Congresswoman Maxine Waters may have handed Derek Chauvin’s defense grounds for appeal and the turning over of any guilty verdict.
Speaking after the jury was sent out on Monday afternoon, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson once again made a bid to have the case against his client thrown out on grounds that there was no way the jury could be untainted by the excessive publicity surrounding the case.
‘Now that we have US representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this trial it’s frankly mind-blowing,’ Nelson said.
Taking it into consideration Judge Peter Cahill said: ‘I grant that Congresswoman Waters may have given you something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned’.
Judge Cahill denied Nelson’s move for a mistrial but he said: ‘I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case. They should respect a co-equal branch of government.’
He said that failure to do so was ‘abhorrent’, but added: ‘I don’t think it’s given additional material with which to prejudice the jury. A congresswoman’s opinion really doesn’t matter a whole lot.’
Waters (D – California) had joined protesters in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on Saturday night for a demonstration over the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old black man shot dead by a white police officer during a traffic stop on April 11.
Waters told the protesters that she will fight for justice on their behalf and urged them to ‘to get more confrontational’ – just one day after protests descended into violence.
‘I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty,’ she said of the Chauvin trial. ‘And if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to stay on the street. We get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.’
Derek Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson called for a mistrial after the jury retired on Monday, citing comments California Congresswoman Maxine Waters (left) made about the case during a protest on Saturday. Judge Peter Cahill (right) condemned Waters’ remarks as ‘abhorrent’ before stating that he would not declare a mistrial
Derek Chauvin is pictured in court on Monday as his attorney unsuccessfully lobbied for a mistrial
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell likewise went after Waters on Monday, telling colleagues: ‘It’s harder to imagine anything more inappropriate than a member of Congress flying in from California to inform local leaders – not so subtly – that this defendant had better be found guilty or else there will be big trouble in the streets.’
The Kentucky Republican said that Waters’ demand for a guilty verdict was ‘like somebody window-shopping or ordering off a menu.’
‘Every single American deserves a fair trial. This is sacred. You do not balance the scales of justice by trying to tip them,’ McConnell said.
The top Senate Republican noted that through much of the country’s ‘quest for civil rights and equal justice has been the fight to get rid of extra-judicial violence, to get rid of rigged trials where the outcome was molded by public sentiment or angry mob.’
‘It is beyond the pale for a sitting member of the United States Congress to look at what happened last summer and imply there should be some kind of a sequel if a legal case does not unfold as she thinks it should,’ he said.
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy took his criticism even further – saying that he is introducing a motion to censure Waters.
Meanwhile House Speaker Nancy Pelosi told Capitol Hill reporters Monday that Waters didn’t need to apologize as her comments didn’t incite violence, despite calls from Republicans to have Waters punished for her remarks.
And White House press secretary Jen Psaki refused to condemn Waters’ comments, telling reporters: ‘Well, I can speak to the president’s view. He has been very clear that he recognizes the issue of police violence against people of color, communities of color is one of great anguish and it’s exhausting and quite emotional at times.’
Waters defended herself on Monday by saying that Republicans were trying to ‘send a message to all of the white supremacists’ by criticizing her call for Black Lives Matter to ‘get more confrontational’ if Chauvin is found not guilty.
Speaking to the Grio, Waters said: ‘I am nonviolent. Republicans will jump on any word, any line and try to make it fit their message and their cause for denouncing us and denying us, basically calling us violent.
‘Any time they see an opportunity to seize on a word, so they do it and they send a message to the white supremacists, the KKK, the Oath Keepers, the [Proud] Boys and all of that.’
She also accused Republicans of using the tactic to raise money off the Democrats’ backs.
Walters said she was ‘not worried that they’re going to continue to distort what I say.’
‘This is who they are and this is how they act,’ she added. ‘And I’m not going to be bulled by them.
Cahill’s condemnation of Waters’ comments came after the state of Minnesota concluded its murder case against Chauvin on Monday by telling the jury: ‘The reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr Chauvin’s heart was too small.’
The jury was then dismissed for deliberation, where they will consider three charges against Chauvin: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
After the jury stepped out Nelson called for a mistrial over prosecutor Jerry Blackwell’s characterization of the defense’s case as ‘nonsense’ and a ‘story’ – as well as the possibility that media attention could bias the jury.
Judge Cahill said he was not making any findings as to whether Blackwell’s comments constituted prosecutorial misconduct that could result in a mistrial but said that he had dealt with all of Nelson’s specific objections as he had made them.
As for the media attention, Cahill said he is hopeful that the jurors have heeded his warning against looking at any news coverage of the case before officially denying the mistrial motion.
Outside the court more than 2,000 National Guard members and 1,100 law enforcement officials stood watch over Minneapolis as the city braces for potential unrest over the verdict.
In his closing statement, Nelson insisted that Chauvin acted as any reasonable officer would when he pinned Floyd to the pavement while underlining the handcuffed black man’s ‘active resistance’ to arrest.
Nelson urged the jury to examine all of the evidence presented over three weeks of testimony and come to the conclusion that the state did not meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Floyd’s death was a direct result of Chauvin’s actions on May 25, 2020.
‘This was an authorized use of force – as unattractive as that may be,’ Nelson said, noting that none of the state’s use-of-force experts or police officials could agree on a specific point where Chauvin’s actions became unreasonable.
He also emphasized the ‘hostile’ reactions of the crowd that gathered to watch Floyd’s arrest and yelled out for the officers to get off of him – asserting that the chaos was distracting for Chauvin.
Nelson dragged out his at times rambling closing for more than two hours before Judge Peter Cahill interrupted him and called for a lunch break at 2.10pm local time.
When he returned to conclude his statement, Nelson ripped into prosecutors for discounting Floyd’s underlying health issues and drug use when arguing that Floyd’s primary cause of death was asphyxia during Chauvin’s restraint.
‘When you take into consideration the presumption of innocence and proof beyond a reason doubt. I would submit to you that it is nonsense to suggest that none of these other factors had any role. That is not reasonable,’ Nelson said.
‘When you conclude your analysis of the evidence, the entirety of the evidence, when you review the law as written, all within a thorough honest analysis, the state has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. And therefore Mr Chauvin should be found not guilty of all counts.’
Defense attorney Eric Nelson is seen delivering his closing statement on Monday, where he urged the jury to examine all of the evidence presented over three weeks of testimony and come to the conclusion that the state did not meet the burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt that Floyd’s death was a direct result of Chauvin’s actions on May 25, 2020
Nelson underlined Floyd’s active resistance to arrest by playing footage from Chauvin’s body camera for the jury
Members of the National Guard and police officers stand guard in Minneapolis ahead of a Chauvin verdict
High school students from across Minneapolis participated in a statewide walkout on Monday to stand in solidarity against racial injustice and honor the lives of George Floyd and Daunte Wright
Minneapolis was transformed into a fortress over the weekend as city officials, business owners and residents braced for unrest that could follow the verdict in Chauvin’s case.
More than 3,000 members of the National Guard are currently stationed in the city in addition to 1,100 officers from public safety agencies across the state as part of what has been termed Operation Safety Net.
The operation, which is rumored to have cost the city more than $1million, moved into its third stage on Monday with the start of jury deliberation.
Nelson began his closing statement by reminding the jury that the Chauvin ‘doesn’t have to play catch up’, he starts with presumption of innocence.
For the first time in the case, Chauvin set down the pen with which he has scribbled throughout and looked at the screen on which Nelson displayed definitions of standards of doubt, stretching out his arms and calling for them to consider the scales of justice, reasonably balanced.
Civil cases may use a ‘preponderance of evidence’ as a standard of proof he told them – a grain of sand that could, he suggested, tip the scales.
The next level is ‘clear and convincing evidence’. This is the standard, Nelson told the jury, that the state used to, ‘take away your children.’
The highest standard is proof ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. Nelson explained: ‘Essentially what the state has to convince you is that the evidence in this case completely eliminates any reasonable doubt – or in other words leaving only unreasonable doubt, capricious, unpredictable, fanciful – space aliens flew in and inhabited the body of Derek Chauvin, that’s fanciful.’
Nelson asked the jury to be ‘intellectually honest’ and cast his own statements accordingly.
Most notably, Nelson took a quick swipe at the state’s rebuttal of defense medical expert Dr David Fowler’s contention that carbon monoxide may have played a part in Floyd’s death.
Dr Tobin came in and told the jury, he said, that there could not have been any carbon monoxide poisoning because his oxygen saturation levels at hospital were 98 percent.
Nelson pointed out: ‘I could get up in front of you and argue you to that we know this wasn’t asphyxiation because George Floyd had a 98 percent oxygen level but that’s not intellectually honest.
What is ‘excited delirium’? The condition Chauvin’s defense claims made Floyd dangerous during arrest
Derek Chauvin’s defense has repeatedly suggested that George Floyd may have been experiencing ‘excited delirium’ during his fatal arrest on May 25.
Excited delirium is a condition characterized by the abrupt onset of aggression and distress, typically accompanying drug abuse.
Thomas Lane, a rookie officer who helped restrain Floyd, could be heard on body camera footage questioning whether Floyd might be experiencing excited delirium.
The subject came up at Chauvin’s trial last week when the defense called Nicole Mackenzie, a Minneapolis police officer who trains other officers in medical care and testified for the prosecution earlier.
Mackenzie told the jury that new officers are told how to recognize the signs of excited delirium. Suspects may be incoherent, she said, exhibit extraordinary strength, sweat or suffer from abnormal body temperature, or seem like they suddenly snapped. They’re taught that cardiovascular disease, drug abuse or mental illness can trigger excited delirium, she said.
But Mackenzie told the jury that she would defer to an emergency room doctor in diagnosing the condition. She also testified that she provides training on excited delirium only to new recruits. Judge Peter Cahill cautioned jurors that there is no evidence that the veteran Chauvin had the training.
There is no universally accepted definition of excited delirium and researchers have said it’s not well understood.
The American Psychiatric Association’s diagnostic handbook doesn’t list the condition and one study last year concluded it is mostly cited as a cause only when the person who died had been restrained.
‘It doesn’t stack up against the rest of the evidence because of what we know. We heard the testimony of paramedic Seth Bravinder and [ER physician] Dr Langenfeld.
‘They came in and said they began resuscitation efforts, they introduced oxygen they’re manually breathing for him. They’re re-oxygenating his blood.