By Andrew C. McCarthy
George Floyd forcibly resisted arrest. He did not verbally threaten the arresting officers, but he used significant force against them to try to prevent being taken into custody. He did not merely refuse to comply with their directives.
That was the upshot of Wednesday, the third day of the Derek Chauvin trial, in which the fired officer is charged with two counts of murdering Floyd, as well as with a count of negligently causing his death (manslaughter).
Though prosecutors tried some misdirection, the video and audio recordings are clear: Floyd, at six-foot, four-inches and 223 pounds (according to the autopsy report), was so determined not to be placed in the back of the squad car that, even though he was handcuffed, four grown men — police officers trained in the use of force, and pushing and pulling for all they were worth — could not get him to take a seated position.
This does not mean the officers’ prolonged restraint of Floyd later on, as his life faded, was justified. That is the central issue the jury will have to resolve. But the latest evidence helps better explain what preceded the infamous and grim video footage of Floyd under Chauvin’s knee.
Notably, Floyd’s now-famous statements that he could not breathe and that police were killing him, as well as his cries for his mother, were not just reactions — as prosecutors and political activists have framed it — to his being placed in a neck hold by Chauvin after police put him in a dangerous prone position on the street. In reality, Floyd began calling for his mother, and crying out that he could not breathe and was going to die, while police were trying to get him to sit in the back of the squad car. Those claims may have been sincere, but if so, they were spurred by what Floyd maintained were his “claustrophobia” and anxiety over being taken into custody, not by the neck hold in which Chauvin subsequently placed him.
What’s more, it was not the idea of the arresting officers to place Floyd in a prone position on the street. Rather, after propelling his way out of the squad-car rear seat that four cops unsuccessfully struggled to place him in, Floyd insisted that he preferred to lie down on the street. The police restrained him in the position in which he put himself, which was not the position they wanted him in (they wanted him in the car). Reasonably convinced that Floyd was high on drugs (a conclusion supported by his erratic behavior, the accounts of witnesses, and later toxicology tests), the police called for paramedics to take him to a hospital, rather than continuing to try to thrust him in the squad car and take him into police custody.
That is, the police accused of murdering Floyd actually summoned medical help out of concern over his condition.
Furthermore, unlike the state’s preferred evidence, which is peppered with the barbs of bystanders who were not participants in the officers’ initial interactions with Floyd, the recorded evidence introduced Wednesday showed that police were worried about both Floyd’s medical condition and the possibility that, under the influence of drugs, he could suddenly come to and again become aggressively resistant — under circumstances where they’d already been unable to control him.
That was the bottom line of Wednesday’s presentation of evidence. Unlike the first two days of trial, which focused on recordings of the last nine minutes and 29 seconds of Floyd’s encounter with the police (i.e., the part when he was lying on the street), prosecutors introduced the proof of what happened before that encounter because they had to, not because they wanted to. Had they withheld it, Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson would have anxiously presented it during the defense case.
Mindful that Wednesday’s evidence would hurt their case, prosecutors tried to dilute its impact by presenting it through witnesses highly sympathetic to Floyd.
The best example of this was Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old who described himself as a “nosy” neighborhood elder. He wandered over to watch as police were trying to put Floyd in the squad car. Though McMillian was not acquainted with Floyd, he intervened and tried to help the situation. Without going into personal detail, he said he has had encounters with police and believes, once a person is in handcuffs, he is under arrest and there is no point doing anything other than cooperating because “you can’t win.” So, as police were trying to get Floyd to sit in the back of the squad car, and Floyd was refusing to cooperate, McMillian pleaded with him, from about ten feet away, to submit because “you can’t win.” Floyd, who was already complaining that he could not breathe, responded, “I’m not trying to win.”
At that point in the testimony, while the video was playing for the jury, McMillian got deeply upset and began to weep. Prosecutor Erin Eldridge repeatedly asked him if he was all right, reassured him that she knew it was difficult to testify, and brought him water, while McMillian grabbed liberally from a box of handkerchiefs, blew his nose, dabbed his eyes, and had great difficulty composing himself.
It was riveting . . . except that it riveted one’s attention away from was what was going on in the video. In this recording, while it was difficult to see the individual players, it was obvious that Floyd was struggling wildly with the police, and that the squad car was rocking violently.
As the video played and McMillian broke down, Eldridge asked the witness, “Can you explain what you’re feeling at this moment?” The question was irrelevant and absurdly prejudicial, but Chauvin’s counsel did not object, plainly not wanting to appear heartless in front of the jury. This is the state’s approach to the jury: Decide the case based on the nine minutes and 29 seconds we have emphasized; as for everything else, go with how you feel, and don’t worry so much about what you see.
Nevertheless, there were no Floyd sympathizers to put on the stand for the police-controlled recordings (from surveillance and body-worn cameras). They had to be admitted through a police administrative officer who had no direct involvement in the investigation. The jury watched these recordings without interruption or witness narration. They more clearly showed Floyd forcibly resisting arrest. The recordings also undermined the claim by off-duty firefighter Genevieve Hansen (an eyewitness who testified Monday) that she believed the cops were pressing their full body weights on Floyd. (On cross-examination, Hansen ultimately admitted that she had exaggerated the number of police; that from her vantage point, she couldn’t see two of them at all from the shoulders down; and that she only saw Chauvin for about four minutes from a partially obstructed view). Police surveillance video showed that the cops were not pressing body weight heavily on Floyd; were communicating with each other about his well-being as they waited for the ambulance they’d called; and were concerned about his drug use, fearing he could suddenly revive and start resisting again.
I find it odd that, though throughout the months since Floyd was martyred this tragedy was deemed the result of “systemic racism”, that doesn’t seem to have been entered as “evidence” yet. Maybe the prosecution is waiting for later. In any event, from what I’ve heard, the prosecution’s case is built upon emotion and sympathy for the dear departed, not facts and evidence.
I have already seen the full police cam video and seen the autopsies. I’ve asked numerous times for someone to tell me what the racist element in this was; apparently, it is intuitive… a white guy was in proximity to a black guy dying, so… racism.
People’s minds appear to be made up based on the months of racist propaganda they’ve been fed. Chauvin clearly murdered poor, defenseless, just minding his business Georgie. NOTHING else enters into consideration.
Uh….seriously? The entire bodycam footage was Floyd resisting arrest.
I can’t believe how ignorant the average person is on what actually happened, and how easy it is to get the fact publicly.
Chauvin must be acquitted.
Seeing the police cam footage was enlightening, it was kept secret until the trial.
But, the trial is also clarifying lots of other things.
For instance: George Floyd’s “girlfriend” (mother of some of his daughters) was has druggie soul mate who went on and off the wagon with George for as long as they knew one another.
They used the same dealers and did the same drugs.
SHE was listed in George’s phone as “mother,” or “mama.”
His own mom had died over a year before he did.
Also, as the officer cams show clearly, Officer Chauvin’s knee never was on George Floyd’s neck.
It was on his upper back.
This aligns with the autopsy report’s notation that George Floyd had NO INJURY to his neck, throat or internal parts in his throat.
And then, after he was rendered harmless—hands cuffed behind his back, face down on the pavement, and a threat to nobody—he was murdered over the course of nine minutes while repeatedly stating he couldn’t breathe and begging for his life.
Have you not watched any of the televised trial? Maybe you’d have a clue if you switched channels from the blathering airheads on FOX News’s Outnumbered and heard some actual testimony instead. It’s clear what happened. It was captured on multiple video recordings and has been explained in in excruciating detail in multiple sworn eyewitness accounts, a number of which were given by highly knowledgeable paramedics and police investigators. Of course if you did that, you might come to some understanding of why there’s been civil unrest after the seemingly endless repetition of such incidents.
@Greg: How does he cry for momma, scream he can’t breathe and beg for his life if he can’t breathe? The only person he should have begged to for his life was whoever he got the fentanyl from. I’m sure you, as a dedicated Democrat, will consider it a great loss if this isn’t declared a racist murder. But, sadly, the evidence clearly indicates otherwise.
I understand how totally ignorant of such things you leftists are, knowing nothing but propaganda and all, but there are more than one reason to restrain a suspect. One is to protect the officers. Another is to protect the suspect from injuring himself. Though Floyd was cuffed, he was still thrashing about in the squad car and if he were to hurt himself, the cops would still be on trial, just like in the Freddie Gray case. The cops could have just closed the doors of the quad car and let Floyd kill himself back there if all they were worried about was getting hurt by 6′ 6″ guy. But they have to worry about him hurting himself in their custody.
You ARE aware that all that has been presented in the trial thus far is the prosecution’s case… right? Not exactly a balanced coverage. However, even the complete bias of the prosecution provides support for the defense. For instance, if you can’t breathe, how do you cry out “I can’t breathe” for two or three minutes? Furthermore, if it was Chauvin’s knee keeping him from breathing, why did he start crying about being unable to breathe when the cops first got on the scene?
It’s also not the first time Floyd, a habitual criminal, ate a lot of drugs when confronted by police. But it was the last.
It is terribly important to Democrats to make this about racist cops. Like every other Democrat lie, this one fell apart a long time ago. If the media was more than 5% honest, you’d already know that.
command greggy-poo: you watch way to much cnn. at cnn “we make up the fake news.” so its racist if one tried to pass a fake bill, do drugs, murder, rape, home invasion, spend years in a TX jail, get thrown out of TX., engage in human and drug trafficking?
so according to you, sheet music is racist-black notes on white paper like edinburgh
@Greg: Floyd is dead because he was a career criminal who was on drugs and resisted arrest.
There’s absolutely no evidence that Derek Chauvin did anything racist… In fact, he’s in his rights to sue the state for their racist policies against white people.
These incidents were at their lowest ever before George Floyd.
Being black does not allow you to break the law, resist arrest, and pretend to be the victim when they shoot you after you attack them.
CNN has been carrying live coverage of the trial itself, while FOX News shows occasional short excerpts and while telling their audience what to think about it. You can either think for yourself, or let somebody else do that for you. I choose to do the former.
@Nathan Blue, #7:
Chauvin is not on trial for being a racist. He’s on trial for killing a man who had already been rendered defenseless and totally harmless. It took him nine minutes to accomplish that, and then it took a paramedic to tell him to get the hell of so they could try to resuscitate his handcuffed victim. I know this, because the whole thing was recorded in detail by multiple cameras.
Racism would refusing to look at what happened objectively because one party is white and the other is black. That’s a separate issue. Gullibility might also enter in. That’s what the defense team will be hoping for. They need to confuse one member of the jury about what they saw.
‘Dismantling Racism Workbook’ by authors Tema Okun and Kenneth Jones points out that “objectivity” is racist. It is used to direct teachers in American schools K-12.
Back in 2003 a Boston man sued police because they refused to allow him to apply to be a cop simply because he had an IQ over 103.
He appealed all the way thru the US Supreme Court.
He lost, lost, lost.
Why would anyone expect police to act intelligently when they are pulled from the dumbest of Americans?
I look at Officer Chauvin and do not see a smart man, but he had many awards for how well he handled people under the influence who came into contact with law enforcement.
All of a sudden now he’s wanting to “murder” one of them?
When did the intent form, Greg?
He was working with a group of police all trying to get George Floyd into a patrol car, not plotting to kill anyone.
And, if it was an accident combined with his voluntary OD, why charge him with “murder?”
You only know that in hindsight. In real life, as was explained in the testimony today, it was common for someone whacked out on drugs to regain consciousness and turn violent, often injuring themselves, which would ALSO be the cop’s fault. Chauvin was making sure that didn’t happen. He couldn’t know that Floyd was a dead man before he was even put in the patrol car.
But that’s exactly what the left has done. It’s why Minneapolis, Baltimore, Portland, Seattle, San Diego, Chicago, DC and New York City had neighborhoods destroyed. It was promoted by the left. “Systemic racism” has been the catchphrase, unphased by the fact that the “systems” were controlled by Democrats. I can’t explain why the prosecution hasn’t introduced the leftist trope of racism by now except that maybe they want to preserve some modicum of credibility, something you leftists outside the courtroom don’t seem to worry about.
But they’ve replaced the emotion of racism with the emotion of sympathy. Sympathy cannot replace facts.
@Deplorable Me, #11:
Really? Face down on the pavement, with his hands cuffed behind his back, surrounded by four armed police officers? That wasn’t the situation “in hindsight”. That was the situation the moment those conditions existed.