10:57 GMT14 April 2021
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    Jury selection in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s case over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, in police custody on 25 May 2020 is going on. Meanwhile, Minneapolis residents warn that anything else than a murder conviction will unleash hell on the city.

    Derek Chauvin has been charged with second and third-degree murder as well as one count of second-degree manslaughter. Last week, the Court of Appeals ordered a Minnesota judge to consider charging the former police officer with third-degree murder. Judge Peter Cahill could possibly reinstate the charge on Thursday, according to CBS News. "Reinstatement would significantly enhance the state’s chances of convicting Chauvin of murder," Andrew C. McCarthy, former assistant United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, noted in his op-ed for National Review.

    The Case is Mired in Bias

    On Monday, a crowd comprising 20+ activists groups gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Centre demanding "justice" and calling for the conviction of Chauvin and the other three officers over Floyd's death, which had triggered nationwide protests late last spring. The summer protests, which were accompanied by arson, looting, vandalism and the destruction of federal property, claimed the lives of at least 25 people and left many more injured.

    As tensions in Minneapolis are growing high, conservative pundits are wondering whether Chauvin will receive a fair trial, given the politicised atmosphere that has surrounded the case.

    "That should matter to you, regardless of who you voted for", said Fox News' host Tucker Carlson on Wednesday. "Every American deserves a fair trial, period. That’s the whole point of this country. Equal justice under the law. There is no other point. But how will Chauvin have one?"

    Minneapolis residents warn that "anything under a 10-year sentence" for Chauvin will cause justice activists "to go into an uproar", according to NBC News.

    At the same time, prospective jurors express fear and anxiety over the case. For instance, one candidate said that he was afraid that rioters could attack his home and his family.

    ​Some of prospective jurors expressed "strong opinions" about the case, which is hardly surprising given the months-long nationwide Black Lives Matter campaign over Floyd's death.

    "Before any investigation had been completed, Vice President Kamala Harris, then a United States senator, said Chauvin clearly 'murdered' Floyd, while others insisted the crime was open and shut," Jonathan Turley, an American attorney, legal scholar, writer, and commentator, highlighted in his recent op-ed for The Hill.
    A demonstrator holds up an image of George Floyd during a rally on the first day of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, on murder charges in the death of Floyd, in New York City, New York, U.S., March 8, 2021.
    A demonstrator holds up an image of George Floyd during a rally on the first day of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, on murder charges in the death of Floyd, in New York City, New York, U.S., March 8, 2021.

    What Exactly Killed George Floyd?

    However, there are still a lot of questions pending in this case: one of them is what exactly killed George Floyd. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner (ME) said in the statement of probable cause that "the autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation." It suggested that Floyd's "underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease" combined with potential intoxication and Floyd's being restrained by the police "likely contributed to his death".

    A detailed autopsy revealed a wide range of psychoactive substances in George Floyd's system at the time of his death.

    ​The footage of Floyd's arrest over the use of a counterfeit 20-dollar bill, demonstrated by Tucker Carlson during his Wednesday show, indicated that the African American appeared to be deeply depressed when the police approached him. According to the Fox News' host, it was Floyd's inadequate behaviour that prompted police officers to ask him whether he was on drugs. One policeman noted that there was foam around Floyd's mouth. Furthermore, the video showed that Floyd said that he "can't breathe" even before he was put on the ground and Chauvin placed his knee on the suspect's neck – an official restraining technique of the Minneapolis Police Department at that time.

    Demonstrators gather in Minneapolis as a jury is selected for the trial of a police officer accused of killing George Floyd.
    © AP Photo / Jim Mone
    Demonstrators outside the trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis

    There is even more to this case than meets the eye, as investigative journalist, Jason Goodman, told Sputnik last June, suggesting that the story of racism-driven killing of George Floyd may fall apart during the trial. Thus, the allegedly "racist" former policeman had been married for ten years to Kellie Chauvin, an Asian-American immigrant. The journalist also drew attention to reports claiming that Floyd and Chauvin worked at the same club for a period of time. In addition, Floyd had a violent criminal history as well as history of drug addiction in the past.

    Court records say that Floyd was arrested on nine separate occasions between 1997 and 2007, mostly on drug and theft charges. In 2007 he was charged with aggravated robbery with a deadly weapon, for which he pleaded guilty in 2009 and was sentenced to five years in prison.

    While the court has yet to sort out the 25 May 2020 tragedy, the US House of Representatives has already passed H.R. 1280, the "George Floyd Justice in Policing Act", along the party lines. The bill envisages eliminating qualified immunity for law enforcement, reprogramming existing funds to invest in transformative community-based policing programmes, and mandating data collection on police encounters among other measures. The National Association of Police Organisations (NAPO) denounced the legislation, suggesting that it remove[s] any legal protections for officers, while making it easier to prosecute them for mistakes on the job, not just criminal act."


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