Minnesota v. Chauvin in all its manifestations–facts, trial, verdict and bloviating media and politicians–tells one story of race and  police in twenty-first century America. But it’s not the only story.

To begin, Derek Chauvin is a murderous slime. His conviction as a murderer was proven not just beyond a reasonable doubt but beyond all possible doubt. His conviction on all counts should result in a substantial prison term.

The facts of Chauvin’s murder of George Floyd are not in doubt. Floyd tried to pass a counterfeit $20 at a store; the store clerk called the police. In an altercation with the police who responded, Floyd initially resisted getting into the back of a police car, was removed from the car, handcuffed with his hands behind him,  placed on his stomach, and murdered by Chauvin through the placement of his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds thus asphyxiating him. Chauvin removed his knee only after Floyd was dead and then at the request of an EMS employee who had been called to the scene and found Floyd pulseless while still under Chauvin’s knee.

Unique to twenty-first century America, all this was filmed by a bystander using a cel phone camera. Today almost everything that happens, whether criminal or not, is filmed. Thus, the jury actually saw the murder as it happened: first a living Floyd and then a dead Floyd.

In murder trials in the old days, jurors never saw the victim in life or in death. In some cases the most that jurors got were autopsy photos. Now we have cel phones, police body cameras, and surveillance cameras,  all of which were used in this trial.

So this trial was different.

The defense was junk science and a whole school of red herrings. The defense told us Floyd had other conditions. He had a history of substance abuse. He was a big man who had to be restrained. In other words, a whole lot of nothing when measured against the video of the murder and the fact that all the state had to prove was that Chauvin’s assault contributed to Floyd’s death.

During the trial I marveled at the deportment of the lawyers and Judge Peter Cahill. I have rarely seen such even-tempered moderation on the part of all of them. Talk about Minnesota Nice! In New York lawyers and judges make their tv -drama brothers and sisters look tame with big-time hollering and arm waving even when arguing legal points with no jury or cameras present.

As soft spoken as he was, some of the judge’s decisions and comments disturbed me. When the defense argued that outside events had prejudiced the non-sequestered jury, the judge did not question the jurors to ascertain what effect those events had on their ability to be impartial. This should have been done when another black man was killed by police in metropolitan Minneapolis on the week-end before the summations.

The judge also went off on Cong. Maxine Waters after she told a Minneapolis crowd that if there was an acquittal they should become more “confrontational.” [I note that Martin Luther King regularly argued for “confrontation” of those he considered racist and always in the context of nonviolence.]

When the defense moved for a mistrial based on the Waters speech, the judge said that Cong. Waters had given the defense a point on appeal. As with the police killing of a black man before the jury began deliberations, the judge should have protected the record by questioning the jurors about the effect of the Waters speech on their impartiality.

Similarly, I was taken aback by the comment by President Biden that he was “praying” for a just verdict (meaning a conviction) while the jury was deliberating. I’d never seen a president do that before and Biden should not have done it.

As RJM has wisely and knowingly said, twenty percent of police are outstanding, seventy percent are average and ten percent are bad. That is true of all segments of society. Ten percent of bankers, doctors and lawyers are bad.

Derek Chauvin is in the lowest ten percent. But ninety percent of police serve faithfully. And that’s another story. We need them.