By Marty Johnson
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill criticized Rep. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) for her comments over the weekend regarding the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who’s charged with the murder of George Floyd.
“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law and to the judicial branch and our function,” Cahill said after the jury had been sequestered to begin deliberations on Monday.
“If they want to give their opinions, they should do so … in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution,” Cahill continued.
The judge’s comments came after Chauvin defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that Waters’ comments could have prejudiced the jury and were grounds for a mistrial.
“We have U.S. representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this specific case. It’s mind-boggling,” Nelson said to Cahill. Cahill denied Nelson’s motion for a mistrial but said that Waters’s weekend remarks could give the defense “something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”
On Saturday, the longtime congresswoman visited Brooklyn Center, Minnesota., the Minneapolis suburb where Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by a White police officer during a traffic stop the previous weekend. “We’ve got to stay on the street, and we’ve got to get more active.
We’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business,” Waters told protestors at a demonstration there.
Protests over Wright’s death have led to the Minnesota National Guard being mobilized.
She also said that if Chauvin was found not guilty, she would “fight with all of the people who stand for justice,” adding, “We’ve got to get justice in this country, and we cannot allow these killings to continue.”
House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) pounced on the remarks, describing them as “dangerous.”
“Maxine Waters is inciting violence in Minneapolis — just as she has incited it in the past,” McCarthy tweeted late Sunday evening.
“If Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi [D-Calif.] doesn’t act against this dangerous rhetoric, I will bring action this week.”
Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) said on Sunday that she was planning to introduce a resolution this week in the House to expel Waters from the lower chamber for her “continual incitement of violence.”
“This is who they are, and this is how they act,” Waters said Monday in response to the GOP attacks. “I’m not going to be bullied by them.”
Waters’ comments came just before closing arguments in the high-profile case that has lasted nearly a month.
Chauvin is facing a trio of criminal counts — second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd can be heard pleading with Chauvin that he couldn’t breathe as the former police officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes in graphic bystander footage from Memorial Day.
Chauvin remained on Floyd even after he became unresponsive, relenting only after paramedics arrived on the scene. Floyd, 46, was pronounced dead shortly thereafter at Hennepin County Medical Center.
The police killings of Floyd and Breonna Taylor were catalysts for nationwide Black Lives Matter protests last summer that demanded sweeping police reform and the end to systemic racism.