There seems to be something in the human psyche which looks for ordinariness after truly awful moments. A time which seemed deceptively normal until it became anything but.
Watching the footage in the run up to George Floyd’s death I was struck by just how normal things were until they weren’t.
His car is parked on the side of the road, the shop-keeper who thinks he’s been given a false note points it out to the policeman. No one is too worried. It’s very low key. A woman in a beautiful bright pink veil walks past.
The police go to the car, it’s all very calm until it’s not.
As the officer rattles the end of his torch on the car window George Floyd goes to open the door. He is immediately agitated and begins apologising.
Both hands aren’t visible, the officer tells him to raise them to the wheel. It is 14 seconds from the first tap on the window to a gun being pointed into the car. In less than a minute George Floyd is begging “don’t shoot me.”
He’s told they won’t but they need to see his hands. He is a man who knows what peril he is in, most likely as the result of a life lived aware of the risks he faced because of the colour of his skin. In the end it would not be the gun which would be George Floyd’s peril.
In the following minutes, all captured on police body cam, officers would negotiate to get him into the police car, then try to force him in and eventually as he refused, citing claustrophobia and a struggle to breathe due to being Covid positive, pull him down to the ground.
What separates this case from so many others, is that nothing is rushed.
This is not a case when an officer made a split second decision, rightly or wrongly tossing up between their life or their suspect’s. There is no rush here. In fact, there is a lot of time.
Sadly a lot of that time is spent with a knee on George Floyd’s neck.
The jury in this case have charges of manslaughter, second and third degree murder to consider. And unlike in other cases they will make their decision based on what they see, not just what they are told.
Every moment is captured from different angles on different cameras. They will endure every dreadful second from the first complaint to the last attempt to save George Floyd’s life.
And when they have seen every frame of that harrowing footage they will see people wandering along going shopping.
They will return their verdict on one of the most pivotal episodes in American history which began and ended in total normality.