Procedural Legalities for those who might not know.
First, I would like to say respect and blessings to the Floyd family for me speaking on their loss.
Here in part 1, I will attempt to explain the legal aspects and implications of the case to provide a better understanding of the charges and trial considerations. Unfortunately, many assumptions from a civilian or layperson perspective deviate from the intricacies and nuances of the law.
Consequently, to make a better determination requires that we first establish the pertinent laws, criteria, and instructions needed to make an informed legal judgment. The distinctions of the law rely strictly on what can be proven, while what appears to be obvious evidence of proof can often differ from the letter of the law.
The first consideration did you actually commit the crime, and the primary element of proving you did commit the crime requires meeting the statutory legal standard for that crime. Then the mental state of mind and sanity are the following two main elements to be established.
The mental state of mind of knowingly is generally the most difficult mental state of mind to prove but usually carries the harshest penalty. The more serious the crime committed, the more precise the elements of the mental state of mind are to determine. This determination makes specific mental distinctions more challenging to prove.
When ascertaining an individual’s mental state of mind, the law does not define when the origination of intent begins or the duration of that intent. Instead, the law only considers at what point a specific intent is detectable and its effect proven or demonstrated to substantiate that level of intent. In other words, not the duration of intent before or during the commission of the crime, but the intent present before or during contributing to the commission of that crime.
Proving intent is determined from the point it transitioned from obvious lawful actions to illegal or criminal acts. The intent comprises the observable actions and behavior individually or collectively exhibited, then applying the level of knowledge or should have known the outcome or risk of those actions and behavior. It is further judged by indifference or remorse for the outcome. The intent is the critical element in determining which statute was broken and to what degree.
The elements of a crime by statute are the first consideration, and the second is the degree relative to a mental state of mind. Thus, for example, murder is defined as the act of causing the death of another and has specific specifications and conditions, including elements that refer to various states of mind and jail terms.
Murder classifications by degree are first-degree involving premeditation with intent. Meanwhile, second-degree is intentional killing lacking any malicious intent. Third-degree is with a depraved heart or mind disregarding human life. Lesser degrees involve manslaughter, etc. Third-degree murder is a charge only available in three states: Minnesota, Florida, and Pennsylvania being the three.
Third-degree murder is classified as the mental state of mind that displays depraved indifference but is not intentional; first and second degrees are deemed intentional. The enhanced specification of the felony murder rule is when during the commission of another felony, for example, felony assault in the first degree. Assault is generally defined as a physical attack inflicting physical harm or causing the fear of harm or threatening harm.
Pursuant to the felony murder rule, an assault leading to death would be a first-degree felony assault. Elements of assault of a felonious nature should apply since the use of excessive or unnecessary force contributing to death is definitely a criminal act meeting the criteria. Assault can also be a lesser included crime or violation of the primary charge.
The second criteria refer to Mens Rea, defined as the guilty mind. Mens Rea accounts for a person’s mental intentions to commit a crime or knowledge that one’s actions or lack of action cause a crime to be committed.
The elements and intent of that specific statute determine which criminal charges are brought. Although there may be a murder, the intent is what establishes what degree of murder. The levels of intent that establish degrees are purposefully, knowingly, recklessly, negligently, or as it applies to this case, depravity.
Actus Rea is the action taken to perform the criminal act or the physical action taken supporting the criminal act. The elements and intent derived from these illegal actions determine the number of violations charged from the same actions or incident.
Multiple charges can emerge from a single incident based upon how many statutes can be verified violated along with the accompanying jurisdiction to prosecute the violations. When multiple persons are involved, each role is ascertained as either having not participated or prevented, assisted in committing the offense, or being complicit in its commission.
Complicity is any part of the planning, execution, concealment, or escape designed to facilitate or participate in a crime. Any tools or methods to further that crime is viewed as evidence of complicity and a criminal tool. Complicity is the same degree of crime as the crime being aided and abetted.
The commission of the crime of complicity does not require direct physical involvement, just furtherance of the crime. For example, if the charge or crime is first-degree murder, then the complicity is to the same degree. If it is a misdemeanor, then complicity is a misdemeanor of the same degree.
It should be noted that any firearm carried during the commission or furtherance of a crime is an automatic felony by statute, even if that crime is a misdemeanor. The theft of a candy bar is a misdemeanor but a theft of a candy bar while armed is a robbery, constituting theft by use or implication of force. All four policemen were armed at the time of the critical incident making whatever violating actions automatic felonies.
Hate crimes are a separate set of considerations and probably unlikely in this instance to be proven. Kidnapping is defined as removing someone from the place found without authority to do so or restrict their movements without consent or authority to do so.
Kidnapping would apply in a very narrow sense if interpreted as any lawful custody ended when the criminality of excessive force began. Thus, unlawful restriction of his movements without legal right to do so by the excessive physical force negated any lawful authority.
Detaining a suspect is different from the arrest of an individual. To detain someone, a policeman must have the right to do so, and it must be reasonable in duration and circumstances. Thus, at the point of Chauvin’s knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, it is mandatory that he had been placed under arrest and informed of such but well beyond being detained.
Adherence to state law, departmental policy and procedures, and observance of his Constitutional and Civil Rights require that prior to that degree of force that it must be necessary to have had placed him under arrest.
Assuming a pattern of tolerance exposing systemic violations of excessive force or violation of Civil Rights is also found, in that case, a federal consent decree and oversight is pursued by the DOJ. DOJ inquiry is entirely separate from any state charges.
The RICO Act is the DOJ federal statute regarding ongoing criminal enterprises involving murder, kidnapping, and other patterns of crime or corruption. Thus, previously used against police personnel and police departments when a widespread and systemic commission or tolerance of excessive force and other crimes existed within a police department.
It targets any law enforcement coordination, tolerance, or collaboration of crime or unlawful conduct. The RICO Act was designed to specifically prosecute organizations that operate as a cooperative pattern of criminal activity with centralized leadership.
The Department of Justice sanctions organizations with a Consent Decree to monitor and alter how departments operate. A Consent Decree is to prevent unlawful conduct and violations of Constitutional and Civil Rights. Violations of lawful procedural processes and prescribed sequences of actions become highlighted in situations like this to examine the legality of actions or any violations of rights specific to the proper execution of police duties and use of force.
One should also be aware that specific evidence that may be considered overwhelmingly prejudicial may not be allowed to be presented at trial, avoiding the appearance of bias affecting a defendant’s due process to a fair trial. The presiding judge and presumed law will determine rules of courtroom procedures to prevent improprieties or appeals.
Motions to suppress evidence or testimony will undoubtedly affect the perspective of those questioning the proceeding or desiring a particular outcome. After jury selection, the jury will be charged with their responsibilities and instruction and maybe sequestered for the trial. As always, a defendant has the right not to take the stand and testify on their own behalf without prejudice against their innocence.
It is also essential to keep in mind not to become too consumed by the charges but instead the totality of the sentence if found guilty. The number of counts with a finding of guilty can be substantial if ran consecutively instead of concurrently.
Consecutive meaning one sentence of time after another, while concurrent means the time of all sentences will be served simultaneously. For example, ten years on two counts consecutive is twenty years, while ten years on two counts concurrent is a ten-year sentence.
Part 2 will examine the logical questions raised by the facts known or should have known at that time. Some of these questions are not as obvious but have a technical legal bearing on the legality of actions based on their justification and timing of enactment. However, it will also raise many of the obvious questions that come to mind.
Was Mr. Floyd placed under arrest, and at what point was he placed under arrest? Who placed him under or informed him that he was under arrest, and for what reason? Was he otherwise being lawfully and reasonably detained? Was the search of his person lawful according to the chronological order of events or his arrest?
The above legal considerations and presumptions were explained as a jury would impartially consider them to reach a verdict by applying the law to the circumstances. The above-detailed explanation of the law is to expand the comprehension of the novice to provide a relevant basis of understanding for an informed judgment.
I am not a lawyer, and the above is my general understanding and experience applied to this incident. With that said, the above legal references may differ slightly in different jurisdictions but are basically as stated. Thus, providing a foundation for those who are unfamiliar with the law, we can begin to scrutinize the actions taken by all parties.
Part 3 will explain the observations, deductive conclusions, and the application of the law as it relates to the encounter for the legal justification and culpability of each party. For example, what is the police department’s protocol when dealing with counterfeit money of such a low denomination and quantity?
Do they routinely arrest, and do arrest records reflect the protocol of these routine arrests? What actions are taken when suspected medical distress is presumed? Should not force discontinue when no longer necessary for an arrest?
If excessive force is used to restrict breathing and blood flow, does that not constitute a contributory cause to affect Mr. Floyd’s death? We will also examine procedural and protocol stipulations resulting from abuses to consider how support for these policing abuses diminishes law enforcement credibility and incites more restrictive policy changes.
Furthermore, procedures and protocols must be followed and reasonably executed with factual accounts given. Contradictory accounts are signs of coverup and deceit. Falsifying tour of duty reports, deadly force reports, false and misleading statements made or given are crimes.
Usually admissible in court is all excited utterances during the incident pointing to the mental state of mind at the time or a need to conceal it. We will attempt to clearly surmise the displayed mental state at the time of any observed actions or inactions with a duty to act. Some other influences and implications will be considered to contextualize the perceptions that explain the varying responses which attempt to condone Chauvin’s misconduct.
A brief cursory synopsis of the event as they chronologically occurred provides the basis on which any determination can be made by first establishing the assumptions under which we can evaluate the deadly incident. Accordingly, the facts and circumstances that I am aware of are as follows to clarify the foundation of my understanding to apply my observations.
We understand that Mr. Floyd was alleged to have paid for items with a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill, and the store requested a police response. Upon the police responding, Mr. Floyd was located in the driver’s seat of his vehicle. He was removed from the vehicle, placed in cuffs, escorted to the sidewalk where he was seated.
Any acts of resistance from initial contact to being seated on the sidewalk were de-escalated. Mr. Floyd was not combative verbally or physically. Mr. Floyd was escorted across the street without incident or struggle, although minor resistance.
The video view was then obscured by a squad car briefly. Mr. Floyd was assisted to the ground, and Chauvin was observed to have his knee and shin across Mr. Floyd’s neck area when the view was regained. The subsequent video did show Mr. Floyd objecting and resisting being placed in the squad car, claiming claustrophobia.
While prone on the ground at times, two other officers assisted in restraining Mr. Floyd’s mid-torso area and legs while Chauvin had already established his position on Mr. Floyd’s neck area. After several minutes of the sustained weight of approximately over two hundred pounds on his neck, Mr. Floyd not only showed no signs of resistance, but he also showed no signs of life.
They were legally responsible for his safety while under their control, custody, or detention. They had a legal obligation to discontinue any force when Mr. Floyd was no longer resistant or combative, and it became no longer necessary.
It has been determined that Mr. Floyd is suspected of succumbing to excited asphyxiation, also known as excited delirium, by compression of his neck and chest restricting his breathing.
Elevated heart rate, excited breathing, prone position on the stomach with hands behind his back, excessive weight on his back, and definitely neck pressure are elements of this phenomenon well known to law enforcement with heart failure usually the cause of death.
Breathing restriction is always the main trigger and can clearly be determined to have played a significant role in Mr. Floyd’s death. Every possible risk factor for this condition was present, and the risk of this condition was suspected by other policemen and brought to Chauvin’s attention, expressing concern.
This is a brief inquiry into the facts known to the public with a detailed logical examination of them. We are examining the facts for the highest level of conviction for those whose actions deserve it.
When examined chronologically, we can form a logical theory of the policemen’s actions. Actions supporting their justification, truthfulness, and intent; or actions exposing their culpability as exhibited by their conduct.
To meticulously examine their actions, Part 2 regarding facts and questions will reverse engineer the incident and assertions alleged, unveiling glaring discrepancies, immoral judgments, and skeptical justifications.
Remember that inaction is an action also. It is duel accountability for what you have done and for what you have failed to do. Examining the police’s reverse chronological sequence should demonstrate their mental state of mind and when it transitioned to become criminal. In a full review, we will also present Mr. Floyd’s actions and mental state of mind until his death.
First and foremost, Mr. Floyd, his toxicology or his actions are not on trial, and racism is not on trial. What is on trial is was the policemen’s conduct and actions, specifically Chauvin’s, within the realm of law and if that was a demonstration that we can condone as legitimate police procedures and conduct applied across the board against men, women, and juveniles.
Was it acceptable to remain on someone’s neck for nearly nine minutes even after they demonstrated no pulse and the other policemen to allow it, as well as dismiss the contributory consequences to Mr. Floyd’s death by doing so? That is the only question the jury needs to answer. But, first, we need to answer what precedence is set. And, secondly, what does that say about anyone who supports it and why?
Let me ask you a question, hypothetically speaking, if Mr. Floyd was one hundred percent wrong on all accounts, does that make Chauvin’s actions suitable or legal on all accounts?
Thurston K. Atlas
Creating A Buzz