Attorney Assesses The Defense's Performance In Derek Chauvin Trial

Joe Tamburino assesses the aftermath of the guilty verdict in George Floyd's death (5:49). WCCO 4 News - April 20, 2021

Video Transcript

JASON DERUSHA: Well, I think those young people who testified, we had witness after witness all telling the same story, that they knew with their own eyes, in person, that George Floyd was being killed. A nine-year-old knew that. It was remarkable to see all of the video that we had never seen before and then meet those people who were standing there watching this happen. Unbelievable. And to hear from Darnella Frazier who took that video that first told us what happened on May 25.

A lot of expert testimony. I want to talk to Joe Tamburino who watched this with us, because this was really a remarkable trial, Joe, when you look at all the video, a huge number of witnesses. What-- what do you think-- if you had to put one or two things during the trial that made the difference, what-- what were those for you?

JOE TAMBURINO: Well, two things. First, cameras in the courtroom. Hopefully that's here to stay, because what it does, it gives everyone a window into how the justice system works, and our system does work. Overall, it's a very good system.

Second is the video evidence, because this is really the first trial where we have all of this video evidence and experts were allowed, the court agreed to it, to have looked at the video and then opine or give opinions on the video. And that's very unique, because usually you need more than just a video. So I would take those two things out of this, cameras in the courtroom here to stay, and this is the first real video trial. I don't know of another one like this.

JASON DERUSHA: Yeah, and to think we had video not only of the entire police interaction, but we have video of George Floyd in the Cup Foods up to an hour before the police were called. This was really, start to finish, captured from at least a dozen different videos and different angles, and that was remarkable.

JOE TAMBURINO: It was. And that's just the-- the age we're living in.


JOE TAMBURINO: Because right now think about it. If all of you at the studio, at CCO, started walking up Nicollet Avenue to the train station on 5th Street, you might be recorded by dozens of cameras. We have street cameras, private cameras with buildings. We have temporary cameras by MPD. Plus we have people with their cell phones who could be videoing you. So there's cameras everywhere.

JASON DERUSHA: Joe, was this a weak defense performance? Or were the facts just not on their side?

JOE TAMBURINO: It was both. Part of it was that the defense did miss a number of things, there's no doubt about that. On the other hand, it was the overwhelming amount of video evidence and other type of evidence that came into the case. And everyone was moving fast.

Think about this. It hasn't even been a year since Mr. Floyd died. Normally, any murder trial will take at least a year to 18 months to get the trial started, just to get started. This case was basically on a rocket docket, where within 10 months everything was done. That's unheard of.

JASON DERUSHA: And this case does reflect the political reality when it comes to an officer-involved death that we're seeing play out again right now with the case against Kim Cooper and-- in the death of Daunte Wright. The charge comes first, and then the investigation follows. We even heard testimony about that issue in this trial.

JOE TAMBURINO: We did. And that's the problem with going too fast. Because when you go fast, sometimes you make mistakes. Both sides can make mistakes.

JASON DERUSHA: But you-- Joe, you under--

JOE TAMBURINO: And we did hear that in the trial.

JASON DERUSHA: You understand the reality. I mean, the reality is if you're a prosecutor or an attorney general or a governor or a mayor, the public does not want to wait. They don't want to wait.

JOE TAMBURINO: That's correct. That is absolutely correct. They don't want to wait. But along the way, you have to make sure that everything's done. Look at in this case, remember when you and I saw this and we talked about it on air about the pill in the car?

That car wasn't fully processed from May until January. Again, it's nobody's fault, but it's when you go fast in these cases you got to make sure you still dot the Is and cross the Ts. Now, it seemed everything worked out well in the end here, but you never know what the next case will be like.

JASON DERUSHA: All right, let's talk about what comes next, because you mentioned that there were likely, and Esme mentioned there will likely be an appeal filed on this case. But what happens in terms of sentencing? We know Derek Chauvin was handcuffed.

We saw him taken off to jail. He'll likely be transferred to a federal facility. That's where he sat when he was initially arrested. What happens in terms of sentencing?

JOE TAMBURINO: Well, right now there's going to be what's called the presentence investigation, where someone from Hennepin County probation will interview Mr. Chauvin, if he wishes to be interviewed, as well as gather other information from the trial, perhaps a psychological evaluation, and then make recommendations to the court on sentencing. The critical issue will be, what is the ultimate sentence?

Because what the judge has to decide is this, under our law if you intentionally kill another person, you get 25 years. Now, Mr. Chauvin was just convicted of unintentional crimes and crimes of negligence. So will the judge give him a sentence equal to or greater than a sentence if you actually intentionally killed someone? That's going to be the critical issue.

JASON DERUSHA: All right, Joe Tamburino joining us with some insight and analysis. Criminal defense attorney, he was with us every moment of testimony and pre-trial and jury selection in this. Joe, thank you. We appreciate it.