For the Legal Insurrection blog, Attorney Andrew Branca continues his coverage of the Derek Chauvin murder trial over the in-custody death of George Floyd.
The fact that the media will only cover direct questioning, however, and will substantively ignore cross-examination has real implications for race relations in America generally and for urban infrastructure in the immediate aftermath of this case, specifically.
The testimony of Dr. Langenfeld has followed what has become a common pattern in this case. The (carefully prepared?) state’s witness is carefully questioned by the state to illicit headline worthy quotes, but it’s ultimately revealed on cross-examination that those quoted opinions were based on extremely limited information, lacked context of the full circumstances, and were gutted on cross-examination as a result.
…the media effectively only covers the direct questioning of the state’s witnesses. As a result, the public only hears the state’s version of the facts.
There’s a reason that our legal system is adversarial in nature, however, and that’s for the obvious reason that there’s always two sides to every story. It’s only by listening to both sides, with their individual strengths and weaknesses, that one can have an overall informed opinion about what likely happened.
Specifically, in his testimony Dr. Langenfeld told Blackwell on direct that he had no report that the patient had overdosed on a specific medication for which there might be a specific antidote. In fact, of course, Floyd had overdosed on the opioid fentanyl, for which there is a specific antidote. That information, however, did not reach Langenfeld.
…there’s a perfectly viable, and evidence-supported alternative explanation for Floyd’s asphyxia—the three-fold fatal levels of fentanyl in Floyd’s system.
After all, as even Langenfeld himself confirmed today, the means by which fentanyl kills its victims is by suppression of respiration. That’s just another form of asphyxiation. And we have actual toxicology results to support the fentanyl levels. There’s literally zero evidence of how much pressure the 140-pound Chauvin might have been applying, or not, to the neck of the 230-pound Floyd.
I just don’t get the investment in this line of argument, frankly. We have the definitive tox results on fentanyl levels, and they were three-times fatal dose. We also have the chemical analysis results of the pills found both …in the Mercedes SUV and the squad car, the latter covered in Floyd’s saliva and DNA, and they were a combination of fentanyl and methamphetamine—and the methamphetamine component is obviously a powerful stimulant that would explain away the lack of sleepiness.
Direct questioning of Chief Arradondo was conducted by Prosecutor Schleiter, and Schleiter returned to his earlier emphasis on the “soft” values of the Minneapolis Police Department—compassion, dignity, guardianship, respect, be courteous, be polite, and so forth. Little or no emphasis was placed on the “protect” part of the “protect and serve” motto common to most police departments. It’s as if the assumption is that bad guys be bad only because the police first failed to treat them with courteous respect.
Arradondo even testified that it’s the mission of the MPD “to treat all people with dignity and respect above all else.” Really? Above ALL else? Above preserving innocent life? We’re going to be careful to treat the domestic abuser with a gun to his spouse’s head with all the dignity and respect a non-violent law-abiding citizen would be entitled to?
It should go without saying, of course, that there is no way Addarondo can know, by merely looking at a video, how much pressure Chauvin was actually applying—and remember, guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Further, we know that the medical examiner found zero indication of trauma to Floyd’s neck.
As for Floyd’s pained expression, we have the earlier testimony of his co-addict lady friend that the same pills had previously caused Floyd an overdose involving such tremendous intestinal and body pain that he’d begged her to take him to the hospital—and this was only about a year prior to Floyd’s death, and involving essentially identical pills as those he consumed on May 25, 2020. I’ve little doubt that Floyd was indeed in great pain, but there’s an evidence-based explanation for that pain other than Chauvin’s knee.
Either Chauvin’s knee killed Floyd, or the drug overdose killed him. There’s no actual evidence that Chauvin’s knee applied sufficient pressure to kill, and there’s plenty of evidence supporting the hypothesis that it was the three-fold fentanyl overdose, the hypertensive and cardiac disease, and the poor judgment of Floyd to fight police that caused his death. Further, if Chauvin’s knee was not inflicting killing force, it was almost certainly permissible as a restraint intended to protect Floyd from himself, rather than as a use-of-force intended to neutralize an active threat against others.
Read more here.
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