I’ve never studied law, I think I’m too pragmatic to be a lawyer. I would struggle to compartmentalise fact from duty, especially if I were to be a defence lawyer.
Derek Chauvin, the ex cop who balanced a knee on George Floyd’s neck for nearly 10 minutes, pinning him against a dirty asphalt street and eventually killing him, is on trial. His lawyers – optimists, gluttons for punishment or morally vapid opportunists – are playing the reasonable doubt card, insinuating that the smartphone camera footage we’ve all seen somehow can leave doubt in anyone’s mind about what transpired that day in front of Cup Foods.
I’ll just say it and get it out the way: there is nothing, nothing George Floyd could have done to warrant this kind of treatment.
Pedophiles and sexual deviants get less brutal treatments.
Our worst murderers and serial killers face more humane forms of corporal punishment, many of them permitted to live out the remainder of their days in prison, with the luxury of being able to die from natural causes.
We put down sick and incurable pets and prize-winning equestrian heroes with more dignity and grace than Derek Chauvin extended to Mr Floyd during his last minutes on earth.
Final moments in which Mr Floyd gasped, writhed and shouted in pain. Final moments in which he, a grown man of over 6 feet, called for his mother. Final moments in which he pleaded with officers to please, please let him up.
Instead we see a stocky officer Thao more interested in trolling, shouting at and threatening bystanders than pausing to see what his fellow officer was doing and intervening.
We are only one day in the trial, but it feels like the defence are paving the way for the usual arguments we see in every cop killing case: victim-blaming. The defence already hinted that it is seeking to turn the spotlight back on Mr Floyd and paint him as a Fentanyl popping opioid addict. They have already laid the groundwork for attributing Mr Floyd’s death to heart disease and not to the fact that another full grown man rested the weight of his body on his windpipe for nearly 10 minutes.
We already see the defence doling out whataboutisms – what about Mr Floyd’s past? What about the pills found with Mr Floyd’s DNA on them? What about the struggle prior to placing Mr Floyd on the ground when he refused to get in the back of the squad car?
I hope the prosecution asks the only “what about” that is relevant: What about Chauvin refusing to relinquish pressure on Mr Floyd’s neck despite his cries, pleading and clear distress?
Reality is, we have seen the pendulum swing in both directions in cases of police brutality. We witnessed a rare and well-placed conviction in the murder of Laquan McDonald but we have also seen police walk away from murders, even those recorded by dashcams and body cams, such as in the murders of Breonna Taylor, Philando Castile and in the Eric Garner chokehold murder case.
May the unnecessary and brutal death of George Floyd, a death that moved the entire world to embrace anti-racism activism, to stand in solidarity (however briefly) with the Black Lives Matter movement be met with justice.
Anyonita Green is an American in Britain. She writes with a confessionalist voice, exploring narrative essays, BAME topics, pop culture, parenthood, obesity, race, travel, literature and food.