Comedian Chelsea Handler received social media backlash on Tuesday after questioning the need for murder trials “when there is audio and video footage of the murder.”
Handler made the remarks Tuesday on Twitter while discussing the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Footage leading up to and including Floyd’s death, which quickly went viral and sparked worldwide Black Lives Matter protests, shows Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes. Handler suggested that Chauvin should be deemed guilty based on the footage alone, with no need for a trial.
“So pathetic that there is a trial to prove that Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd when there is video of him doing so,” Handler tweeted.
After a follower responded to the tweet by saying “we need the trial or our justice system would be even more chaotic than it already is,” Handler replied, “Perhaps we skip trials when there is audio and video footage of the murder.”
The former talk show host’s comments quickly sparked a flurry of responses from Twitter users warning of the dangers of attempting to unleash criminal justice without due process.
“Do you really think the system is so broken that due process is just some quaint fantasy?” tech writer Matt Peckham tweeted. “We reap what we sow.”
“Chelsea, this aint the way babe,” Jennifer Grady tweeted. “Trials give the innocent a chance to be heard too. Many people of color, specifically Black People are wrongly convicted in America. Audio and Video without context can change outcomes. Let’s hold a JUST American Justice System as the goal.”
“How stupid of them to give due process that’s in the constitution,” tweeted Josh Barnett, a 2022 GOP candidate for Congress in Arizona. “Smh. Bunch of damn communists. Yes, I think he’s guilty but we have due process and the rule of law in this country!”
“Sure, let’s make that a reality in a world where the rich and powerful can digitally manipulate footage & the poor and disaffected will bear the brunt of the unfairness,” tweeted author Vincent Morrone. “Because that won’t end with thousands of innocent men and women, mostly POC in prison. Great idea.”
“If we start sentencing people without trial, who do you think is more likely to suffer as a result?” tweeted @montrealer97. “People who look like Derek Chauvin, or people who look like George Floyd?”
“Having served on two criminal juries, I can tell you that the presumption of innocence is repeated over & over again & judges give jurors very explicit instructions on when they must acquit & convict on the charges,” @howardrgold1 tweeted. “We don’t have trial by Twitter in this country yet, thank God.”
A few of Handler’s followers chimed in with messages of support for her suggestion that some trials should be skipped. Some were concerned that Chauvin’s trial would end in a way that they feel would be unjust, mostly expressing fears that the former police officer would be wrongly acquitted.
Chauvin is currently on trial for three separate charges related to Floyd’s death: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. If convicted, he could face anywhere between a few years to several decades in prison.
Newsweek reached out to Handler’s representative for comment.