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Attorney David Weinstein Shares Perspective On Derek Chauvin Murder Trial

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Weinstein is with Hinshaw law firm in Coral Gables. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida for more than a decade.

Video Transcript

- So let's go now to David Weinstein, former assistant US attorney who's now at the Hinshaw law firm. David, what do you think we're going to hear from the defense during these closing arguments?

DAVID WEINSTEIN: Well Jim, we're going to hear some of the same things that they've been telling the jurors from the beginning of their opening statement. They're going to hear that Derek Chauvin didn't intend to commit an assault on George Floyd when he tried to arrest him. And they're going to say some of the things that they said during cross-examination, that George Floyd's use of controlled substances, as well as his attitudes, contributed to his death and that, in their opinion, the state hasn't proven beyond a reasonable doubt that their client intended to commit an assault, and that that assault was what caused George Floyd's death. That's to the highest charge. They'll be asking the jurors to look for reasonable doubt, which is what they've been doing during the entire trial.

- David, let's talk more about that reasonable doubt. As you said, there are three charges. You have manslaughter, second-degree murder, third-degree murder. Based on what's been presented, is there any reasonable doubt that you see for any of the charges?

DAVID WEINSTEIN: I don't think that there's any. Let's start at the bottom and work our way up. I don't think there's any reasonable doubt about whether or not Derek Chauvin was culpably negligent. His actions after he had already placed George Floyd on the ground and George Floyd was beginning to suffer some sort of a physical problem.

Was he culpably negligent and not calling for rescue sooner or for assisting or providing some aid when that happened? The prosecution has done a very good job of establishing that there is no reasonable doubt about that. As to the evil intent that's necessary for that third charge, the third-degree murder, they've also done a fairly good job of showing that his actions were not reasonable.

If there is any reasonable doubt, it'll focus on that highest charge, the unintentional murder, the second-degree murder charge that's there. And the question for the jurors that they're going to have to decide was, were his actions those of a reasonable police officer when he was trying to effectuate George Floyd's arrest, not when he first put them down, but rather when he was in the middle of trying to get him to cooperate with him. Was that how a reasonable officer should have responded?

- David, quickly, of course, you know there was another police shooting. Daunte Wright, 20 years old, killed by an officer in a jurisdiction nearby. Might that affect this jury at all, and if so, how?

DAVID WEINSTEIN: We would hope that it wouldn't. The judge has told these jurors that they're not to listen to any media from the outside. They're not to pay attention to anything that's going on. If they're listening to his words of caution, they've done that. So what happened outside and involved this second shooting, that shouldn't have any effect on them.

We have to take them at their word. If they're telling us they haven't seen it or heard it, then it shouldn't have any effect on it. What it will have an effect is how we're going to perceive the verdict that comes down in this case and whether or not the rest of us and the city of Minneapolis perceive it's the right verdict.

- David Weinstein, as always, thank you for your insight tonight.