Preview: Coverage of the Derek Chauvin Trial in death of George Floyd

Hey folks,

I’ve been asked by the legal website Legal Insurrection, run out of Cornell Law School, to provide commentary and analysis of the Derek Chauvin trial, much as I did for them for the George Zimmerman trial, and given the public interest in the case I’ve decided to accept their kind invitation.

All content we provide to Legal Insurrection on this trial will also be provided here to the Law of Self Defense Members.  We also expect to continue producing separate exclusive members-only content, as usual, while also covering this particular trial.

Below is the initial blog post we produced for Legal Insurrection, which they posted live earlier today.  We’ll continue to parallel post here as the trial takes place.


Welcome, everyone, to the official launch of my coverage of the second-degree murder trial of Derek Chauvin, criminally charged in the March 25, 2020 in-custody death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, MN.

Tomorrow, Monday, March 8, 2021, begins the jury selection for Chauvin’s trial, with opening arguments likely within the following week or two, and presumably a verdict by sometime in early or mid-April.  It’s our intent to provide daily coverage of the trial proceedings, as much in real-time as circumstances allow, and based on observation of trial proceedings as they occur.

Throughout the trial I’ll be providing in-depth legal analysis in the form of blog posts here at Legal Insurrection, as informed by my own modest expertise in use-of-force law and based solely on the relevant evidence and law in this case, with links to the actual sources of evidence and law, as appropriate.  Many of you may have followed my coverage of the George Zimmerman trial back in 2013, and if so you can expect the same coverage insight and expertise in the trial of Chauvin, as well.

I also plan to use the social media platform Parler to provide live coverage of the Chauvin trial as it proceeds.  For those interested in following that content, I’m on Parler using the handle @LawofSelfDefense.

The Narrative of Guilt

In summary, the narrative of guilt for Chauvin is that while a Minneapolis police officer lawfully arresting Floyd, Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck with sufficient force and for a sufficient duration to cause Floyd’s death, knowing he was doing so in front of a crowd of people who were recording his conduct for all the world to see, and in a manner consistent with the criminal act of second-degree murder.  Naturally, the prosecution is obliged to prove the elements of this crime (or any lesser-included offense) beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction.

The Narrative of Innocence

In contrast, the narrative of innocence for Chauvin is likely to be something to the effect that Chauvin’s use of force—the knee on Floyd’s neck—was a lawful and appropriate use of force under the circumstances of making a lawful arrest of a non-compliant Floyd, who presented the appearance of experiencing excited delirium, that this technique was approved and trained by his department as a non-deadly force restraint technique under these circumstances, and that the technique was not applied in a manner that could be reasonably expected to cause death or serious injury to Floyd consistent with the lack of any indication of any trauma whatever to Floyd’s neck discovered upon medical examination.

Further, the narrative of innocence is likely to argue that the actual cause of Floyd’s death was not Chauvin’s knee at all, but rather the three-fold fatal dose of fentanyl in Floyd’s system—presumably because the drug was ingested by Floyd upon approach by the officers making his arrest in order to conceal the drug from discovery by the officers.

This narrative would hold that the ingestion by Floyd of the fatal dose of fentanyl would have inevitably resulted in his death regardless of any conduct by the officers involved.  This is particularly so given Floyd’s medical history of existing respiratory and cardiovascular disease, his COVID-positive status, and his poorly made decision to physically and forcibly resist lawful arrest for some 10 minutes.

It is also known that Floyd had a history of ingesting illicit drugs to prevent their discovery when approached by officers, and indeed he had previously been hospitalized as a consequence of precisely such conduct.  It is unclear at this point, however, if that history will be admitted as evidence at Chauvin’s trial.

Another Racially Energized & Propagandized Case

As has become routine in such cases, Floyd’s in-custody death and Chauvin’s trial have been racially energized by the usual suspects, including Attorney Benjamin Crump specifically and the social and mainstream media generally.  Their narrative is that this is another example in a long list of instances of white police officers murdering black suspects, a continuation of what they argue is well-established institutional racism of police departments in particular and America as a whole.  Indeed, the established social narrative puts Chauvin’s guilt as the murderer of Floyd as beyond question.

Remember the Zimmerman Trial & Be Informed

Of course, George Zimmerman faced a similar established social narrative when his trial began on second-degree murder charges for the killing of Trayvon Martin, and after fourteen months of investigation and trial he was acquitted of all charges by a racially diverse jury in a matter of hours.

Much of the world was shocked by the acquittal of Zimmerman, because they’d been propagandized by the social media narrative to be utterly convinced of his guilt.  Those of you who followed my day-by-day analysis of that trial, however, fully understood that not only was the prosecution’s case against Zimmerman weak, there was literally no evidence in the case inconsistent with Zimmerman’s narrative of lawful self-defense.  For the well-informed, Zimmerman’s acquittal came as a relief, but not a surprise.

Will we see the same outcome in the trial of Chauvin?  Follow my daily coverage and analysis of the trial right here at Legal Insurrection to find out!

Prior Analysis & Background

I began analysis of this case soon after Floyd’s death over at my own Law of Self Defense web site, and anyone interested in reading that content, which includes far more details than I can reasonably include in this initial “launch” post, can gain free access by clicking the relevant links below:

After Action Analysis (George Floyd): May 27, 2020

NEWS: Officer Chauvin Charged with Murder of George Floyd (May 29, 2020)

Did Baden Autopsy Find Clinical Evidence Floyd Killed by Asphyxia? No (June 1, 2020)

News/Q&A (George Floyd): June 4, 2020

George Floyd: Criminal Complaints & Medical Examiner Report (June 5, 2020)

Media Slowly Sensing Perhaps Floyd’s Death Maybe Not A Murder? (March 3, 2021)

OK, folks, buckle up, gird your loins, and all that good stuff, and get ready for our coverage of the second-degree murder trial of Derek Chauvin, starting substantively tomorrow with the beginning of jury selection.


Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

Attorney Andrew F. Branca’s legal practice has specialized exclusively in use-of-force law for thirty years.  Andrew provides use-of-force legal consultancy services to attorneys across the country, as well as near-daily use-of-force law insight, expertise, and education to lawyers and non-lawyers alike in the form of blog posts, video, and podcasts, through the Law of Self Defense Membership service.  If this kind of content is of interest to you, try out our two-week Membership trial for a mere 99 cents, with a 200% no-question- asked money-back guarantee, here:  Law of Self Defense Membership Trial.

7 thoughts on “Preview: Coverage of the Derek Chauvin Trial in death of George Floyd”

  1. Hard to imagine that the state will be able to prove beyond a reasonable doubt Chauvin caused Floyd’s death when he had 11ng/mL which is 3-4 times lethal dose of fentanyl. I highly doubt that George Floyd would have died if he had not ingested so much fentanyl…

  2. Not enough evidence to convict from the facts. They should have just dropped the charges. Still should. But he has some answering to do for allegedly committing multiple counts of felony tax fraud to the tune of $400,000+ for many years. If this is true then he is a hypocrite..what’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

    1. Attorney Andrew Branca

      Our sole focus here is on the criminal charges against Chauvin with respect to the death of George Floyd.
      I imagine there are other forums in which folks can discuss purported allegations of tax misconduct, but this is not that forum.

      1. Yeah I understand that Mr Branca. Just my thoughts. After taking your Instructor Certification Course, I understand the single track and relevance focus. My family both sides go back to the American Revolution. If you serve, serve with honor. Maybe he is innocent on that too huh? We’ll see.

  3. My understanding is that the arrest was complete when they put the cuffs on him. The use of force that was used to attempt to transport him was justified in controlling a prisoner. The force used in pulling him out of the car and restraining him on the ground for 9 minutes was a justified use of force in rendering medial aid to a prisoner that was having a medical problems that required that he be restrained to keep him from hurting himself or others. When you don’t have a straight jacket or a padded cell to put him in, or a gurney to strap him down on, or the medication to inject him with, then you folllow the proper procedure for rendering as much medical aid as you can while waiting for the arrival of the paramedics.

  4. Looking forward to reading the legal analysis. I think COVID may have played a larger role than mentioned. Especially if he was intubated and had lingering Oxygen level and lung capacity issues. As a person who has survived COVID and had O2 level fluctuations and incapacity to fully inhale with my lungs, I am well aware of how hard it can be to breathe even without restraint. I have also been in a situation where positional asphyxia slowly made it harder to breathe, when I accidentally got flipped in an adventure park and couldn’t right myself. Panic can set in.
    Let’s go to the Derek Floyd case. He is calm until he is restrained and put in the back of the car with cuffs on. Even that position can cause some positional asphyxia. But for a person who already has compromised breathing much more so. It seems this is when Floyd starts panicking. He mentions that he is suffering from claustrophobia and that he is a COVID survivor. Right there and then, that should have been a signal that he might be compromised. Many intubated survivors have spoken of claustrophobia. And of long term compromised breathing/oxygenation. I know I did. Not being able to breathe can lead to panic and struggling. Chauvin arrived after all this. He would not have been aware that Floyd might be compromised more than the regular suspect, nor that his struggling may have been directly related to his inability to efficiently breathe. All he knew was that he had a struggling suspect that called for the maximum restraint technique. The initial arresting officers never conveyed (and were probably never trained to), that they might have a potentially health compromised suspect. Thus when Chauvin, kneeled on Floyd, using a technique he had used multiple times before, he would have not known that the compression asphyxia, combined with compromised oxygenation and breathing capacity, and possible fentanyl overdose all added up to a man dying of asphyxia. But COVID and miscommunication between initial arrest and support officers arriving after definitely played a big role in his death.

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