Case of George Floyd, Logical Reasoning.
Facts & Questions
Sometimes you must go back to get around an obstruction and then proceed forward to the destination. A review or reenactment from the end of the critical incident that claimed Mr. George Floyd’s life analyzed in retrospect can reveal the points that were incriminating to all parties involved based on the visual evidence and deductive reasoning of the application of the law. This is a clear way the mental state of mind legally, the mens rea or intent, can be established and the criminality, the mea culpa or fault, can be best demonstrated by everyone’s actions or inactions. If there was an action, was it justifiable based upon what was known at the time, or what could have been known at the time, is the legal standard. If there was inaction, was there a duty to act, what action should have been taken, and how that action would have affected the outcome. As a fluid evolving situation, the timing and chronological sequence matters greatly. We will state the facts as we believe them to be and then ask the questions raised.
Facts: Now Mr. Floyd, a Black Man, is stretched out on the ground handcuffed hands behind his back laying on his belly after being placed there.
Questions: Why was it necessary to place him on his belly face down and not in one of the squad cars or stand him alongside the squad car? Whose decision was it to place him there and why? Where were the other three policemen and what were they doing? Who else participated in placing him on the ground on his belly and what were their roles, for how long? At what point did they participate in the chronological order of events and why? Is this normal operating procedure for this type of situation?
Facts: Mr. Floyd was surrounded by four white policemen and physically restrained, while in handcuffs, 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.
Questions: Who radioed in for medical assistance and at what point during the incident? How many policemen involved spoke with radio regarding medical aid or requested them to step up their arrival due to Mr. Floyd’s decline? What was said during the radio transmission? What does the dispatcher separate notes reflect? Are there restricted channels that more sensitive information is communicated over? Did that happen and by whom and at what time (this is usually reserved for bosses or specialized units)? If such secure channel communications took place are they recorded as they most likely should be?
What were EMT’s dispatched communications? At what point did EMT’s determine that Mr. Floyd had no vital signs indicating death? Was it before transport, during transport, at the hospital by hospital personnel? Once at the hospital what steps were taken, for how long, by who, was there any information they received from EMTs, and when was the pronouncement of death? Were there real-time calls from the public as the critical incident occurred and how many? What was the content of the policemen’s excited utterances and the reason for the call for EMT? Excited utterances by any party are generally admissible in court.
Facts: The primary policeman at this point has later been identified as Chauvin, an 18 year veteran of the force and the senior officer on 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 so it does not matter which way Mr. Floyd’s head was turned it would still be exposed. The greater the 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. This occurred for 8 minutes and 46 seconds with 2 minutes and 53 seconds of Mr. Floyd being unresponsive and probably dead.
Despite public outcry, repeated warnings and concern from fellow officers, and Mr. Floyd’s very own plea Chauvin continued to apply pressure with full body weight on Mr. Floyd’s neck. Neck restraint is a code red on the force continuum scale and considered deadly force when used against a policeman or used by a policeman. Code red is the very highest threat level assessment and actions to preserve life or avoid serious bodily harm. The force continuum scale governs police use of force and the need for what type of force. Due to the force used there is however no dispute that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused on the scene before EMT arrived.
Questions: The State which certifies the Police Academy and dictates the training criteria and curriculum that extensively covers the use of force. The City which swears in the cadets to become officers and has the ultimate legal liability also covers the use of force extensively. The use of force technically can be as minor as placing someone in handcuffs without incident voluntarily and with their utmost cooperation. The City gives the authority to arrest for misdemeanors and issue citations. The State gives the authority to arrest for felonies and that is why you go to County Court for State charges. The State gives you the authority to use deadly force, but the City is responsible for that force. Force of any kind must be minimal force necessary to effect an arrest and should be discontinued as resistance lessens or it is no longer necessary.
The question then becomes was the knee justified in the first place? If he was a code red threat then how did you get him so easily handcuffed in the first place, how many officers did it take to cuff him, what level of threat did he present once he was cuffed, and how? 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? What about any level of threat with four officers present and Chauvin on his neck? Was he given the opportunity to comply and were there conflicting commands? Was Mr. Floyd pleading not an opportunity to ease the use of deadly force, indicated his willingness to comply, as well as a responsibility and duty absent of his resistance? After all the concerns about Mr. Floyd’s 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 on the ground on his stomach. 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 force was not altered to the level of Mr. Floyd’s resistance nor was there any officer intervention? Was a taser and or pepper spray available or another less lethal option? Why did Chauvin take his knee off Mr. Floyd’s neck? It was not because he had killed him, that had already happened minutes before and confirmed by no pulse being felt by another policeman.
Illegal orders and criminal actions are to be disobeyed and not participated in or furthered and in addition, should be prevented. This is understood and enforced in any military or quasi-military organization, A Few Good Men is a prime example. You should have done something and if you had maybe even after Mr. Floyd was unresponsive, he could have been still living or potentially revived. We cannot say yes for sure, but we cannot say no either for sure, the fact is three officers had a duty to step in and they did nothing. Instead of intervening at various points, they did aid and abet in the murder by either actively assisting or providing protection and crowd neutralization as a deterrent to citizen intervention.
Facts: 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. That has little bearing on the consideration of the facts, except to indicate a previous pattern, after the fact that implies tendencies during the incident. Mr. Floyd’s criminal history reveals no prior assault on police personnel. Also, after the fact consideration for the two rookie policemen’s lack of history bears no mitigating circumstances to avoid accountability. Histories are indicators but not always relevant facts that can be related to the current incident.
Questions: Why would Mr. Floyd’s history be unfavorable for him but the history of the four officers not be unfavorable? So, the history of the two veteran policemen should be disregarded, the two rookies should be taken into consideration for leniency, but Mr. Floyd’s history, unknown at the time somehow indicated that he needed to be treated as a code red level threat in this incident? If Mr. Floyd’s history was unknown at the time of the encounter, then it had no bearing on the incident. If he were a priest what bearing would that have on the incident if unknown? None.
Facts: The policemen walked Mr. Floyd across the street without incident and seemed to have some minor passive resistance but not actively aggressive behavior. It did not appear that his lower body was resistant, and he was handcuffed without incident or struggle. He was cuffed with minimal resistance. It appeared as if he was taken aback and more verbally resistant to find out what was going on and turning to talk but definitely not combative. Mr. Floyd’s action upon being removed from the vehicle would not constitute resisting arrest because it did not meet the physical standard or required warnings to cease and desist or be placed under arrest for resisting. Officers said that they noticed a concerning level of distress upon handcuffing Mr. Floyd.
Questions: Prior to being removed from the car was Mr. Floyd properly advised as to what the encounter was about? If at the point of handcuffing Mr. Floyd if he was showing signs of distress why was he 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 was showing signs of distress why did Chauvin place his knee on his neck further complicating his distress? If Mr. Floyd was showing signs of distress at what point was this radioed in since out of four officers present, there was no reason for the delay? If Mr. Floyd was showing signs of distress what distress signs were radio notified of to better inform the EMT dispatcher of his symptoms? Whatever distress did they suspect, what should have been the officer’s response? If he were suspected of having a heart attack would they place him on his stomach with an over 200-pound man on his neck? Why was no aid rendered or attempted during his distress?
Facts: The policemen responded to a counterfeit twenty–dollar bill being passed at the store and received information that directed them to Mr. Floyd across the street. Almost immediately upon approach, the officer escalates the situation and pulls his gun. Was there a visible threat, was there a gun, 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 forward 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? Does the counterfeit money have Mr. Floyd’s DNA or prints on it? Could they or did they know if Mr. Floyd had knowledge that it was counterfeit or how he obtained it? The Secret Service is 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 used? Is there a point where the crime does not justify the force or even handcuffing for a nonviolent cold stand or questioning?
Thurston K. Atlas
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