After the nationwide outcry over his death, posting the police dash cam video and standing for nine hours of jury deliberation, Crutcher said she was confident her family would get justice.
But when it didn’t come, Crutcher said he had to come to terms with a harsh reality.
“You can have the police killings on video and they still get away with it,” Crutcher said. “The system we live in was never really designed to protect black people.”
Some say they saw attorneys paint the same dark picture of their deceased loved ones as Floyd’s defense attorneys did this week when they said underlying health problems complicated by a drug overdose, not Chauvin’s knee pressure, they killed him.
Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, traveled to Minneapolis during the early days of the trial to support the Floyd family. He knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds with Floyd’s family, attorneys and supporters outside of Minneapolis court on Monday to mark the final moments of his life.
During last week’s trial, it was revealed that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
Carr told CNN that he can relate to the loss of a loved one who repeatedly said, “I can’t breathe” before being killed by police.
Still, Carr cautions that the Floyd family may have to prepare for a possible acquittal.
“Don’t think this is going to be a dunk, even if you have a video,” Carr said. “I had a video for everyone to see and they still haven’t charged any police in my son’s case.”
“So many times I have seen African Americans murdered and no one gets a conviction,” Floyd said. “We are all fighting across America, not just me. You see protesters all over the world. Everyone is defending George Floyd. If you can’t get justice in America for this, then what can you get justice for?”
Why it is difficult to convict officers
One expert said that many of these families never get justice because it is difficult to convict a police officer of murder.
Kenneth Nunn, a professor at the University of Florida Levin School of Law, said prosecutors must be able to show that a police officer was negligent, unreasonable and reckless when he used deadly force.
Proving this is especially more difficult for black victims because police in the United States have historically been racist since slave patrols used violence to control the black community, Nunn said.
“I don’t think the average white jury or the average white citizen wants to see black people killed by the police,” Nunn said. “But when they see those murders, they weigh with ‘well, we are concerned about security in our community, these are the people who provide it, we want to give them a margin of maneuver.’
Families say ‘stay strong’
During the first week of the trial, bystanders testified of their horror and fear at seeing Floyd die on May 25, 2020. His testimony, along with eyewitness videos, are the backbone of the state’s case. But the families of other black men and women killed by the police warned the Floyd family that the defense will try to smear their character.
The Terence Crutcher Foundation issued a statement Monday warning the Floyd family that the defense would carry out a “gas bombardment.”
“… George will be vilified and blamed for his own death, you will have to relive the horrible event over and over again,” the statement said. “But STAY STRONG and know that we are with you and we ARE in solidarity with you as you endure the inconceivable.”
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 undergoing 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 vigilance.”
“No, you can’t paint me as angry, I’d say I was in a position where I had to be controlled,” Williams said as Nelson questioned him.
A ‘playbook’ that ‘shoots’
Tiffany Crutcher said the opening statements at Chauvin’s trial made her anxious. It brought her back to the trial of former Tulsa police officer Betty Shelby, who was acquitted in the shooting death of Terence Crutcher. Defense attorneys, he said, brought up Crutcher’s drug addiction history during the trial.
“This is exactly the same playbook that they used in my brother’s trial,” he said. “He’s sick and he’s shooting himself.”
Valerie Castile, Philando Castile’s mother, said that watching Chauvin’s trial has been “re-traumatizing.”
Castile said he has little faith in the criminal justice system and is sympathetic to the Floyd family as they watch the trial.
“You have to have very tough skin to sit there and listen to all that,” Castile said. “Nothing surprises me with these people in Minnesota because they have gotten away with it for many years.”
Jean’s sister, Allisa Charles-Findley, however, felt different. Charles-Findley said he believed Guyger deserved life in prison for killing Jean.
“At 26 you cut off your life shortly and then you still have a chance to go live?” Charles-Findley said. “You can have children, you can get married, you can do all those things that Botham will never have a chance to do.”
Charles-Findley said he does not believe the criminal justice system was created to protect blacks. He 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 recommend that you have no illusions,” he said.