Convicting a police officer of killing someone is notoriously difficult, in part because juries hesitate to second-guess the defendant when the officer claims to have made a split-second decision in a life-or-death situation. But that’s probably not an argument Derek Chauvin can make.
The fired Minneapolis police officer who goes on trial Monday was captured on video pinning George Floyd to the pavement, his knee on the Black man’s neck, for about nine minutes last May. Onlookers repeatedly shouted at Chauvin to get off, asked him to check for a pulse and warned that Floyd no longer seemed to be breathing.
“If I’m a prosecutor, I’m holding my stopwatch up for 8 minutes and 47 seconds and showing the jury how long that is,” said Geoffrey Alpert, a criminology professor at the University of South Carolina who co-wrote “Evaluating Police Uses of Force.”