On Tuesday, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of murdering George Floyd. It was a small victory. It was justice, I guess. It was, for the most part, a single instance of the kind of accountability that desperately needs to be normalized.
The day before the verdict was announced, another ex-cop who has been brought to some semblance of justice regarding the extrajudicial execution of another Black man was seeking a ruling that would have undone any sliver of progress Chauvin’s guilty verdict might have earned for America’s justice system.
If you’re familiar with the case then you know that Slager’s 2016 murder trial over Scott’s death ended in a mistrial. In 2017, Slager entered a plea deal and pleaded guilty to federal charges of violating Scott’s civil rights. He was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
According to AP, Slager argued in court that his sentence should be set aside because—wait for it—his lawyers weren’t very good.
That sound you might be hearing right now is the collective eye-roll of every underprivileged Black person sitting in jail or prison in America right now simply because they couldn’t afford adequate representation in court. Cry me a blue river.
Slager also claimed that his attorney, Andy Savage, hadn’t informed him of all of the plea deals prosecutors put on the table in 2017. AP reports that, according to 2017 court documents, Savage said he told his client about every potential deal.
At any rate, US District Judge Richard Gergel wrote in his ruling that in negotiating the plea deal that Slager agreed to, Slager’s attorneys “fell well within the bounds of reasonable professional competence and practice,” CNN reports.
I can’t help but imagine how different the reaction to Chauvin’s conviction would have been if the day before it was announced, we were all still processing rage and sadness over watching Scott’s killer be set free. It just goes to show you how fragile even the illusion of progress is in the fight against systemic racism in policing.