On Derek Chauvin, George Floyd, and Reasonable Doubt

In January, I wrote an essay for The Free Press provoked by a new documentary called The Fall of Minneapolis. In the essay, I argued that Derek Chauvin’s conviction for felony murder in the case of George Floyd was erroneous. There was reasonable doubt, I argued, on two elements of the crime: felony assault and cause of death. Furthermore, I argued that the fairness of the trial was compromised by jury bias, by fears for personal safety in the event of Chauvin’s acquittal, and by a more general fear of rioting in the event of an acquittal. 

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In response to my piece, Radley Balko, a former Washington Post columnist who focuses on criminal justice and civil liberties issues, wrote a three-part response on his Substack, as well as a shorter “update” post between parts two and three. He has also written a follow-up piece in The UnPopulist, summarizing his arguments. ...

The purpose of this essay is to set the record straight on Balko’s claims, which range from useful counterarguments to misleading assertions and outright errors. Our disagreements fall into two basic categories: the first is the question of how exactly Floyd died. And the second pertains to whether or not Chauvin was following his training.

One final, important note before I dive in: Balko’s series generally mischaracterizes my essay as arguing for the definite truth of various propositions—or doing a “just asking questions” routine—when in fact I was arguing for the existence of reasonable doubt. 

Ed Morrissey

It's worth reading in full, and perhaps so is Balko's series. Maybe the Free Press would stage a debate between the two authors and let them hash out the issues. That might even be worth paying to see. 

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