As the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd headed into its second week, the Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar said residents remain “on edge” about the outcome.
On Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, Omar was reminded that few trials involving police officers result in conviction, and asked: “Are you and your city prepared for the possibility of a hung jury or a not-guilty verdict?”
“The community is on edge about that,” Omar said. “We have seen justice not delivered in our community for many years. I think that there is a lot of confidence in [state] attorney general Keith Ellison and the prosecutors in this case, but we are all eagerly awaiting to see how this trial shakes out.
“It’s been really horrendous to watch the defense put George Floyd on trial instead of the former police officer who’s charged with his murder.”
Floyd, 46, died last May when Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest. The killing sparked international protests against police brutality and racial injustice. The vast majority of protests were peaceful but in Minneapolis and other cities some became violent.
Chauvin faces charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty. Three other officers will face separate trials.
On Monday, prosecutors are expected to call police department chief Medaria Arradondo as a witness. It is rare, if not unheard of, for a police chief to testify against a former officer. Experts have said Arradondo’s testimony might open the door to more chiefs being called in future.
“He is going to tell you that Mr Chauvin’s conduct was not consistent with Minneapolis police department training,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told jurors in his opening statement. “He will not mince any words. He’s very clear. He will be very decisive: that this was excessive force.”
Arradondo’s testimony is expected to be a powerful tool for prosecutors as they seek to refute the defense claim that Chauvin’s decision to kneel on Floyd’s neck was in keeping with use-of-force guidance.
Dr Cedric Alexander, a former police chief and public safety director of DeKalb county, Georgia, told the Guardian this week calling Arradondo was a “pretty remarkable move on the part of the prosecution”.
“It’s very rare that you’re going to see a chief either appear for the defense or the prosecution,” he said. “But each one of these kinds of events brings its own set of circumstances. And in this particular case, where you have a knee to the neck and it’s being questioned, ‘Was that trained technique?’ To be able to have the chief of police … to under-oath testify is clearly going to be of importance.”
Laurie Robinson, a former assistant US attorney general who co-chaired Barack Obama’s Taskforce on 21st-Century Policing, which was launched after the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014, said: “The chief is under tremendous pressure.