The attorney for former police officer Derek Chauvin rested the defense’s case on Thursday morning, predictably without the former officer testifying about the death of George Floyd.
The jury now goes home and has been admonished to not watch the news or read stories, but the biggest story is literally playing out in the street outside the courthouse as well as in a nearby Minneapolis suburb.
Rioting, looting, and fires set by BLM and antifa rioters once again broke out in the riot-weary area after the police custody death of Duante Wright on Sunday in a Minneapolis suburb. The officer who shot Wright, a 26-year veteran, claimed she intended to tase the 20-year-old while he was fighting the cops, but instead pulled her service handgun and killed him. She’s been charged in his death, resigned from her job, and was forced to flee her home. The police chief resigned and the city manager was fired when he stated that Potter should receive due process.
Things were already tense around the courthouse in Minneapolis. Outside, the family and activists have held frequent vigils with speeches and protesters. Al Sharpton has added to the circus-like atmosphere by holding a protest during the seventh day of the trial.
From yesterday’s press conference with the Wright and Floyd families on the lawn of the Hennepin County Courthouse. pic.twitter.com/HESx9VhwCg
— jelani cobb (@jelani9) April 15, 2021
Now, attorney Ben Crump has announced he plans to get into the act.
I’m in Minneapolis today to demand justice for Daunte Wright and George Floyd! I will be joined by the Wright and Floyd families, and co-counsel @Jeff_Storms, at a 12PM CT news conference at the Hennepin County Courthouse. pic.twitter.com/JmfLejJxGS
— Ben Crump (@AttorneyCrump) April 13, 2021
Inside, the jury hears the evidence in the Chauvin trial. Outside, buildings around the courthouse are boarded up and streets are closed.
Businesses boarding up in downtown Minneapolis near the Hennepin County Courthouse, as the Chauvin trial defense testimony continues and closing arguments are expected early next week, before jury deliberation #ChauvinTrial #Minneapolis pic.twitter.com/RkSKmJwIgK
— Brendan Gutenschwager (@BGOnTheScene) April 14, 2021
NPR reports that the courthouse is fortified with concrete barriers, National Guard troops, and armored vehicles. Jurors walk through the gauntlet every single day of the trial.
The Hennepin County Government Center is surrounded by elaborate fencing and other security measures. To get inside, people must have preapproved access. Everyone who enters has to pass through two sets of metal detectors, similar to those at airport security checkpoints.
To reach the courtroom where the trial is taking place, jurors use a separate, private route, which takes them straight to the court. All public entrances to the building are closed, except for one pedestrian entrance at a gated checkpoint.
Security was one of the questions jurors were asked about during the jury selection. Many of the jurors ultimately seated were not worried about their safety. That’s not necessarily a good sign for Chauvin. After hearing the evidence, they may not vote to convict even if there is reasonable doubt. Their hopes for a ticker-tape parade in their honor may fade into abject terror at the prospect of acquitting Chauvin of the three charges against him. Maybe they’ll be forced to flee their homes, just like the cop in nearby Brooklyn Center, when or if their identities leak.
Attorneys inside the courthouse reportedly have been told to prepare for “emergency evacuation” just in case.
I am a lot more concerned about my daughter who’s an attorney down at the Hennepin county courthouse today. They have them all prepared for emergency evacuation. It’s not a good time to be working criminal justice in Minnesota.
— BarbaraJMay3 (@chickiepoo11) April 12, 2021
There should have been a change of venue, and, if convicted, Chauvin’s attorney will undoubtedly use that data point among many others to appeal.
The prosecution has been notorious for evidence document-dumping on Chauvin’s lone defense attorney. As Anthony Branca of Legal Insurrection has pointed out, this has happened several times during the trial. Just this week – week three of the trial – prosecutors dumped more than 5,154 pages of documents on Eric Nelson. The mutual discovery has been going on since before February 2021. The judge alluded to this last-minute discovery before the jury came into the courtroom on Thursday even as he allowed the prosecution to recall a previous witness, the Left’s fave Dr. Tobin, to rebut evidence put on by the defense’s medical expert. The ambush move was announced to Chauvin’s defense attorney an hour before the court proceedings on Thursday as the defense expert was on a plane out of town.
The jury comes back Monday with bags packed to listen to closing arguments in the Chauvin case and begin deliberating. They’ve been told not to watch the news. That will be hard.
The news is just right outside.