Officer Chauvin should serve life for killing George Floyd.
By BOYD WAGGONER
As a trial lawyer for over 50 years, I want to share my opinion about justice and its relationship to the death of George Floyd. I do think I have some credentials after spending more than five decades in courthouses across Texas.
I recently retired, but I tried all sorts of cases; civil and criminal, including defending a black man indicted for murdering a white man, where the prosecutors demanded the death penalty, but got a not guilty verdict. And the fact that Texas lawyers voted me a “Texas Super Lawyer” may show something about my place as a lawyer. The maximum penalty for murder in Minnesota is life in prison without parole or life in prison with the possibility of parole after 30 years. The current two charges against Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered George Floyd, do not seek the maximum penalty and carry maximum sentences of only 25 or 40 years respectively.
A maximum potential penalty of only 40 years for murdering an unarmed handcuffed man by suffocating him for nearly 9 minutes (while Mr. Floyd had said several times “I can’t breathe” and “You’re killing me”) is not, in my opinion, an adequate penalty for what Officer Chauvin did to George Floyd.
Especially when you consider Chauvin kept his knee on the man’s neck for two more minutes after one of the other police officers told Chauvin that Floyd had no pulse.
How could that be anything but intentional murder? Can you imagine if this had been a black police officer killing a handcuffed and unarmed white man in this way?
If justice in this case does not require prosecutors to ask a jury for the maximum of life in prison, what would it take? Maybe a black man killing a handcuffed and unarmed white man while he begged for mercy? It is the duty of prosecutors to serve the interests of justice and the failure to try for life in prison without parole in this case is a miscarriage of justice and good reason for the people to continue peacefully protesting.