Written by Nolan Alisago (News Writer)
The prosecution and defense have rested their cases as the trial of Derek Chauvin begins to wind down. So before closing arguments and sentencing, what has the prosecution and defense argued?
Armed with extensive, gut-wrenching video footage, the prosecution has had an emotional strategy that relies on the empathy of both the witnesses and the jury. While the combination of medical experts’ testimony and video evidence is certainly the backbone of the prosecution, it is the humanization of Floyd and the distress of the witnesses that have been the most powerful.
The prosecution had a similar strategy for each civilian witness. Each witness was devastated by standing by as they watched Floyd die. The guilt each witness had for not doing more to try and save George Floyd’s life, guilt from not doing things as little as rejecting a fake twenty-dollar bill to as extreme as attacking Chauvin, was treated by the prosecution the way counselors treat those with survivors guilt. Ultimately the prosecution helped each witness come to similar conclusions, it was not the witness’s job to help Floyd, it was the public servant killing him who needed to stand up and help. Some non-witnesses have been called by the prosecution for the express purpose of further humanizing Floyd in order to exemplify the tragedy of the situation for the jury.
One such witness was George Floyd’s girlfriend. While she gave touching testimony about George’s character, she has made headlines recently as being the high school teacher of Daunte Wright, another unarmed black man killed by police only ten miles from where Floyd was killed. While not directly related to the case, the way trauma has been so interconnected while rattling the Minneapolis community helps reinforce the need for justice and the importance of the trial.
Where the prosecution had worked to reassure what was on tape and what witnesses saw was what killed Floyd, the defense has worked to cast doubt on how Floyd died and what was documented through extensive video. The defense called their own medical experts to contradict the medical experts of the prosecution. They hoped to blame overdose and underlying health conditions for Floyd’s death, as well as possibly carbon monoxide poisoning instead of the prosecution’s experts who claimed he died from Chauvin asphyxiating Floyd, but the prosecution had many holes to punch. The dismissal of carbon monoxide poisoning was fairly easy as the medical expert made the assumption the car was running without any other evidence, and while he blamed Floyd’s heart condition, he was forced to recognize that arrhythmia is what ultimately kills someone deprived of oxygen.
Beyond that, the prosecution also poked holes in his analysis, as the medical expert did not take into account the weight of Chauvin’s gear when analyzing the pressure on Floyd’s body. Most importantly the expert agreed that Floyd should have been given immediate medical attention when he went into cardiac arrest, making other parts of the defense’s argument trying to justify the use of force fall flat as all medical experts agreed he needed medical attention and not the force Chauvin was using.
Before resting their case, Chauvin spoke for the first time to plead the fifth. Prosecutors then called back their medical expert to refute the defense expert. Following this testimony, the judge excused the jury until Monday, where closing arguments will be held before the jury is sequestered in order for them to begin their final deliberation.