By Texas Metro News Team
More than a week after the jury found former Minnesota police officer Derek Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, the trial is still a subject for many even as three others who were with Mr. Chauvin await their trial and Black people are continuing to be murdered by police officers.
The month of April provides plenty of fodder for the history books.
There is that fateful day, April 4, 1968, that Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., was assassinated.
On April 20, 2021, the jury in the Derek Chauvin trial notified officials that they had reached a verdict that many felt could have led to potentially more if not the same level of outrage and civil rights protests that followed the seven days of deliberation when on April 29, 1992 four Los Angeles police officers were acquitted in the brutal beating Rodney King.
There were similarities in the cases in that White officers were on trial and critics wondered who jurors were going to believe: their lying eyes or the lying police officers. MR. King survived the beating, however Mr. Floyd died on May 25, 2020.
Mr. Chauvin was the first to stand trial, following the death of Mr. Floyd, who millions watched around the world as he called for his mother and told the officers he couldn’t breathe. Jurors continuously watched the video where Mr. Chauvin’s knee remained on Floyd’s knee for approximately nine minutes and 29 seconds.
Were the jurors sending a message when they came to a unanimous decision after nine hours and 20-plus minutes, some ask? After all for weeks they kept hearing about nine minutes and 29 seconds.
In his opening statement, prosecutor Jerry W. Blackwell, told jurors, “The most important numbers you will hear in this trial are nine, two, nine. What happened in those nine minutes and 29 seconds when Mr. Derek Chauvin was applying this excess force to the body of Mr. George Floyd.”
While some called the conviction of Mr. Chauvin, “justice,” others said the verdict was “bittersweet” as still there have been numerous shootings of Black people since and President Joe Biden reaffirmed the verdict, saying, “It was a murder in the full light of day and it ripped the blinders off for the whole world to see the systemic racism. This can be a giant step forward in the march toward justice in America.”
For Malik Aziz, who retired from the Dallas Police Department as a Deputy Chief, and now heads the Prince George’s County, Maryland Police Department, there is an overall feeling that “that due process was followed and justice prevailed.”
Chief Aziz said, “A nation breathes easier knowing that there is hope for those who have been disenfranchised. I have not heard from any police officer that believed what happened to George Floyd was justified.”
Because there were several officers who testified that George Floyd’s death was a case of unnecessary force on an arrested person who was handcuffed, on his stomach, and defenseless for at least 9 minutes and 26 seconds, the graduate of UTA and UTD said those actions signal a vibrant ray of hope for police-community relations.
He continued, “While I believe justice prevailed I remain convinced that polarization between police and community will remain. The challenges will and should be confronted head on.”
And he is optimistic about his future in PGC, as he brings a message for the department and community.
“The verdict should not mark celebration or anger, but deep reflection, intelligence, and courage to challenge the negative institutional and structural constructs that separate us,” he said. “I will tell my officers and police in my circle to remain steadfast. Hold to what
is correct and rely on training and common sense. This job requires both.”
Chief Aziz, who led the National Black Police Association, was twice a finalist for Dallas Chief of Police. Highly sought-after, he caught the attention of several city leaders across the country. Respected by many officers and law enforcement organizations, the David W. Carter High School graduate even had support from local members of the New Black Panther Party and the Next Generation Action Network; who fought for oversight and supported community policing.
Mutual respect was important to Chief Aziz and he will be leading the charge wherever he goes. He knows that everyone does not feel safe or that they are treated fairly, so there’s work across the country and the verdict could be the starting point. Maybe.
Maria Gonzales was at home in North Dallas waiting for the verdict to be handed down by the jury. She was surprised the jury made a decision in a short time and she was satisfied with the outcome.
“I do love the police, but not at the point that brutality or murder is involved. Yes, Mr. Floyd had counterfeit money and yes, he had been high on drugs. That does not give the police a license to kill.”
And her sentiments were echoed by others.
“I watched most of the trial and cried when they showed the videos of Mr. Floyd,” said Sandra Garcia who watched the trial while working from her North Fort Worth home. She said she believed the jury saw what she saw, an ex-police officer with no feelings. “He showed no remorse during the trial or when the verdict was read.”
Chief Aziz’s message should resonate wide and far, especially if there is going to be a change. Sadly, however the murders continue. Since Black men and women are being told to “stop resisting, don’t do drugs and commit crimes and they are still getting killed, social media is ablaze with folks looking for solutions. Some say it begins with training and how police unfairly treat “so-called minorities.”
Meanwhile the chief says he is telling his officers to ”to embrace honor, integrity, courage, ethics, and the humanity that this noble profession embodies. I will tell them to push back on all things unethical, immoral, and illegal. Lastly I would tell them to make a difference.”