Welcome to when playtime is over, our goal is to stimulate thought and conversation, not to convert your perspective. As always for those who are easily offended, emotions will not be needed so please check your feelings at the door.
An objective examination has to be detached from the desired outcome or emotional inclination and should only examine the facts and actions as they were observed to have occurred. Then compared to any explanations given when evaluated against these observations will yield the clearest determination of guilt or innocence. Strictly an uncompromising assessment of the deeds alone removed from the identity of the person performing the deed will objectively reveal if the deed was justified regardless of who the doer of the deed may have been.
For the exact purposes of guilt or justification of actions, it is practically irrelevant who committed the act but only if they had a legal right to do so in the manner in which they did. It comes down to right or wrong, proper or improper no matter who did it, friend or foe. Impartiality demands that if that same set of circumstances existed with you it would be considered fair and just. This is the ultimate perspective of neutrality of judgment required with respect to the application of the law. With this lens of detachment, the incident can begin to be clarified.
The encounter was initiated by the clerk requesting a police response in c/w Mr. Floyd passing a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. The police responded to find Mr. Floyd was located in the driver’s seat of his vehicle. He was removed from the vehicle, placed in cuffs, and escorted to the sidewalk where he was seated. He was then escorted across the street without incident but resisted being placed in the rear of the squad car. He claimed to be claustrophobic, a recognized mental disorder of anxiety, but no exclusion from being placed in a squad car or arrested.
A brief struggle of control ensued with Mr. Floyd being resistant to being placed in the rear of the squad car but not actively combative or aggressive toward the policemen. His observed intent was to not be placed in the squad car but it was not to inflict injury upon the policemen. Being placed on the ground prone is a judgment call and at the policemen’s discretion but would seem to contradict any claims of their concern for his previously displayed distress. There was oddly no verbal attempt to deescalate the situation or attempt to calm his anxiety especially since it was not a violent crime or exigent circumstances.
If possible verbal de-escalation is the first tactic on the force continuum scale and would have seemed preferable considering the investigation into the details of the counterfeit twenty had not begun in earnest and they still had not determined what their course of action would or could be. Enforcement of the law dictates that restraint be used comparatively to the crime committed unless escalating circumstances command a more intensive response. Just as you would not use swat for a jaywalker, the response given has to be in accordance with the crime committed and the response received.
That notwithstanding, once prone on the ground Mr. Floyd’s mental state was also reflected by his physical state, he was submitted. He was within the policemen’s control and physically compliant. He was also verbally compliant pleading for his life and stating his physical condition of respiratory distress, and that he could not breathe. Mr. Floyd offered no further resistance to being placed in the car because he was prone on the ground and not aggressive, combative, or evasive at all; he was secured. But was he in custody, had he been advised that he was under arrest?
Chauvin demonstrated his total control of Mr. Floyd by virtue of Chauvin’s hands being in his pockets indicating that whatever resistance that had been present Mr. Floyd was well under control at that point. Furthermore, Mr. Floyd provided no resistance from the point of being unconscious or deceased although Chauvin continued the neck pressure with his hands casually in his pockets. Suspect control or threat of harm was never a concern. Chauvin’s casual placement of his hands in his pocket from the start reveals that any threat had been subdued.
Mr. Floyd was never able to account for the bad money transaction where a fake twenty-dollar bill turned into a homicide. Before dying, Mr. Floyd had to pass out first, meaning he was still alive but unconscious. Chauvin’s continued pressure in addition to rendering Mr. Floyd unconscious he ensured that he had no chance at survival or revival. No corpus delicti or proof of guilt was ever established since the intent was not established that he knew it was bad money.
It should be noted that if Mr. Floyd had been one hundred percent compliant the incident would have unfolded differently however did his non-compliance rise to the level of force that was used and sustained on him. Cooperation with law enforcement is always preferable but the force used for non-compliance must be measured to the circumstances. It should also be noted that so callous was Chauvin’s indifference that even Mr. Floyd’s plea for his deceased mother or his unconscious state elicited no compassion from Chauvin’s demented implementation of the ”law”.
Now let us examine the policemen’s actions individually and collectively to establish any culpability. No culpability means that they had no effect on his death and it probably would have happened anyway at that exact particular time. They did not send four policemen for a counterfeit-twenty assignment, so who received the call and who was assisting? Was radio notified that they were assisting, and should they have even been there? If Chauvin was assisting on the run then he should have remained secondary and let the assigned car handle it to their discretion. Was there a procedural discrepancy with the response to the assignment?
Two policemen arrived and shortly thereafter another two policemen arrived. The first two to arrive on the scene engaged Mr. Floyd, and he was placed in cuffs. He was subsequently seated on the sidewalk. Nothing extraneous so far as excessive physical force except perhaps the way he was approached could have been handled better. Next Mr. Floyd was escorted across the street towards the store. Prior to being escorted across the street at least one officer stated that Mr. Floyd was noticeably in distress. What actions did he take as a result of this observed distress and when? What were the signs?
If he was in fact believed to be in distress, it should have changed from a possible arrest situation into providing medical assistance. The main reason is city liability, if he were having a heart attack and was under arrest then the city would be liable for his medical care, hospital stay, and would have to assign an officer to his room around the clock to guard him. To avoid their liability and the city’s he should have been passed off to medical personal. He could have then been made a named suspect for future charges.
Aside from that, it is their legal and sworn obligation to provide assistance and not continue pursuing arrest when medical attention is needed while under their control. The policeman who first noticed the distress had the most obligation to notify the others of Mr. Floyd’s suspected condition and why he thought so. Considering his suspected medical distress and only having the ability to arrest with prior authorization from the Secret Service for permission, that should have made them get him medical help and be on their way. It becomes problematic with the suspected medical complication and lack of jurisdictional authority to arrest.
Once taken to the ground on his stomach alongside the squad car with his hands cuffed behind his back, he posed no threat to the four policemen or no threat to escape. It is nearly impossible to get up quickly or otherwise from that position or launch an assault. If it was necessary to place him prone on the ground then there is no policy, procedures, or training that allows for any force which is no longer necessary to bring a person under control. Once unresponsive he was incapable of any resistance or threat.
Minimal force required to effect an arrest is the standard to justify force, but when it is no longer necessary there is no justification for its use and no allowance for it legally. What is the justification for kneeling on a deceased man’s neck for over two minutes and 46 seconds after his suspected expiration? The application of the knee to the neck area is where the criminality begins, and Chauvin’s mental state of mind begins to be detectable and exposed.
It is also at this point that the complicity of the other policemen’s state of mind can be determined, regardless of if they had participated or not in the restraint, their intent also became apparent. Two policemen did knowingly, purposefully, willingly, and physically participate to some degree in exerting force and providing assistance to Chauvin to further his criminal excessive use of force with no legal justification. They essentially participated in the assault of Mr. Floyd since there was no legal justification for force. The third policeman served as a deterrent and threat to discourage anyone who would intervene. With Mr. Floyd fully compromised there was no need for any continued force or support of it.
Chauvin did knowingly, willfully, purposefully, recklessly, and negligently steadfastly hold his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck area which resulted in his death even if only a contributory factor. If argued that Chauvin’s intent was not to kill Mr. Floyd but to restrain him, at what point did Mr. Floyd no longer need restraining? Additionally, Chauvin’s excessive force was knowingly and purposefully applied resulting in Mr. Floyd’s death rendering the force intentional and the death consequential to that force. It is expected that an 18-year veteran reasonably would have known the possible consequences, especially when warned and concerns were stated by other policemen.
What cannot be argued is that certainly Chauvin’s knee was intentionally placed there for nearly a nine-minute duration of time and he knowingly, willfully, purposefully, recklessly, and negligently without regard for the outcome because he replied to concerns acknowledging his disregard. Chauvin’s actions revealed a mindset of punishment, not restraint, with his hands in his pocket to disguise the downward force and balancing of his full weight on Mr. Floyd’s neck fully displaying the ease of his depravity, arrogance, and control. The force used on Mr. Floyd by any officer once he was on the ground on his stomach handcuffed was a criminal act and felony assault by virtue of the policemen being armed as well as the assault resulting in Mr. Floyd’s death.
Excited delirium by compression is asphyxiation defined as suffocation or a smothering effect. Breathing restriction and compression by weight is always the main trigger and can clearly be determined to have played a significant role in Mr. Floyd’s death. As a policeman, you cannot facilitate a crime or if you observe a crime you are sworn to intervene, and it does not specify who is committing the crime. Any unlawful act you are sworn to intervene and prevent. There were multiple failures to intervene or pursue an alternative action that could have saved Mr. Floyd’s life.
At the point when Mr. Floyd was believed to have been in distress before crossing the street, at the point when he complained of breathing difficulties with Chauvin on his neck, at the point when he had no pulse when checked, at the point when an officer suggested to sit him up to avoid the known concern of death which was the eventual outcome, at the point when an officer explicitly mention excited delirium concerns, at the point when Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, and at the point when the public begged for his life were all points when and where intervention should have occurred legally.
During the assault, Chauvin verbally responded disregarding all concerns and information which he knew or should have known being an 18-year veteran on the job, a field training officer, and the senior man on the scene. The senior man is always held to a higher standard because it is assumed he has the most experience and discernment knowing what to do or more importantly what not to do.
Chauvin knowingly continued his felony assault and discouraged other courses of mitigation or intervention. He knowingly and purposefully did hold his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck and maintained it there fully aware of the risk and without legal justification. The other policemen’s actions were to do nothing to end this excessive use of force and were actively complicit in holding witnesses at bay using the authority of their uniforms and weapons, arguably as criminal tools.
The issue of crowd control is separate from the excessive use of force on Mr. Floyd and no way is he responsible for the crowd which he did not incite which reveals that a separate response regarding that concern should have been directed toward the crowd. No obstruction charges or otherwise has been levied against any member of the crowd just as no additional force on Mr. Floyd should have been levied against Mr. Floyd for the crowds’ actions. Their fear from the crowd was due to Chauvin’s use of excessive force, not a menacing crowd threatening violence but a rebuking crowd.
They used their uniforms and intimidation of their authority in the furtherance of Chauvin’s crime. Had it not been armed uniformed policemen involved there is a more likely chance a civilian would have intervened preventing Mr. Floyd’s death. They provided protection while Chauvin committed his crime displaying their complicity and willful approval of Chauvin’s actions by their inaction or support of his actions. The two rookie policemen knowingly acted to support Chauvin to further his felony physical assault thereby consenting to his actions and sharing his Mens rea, intentional infliction of unnecessary force. Their state of mind was to willfully, purposely, recklessly, and negligently with full knowledge against all perceived risk consent to excessive force by at one point physically assisting. It is very clear; they did not oppose it or intervene to prevent it but did assist in it.
Citizens and bystanders with no time on the job or academy training knew the risk, Mr. Floyd and the public were trying to tell the policemen repeatedly. All four policemen were fully aware that their actions or inaction posed a significant risk to Mr. Floyd’s life even insinuating it themselves. The consequences of their actions or inactions were known or should have been known that serious bodily harm and/or death would be the result. Due to the 8 minutes and 46-second duration of the homicide beginning when Mr. Floyd was handcuffed on his stomach on the ground, all four policemen displayed knowing, willful, purposeful, reckless, and negligent conduct at various intervals while Mr. Floyd was the victim of excessive force that led to his death.
It is obvious that Chauvin’s intent was to disregard the risk of death to Mr. Floyd continuing even when Mr. Floyd was deceased. Chauvin continued until the EMTs arrived. None of the policemen did anything to stop Chauvin or aid Mr. Floyd. All four policemen displayed each of the required mindsets during the duration of the lengthy deadly incident at various times. This was a homicide committed by a policeman that was aided and abetted by three other policemen.
Citizen video, police bodycam, their own radio transmissions, and multiple witnesses in broad daylight in full view of the public were not deterrents to their crime but present overwhelming evidence against their actions. The question of intent or guilt for Mr. Floyd’s death would seem undeniable but due process of law and possible plea bargain or sentencing arrangements could be the only reason to claim innocence certainly not the legal justification of their actions. How can anyone defend their actions?
Mr. Floyd was a human being who was treated inhumanely well below any standard which should be acceptable from law enforcement. The law has no accommodation for such actions. Mr. Floyd’s Constitutional and Civil Rights were trampled and suffocated from his body without compassion by policemen who now hide behind their own rights seeking compassion.
Their Constitutional Rights will be upheld and due process assured them where defense attorneys will attempt to blame Mr. Floyd for his own death while being handcuffed on the ground. Despite the force continuum, display of excessive force on a deceased man, discrepancies in observable actions, and their implausible explanations they will try to justify the reprehensible by claiming no laws were broken by them. Perhaps along with some form of qualified immunity will be claimed.
Aside from the verdict still to be rendered from the courtroom, the City of Minneapolis has rendered their own with a historic settlement of 27 million dollars to settle the wrongful death lawsuit regarding this incident. The size of the settlement reflects the horrific depravity beyond reason, vindication, protection of the law, or moral standards. It was an honorable action by the City to not attempt to justify or minimize the colossal injustice which caused Mr. Floyd’s death. It should be an exemplary example of admission of blatant guilt to preserve the integrity of government and law enforcement.
Defending obviously egregious acts greatly diminishes public respect for and compliance with law enforcement and encourages resistance to unfairness. The public trust which took many good deeds and years to establish can be nationally destroyed instantly by one act such as Chauvin’s. It can only be regained when the law is enforced equally including against law enforcement personnel that violate their sworn duty.
Obvious and blatant violations of the law, of duty, and public trust cannot be condoned and tolerated especially when it is this egregious and erodes the public trust. Such egregious acts make it hard for good Officers to maintain public trust when this kind of policing is creating problems for them and eroding their protections. The negative consequences are suffered by the law enforcement community even more so than the public. Everyone in the public does not interact with law enforcement but all law enforcement must adhere to a code of conduct imposed on them as a result of the repercussions of Chauvin-like behavior.
The implementation of body cameras, the loss of credibility, the attrition of public perception, the increased propensity for resistance and aggression against personnel, the funding issues, the decrease of union and bargaining power, the restrictions on equipment for fear it may be abused against the public, creation of more hazardous working conditions, decrease public cooperation, GPS on vehicles, restricting search warrant criteria, use of force and contact documentation, federal oversite, qualified immunity protections removed for honest mistakes, morale decline, dissension among the ranks, and many more are directly related to law enforcement not being willing to police themselves. When law enforcement cannot self-regulate themselves then more restrictive levels of accountability are placed upon them.
Law enforcement must evolve beyond the pathology and culture which it traditionally has operated under to change its method of operation progressing beyond the rugged physically tough beat cop authoritatively demanding unconditional absolute submission to their authority. No longer exempt from judgment being protected by their arrogant elite status as the law or by the repressive intimidation of ominous consequences separated from the people they should serve. Coercion by a quasi-military occupying force which civilians must categorically comply with or force will be justified is no longer tolerated.
Being law-abiding should not require a humbling and submission to authority even when unlawful acts reminiscent of vigilantism are imposed by law enforcement. You must simply enforce the law not become the law. Police have historically been the enforcement arm of racism, immigration, minority control, as well as labor and union disputes at the direction of those with undue influence over policy or preference. As a result, they have enjoyed a royal centurion discretion accountable only to their superiors to whom they answer relegating the commoners beneath the power invested in them creating fearful respect.
The regulation of authority, punishment, and freedom instills a reflexive apprehension when dealing with law enforcement. We all know the feeling when a police car activates its lights behind us. The perception and projected expectation of behavior during these encounters are generally uneasiness until relieved by their demeanor or the reason for the encounter. It is usually magnified to a conditioned anxiety if you are a member of a demographic where abuses have been normalized or expected. Racism has always been entrenched in law enforcement and the military with a culture of tolerance and a lack of condemnation implying a tacit if not often explicit approval endorsing that authoritative abusive mentality when no action is taken or it is condoned.
This tendency towards an adversarial mentality must be modified and admonished when inappropriate. An us versus them mentality reinforces a war-like perspective where the opposition is dehumanized to justify abuses and violations of their dignity and humanity insisting their rights and treatment is an inconsequential consideration and rationalization for lack of accountability regarding your treatment of them. War or law enforcement displayed at its worst should have regulations regarding the rules of engagement, treatment, and capture that must be followed. Law enforcement must follow the guidelines established and when blatantly in violation should concede error instead of the righteous indignation of defiance to being judged.
If you will not listen or display reason you are essentially providing no other option except to not be reasoned with thereby encouraging noncompliance further justifying a response in a self-fulfilling hazard of your own creation. Evolution is preferable to revolution when reflecting or pursuing social changes, and cooperation by persuasion to convince rather than rugged physicality or force seems a better alternative. To accept surrender is preferred to forceable submission and if fair surrender will not be accepted then resistance is forced. The goal is not a calibration of machismo but the easiest obtainment of an objective.
Let force be the response to conflict and not the cause of it. Influences of the history of policing by implication, ideology, and methodology must reflect the future of societal tolerances to preserve the most respect and support for law enforcement. The job is not for everyone, maybe not the faint of heart or brutally inclined with limited people skills. For the maximum support for law enforcement to be maintained there has to be admissions of obvious wrongdoing and misconduct. It is counterproductive for law enforcement to support violations of wrongdoing; it exposes that the system is broken and they will not fix it without further restriction of their authority. Law enforcement must be subjected to the same laws they are sworn to enforce, not above them.
It is sometimes necessary and always better to relinquish the part for the good of the whole. Good decent Officers must not be cast under a cloak of scorn with elevated hazards under hostile working conditions to defend the indefensible. The police union dues, morale, and resources should not be spent despite members’ dissent for actions they disagree with and know to be wrong. The first rule of policing is to go home every night from the job, the will to overcome and to survive encounters. The second is not to let someone send you to the penitentiary and jackpot you by their actions. I am not going to do your time for you or with you. I will not let you jackpot me and send me to prison for your actions. This is understood.
The police union has an obligation to defend officers but not to waste the resources of members by publicly and arrogantly condoning unquestionably damaging behavior which compromises the whole department’s credibility. A policeman has a fiduciary duty to supply the union with actions they can defend but not to the detriment of the union members, the police department, and the whole legal structure. The real thin blue line and honor among officers is to not ruin or let a fellow officer get jackpotted on your dime. United we stand separately we fall so that others are left standing. The primary offender should accept the brunt of the burden to alleviate as much as possible on the remaining policemen. That is the real code.
The union has a responsibility to protect the union body above an individual member understanding that one must sometimes answer so that others may serve without contempt. Refusing the obvious accountability disparages the union’s principles and by association the principles of your union members that paints the good officers with a bloody brush. When these policemen’s actions do not give you anything to work with you must save the ship instead of circling the wagons. The righteous needs of the many outweigh the detrimental actions of the few. If they blow it so badly then you must step away and condemn their actions even if by absentee proxy by removing your unwavering defense, if not your conditional support.
How many of your members agree with having their dues spent for this? How many good OFFICERS have to suffer as a whole nationally with the public perception that you promote? When you, good and bad, wear the same respected uniform it is hard to tell from the outside looking in but you know from the inside, the good from the bad. The decision must be made among the ranks, the bosses, the prosecutors, and the judges but mostly the street cops on the front line who are the most vulnerable to not allow members to tarnish them by criminal behavior because you become silently complicit by aiding and abetting that as well. The street cops surely suffer the consequences most.
When the union sees no evil and the union staunchly proclaims with arrogant indifference their support for crimes such as this, then by demonstration and proclamation the only logical conclusion left is that this could be an undetected RICO violation of an ongoing culture of a criminal enterprise with known collaborators and tolerance for criminal activity and corruption. It invites investigations and attention. At the very least it is a poor demonstration of leadership that endangers law enforcement and promotes an insidious culture waiting to implode again.
We know what it should say about Chauvin but what does it really say about those who would defend this public assassination. Who can be proud of this abomination or defend its despicable representation as good policing? What manner of twisted articulation can justify these four policemen’s actions? Why the extraordinary efforts to justify this behavior and claim that these actions were necessary and legal? Why lose all credibility to represent the other members by supporting these actions? Did these actions meet departmental expectations and are they representative of what a police union and police department can be proud of?
If they did not fear for their actions, then they should not fear to have it called for what it is and suffer the consequences. At its core, it is murder by all standards for all involved which should come with extended stay, room, and board, free amenities, free utilities, plenty of company, and lifetime membership for Chauvin should also be included. More specifically extensive prison time for all four, levels of accountability, and deterrents must be set. The success of any conviction is not in imposing the highest charges but in dispensing the most prison time to be served. At the Judge’s discretion sentences should run consecutive meaning one after another which means maximum prison time.
Local, national, and global outrage has been agitated to condemn this vile murder while some would defend this evil at enormous cost claiming support of law enforcement or Mr. Floyd’s non-compliance. This not racial, black or white but human, he was a human being with a family and loved ones whose actions did not rise to the level of what we all witnessed. It should never be witnessed or suffered again. If this were done to an animal the depravity would be obvious and the outrage universal or would you prefer that this happen to other men, women, and juveniles as justified standard police operating procedures especially over minor offenses.
Police procedure and conduct are what is on trial. Why hasn’t the ongoing protest, property destruction, billions of dollars in resources and lost productivity, racial division, and decay of law enforcement respect, safety, and morale not been enough to admonish the actions of one man’s barbaric casual act of murder? Remember, this is all over a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill and the question must be asked was it worth it?. If you need any further guidance on if it was worth it the City of Minneapolis just gave 27 million reasons why it wasn’t.
Thurston K. Atlas
Creating A Buzz