Derek Chauvin Rebuffed by High Court

A sketch of Derek Chauvin sitting beside his defense attorney Eric Nelson on the first day of jury selection in his trial in Minneapolis, Minn., March 8, 2021 (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded the video that went around the world — depicting the fatal last minutes of George Floyd’s restraint by Minneapolis police — gave a very moving testimony at former officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial this morning. I couldn’t understand why defense lawyer Eric Nelson questioned her at all, other than perhaps to thank her for coming to court. It’s the video that hurts Chauvin, not the kid who recorded it. And there’s rarely an upside in asking pointed questions to a young, nervous, highly sympathetic witness.

But for whatever reason, Nelson asked her a few questions about her first interview by police — not overly hostile, but it didn’t get him anywhere. Then, because I guess he figured he had to end with something, he concluded by asking her whether recording what happened to Floyd “changed your life,” to which, of course, she answered, “yes.”

With the door swung wide open, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell got up on redirect examination and asked, “Darnella, could you tell the jury how it changed your life?” Her halting response, with trembling voice, was devastating. She said she blames herself for not doing more to help George Floyd in his time of distress. Further, she has great anxiety about her father, who is black, her brother, who is black, and some of her black friends, because she saw what Chauvin and the other policemen did to Floyd, and she worries that it could happen to them, too.

Blackwell knew better than to ask any more questions. He took his seat and left the jury with Darnella Frazier’s changed life to think about.

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