Day 3 of Derek Chauvin’s criminal trial (for his involvement in the death of George Floyd) elicited more testimony from eyewitnesses and a lieutenant with the Minneapolis Police Department (responsible for supervising and maintaining footage from police officers’ body cams).
The witnesses were needed to establish what happened before, during and after, Mr. Floyd’s fatal encounter with officers. But these insights were also important in educating and informing members of the public – many of whom may be unaware of (or indifferent to) the movement behind police reform
One of the things this trial is revealing is that trauma from police encounters is experienced by more than just those who are the direct participants. Several witnesses expressed feeling guilty that they hadn’t done more to help Mr. Floyd. Others testified to being concerned that their presence might put them at risk, yet they tried to do what they could to verbally intervene.
Another issue today’s evidence and testimony highlight is the pivotal role that body cams play in memorializing police actions and that these devices can help determine whether the use of force was reasonable or unreasonable (and possibly even criminal). Even when deemed reasonable, real-time body-cam footage can, and should, inform police departments as to when better training and supervision of officers is needed in order to avoid tragic consequences like what occurred in this case.
According to Debra Cohen, co-chair of Newman Ferrara’s Civil Rights Practice Group, “This trial is first and foremost a determination of whether Derek Chauvin is guilty of a crime for his actions that day that ended with George Floyd’s death. In a larger sense it is an important tool to give us all a first-hand look at the realities of police work but also the traumatic impact their actions, mistakes and abuses have on everyone they encounter.”