On Tuesday April 20, 2021, former Minneapolis Police Officer, Derek Chauvin, was convicted on all counts against him in the killing of George Floyd in May 2020.
The jury verdict was coming almost one year after Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck in an incident that sparked global protests against police brutality, and pushed the Black Lives Matter campaign to a higher level.
A lot has been written and said about the trial, the expectations and the verdict which shot up anxiety in the United States and beyond on what could happen should the ex-policeman be found not guilty, in view of previous outcomes of cases of police brutality against blacks and other coloured people.
It is indisputable that the single piece of evidence which nailed Chauvin and made the verdict what it has become, is the video footage of the heinous murder scene which stormed the world stage via TV and social media. It was the recording of George Floyd’s death that ignited widespread racial-justice protests and unrest worldwide and it was what made the jury find the ex-cop guilty on all counts.
Teenager Darnella Frazier captured George Floyd’s death on her cellphone and the video shaped the Chauvin trial, no doubt.
Darnella was 17 years old when she filmed Floyd’s arrest, and uploaded it to Facebook, igniting international protests over racism and police brutality.
She was walking with her 9-year-old cousin to get some snacks at the store when they witnessed George Floyd being arrested outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis at the corner of 38th and Chicago Avenue on May 25, 2020.
By capturing the arrest and sharing it on social media, she supplied a huge piece of evidence that eventually led to the conviction of Derek Chauvin, with the jury, like millions of people around the world, watching the footage, as admitted. The video showed Chauvin’s knee of Floyd’s neck and enabled the incident to be examined frame by frame to fully make clear each move that led to Floyd’s death.
Darnella’s video and authoritative evidence during the trial helped tell the story of the incident, with the jury finding the ex-cop guilty on all three counts of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Not even the desperate and concerted effort of the defence lawyer to turn the video round to his advantage could deny the obvious murder, as seen by millions all over the world, courtesy of Darnella Frazier.
The young lady, who is now 18 years old, was among the first witnesses to be called to testify by the prosecution and she said in court that she regretted not physically engaging the four officers at the scene.
She said: “It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.” It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain.”
When the verdict was announced in Minneapolis on Tuesday, she posted on her Facebook page: “George Floyd we did it!! Justice has been served.”
There is no doubt that Darnella Frazier, a student at Augsburg Fairview Academy, a high school in Minneapolis, is a heroine, and I am sure that her bravery in that moment must never be forgotten. The dictionary says a heroine is a ‘brave woman’, ‘superwoman’, ‘champion’, ‘conqueror’, ‘an idol’. Darnella Frazier is all this now.
Even some jurors who had not seen the video before the trial had the opportunity to review it step by step, and be convinced about what transpired.
There are those in other countries who will say she could only capture the video because of the country she is in and that the police in a place like Nigeria would have seize the phone from her and even assault her to boot. This is true. Others also say that the Nigerian judicial system may not be fully disposed to accepting her video as evidence in a ‘high-tension’ murder trial as this.
However, there are many lessons to learn from this, both in legal and policing terms. The average mobile phone has a camera that can help solve crimes and provide evidence as in the Chauvin case. In a country where the installation of public cameras has not been successfully implemented, citizens can be empowered to use their cameras to support the policing and judicial systems. We need laws that will empower and provide protection to citizens so that they can shoot scenes of crimes and police brutality. Such videos should be acceptable, too, in trials.
Here’s to Darnella Frazier!
IMAGE CREDIT: usatoday.com