Criminal Case Minnesota

Criminal Case: Minnesota v. Chauvin (2021)



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Criminal Case: Minnesota v. Chauvin (2021)

A description of the Crime in its Historical Setting 

The criminal case that this paper will focus on is the case of Minnesota v. Chauvin: 27-CR-20-12646, which involves the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin. Accused of unlawfully killing George Floyd in 2020, the court convicted Chauvin in April 2021 for Murder and manslaughter (Cappelli, 2020). The trial started on March 8, 2021, with Judge Peter Cahill of Hennepin County presiding over the case. George Floyd, a Black man was arrested on March 25, 2020, by Minneapolis law enforcement officers who had been informed that Floyd had made a purchase using a fake $20 bill at a grocery store. During his arrest, Derek Chauvin, a white police officer pressed his knee against the neck of Floyd as he laid face-down on the ground while in handcuffs. From the case, Chauvin ignored all calls by Floyd that he was experiencing breathing difficulties and was in need of medical assistance, resulting in Floyd’s death. The autopsy report generated independently by Floyd’s family and Hennepin County medical examiner concluded that the demise of Floyd was a homicide ensuing from the incident (Dreyer et al., 2020). The case sparked a lot of public outcry for justice for Floyd resulting in the major Black Lives Matter Movement. 

Specifically, the incident of Floyd’s death was filmed and shared broadly on all media platforms, resulting in global protests on civil rights, racism, and police brutality. The initial events began on May 26, 2021, in Minneapolis-St. Paul. Notably, the first event outside Minneapolis that was organized in response to Floyd’s death was planned by Rev. Michael Pfleger and Chance the Rapper on May 26, 2021, in Chicago (Cappelli, 2020). These events among many other protests globally that happened and intensified gradually prompted comprehensive coverage by the media. Floyd’s case attracted a lot of activists’ interest worldwide, especially about the racial profiling of African Americans by law enforcement. The video of Floyd’s final moments triggered global outrage and protests against racial violence and police brutality, in the attempt to seek justice for Floyd (Cappelli, 2020). As such, the courts’ perception of Floyd’s case was also influenced by the protests and activism across the United States and the world. The people were seeking justice and the courts were obliged to deliver the people’s will. This is evident by the live streaming of the court proceedings throughout the trial of the officers involved in Floyd’s death on all media platforms. There was also a gathering of citizens in Minnesota outside the courthouse and crime scene to listen to the verdict.

A Theoretical Analysis of the Crime Event 

The incident of George Floyd and the four police officers shows that Floyd’s rights were infringed when the police officers failed to aid him when he complained of breathing difficulties. It is apparent that United States citizens are guaranteed equal protection under the law as stipulated in the 14th amendment (Cabrera, 2018). This is not the case in Floyd’s incident since he was unjustly killed by Chauvin while the other police officers who were present did nothing to prevent Floyd’s death. Therefore, this context can be explained clearly using the Critical race theory (CRT). The CRT states that the United States social institutions such as the criminal justice system have inherent racism embedded in regulations, laws, rules, and procedures that result in varying outcomes by race. Therefore, the theory attempts to address the racism that is deeply rooted in American society and was as challenges the law enforcement’s ability to protect people of color (Cabrera, 2018). In the case of Minnesota v. Chauvin, it is evident that the police officers failed to protect Floyd from harm because of his ethnicity, instead actively contributed to his death.

The CRT provides emphasis on the principles of the Fourteenth Amendment, the constitutional clause that assures all populaces equal protection under the law (Cabrera, 2018). It shows that there is an inherent racial prejudice in the law enforcement system where the minority population is deprived of their constitutional rights based on inferiority. For instance, scholars of the CRT demonstrate that the American legal systems built by white people are founded in their own self-interests at heart, and as such, the voices of the minority are ignored (Gabriel et al., 2021). Critical race theorists, therefore, strive to establish a comprehensive understanding of the institutional nature of racism in the attempt to eliminate all race-based and other unjust hierarchies. They show that race is not a biologically grounded attribute that distinguishes subgroups of human beings physically rather a social construct that people utilize to oppress and exploit individuals of color (Hoofnagle et al., 2020). As such, the CRT clearly explains the acts of Chauvin and his colleagues as typical of the flawed criminal justice system in the United States where people from minority groups especially African Americans are exposed to racial violence or police brutality without any legal measures against the perpetrators. The outcome of Floyd’s incident portrays the gradual shift in this narrative where people have explored alternative approaches to secure justice against racial prejudice as well as equality within American social institutions.

A Description of Media Involvement and Coverage of the Case from Investigation to Disposition 

The media was primarily involved in the case of Minnesota v. Chauvin from the crime scene to the trial proceedings. For instance, the main agent that prompted national outrage was the video taken by bystanders who witnessed the arrest of Floyd. The video was shared globally via social media platforms and in other media channels creating public awareness. The video was aired on national television and shared on social media platforms. This led to worldwide awareness and public involvement via protests and activism. Therefore, the three major networks including CBS, ABC, Fox News, and NBC played a major role in covering the court proceedings in real-time by disrupting commonly scheduled programming to air the verdict (Henderson et al., 2021). The cable news and other key networks remain active in creating public awareness regarding the details leading to the verdict of the case of Minnesota v. Chauvin. For instance, CNN provided a detailed recap of the charges against the defendants, which ensured that the viewers who missed some details of the trial got all the intricacies of the charges (Motala, 2020). Furthermore, TV news outlets also played a major role in elucidating the facts as well as analyzing the possible implication of these facts for the people to understand and predict the direction the verdict may take in due course. Political and legal analysts from different Networks engaged in daily conversations on TV and radio to explain and analyze different facts that were unveiled during the court proceedings. The verdict that was ruled in the court was positively received by the public and the different media networks, all asserting that justice have been served.

Most of the predictions by the political and legal analysts from different cable networks across the world as well as on various social media platforms argued for a guilty verdict. Based on the undisputed video evidence showing Chauvin pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck while ignoring Floyd’s cry for a room to breathe was used as the key reference for analysis and verdict prediction in different media channels and platforms (Dreyer et al., 2020). Everybody who had the chance to appear on any media channel asserted their support for protests against police brutality and racial violence. Social media played a significant role in uniting people across the globe towards a single goal, justice for Floyd and other unjust violations of equal protection laws worldwide (Dixon & Dundes, 2020).

A Perspective Concerning the Media Effect on Case Outcomes

It is evident that the extensive and detailed media involvement and coverage of the case of Minnesota v. Chauvin had a direct influence on the case outcomes. For instance, most of the activism and protests nationally and worldwide advocated for the implementation of the Fourteenth Amendment, under the constitutional clause that assures equal protection rights under the law (Reny & Newman, 2021). People argued that the police officers who apprehended Floyd violated his constitutional rights by bringing physical harm to the unarmed citizen. Furthermore, Floyd informed the law enforcement officers that he was not breathing well but they ignored his requests, leading to his demise. This incident was not well received in the public domain, and as such, most analysts on national televisions, radio stations, and social media platforms explained the case details that all leaned towards a guilty verdict (Dixon & Dundes, 2020). This often has a substantial impact on court decisions since the coverage of outraged citizens and protests that led to President Trump threatening to involve the military to a greater extent prompts the judges to bend the law in favor of the public demand. If the court refused to convict and sentence Chauvin, then further public outrage and intensive violence would erupt and would end in a more physical altercation between the people and the law enforcement. As such, the case outcomes were significantly influenced by what the media portrayed about the case proceedings and the intricacies of the charges. Considering the fact that the proceedings were aired live on national televisions, the public was informed about each step of the case, and as such, any decision that would demonstrate favoring the defendant would prompt a negative public response (Reny & Newman, 2021). Therefore, the guilty verdict from the case of Minnesota v. Chauvin was a resultant of the apparent evidence and public outcry for a just ruling.


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Motala, T. (2020). “Foreseeable Violence” & Black Lives Matter: How Mckesson Can Stifle a Movement. Stan. L. Rev. Online, 73, 61.

Reny, T. T., & Newman, B. J. (2021). The Opinion-Mobilizing Effect of Social Protest against Police Violence: Evidence from the 2020 George Floyd Protests. American Political Science Review, 1-9.