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 most precise determination of guilt or innocence.
Strictly an uncompromising assessment of the deeds alone removed from the person’s identity performing the act 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 concerning the application of the law. With this lens of detachment, the incident can begin to be clarified.
The clerk initiated the encounter 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 practical intent was not to 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. Moreover, 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. 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 must be proportionate to the crime committed and the response received.
That notwithstanding, once prone on the ground, Mr. Floyd’s mental state reflected 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 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 Chauvin ensured that Mr. Floyd 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. Of course, 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. Before being escorted across the street, at least one officer stated that Mr. Floyd was noticeably distressed. 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 personnel. 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 responsibility 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. Instead, 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 there is no justification for its use and no allowance for it legally when it is no longer necessary. 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.
At this point, the complicity of the other policemen’s state of mind can be determined, regardless of whether they had participated or not in the restraint; their intent also became apparent. Thus, 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, resulting 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 his death consequential to that force. Finally, it is expected that an 18-year veteran reasonably would have known the possible consequences, especially when warned and other policemen stated concerns.
What cannot be argued is that Chauvin’s knee was certainly intentionally placed there for nearly a nine-minute duration of time. But, further, 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 and 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.
Intervention could have occurred at the point when Mr. Floyd was believed to have been in distress before crossing the street, at the moment when he complained of breathing difficulties with Chauvin on his neck, and at the point when he had no pulse when checked.
Furthermore, another crucial time of inaction was when an officer suggested sitting him up to avoid the known concern of death from the explicitly mention excited delirium concerns, which was the eventual outcome. When Mr. Floyd was found unresponsive while 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 he knew or should have known. He was 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, assuming 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. A different response regarding crowd control should have been directed toward the crowd. In no way was he responsible for the crowd reaction when he did not encourage it, but police misconduct incited it.
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 used 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. Instead, 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. Obviously, 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 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 evident 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, 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. Still, 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. So how can anyone defend their actions?
Mr. Floyd was a human being treated inhumanely, well below any standard that should be acceptable from law enforcement. Accordingly, 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 rights seeking compassion for themselves.
Their Constitutional Rights will be upheld, and due process assured them where defense attorneys would 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 its verdict. 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 not to justify or minimize the colossal injustice that caused Mr. Floyd’s death. Instead, it is an exemplary example of admission of blatant guilt to preserve government and law enforcement integrity.
Defending obviously egregious acts effectively 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 is only regained when the law is enforced equally, including against law enforcement personnel that violate their sworn duty.
Obvious and blatant violations of the law, 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 creates problems for them and erodes their protections.
The negative consequences are suffered by the law enforcement community, even more so than the public. Although everyone in the public does not interact with law enforcement, all law enforcement are public servants and must adhere to a code of conduct imposed on them due to the repercussions of Chauvin-like behavior.
The implementation of body cameras, loss of credibility, attrition of public perception, the increased propensity for resistance and aggression against personnel, defunding issues, decreased union and bargaining power, and the restrictions on equipment fearing abuses against the public are responses to law enforcement injustices.
Other ramifications are more hazardous working conditions, decrease public cooperation, GPS on vehicles, restricting search warrant criteria, use of force and contact documentation, morale decline, and dissension among the ranks.
Hiring and staffing difficulties, federal oversite, qualified immunity protections removed for honest mistakes, 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 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 dreadful 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. Instead, you must simply enforce the law, not become the law.
Unfortunately, police have historically been the enforcement arm of racism, immigration, minority control, and 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 instill 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. A police versus the public mentality reinforces a war-like occupying force 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 it must follow. 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 essentially provide no other option except not to be reasoned with, thereby encouraging non-compliance. Thus, you are further justifying a forceful response in a self-fulfilling hazard of your 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 encouraged. 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 have 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. But, nevertheless, 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 and not waste the members’ resources 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 actual thin blue line and honor among officers is not to 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. However, 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. But, if they blow it so badly, then you must step away and condemn their actions even if by absentee proxy of 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 not to 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, they tolerate it by demonstration and proclamation. Then, 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. But, 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, they should not fear having 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, complimentary amenities, free utilities, plenty of company, and lifetime membership for Chauvin should also be included.
More specifically, extensive prison time for violations of all four levels of accountability and serious deterrents must be imposed. The success of any conviction is not in assessing 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 is 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 apparent 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. So 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