The trial for the death of George Floyd entered a new phase in Minneapolis on Tuesday . After the initial arguments of the two parties and two weeks in which the prosecution has summoned about 40 witnesses, it is the turn of the defense of Derek Chauvin , the former policeman accused of murder and negligent homicide, to call his own witnesses .
This has begun to redouble the effort of Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, to try to unlink the death from the actions of his client, who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds while he was already handcuffed and pulled. face down on the asphalt. Instead, the lawyer tries to attribute the death to the drug addiction problems of the victim , a 46-year-old black man, and to the medical complications derived from that addiction.
A racist thesis
Nelson has returned this Tuesday, for example, to advocate the controversial thesis of “exalted delirium “, causing one of his witnesses, the ex-police officer and expert in the use of force Barry Brodd, to believe that this disputed condition exists , frequently denounced as an argument. that the police use to justify excessive use of force against certain suspects, especially blacks.
“They can have erratic behavior, they don’t feel pain, they can have superhuman strength, they can have the ability to go in the blink of an eye from following orders to extreme disobedience,” said Brodd.
The start of Nelson’s defense with his witnesses, however, may have backfired. Brodd himself, who initially considered Chauvin’s actions justified and said that they did not even represent the use of force, has had to admit that they were when questioned by one of the prosecutors.
Brodd and another witness, police officer Peter Chang, have also tried to support the defense thesis that the people who witnessed Floyd’s arrest and berated Chauvin were behaving ” very aggressively” and prevented the police from focusing on the situation of the detainee or give him medical attention. But Brodd has come to recognize that, even if it had been the case, that would not justify Chauvin using force on Floyd.
Other defense witnesses have ended up drawing a story that does not favor Chauvin at all. For example, the retired police officer who arrested Floyd on another occasion in 2019 and a doctor who treated him at the time have testified.
But then, unlike in May of last year, Floyd, who overdosed , received medical attention and survived . In addition, the expert has said that Floyd took an opioid every 20 minutes, denying the version of the defense that he consumed all the pills in his possession at once when he was going to be arrested.
A city in tension
Nelson’s strategy does not surprise either experts or observers, nor does it surprise the prosecution, which, both with its witnesses and with the interrogations of the first summoned by the defense, has tried to dismantle it. But it also outrages many in the community, who denounce that once again they are trying to judge and criminalize the victim.
It also comes at a time of burning spirits in the city . Minneapolis was already experiencing Chauvin’s trial in tension but has seen protests resuscitate after another black man, in this case the 20-year-old Daunte Wright , was shot dead by police after being arrested at a stop by a police officer. minor traffic violation in a suburb just 10 miles from where Floyd died less than a year ago, who was arrested on charges of using a false $ 20 bill.
The complaint of the lethal disproportion of the police actions returned this Tuesday to the doors of the court where Chauvin is tried, where the families of Floyd and Wright have been found. And an aunt of the latter denounced, at a press conference, the efforts to portray the young man who died on Sunday as someone troublesome and a member of a broken family .