MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – For the past week, Jason DeRusha has been anchoring gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial for CBSN Minnesota.
He took a look back at the first week of the trial, the key moments, and the emotional developments.
I’ll never forget Darnella Frazier describing how she sees her father and her brother and her family when she thinks of what she saw that night. And hearing witness after witness describe that they knew George Floyd was dying – everyone seemed to know except for the four officers on the scene.
That emotion really feeds into the state’s case that you can believe your eyes – that it can’t be a coincidence that George Floyd happened to die right at that moment when he was under Derek Chauvin’s knee.
After that, hearing two Minneapolis Police officers testify that they think Derek Chauvin went too far; so much for the thin blue line where officers support each other at any cost. Hearing Lt. Richard Zimmerman say that it was “totally unnecessary” is something jurors will likely talk about in the room.
The defense tried to paint the crowd as angry and agitated. They have tried to make the case that the officers were perhaps distracted by the crowd. It certainly was interesting to meet the people we see in the surveillance video on that scene, and hear their view that they were vocal and angry but not a threat to officers.
That said: the use of force evidence is only part of the story. We haven’t heard any medical evidence. We haven’t heard from the medical examiner on toxicology results, we haven’t heard experts testify as to how being in that prone position and having a knee on your neck can affect someone under the influence of drugs. We still haven’t heard a lot of things.
I think we’ve also seen the emergence of a really effective prosecutor: Erin Eldridge is an Assistant Attorney General and showed incredible skill and empathy in talking to witnesses. Her sense of rhythm and relating to the witness was something our legal analyst Joe Tamburino – a criminal defense attorney not associated with the case – pointed out. While she’s already had an impressive legal career, she certainly comes out looking like a star in the first week.
The emotion of the case is draining for the jurors and witnesses – we’ve seen a juror need to leave the room, and we’ve seen a couple witnesses need breaks as well. It’s also draining for journalists who are watching every second of the trial.
Watching the police officer’s body worn cameras back-to-back-to-back, all four of them, for over an hour, was very hard. Without casting judgment on the case, watching someone’s final moments is extremely difficult.
The emotion of what happened to George Floyd is universal: we all wish this turned out differently. But that emotion is only part of this – the jurors will have to use that, and the logical analysis of the medical evidence to come to make their decision.