Home PoliticsAfrica News Derek Chauvin trial tests consequences for police killings of Black Americans

Derek Chauvin trial tests consequences for police killings of Black Americans

by Ursula Perano
Derek Chauvin, the Minneapolis police officer who was shown kneeling on George Floyd’s neck last year in a video that shook the nation, goes on trial this week.

Why it matters: Eight years after the launch of the Black Lives Matter movement, it’s still rare for police officers to face legal consequences or jail time over the deaths of Black people. Chauvin’s trial will test how that precedent holds up.

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  • Minneapolis is preparing for massive civil unrest if Chauvin is found not guilty. Jury selection for the trial begins March 8.
  • Floyd’s death prompted nationwide protests in 2020 and drew attention to numerous cases involving police and the deaths of Black Americans.

The state of play: The results of other high-profile Black Lives Matter cases could be an indicator of how standards might be changing toward shootings of Black Americans.

Breonna Taylor

Taylor, 26, was shot dead during a no-knock search on her home by three plainclothes Louisville Metro Police officers in March 2020. Her boyfriend, who fired back at police, says he believed their home was being robbed.

  • Brett Hankison, one of the officers involved, was charged in September with wanton endangerment for firing shots blindly during the search. Activists argue that a charge directly related to Taylor’s death is still needed.
  • The two other officers who fired shots, Jonathan Mattingly and Myles Cosgrove, received no charges.
  • Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) introduced a bill titled the “Justice for Breonna Taylor Act” last summer to prohibit federal law enforcement and local police who receive federal funding from executing “no-knock” warrants. The bill did not pass.
  • Ahmaud Arbery

    Arbery, 25, was shot and killed while jogging in Feb. 2020 in Glynn County, Ga. Three white men pursued Arbery after telling police officers that they suspected him of burglary.

    • Travis McMichael, Gregory McMichael and William “Roddie” Bryan were charged on nine counts in June. Charges included aggravated assault, malice murder and felony murder.
    • Ahmaud’s mother has filed a civil suit for $1 million in damages against the men and police officers involved in his death.

    Elijah McClain

    McClain, 23, was taken off life support and subsequently died in Aurora, Colo. in Aug. 2019, after police put him in a chokehold and paramedics sedated him. The run-in resulted in McClain suffering from a heart attack and being declared brain dead.

    • Three police officers were responding to a call about a suspicious person when they stopped McClain, who was walking home from a convenience store.
    • An early investigation concluded that police did nothing wrong. But McClain’s case was reassessed in 2020 following renewed attention.
    • A later review found no legal basis for officers to stop, frisk or use a chokehold on McClain.
      • Officers involved have been reassigned but no charges have been filed.
    • Jacob Blake

      Video of an Aug. 2020 encounter in Kenosha, Wis. showed white police officer Rusten Sheskey shooting Blake seven times in the back as Blake entered a vehicle with his children in the backseat. Blake was subsequently paralyzed.

      • Kenosha County District Attorney Michael Gravely announced in January that Sheskey would not face charges.

      Go deeper: Convicting police officers is rare — even when caught on video.

      Afro World News

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