While Arradondo’s testimony was to focus on police training and policies, the chief also twice told jurors that Chauvin’s actions violated the “values” of the department.
“It’s certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” said Arrandondo, who had previously offered in public that Chauvin’s actions amounted to murder.
Some experts said the judge probably shouldn’t have allowed the chief to give such a broad opinion.
“He added gratuitously that it did not meet our standards or our values,” said Geoffrey Alpert, professor of criminology and criminal justice at the University of South Carolina. “He probably shouldn’t have said that.
While most witnesses are categorized as experts or fact witnesses, the police chief appears to operate in both areas by discussing departmental policies, policing techniques, and the investigation into Floyd’s death.
“This is something that an expert witness is not supposed to do, but does [prosecutors] posted it as a witness to the facts, sort of appreciated that, ”said Mark Osler, a law professor at the University of St. Thomas, which is based in the Twin Cities. “There is no doubt that he has been a very good witness for the government.”
Osler said Armandondo’s practical role might seem odd in big cities but made sense in Minneapolis.
“In New York City, if something like this happens, there are so many levels in the police department and it’s a bigger operation,” Osler said. “We’re a small enough place here that the third or fourth person called when something big happens is the chief of police. … He was there, he was involved in many decisions made.
While the testimony of a police chief sitting at the trial of an officer or former officer is highly unusual, Arradondo also testified two years ago at the trial of ex-officer Mohamed Noor, who was convicted of murder for shooting Justine Damond, 40, while answering her. Call 911 about a possible sexual assault.
Noor was found guilty and sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison. The Minnesota Supreme Court announced last month that it would uphold Noor’s appeal, but it’s not clear whether the justices will look into issues that could affect Chauvin’s case.
Public outcry over Floyd’s death and attention to Chauvin’s trial by the media and prominent politicians could also provide fodder for an appeal, lawyers said.
Representative Maxine Waters (D-California) and even President Joe Biden reinforced the expected appeal with comments suggesting that convictions in this case were needed to keep the peace.
“We are seeking a guilty verdict,” Waters said at a rally near Minneapolis on Saturday night. She added that if there was not such an outcome, “we have to become more active, we have to become more confrontational.”
The remarks sparked a flash of anger from the normally mild-mannered judge Cahill, who called his comments “heinous.”
“I’m going to tell you that Congresswoman Waters maybe gave you something on appeal that could result in this whole lawsuit being quashed,” Cahill said. “It comes back to what I’ve been saying from the start. I want elected officials to stop talking about this matter, especially in a way that does not respect the rule of law, the judiciary and our function. “
Despite his suggestions for an appeal, Cahill declined to declare the trial overturned or question jurors as to whether they had heard Waters’ remarks.
Biden’s comments on Tuesday morning that he prayed for the “right verdict” were a bit more vague than those of Waters, but also seemed to signal a fear that an acquittal could lead to problems. The president added that he shared his thoughts only because the jury had been sequestered after closing arguments on Monday.
Osler said defense attorneys were likely to argue that the high-profile statements created an atmosphere that put pressure on the jury.
“Their ground of appeal would be that the jurors were not influenced by the evidence, but by the fear of what would happen if they did not convict,” the professor said, noting that the defense had seen each other refuse to change the venue of the trial.
Another potential influence in the midst of Chauvin’s trial is the shooting and assassination of an African-American suspect, Daunte Wright, by a police officer in the nearby suburb of Minneapolis.
Convictions were only rarely overturned due to publicity before or during the trial or perceived pressure on the jury. The most important case recently involved Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, who was sentenced to death following a jury trial for the deadly Boston Marathon finish line bombing in 2013. Tsarnaev’s lawyers stand by are opposed to the death sentence, but have acknowledged its involvement in the bombing.
Last year, a federal appeals court overturned the death sentence, ruling that the 2015 trial appeared to have been marred by an “avalanche of pre-trial publicity” and that the judge in charge of the case did not had not questioned jurors enough to know if they had been exposed to the “reign of terror” in the Boston area during the manhunt of Tsarnaev and his brother, who died in a shooting with the police.
The Supreme Court announced last month that it would take up the marathon bombing case, meaning judges will likely render a ruling on the advertising issue at the end of this year or at the end of this year. early next year.
In a twist of the Minnesota-only case, Chauvin may even have grounds for appeal on the grounds that prosecutors were too mean to his defense attorney. After a prosecutor called the defense arguments “nonsense,” defense attorney Eric Nelson objected.
“We actually have a rule in Minnesota saying you can’t downplay defense,” Osler said, explaining the rule as a product of the state’s reputation for courtesy.
“It’s a very Minnesota problem,” he said. “In Texas, if as a prosecutor you didn’t belittle the defense, you probably wouldn’t be doing your job.”