The U.S. Supreme Court has rejected former Minneapolis police officer Darek Chauvin’s appeal of his conviction in the killing of George Floyd.
Chauvin’s lawyers asked the Court in October to take up the case, arguing he was denied a fair trial in 2021 because of negative publicity and the potential for violence from left-wing rioters if the jury did not deliver a guilty verdict.
The Minnesota trial court denied requests by Chauvin’s legal team to sequester the jury.
“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,” his lawyers told the court in a filing quoted by CBS News, adding that the jurors who heard the case “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.”
In April, the Minnesota appeals court upheld the conviction for Chauvin, who is serving a 22-and-a-half-year prison sentence for second-degree murder.
“The primary issue on this appeal is whether a criminal defendant can get a fair trial consistent with constitutional requirements in a courthouse surrounded by concrete blocks, barbed wire, two armored personnel carriers, and a squad of national guard troops, all of which or whom are there for one purpose: in the event that the jury acquits the defendant,” William Mohrman, Chauvin’s attorney, said in January.
Critics of Chauvin’s conviction say the officer is innocent and that Floyd died of a fentanyl overdose, citing an autopsy report that showed the presence of the highly potent illegal narcotic in his system.
However, the autopsy report lists “cardiopulmonary arrest” from “law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression” as the cause of death, not an overdose.
Some have pointed to the 11 nanograms per milliliter, or ng/ml, of fentanyl present in Floyd’s system — indicated in the autopsy report — as evidence that drugs were the cause of death. But expert testimony said that amount would not have been fatal, noting that blood samples from others arrested by police showed higher levels of the drug in their systems and they remained alive.
Witness testimony also indicated that Chauvin’s actions — pinning Floyd to the ground with his knee on the suspect’s back and neck — was the cause of Floyd’s death.
“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” said prosecution witness Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Illinois.