President Joe Biden is carefully monitoring the Derek Chauvin trial where opening arguments began Monday – and is concerned that a verdict may inflame racial tensions at a time when multiple U.S. cities are on edge following police killings.
Biden ruminated about potential fallout during a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus last week, and aides are saying he has also shared concerns with lawmakers in private.
'And also, you know, with Daunte Wright in Minnesota — that God-awful shooting resulting in his death, and — and in the midst of an ongoing trial over the killing of George Floyd,' Biden said last week. 'And Lord only knows what’s happened based on what the verdict will or will not be there.'
President Joe Biden is monitoring the Derek Chauvin trial, where closing arguments began Monday, and is concerned that a verdict could inflame racial tensions in the nation
He was referencing the shooting of the 20-year old Wright by a police officer in Minnesota during a traffic stop. Wright's funeral is scheduled to be held on Thursday.
Biden raised concerns about fallout during the meeting with black lawmakers, aides told CNN.
The footage of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck during Floyd's arrest last summer set off protests in Minneapolis and around the country. If the Chauvin jury should deliver a verdict this week or next, the results would come amid renewed tensions in communities where police have shot suspects during traffic stops and arrests – along with sharp splits over efforts to control the coronavirus and a new spate of mass shootings.
It is unusual for officers to be charged with murder or manslaughter when they kill someone in the line of duty, and only about a third of charges result in a conviction, the New York Times reported. Chauvin's defense brought up Floyd's drug use and said his death was caused by other factors besides Chauvin's knee.
People protest at Brooklyn Center Police Department, Minnesota, after the death of Duante Wright. April 16 2021. President Biden is concerned about the verdict could inflame racial tensions
President Joe Biden speaks to the media during a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, DC, USA, on 13 April 2021
People protest outside of Brooklyn Center Police Station, Minnesota. April 16 2021. Brooklyn Center Police Officer Kimberly Potter fatally shot Duante Wright during a traffic stop
Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (R) is accused of killing George Floyd during Floyd's arrest
Even though prosecutors were armed with powerful video evidence, there is a chance of an acquittal or a conviction on a lesser charge that could reignite street protests.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter – with maximum sentences of 40 years, 25 years, and 10 years on each charge respectively.
Police and National Guard forces have surrounded the Minnesota courthouse where the trial gets back underway on Monday.
Amid the tensions over police shootings, the White House has called out police officers for use of force tactics.
On Friday, White House press secretary Jen Psaki called the video of 13-year-old Adam Toledo getting shot by a Chicago police office 'chilling.'
'Too often in this country law enforcement uses unnecessary force, too often resulting in the death of black and brown Americans.' On Thursday, graphic body camera video was released publicly that showed the teenager being fatally shot by 34-year-old officer Eric Stillman.