Derek Chauvin’s Attorneys Want to Use 2019 George Floyd Arrest as Evidence That Floyd Caused His Own Death

Illustration for article titled Derek Chauvin’s Attorneys Want to Use 2019 George Floyd Arrest as Evidence That Floyd Caused His Own Death
Photo: Chandan Khanna (Getty Images)

Attorneys for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin are requesting that a jury be allowed to see evidence from a 2019 arrest of George Floyd, and they’re pretending they want this for any other reason outside of hopes that racism and hatred for those suffering from drug addiction will set their client free.

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OK, so, according to the Associated Press, the attorneys simply want to prove that Floyd was at least partially responsible for his own death, and they plan on proving this by citing an arrest that they say shows multiple similarities to his detainment on May 25 of last year—multiple similarities except, of course, for the fact that Floyd didn’t die in 2019.

From AP:

The judge previously rejected Chauvin’s attempt to tell the jury about Floyd’s May 2019 arrest — a year before his fatal encounter with Chauvin — but heard fresh arguments Tuesday from both sides. He said he would rule on the request Thursday.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that new evidence makes the earlier arrest admissible: Drugs were found last December during a second search of the car Floyd was in, and were found in a January search of the squad car into which the four officers attempted to put Floyd.

He also argued the similarities between the encounters are relevant: Both times, as officers drew their guns and struggled to get Floyd out of the car, he called out for his mother, claimed he had been shot before and cried, and put what appeared to be pills in his mouth. Both searches turned up drugs in the cars. Officers noticed a white residue outside his mouth both times, although that has not been explained.

“The similarities are incredible,” Nelson said, AP reports. “The exact same behavior in two incidents, almost one year apart.”

Again, in a perfect world, everyone would immediately see what a weird-ass argument this is. People would see that Floyd having exhibited the same behavior during an arrest that he survived that he exhibited during the arrest he didn’t survive is not the defense Chauvin’s lawyers think it is.

Nelson took this argument even further by speculating that because paramedics who examined Floyd in 2019 warned him that his high blood pressure could put him at risk for a heart attack or a stroke, Floyd attempted to swallow his drugs because he knew he would be taken to the hospital instead of to jail. It’s an easy conclusion to just guess when the person in question isn’t alive to deny it.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank rightfully called the request for the 2019 arrest to be brought into evidence “the desperation of the defense to smear Mr. Floyd’s character, to show that what he struggled with an opiate addiction like so many Americans do, is really evidence of bad character.”

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“What these officers were dealing with is what they were responsible for,” Frank said. “What is relevant to this case is what they knew at the scene at this time.”

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the case, assured prosecutors that he would “very quickly” shut down any arguments by the defense that suggested that Floyd’s drug use meant he shouldn’t be sympathized with or that he deserved to die.

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More from AP:

“You don’t just dirty up someone who has died in these circumstances as a defense,” he said. But he said he would weigh the defense’s argument that alleged drug use during the 2019 arrest that led to “a hypertensive emergency” is relevant to what may have caused Floyd’s death in 2020.

“I think that’s, that’s the only relevance I see,” Cahill said.

Hopefully, Cahill does the right thing. Drug addiction should never be used as a justification for police brutality.

Zack Linly is a poet, performer, freelance writer, blogger and grown man lover of cartoons

DISCUSSION

reader7890
Reader7890

So what if he was arrested before? Chauvin put his weight on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes, shutting off the flow of air to his lungs and killing him while he was handcuffed and not resisting. THAT is the issue here.