Jerry Blackwell’s rebuttal after the closing arguments in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis on Monday had a resonance and conviction that brought to mind the eloquence of the late Johnnie Cochran. His line that there was “no excuse for police abuse,” has the same rhythmic sonority of Cochran’s “if it doesn’t fit, you must acquit” that won O.J. Simpson a victory.
Blackwell followed this piece of poetic rebuttal with a reference to George Floyd’s enlarged heart that the defense cited as a possible cause of his death and not asphyxia. “You are told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died…because his heart was too big…and having seen all the evidence, you know the truth, and the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”
That contrast captured the essence of the three-week long trial, the parade of state witnesses, and a verdict that has cities and law enforcement agencies, to say nothing of businesses, on pins and needles.
The recent death of Walter Mondale, the killing of Daunte Wright, and Derek Chauvin’s trial has made Minneapolis an epicenter of discussion, a place of mourning and possible chaotic discontent.
For several hours, as we go to press, the jurors have been sequestered, and they must decide whether to convict Chauvin of second and third degree murder or second degree manslaughter. There is also the possibility of a hung jury or acquittal. It’s a complicated outcome with jurors having to weigh on three separate verdicts, meaning Chauvin can be acquitted on all, found guilty on one and not guilty on another. A hung jury could be an outcome if a unanimous decision isn’t reached on a charge.
Judge Cahill can request that the jury continue to deliberate if such an impasse occurs, and if this proves unsuccessful then a mistrial is the outcome.
If Chauvin is convicted, there were indications that an appeal was the next move from his defense. After the jury was sent to deliberate, Judge Cahill had an exchange with Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson who called for a mistrial and hinted the case would be appealed.
We know that half the jury is Black and the other half is mostly white, and if they vote as the lawmakers in Congress vote, we could very well end up with a split decision, and that would be an acquittal for Chauvin, but it’s more complicated than that.
There was something else the prosecution delivered that will probably be of importance to the jurors beyond the testimony of witnesses and that’s the words “believe what you see,” but here again there’s a problem because too many folks see behind their eyes not in front.
We have heard about the hearts of Mr. Floyd and Mr. Chauvin; now we await the collective heart of the jurors.