(Washington) The police officer who killed African American George Floyd in 2020 asked an appeals court on Wednesday to overturn his murder conviction, on the grounds that the extreme media coverage of the case and the risk of riots l deprived of a “fair” trial.
Derek Chauvin, 46, was convicted of murder by a northern Minnesota state court after a well-attended trial in 2021, and sentenced to 22 and a half years in prison .
His lawyer William Mohrman pleaded on Wednesday before a panel of judges for them to cancel this trial, in particular because the hearings had not been disoriented despite threats of violence around the court.
“The main issue in this appeal is whether a defendant can have a fair trial in a court surrounded by concrete blocks, barbed wire, armored vehicles and National Guard troops, all present in the event of his acquittal? he launched.
Whatever the outcome of this appeal, Derek Chauvin will remain in prison, because he pleaded guilty to “civil rights violations” of George Floyd before a federal judge and received in 2022 a final sentence of 21 years in prison.
Three other police officers, who had remained passive during the agony of George Floyd, received sentences ranging from two and a half to three and a half years in prison.
On May 25, 2020, Derek Chauvin, a white policeman who had been stationed for 19 years in Minneapolis, had remained kneeling on the neck of the black forties for nearly ten minutes, indifferent to his groans and the interventions of panicked passers-by.
The scene, filmed and posted online, sparked huge protests against racism and police brutality across the United States and beyond.
During the trial in local justice, his lawyer pleaded that George Floyd died of an overdose, combined with health problems, and assured that Derek Chauvin had made justified use of force.
Today, the former police officer seeks to invalidate this trial, especially because it was held in the twin cities of Minneapolis-Saint-Paul, which were still on edge less than a year after the tragedy.
During the selection of the jurors, all the candidates “expressed concerns for their safety”, and their fear of seeing their city go up in flames again in the event of acquittal, said Mr.e Mohrman.
“The case should not have been tried in Minneapolis where the coverage of the case was omnipresent”, he also estimated. In a written argument, he criticized the media for having “idealized George Floyd and demonized Derek Chauvin”.
” Transparent ”
“The trial was one of the most transparent and thorough in the history of our country”, retorted Neal Katyal, a renowned lawyer who represented the prosecution: “the judge and the parties took two weeks to select with great care the jurors, 44 witnesses marched to the bar, the jurors saw videos, heard passers-by, experts…”
“Even if Chauvin could identify a few minor errors, they would have no effect. The evidence of his guilt was recorded on a video that the whole world could see, ”he said.
Taking up some arguments of Me Mohrman, Neal Katyal considered that the omission of a juror, who did not reveal having participated in an anti-racism march in Washington, was not a lie likely to disqualify the trial. This man “was very clear about his opinion regarding police brutality” and the defense consciously decided to keep him on the jury, he noted.
The judges have 90 days to render their decision.