In the summer of 2020, the death of George Floyd sparked riots across the country. Floyd, a black man with a criminal record, died after several white officers reportedly used excessive force to subdue and detain him.
Floyd’s arrest led to his death. In a highly publicized case, Officer Derek Chauvin was charged with murder. On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court denied his motion to appeal.
On May 25, 2020, Police were called to respond after Floyd had reportedly attempted a crime. Floyd initially resisted arrest. His toxicology report showed he had illegal drugs in his system.
Video of the incident shows that after Floyd was on the ground, lead officer Derek Chauvin continued to restrain him by placing a knee on Floyd’s neck. The practice was standard operating procedure, but prosecutors argued the restraining force was excessive.
Chauvin did not release pressure for approximately nine minutes — during which Floyd complained of having difficulty breathing. Floyd was pronounced dead shortly thereafter.
Though prosecutors argued Floyd’s death was directly attributed to Chauvin’s use of excessive force, more recent findings indicate it is probable that Floyd did not die of suffocation. Toxicology reports showed fentanyl and other drugs in Floyd’s system,.
A court found Chauvin guilty of second-degree manslaughter and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Defenders charged the case was not prosecuted in a neutral setting and that jurors feared reprisals if Chauvin was not found guilty.
Newer findings and concerns about the fairness of the trial prompted Chauvin’s defense team to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review the case. Chauvin’s legal team wrote:
“Mr. Chauvin’s case shows the profound difficulties trial courts have to ensure a criminal defendant’s right to an impartial jury consistently when extreme cases arise. This was particularly true here when the jurors themselves had a vested interest in finding Mr. Chauvin guilty in order to avoid further rioting in the community in which they lived and the possible threat of physical harm to them or their families.”
Notably, state courts have rejected Chauvin’s previous attempts to appeal his case.
On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to review Chauvin’s case. Without new evidence or findings, Chauvin will serve out the remainder of his 20-year prison term.
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