I have to believe the prosecutors in the George Floyd murder trial know that they are just marking time to but off a repeat of the 1992 Rodney King rioting in Los Angeles, and probably worse.
We know, or should, that former officer Derek Chauvin is not a racist, other than the fact that he is white. This may be enough to make him a presumed racist according to Black Lives Matter and Democratic Party cant, but not under the law. The news media has been diligently searching for Mark Furmin-like racist comments in Chauvin’s past, and if they haven’t found any by now, I think it’s unlikely that there are any to be found.
We know, or should, that Chauvin did not intend to harm George Floyd. He definitely wanted to make Floyd uncomfortable, because he was angry at his perp for resisting arrest. Nobody has argued seriously or persuasively that the officer intended to kill him.
Finally, we know, or should, that it is possible, even likely, that Floyd’s death was caused by his own careless ingestion of prohibited substances, including an overdose of fentanyl.
With these facts, my knowledge of prosecutorial ethics tells me that without the influence of other factors that should not be factors at all, a competent and responsible prosecutor would not charge Derek Chauvin. It is very likely that a verdict of guilty beyond a reasonable doubt cannot be achieved before a fair and competent jury, and prosecutors are forbidden from attempting to convict defendants while hoping that a dumb and emotional jury fails to weigh the evidence properly. If a prosecutor doesn’t think, based on the evidence, that an individual is guilty of a crime beyond a reasonable doubt, then no charges should be brought. That is exactly the situation regarding Chauvin and the death of George Floyd.
However, the emotion- and politics-driven movement verbalized as “No justice, No peace” tempts, and then forces, unethical and insufficiently courageous prosecutors to bring bad cases and punitive prosecutions to trial when race is involved. This is what occurred in the George Zimmerman-Tayvon Martin fiasco. It is how an unethical and irresponsible prosecutor handled the Freddie Gray case in Baltimore. Prosecutions were dictated by protests, riots, or the threats of them. It’s a travesty of justice.
The hope is that everything will “cool down” by the time the hated defendant or defendants are acquitted. The waste of taxpayer funds, the disruption of the jurors lives and the substantial ruination of those charged are seen as “worth it”—the ends justify the means. The strategy is still a risky one, and in case like this one, when a manipulated narrative sparked a nationwide freak-out and hundreds of “mostly peaceful” demonstrations, futile. If and when Chauvin is acquitted—or, in what might be the best case scenario for Minnesota, if not for justice or Chauvin, when his conviction is reversed after years of litigation—violence is a foregone conclusion.
Over at Legal Insurrection, Andrew Branca explains the problems the prosecution faces in trying to avert this disaster. It is an excellent analysis.