After the nationwide outcry over his death, the release of police dash cam video, and standing by through nine hours of jury deliberation, Crutcher said she was certain her family would get justice.
But when it didn’t come, Crutcher said she had to accept a hard reality.
“You can have police killings on video and they still get away with it,” Crutcher said. “The system we live in was never truly designed to protect Black people.”
Some say they watched attorneys paint the same dark picture of their deceased loved ones as defense attorneys did of Floyd this week when they said underlying health issues complicated by a drug overdose — not pressure from Chauvin’s knee — killed him.
Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, traveled to Minneapolis for the first days of the trial to support the Floyd family. She knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds with Floyd’s family, attorneys and supporters outside the Minneapolis courthouse on Monday to mark the final moments of his life.
During the trial last week it was revealed that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
Carr told CNN she can relate to losing a loved one who repeatedly said, “I can’t breath” before dying at the hands of police.
Still, Carr cautions that the Floyd family may have to brace for a possible acquittal.
“Don’t think that this is going to be a slam dunk, even though you have a video,” Carr said. “I had a video for the whole world to see and they still didn’t indict any cops in my son’s case.”
“So many times I have seen African American people killed and nobody gets a conviction,” Floyd said. “We’re all fighting across America, not just me. You see protesters all around the world. They’re all standing up for George Floyd. If you can’t get justice in America for this, what can you get justice for then?”
Why it’s difficult to convict officers
One expert said many of these families never get justice because it’s difficult to convict a police officer for murder.
Kenneth Nunn, a professor at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, said prosecutors must be able prove that a police officer was negligent, unreasonable, and reckless when he or she used deadly force.
Proving this is especially harder for Black victims because policing in the United States has been historically racist dating back to slave patrols who used violence to control the Black community, Nunn said.
“I don’t think the average White juror or average White citizen wants to see Black people killed by the police,” Nunn said. “But when they do see those killings, they weigh that with ‘well we are concerned about safety in our community, these are the people who provide it, we want to give them some leeway.'”
Families say ‘stand strong’
During the first week of the trial, bystanders testified about their horror and fear watching Floyd die on May 25, 2020. Their testimony — along with the searing eyewitness videos — are the backbone of the state’s case. But the families of other Black men and women killed by police warned the Floyd family that the defense will try to malign his character.
The Terence Crutcher Foundation released a statement on Monday warning the Floyd family that there would be “gaslighting” by the defense.
“… They will vilify George and blame him for his own death, you will have to relive the horrific event over and over,” the statement said. “But STAND STRONG and know that we are with you and we STAND in solidarity with you as you endure the unconscionable.”
During opening statements, defense attorney Eric Nelson cited Floyd’s use of fentanyl and methamphetamine and his heart problems as the cause of his death. He said Floyd was resisting arrest and that Chauvin was following proper police training.
“You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career,” Nelson said. “The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing.”
“No, you can’t paint me out as angry — I would say I was in a position where I had to be controlled,” Williams said while being cross-examined by Nelson.
A ‘playbook’ that’s ‘triggering’
Tiffany Crutcher said the opening statements in Chauvin’s trial gave her anxiety. It took her back to the trial of former Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby who was acquitted in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher. Defense attorneys, she said, brought up Crutcher’s history of drug addiction during the trial.
“This is the exact same playbook they used in my brother’s trial,” she said. “It’s sick and it’s triggering.”
Valerie Castile, the mother of Philando Castile, said watching the Chauvin trial has been “re-traumatizing.”
Castile said she has little faith in the criminal justice system and empathizes with the Floyd family as they watch the trial.
“You have to really have tough skin to sit there and listen to all that,” Castile said. “Nothing surprises me with these people in Minnesota because they have been getting away with this for many years.”
Jean’s sister Allisa Charles-Findley, however, felt differently. Charles-Findley said she believed Guyger deserved a life sentence for killing Jean.
“At 26 you cut his life shortly and then you still have that opportunity to go live?” Charles-Findley said. “You can have kids, you can get married, you can do all of those things that Botham will never get the opportunity to do.”
Charles-Findley said she doesn’t believe the criminal justice system was created to protect Black people. She encouraged the Floyd family to pray and maintain a strong support system during the trial.
“We have to protect our own so I would definitely advise them to not get their hopes up,” she said.