Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer who was convicted of the murder of unarmed black man George Floyd has filed for a new trial.
Chauvin was found guilty on all three charges that he was facing following just 10 hours of deliberations by the jury. He was convicted on the charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter and is set to be sentenced next month.
Chauvin’s legal team has requested a new trial alleging that there had been prosecutorial and jury misconduct and errors of law at the trial and that the verdict was contrary to law.
His attorney, Eric Nelson, petitioned the court, alleging that Chauvin’s constitutional rights were violated when Judge Peter Cahill refused to change the venue of the trial and that the pretrial publicity deprived the officer of a fair trial.
According to the motion, the court abused its discretion in the following instances:
- When it failed to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial, or in the least, admonish them to avoid all media
- When it permitted the State to present cumulative evidence with respect to use of force
- When it failed to order that a record be made of the numerous sidebars that occurred during the trial
- When it submitted instructions to the jury that failed to accurately reflect the law with respect to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and authorized use of force
Nelson also asked the judge for a hearing to impeach the verdict on the grounds that the jury committed misconduct, felt race-based pressure, felt intimidated or threatened, and/or failed to adhere to jury instructions, though the filing did not include details about that assertion. To impeach a verdict is to question its validity.
US media report that the request for a new trial was expected and is a common move following a conviction.
The New York Times quoted experts as saying it was unlikely that the jury’s decision would be overturned because of the evidence in the case.
If this request is denied, it can add another layer of decisions for Nelson to appeal. Brandt and others have said Chauvin’s convictions are unlikely to be overturned.
Chauvin became the subject of national and international fury last May when footage emerged of him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd begged him to stop. Floyd repeatedly said “I can’t breathe“, “Mama”, and “please”. Despite the pleas, Chauvin did not remove his knee, resulting in the death of Floyd.
Security camera footage from a nearby business did not show Floyd resisting the arrest. During the final two minutes, Floyd was motionless and had no pulse.
Chauvin and the other officers involved were fired the day following the incident from the Minneapolis Police Department. Chauvin had worked at the department since 2001.
Amid national protests, Chauvin was arrested and eventually charged with second-degree murder.
Three fellow officers, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao, fired from the Minneapolis police department along with Chauvin the next day were each charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Aiding and abetting second-degree murder carries the same maximum punishment as the underlying offense – 40 years in prison.