Facts & Questions
Sometimes you must go backwards to retrace and unravel an incident, then proceed forward to a place of clarity. A review or reenactment from the end of the critical incident that claimed Mr. George Floyd’s life analyzed in retrospect will reveal the points incriminating to all parties involved based on the visual evidence and factual inference of the application of the law.
An examination from the end to the beginning of the encounter is a very distinct way to isolate the mental State of mind, the Mens Rea, or intent, so it is legally established. The criminality, the mea culpa or fault, can be best demonstrated by everyone’s actual actions or inactions at critical times according to legal standards.
Were these actions justifiable based upon what was known at the time, what should have been known, or what was being observed throughout that time? Was it within the law and police procedure or a violation? Does the action’s justification rise to the level of its application to the circumstances? Was it legally necessary and permissible? The answers all serve as actual testimony to the facts.
According to the law, inaction can also be an action when there was a duty to act. If there was inaction, was there a duty to act? What action should have been taken, and how could that action have affected the outcome? As a fluid evolving situation, the timing and chronological sequence matter greatly to the incident’s legality and outcome. Diligent analysis of the timing and sequence will reveal crucial determinations of criminality and culpability.
Our method will state the facts as we believe them to be accurate and then ask the pertinent questions raised. Finally, in Part 3, we will examine the answers by deductive reasoning of the legal application of the law and police departmental policy and procedures, analyzing and suggesting the obvious logical resolutions and interpretations.
Facts: Mr. Floyd, while in handcuffs, was surrounded by four policemen and physically restrained by at least three of them at different times during the incident. He was removed from the scene by responding EMTs on a stretcher, presumably lifeless by all appearances. He was then transported to the hospital by the EMT unit.
Questions: Who radioed in for medical assistance, and at what point during the incident? How many policemen involved spoke with radio regarding medical aid, the reason for the request for EMT, and if requests were made to step up their arrival due to Mr. Floyd’s physical decline? When stating Mr. Floyd’s condition, was there any mention of Chauvin on his neck restricting his breathing? Was that due to an omission or concealment? What was said during the radio transmission? What do the dispatcher recordings and separate notes reflect?
When was a supervisor notified, and by whom did any policemen involved make notifications to advise command? Were there recorded specialized channels that communicated more sensitive information? Did that happen, by whom, and at what time? Were they recorded and reviewed if such secure channel communications took place and reviewed as they most likely should have been pursued by discovery or duces tecum?
What were EMT’s dispatched communications? At what point did the EMTs determine that Mr. Floyd had no vital signs indicating death? Was it before transport, during transport, or at the hospital by medical personnel? What life-saving steps did the EMT’s take, and how did Mr. Floyd respond? Once at the hospital, what life-saving steps were taken, for how long, and by who. What was the information given by the EMTs, are their paperwork and interviews complete and consistent with this information, and when was Mr. Floyd’s actual pronouncement of death?
Were there real-time 911 calls from the public as the critical incident occurred, and how many? What was the content of the policemen’s excited utterances as excited utterances by any party are generally admissible in court as evidence of knowledge or intent? When was the location secured and treated as a crime scene with the Use of Deadly Force Team or Homicide Unit notified to respond on the scene? Was deadly force protocol initiated and maintained, specifically the separation of policemen and preventing collaboration of statements before interviews? Was witness identification and statements gathered?
Facts: The primary policeman later been identified as Chauvin, an 18-year veteran of the force and the senior officer on the scene. Mr. Floyd was pinned to the ground by his neck by Chauvin’s left knee and left front shin area applied to the carotid nerve or artery area of the neck traversing the windpipe, trachea, and larynx.
The carotid artery is located on both sides of the neck. It does not matter which way Mr. Floyd’s head was turned. It would still be exposed. Also, the greater torque or twist of the head, the greater the vulnerability of this neck artery to causing unconsciousness or a fatal outcome. It restricts oxygen and blood flow simultaneously. This restriction occurred for an estimated 8 minutes and 46 seconds, of which approximately 2 minutes and 53 seconds Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, presumably unconscious, and probably deceased.
Despite public outcry, repeated warnings expressing concern from fellow officers, and Mr. Floyd’s very own plea Chauvin continued to apply pressure with his total body weight on Mr. Floyd’s neck. The force continuum scale governs police use of force and justifies what type of force is permitted. Code red is the highest level of threat and response category. Any neck restraint classifies as a code red on the force continuum scale, which categorizes the severity of its use as deadly force.
With code red being the highest threat level assessment, the resulting response can only be to preserve life or avoid serious bodily harm but not gain compliance. Any neck restraint is considered deadly force whether used against a policeman or used by a policeman. Due to the deadly force used on Mr. Floyd, it is very likely to have caused or contributed to his death and inflicted serious physical harm upon him. Thus, the necessity or articulation for its use is a problematic violation from its initiation and certainly its continuation.
Reiterating that he was handcuffed hands behind his back, prone on the ground with four policemen surrounding him already searched and determined to be free of weapons. These circumstances do not support a code red response and neck restraint regardless of however applied. Therefore, it is not and cannot be justified according to the force continuum scale.
There is, however, no dispute that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused on the scene before EMT arrived, with Chauvin’s neck restraint a factor. Without Chauvin’s knee as a factor, it would suggest that whatever other factors that contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death, he would have succumbed to them at that very moment anyway without Chauvin’s use of excessive force.
The State certifies the Police Academy and dictates the training criteria and curriculum, which extensively covers the use of force. The City swears in the cadets to become officers, they have the ultimate legal liability and extensively covers the use of force. Technically, the use of force can be shots fired down to as minor as placing someone in handcuffs without incident voluntarily and with utmost cooperation.
The City gives the authority to arrest for misdemeanors and issue citations. The State gives the authority for deadly force and felony arrest, which is why you go to County Court for State charges. Although the State gives you the authority to use deadly force, the City is responsible for that force and subsequent training once the police are sworn in.
By all standards applied both State and City, force of any kind must be the minimal force necessary to effect an arrest. Thus, force should discontinue proportionately as resistance lessens or it is no longer necessary. But in this instance, it becomes clear it was unnecessary to effect an arrest or gain compliance when Chauvin has his hand in his pocket, and there was no need to use his hands to control Mr. Floyd.
Questions: The question then becomes, was the knee justified in the first place based on the criteria for its use? If he had been a code red threat at any point, what level of threat did he present once he was unresponsive and feared unconscious or deceased?
Once Chauvin’s knee was on his neck constituting deadly force, at what point was Mr. Floyd not a code red threat or actively resisting with the threat of death or serious bodily harm to anyone? Was there any discernable level of threat or fear of any kind with four officers present, and Chauvin’s hands in his pockets while his knee was on Mr. Floyd’s neck?
Would the threat level seem under control and become suspect when policemen feel comfortable enough to turn their back and not be engage otherwise if any threat existed? Was Mr. Floyd allowed to comply, and were there verbal commands and instructions issued for compliance? Had compliance and control already effectively been achieved when three officers had only secondary participation?
Were Mr. Floyd’s pleadings not an opportunity to ease the use of deadly force. Maybe issue orders to comply following a clear indication of his willingness to comply. But, instead, they disregarded their responsibility and duty to discontinue or cause to be discontinued the use of force absent his resistance or its necessity.
Despite all the concerns about Mr. Floyd’s medical condition expressed before Mr. Floyd laid lifeless, what threat to four policemen’s life or limb was Floyd with his hands cuffed behind his back prone on the ground on his stomach? If we believe their concern for Mr. Floyd’s medical condition, wouldn’t their actions be even more baffling?
With Chauvin on his neck, when did Chauvin order him to comply, or more importantly, what chance did Chauvin give him to comply? Even unresponsive with no pulse, the use of deadly force was not altered to the level of Mr. Floyd’s lack of ability to resist or actual resistance, nor was there any possibly life-saving officer intervention.
Was a taser, pepper spray, verbal persuasion, or other compliance techniques or less-lethal option available? Why did Chauvin eventually take his knee off Mr. Floyd’s neck? Was it because Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, or Chauvin had killed him? No, that is unlikely because that had already apparently happened minutes before. It was confirmed by no pulse being felt by another policeman. Was the EMT’s arrival the only thing that finally prompted him to remove himself off of Mr. Floyd’s neck?
Aren’t illegal orders and criminal actions to be disobeyed and not participated in or furthered in addition to expectations to be prevented? Isn’t it understood and enforced in any military or quasi-military organization, including the police?
Is it not your vow and commitment to uphold the law and not break it? The movie A Few Good Men is a prime example. You should have done something and had a duty to stop it but did not. If you had intervened, maybe even after Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, could he have been still alive or potentially revived?
Would Mr. Floyd more likely have survived if not for his encounter with Chauvin’s knee? If we cannot say yes for sure that Chauvin was the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, then we cannot say no either for sure? Can it be denied that the fact is three officers had a duty to step in and stop it, but they did nothing? Instead of intervening at various life-saving points, did they not aid and abet in the murder by either actively assisting or providing protection and crowd neutralization to deter citizen intervention?
Facts: Mr. Floyd is stretched out prone on the ground, handcuffed with hands behind his back face down after being placed there. Prior to being placed on the ground, Mr. Floyd was resistant to being placed in the squad car.
Questions: Were the duration and events which occurred while placed face down on the ground the best course of action or option available, or an indication of indifference to unnecessary use of force?
Was standing him alongside the squad car or maintaining the position of him being partially in the squad car more preferable given his level of resistance?
What were all policemen’s roles in attempting to get him into the squad car and removing him, placing him on the ground? Whose decision was it to place him prone, and why if he was almost entirely in the squad car?
At what point did they each participate in the chronological order of events and why? Was there a detectable amount of frustration or agitation from the policemen towards Mr. Floyd? Was the reasonableness and level of force used lawful and necessary?
Facts: The foundation of the law is what was known or reasonably suspected at the time. It governs probable cause and reasonable suspicion from the Constitution and Bill of Rights down to municipal law enforcement and policemen conduct. The history of the policemen involved was not known at the time, just as Mr. Floyd’s history presumably was not known at the time either.
Their histories have no bearing on considering the facts and motivations known at that time, not overriding any action that occurred then. The prevailing influence of histories consistently demonstrates a propensity to act according to a previous pattern, a reluctance exhibited to refrain from an activity, or implied tendencies during an incident. Histories are indications of conduct consistency and by no means restrictive of any number of actions or responses, both positive or negative, demonstrated which are inconsistent with that history.
Mr. Floyd’s criminal history reveals no prior consistency of code red behavior towards police personnel. Also, after the fact consideration for the two rookie policemen’s lack of history bears no mitigating circumstances to avoid accountability but may indicate their experience but not their lack of knowledge regarding appropriate force. Histories are indicators but not always relevant implications that can be related to a current incident. It also has to be presumed that Chauvin’s alleged previous racial undertones must be considered equally as Mr. Floyd’s run-ins with the law if histories are a factor.
Questions: Why would Mr. Floyd’s history be unfavorable for him, but the history of the four officers not be unfavorable for them if so revealed? So are we to assume the history of the two veteran policemen is disregarded, the history of the two rookie policemen taken into consideration for clemency, but Mr. Floyd’s history held against him?
How could the unknown history at the time somehow indicate that Mr. Floyd needed treatment as a code red level threat in this incident?
If Mr. Floyd’s history were unknown at the time of the encounter, what bearing could it have on the incident? If he were a priest, what relevance would that have on the incident if unknown, none? How could the incident not be a judgment on the actions of the participants at the time, which would render histories after the fact as irrelevancies?
Facts: The policemen walked Mr. Floyd across the street without incident, and he seemed to have some minor passive resistance but not actively aggressive behavior. He was handcuffed with minimal resistance and without incident or struggle. Mr. Floyd’s action upon being removed from the vehicle would not constitute resisting arrest or being combative. Therefore, it did not meet the physical standard or required warnings to cease and desist or placed under arrest for resisting.
It appeared he was confused and more verbally resistant, attempting to have explained to him what was going on and turning to talk but definitely not combative. Officers said that they noticed a concerning level of distress upon handcuffing Mr. Floyd.
Questions: Before being removed from the car, was Mr. Floyd adequately advised as to what the encounter was concerning? After showing signs of distress during handcuffing, why was Mr. Floyd even taken across the street at all? If Mr. Floyd was showing signs of distress, why was he placed on the ground face down? If Mr. Floyd showed signs of distress, why did Chauvin place his knee on his neck, further complicating his distress? What was observed, and what physical signs and indications conveyed that was concerning? What, how, and when were the signs escalating, indicating decline?
If Mr. Floyd showed signs of distress, at what point was this radioed in, and with four officers present, what assistance was he given? Is it prudent or customary to further restrict someone’s breathing if distress is suspected? Was there a belief that Chauvin’s weight on Mr. Floyd’s neck was in any way assisting him and a benefit to his distress? Was the delay in requesting medical attention from the initial suspicion before bringing him across the street justified, or the whole distress story a fabrication to cover the cause of his death?
What should have been the policemen’s response? Was there any reason for any delay in offering assistance, requesting EMT, or removing Chauvin off the neck of what you have stated was an obviously medically distressed person? If Mr. Floyd showed signs of distress, what distress signs were radio notified of to better inform the EMT dispatcher of the progression of his symptoms other than a grown man being on his neck?
Imagine suspecting he was having a heart attack. Would you place him on his stomach with an over 200-pound man on his neck? Why was no aid rendered or attempted during his distress after he displayed no pulse? After displaying no pulse, did the other officers feel it was a lawful and necessary use of force for Chauvin to remain on Mr. Floyd’s neck?
Facts: The policemen responded to a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill passed at the store and received information that directed them to Mr. Floyd across the street. Almost immediately upon approach, the policeman escalates the situation by unnecessarily pulling his gun, revealing his disposition that Mr. Floyd knew it was a counterfeit bill. His demeanor was to prevent an escape or assume a threat level fearful enough to pull his service weapon, but why? You cannot just draw your gun on someone for a conversation. Was there a visible threat, or what justified this approach?
Questions: Was the twenty-dollar bill marked and taken as evidence prior to approaching Mr. Floyd? Did they know the counterfeit protocol of notifying the Secret Service and recording the individual’s information to be forwarded in a report? Should they have known counterfeiting is a federal crime and is only arrestable by a federal agent or by prior federal authorization? Finally, did they know that they lacked the authority to arrest him without providing he knew that it was counterfeit?
Subsequently, was the counterfeit money found to have Mr. Floyd’s DNA or prints on it confirming after his death that he had indeed possessed the fake? Could they or did they know if Mr. Floyd had knowledge that it was counterfeit or how he obtained it?
Aren’t the Secret Service only interested in printing operations and patterns, not random twenty-dollar bills in which they cannot prove knowledge or intent? With authority to investigate but not arrest, why was any force at all used? Is it common knowledge that counterfeit money is in public circulation and could conceivably fall into the unsuspecting hand of any law-abiding citizen unbeknownst to them?
Is there a point where the crime does not justify the force used or even handcuffing for a nonviolent cold stand or questioning? Can the actions leading to his death be justified compared to the nature of the crime, the public danger posed, or threats posed endangering the policemen’s safety? Was Mr. Floyd’s race a factor in the handling of this incident? Were the other policemen in fear of Chauvin or his reputation? Would a conversation, patience, or verbal persuasion have been more suitable, and is it also taught as a tool for law enforcement?
Reverse engineering of the circumstance and events reveals the highest contrast in logical continuity between what actually happened and what is said to have happened. Often when constructing a fabrication, it cannot pass the scrutiny of reverse analysis. It is constructed to make the pieces fit conceptually in a progression that only lends itself to conventional rationale, not in-depth questioning. The contemplation of why something would be necessary if the previous assertion is true becomes an evident contradiction. If it were true, it would be no need for the subsequent action.
For example, if they had honestly thought Mr. Floyd was experiencing distress before his death, why would Chauvin continue his behavior, or they allow it. It stands more to reason that they needed to conceal something and quickly falsified an implausible explaination that contradicts their prior assertions, actions, and the chronological sequence of events.
Their explanation leaves them exposed in too many areas lacking justification to be accurate. Moreover, it blatantly illuminates that if what they said were true, then countermeasures would not have been necessary, or otherwise, their action could not have been consistent with their initial assertion.
All indications are that their concern was for exposure from Chauvin’s reckless and willful misconduct, which left them assessing what they were part and parcel of was improper. Mr. Floyd needing medical attention could only be exacerbated by the distress inflicted upon him by Chauvin and their inaction.
Now that the illumination of contradictions has been identified by the questions raised, then deductive conclusions of guilt can be examined and proven. Furthermore, did the punishment fit the crime or did the tactics fit the situation? Keep in mind even self-defense only allows for the force that neutralizes a threat and not beyond the danger posed.
Thurston K. Atlas
Creating A Buzz