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Legal and criminal justice experts weigh in on Derek Chauvin’s guilty verdict

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Two experts used the word “surprised” when describing their reaction to the verdict in Derek Chavin’s trial.

They said they were surprised the verdict was reached so quickly and in some ways, by the outcome. Based on their experience and the evidence, though, they said no other decision could have been made.

Carl Brizzi is an attorney and former Marion County Prosecutor. He said even with recorded proof, he initially thought there would be a compromised verdict.

“Sometimes, you know, juries meet in the middle, especially if they’re deadlocked. I never thought for a second that he would be acquitted. I did think that there would be potential for one or two holdouts, that would create a hung jury and that would create a mistrial,” Brizzi said.

Stephanie Whitehead, an associate professor of criminal justice at Indiana University East, said it was not only what the jurors saw in court that helped them make their decision, but also what they heard.

“You had his own colleagues testifying against him. I think was a big shift in the way that these cases are typically handled. You had the chief of police saying this didn’t follow proper procedure,” Whitehead said.

Still, Whitehead said some of those procedures need a second look.

“There is a lot more work that needs to be done in the area of the policing. Just one man being convicted doesn’t change policing as a structure or policing as an institution and I think that needs to be questioned even further,” she said.

Until that day comes, Brizzi said this trial should serve as a lesson.

“To young people that are involved in some of these social movements and that sort of thing, it’s like the government has a monopoly on the use of force and the safest, most rational course of action is to not invoke the possibility of them using too much force,” Brizzi said.

Whitehead said one change the country has seen because of this case: states banning qualified immunity. That’s a set of legal rules that provides a high level of protection to police officers and sometimes prevents them from ever being charged.

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