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The Chauvin verdict

DENVER, CO – MAY 30: Braxton Robertson pleads with the police during a protest after the killing of George Floyd – the Minneapolis man, who was killed by an officer, while being detained – in downtown Denver on Saturday, May 30, 2020. Thousands gathered to protest as police enforced an 8 p.m. citywide curfew. As officers advanced, protestors began throwing objects as officers returned non-lethal fire into the crowd. (Photo by Aaron Ontiveroz/The Denver Post)

To my mind the evidence ought to compel a conviction on the most serious charge Derek Chauvin faces, i.e., second-degree murder conviction, which under Minnesota law consists of “causing the death of a human being, without intent to cause that death, while committing or attempting to commit another felony” (the felony here being third degree assault).

Unfortunately I think this is unlikely. The most we can hope for, I believe, is a compromise verdict, which convicts Chauvin of either third degree murder, that is, “unintentionally causing someone’s death by committing an act that is eminently dangerous to other persons while exhibiting a depraved mind, with reckless disregard for human life,” or, more likely, second degree manslaughter, “culpable negligence where a person creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes the chance of causing death or great bodily harm to someone else.” 

The single most likely outcome, however, is probably a hung jury. George Floyd was a large Black man who struggled with drug addiction, had a criminal record, and apparently resisted arrest. That he was obviously murdered by being suffocated for several minutes after he could no longer have been a threat to anyone is not going to be enough to convict a white cop of even a very watered down version of the crime Chauvin committed.

I hope I’m wrong.

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