdict, prosecutors must prove beyond doubt that Cauvin was responsible for Floyd's death. A series of prospective physicians are therefore expected to take action to debate the issue, including a possible study of Dr. Baker's contention.