Discussion thread: the trial of Derek Chauvin and other matters

March 30, 2021 • 11:00 am

How about a discussion thread while I’m on the road? Here’s one possible topic, but feel free to bring up anything.

As you know, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is now on trial for the murder of George Floyd in the infamous kneeling-on-the-neck incident. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter. The jury has a mixed racial composition, so reports the media, but that reporting itself implies that jurors will judge the case based on their race.

I’ve been loath to call the death of Floyd “murder” because there wasn’t a verdict yet, and because even the news doesn’t do that, but it sure looks as if Chauvin showed some sort of wanton depravity, kneeling on Floyd’s neck much longer than necessary.

Here’s CNN’s Van Jones analyzing the case in a seven-minute segment. Jones apparently thinks that Chauvin is guilty, and saying that “the system is on trial”: if Chauvin gets away with it, police officers across the U.S. will feel free to do the same thing.  But the jurors cannot try the system: they are trying Derek Chauvin. The purpose of a trial is to see if an individual broke the law under a particular set of circumstances, not whether the American system of policing is flawed. That said, like Van Jones I can’t imagine how Chauvin’s conduct could be found acceptable.

I suspect there will be a guilty verdict on at least one of the charges.

The coverage will be live (an unprecedented even in Minneapolis) at the site below:

Discuss your take.  Should the system be on trial? Is Chauvin guilty? If so, of which of the charges?

113 thoughts on “Discussion thread: the trial of Derek Chauvin and other matters

  1. Re-watching the 9 minute 29 second video reminded me of Peta tactics. There was so much attention diverted to the well-intentioned mob that the wounded animal (Floyd) was ignored.

    1. I’m not convinced (yet) he is guilty of anything he was charged with. Certainly I can see no evidence there was intent for George Floyd to die. I’ve watched a lot more than the 9 minute video though and certainly there is more to the case than what was played over and over in the media. Much like Eric Garner wasn’t “choked to death” it doesn’t appear that the officer is putting much, if any, actual weight on Mr. Floyd’s neck and upper back area. The tactic used by the officer certainly appears very similar to what I’ve been taught in controlling an uncooperative handcuffed subject. All that being said I expect he will likely be convicted of one or more of the charges, likely the lesser of the charges. I believe people (and the jury) would certainly be willing to convict even if the evidence doesn’t fit the charges, if for no other reason then to avoid rioting that we would likely see if he was fully acquitted. Not indentended as a reply to any other comments on the thread.

      1. “I can see no evidence there was intent for George Floyd to die.”

        Why do you think a murder conviction requires intent?

        1. It may not be required in these specific charges, but some charges do require intent. What I’m asking myself is if the officer was acting unreasonably or reasonably based on the totality of circumstances. And I am looking at this as someone with police/corrections training that includes dealing with individuals that are resisting arrest and in handcuffs. I think just the one video certainly doesn’t give us the totality of circumstances. Like how the 3 officers attempted to get him in the back of the patrol car for several minutes and Mr. floyd kept resisting those efforts and how Mr. Floyd was complaining of not being able to breath before he was ever placed on the ground, which is where he asked the officers to put him. I have yet to be convinced that the actions were unreasonable based on the evidence I’ve seen so far, but I guess that’s the prosecutors job. And I’m sure evidence will be presented at trial by both the prosecution and defense which is not on that one video

        2. Anything above M3 does require intent. It’s one of the main reasons for grading various forms of murder. Intent tells us much about the state of mind of the perp., their ability control themselves, and their likelihood of recidivism.

          Does anyone think that if Chauvin intended to kill Floyd, he’d do it in a crowded street, with dozens of witnesses, and being obviously filmed by bystanders? Much easier, more private ways to do that.

              1. Intent to do harm is not intent to kill. Your original statement was that anything above M3 requires intent. Since we were talking about murder charges, the assumption made was that you meant intent to kill rather than just any random intent like might happen with a punch in a bar fight. An unnecessary kneeling on a neck, for far longer than needed to subdue, seems that there possibly could have been intent to harm. Which will not be difficult to prove, in spite of all the Chauvin apologists that surface here.

              2. tomh,

                They will have tp prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin intended to harm Floyd and that he died of those intended actions. I doubt very much that they can do that. We shall see.

        1. Perhaps it would not have reached that 9-minute mark had the crowd not interfered. While bystanders surely meant well, their presence and interference added another layer of complexity to what may have otherwise been a routine arrest. We have all seen last year’s videos of crowds erupting violently and spontaneously. Chauvin now had a suspect to keep under control plus an environment to scan for unrest.

          1. Seems like keeping someone on the ground with a knee on his neck would incite the crowd. If they had immediately put handcuffs on him, surely they could have taken the knee away and he would have survived. The crowd wouldn’t have gone crazy as they have surely seen the police take a black man away to jail many times.

            1. He was handcuffed. Police attempted for several minutes to get him in the back of the patrol car, but Mr. Floyd resisted. At that time they took him all the way out of the car (he was halfway in) and Mr. Floyd stated his wish to be placed on the ground. Also Mr. Floyd appeared to have been telling them he couldn’t breathe before they placed him on the ground. They placed him on the ground as they were waiting for the ambulance to arrive.

              1. So why would they need to put a knee on his neck if he was handcuffed? That’s overkill. I reiterate my main question. What were they waiting for? Was the intention to wait until Floyd passed out and then load him into the police car? Makes no sense.

              2. In the video you can tell the officer wasn’t really putting much (if any) weight on Mr. Floyd. It is a technique used to control a subject so they can’t just get up and run away. If a subject were to stand or attempt to do that the officer is already in position to hold them down. I think it’s certainly possible and maybe even likely his death was the result of positional asphyxia even more complicated by the level of fentanyl he had in his system. Which the autopsy findings indicated was enough to be a fatal dose. A similar thing happened to a guy named Tony Timpa a few years back down in Texas. The video for that can be found on the internet and no officers were convicted of any wrong doing in that case. I’m not even sure if they were charged or it went to trial.

              3. Someone interviewed on CNN last night came to exactly the opposite conclusion. He said his martial arts experience told him that Chauvin was rocking his knee from side to side in order to increase the effectiveness of the pressure on Floyd’s neck.

              4. Was that Donald Williams II, a mixed martial artist who was among onlookers? He testified today, as a former wrestler who said he was trained in chokeholds, he testified that Chauvin used a shimmying motion several times to increase the pressure on Floyd. Williams said Chauvin had Floyd pinned in a “blood choke,” which compresses arteries or veins in the neck.

              5. Do I correctly recall that Mr. Floyd is supposed to have said that he did not want to get in the back of the patrol car because he found it words-to-the-effect claustrophobic?

              6. That’s funny. Because everyone knows that the police, particularly one like Chauvin, are so considerate of prisoner requests on how they should be handled.

          2. No. There were at least 4 officers there. Chauvin on his neck, another on his back, another lower down on his legs, and one on his feet paying attention to the crowd.

  2. IANAL, but reading the charges makes me think that the prosecution may have difficulty making their case.

    Second-degree murder requires proof that the death was caused while committing or attempting to commit a felony. That means prosecutors have to prove Chauvin was committing third-degree assault, in this case. If the defense can show that Chauvin was following standard police procedure, as he was trained, that suggests to me that there was no felony.

    Manslaughter requires proof that Floyd was killed by negligence that created an unreasonable risk of death. Again, if the defense can convince the jury that Chauvin was acting as he was trained to act and that similar behavior on the part of other officers in other situations did not result in death of the suspect, negligence might be questionable in the minds of the jury.

    The defense is also arguing that Floyd died from a combination of fentanyl, methamphetamine and underlying health conditions, not from being restrained.

    I don’t think this is a slam dunk for the prosecution by any means. I am very concerned that a verdict of anything but guilty on the most serious charge will result in even worse riots than we saw last summer.

    1. The defense argument re cause of death suggests he would have died without that injury, and that a person without those health issues and drugs would have survived it without serious consequences. I’d find those situations hard to believe, but then again, the burden of proof is on the prosecution.

      1. Not necessarily, if they can prove that Chauvin could not reasonably know that his action would cause the death of Floyd because of his ignorance of Floyd’s health condition and if they can show that Chauvin followed procedure, that might be enough to get him off. If not that, it should be enough to get him off the most serious charges.

        1. I have the perception (primarily from the NY Times) that there is an increasing expectation among some who hold that police ought to somehow know in advance that a given suspect/perp has mental health issues. As a result of this case, I wonder if the area of expectation will expand to physical ailments.

          1. I think such considerations are a red herring. No one can know the physical and mental condition of people in all circumstances. All that is needed is for the cops to give a much higher priority to preserving the life of citizens.

      2. On the murder charges, prosecutors will have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin’s actions were a “substantial causal factor” in Floyd’s death while assaulting him. Prosecutors do not have to prove those actions were “the sole cause of death” or “the specific mechanism of death,” according to an October court memo from Judge Cahill.

      3. The defense is expected to argue that Floyd consumed his drugs upon contact with the police and had done the same thing in a previous arrest, and that this led to his death via drug overdose. If so, one can assume that had he not had any encounter with police he would not have died that day, but he may have been doomed as soon as he ingested the drugs, regardless of how police subsequently treated him.

      1. And if he is convicted, I’m sure plenty of people will be ready to say, ‘it was just to avoid the riots’. You know, the ones I predicted.

  3. I’d be surprised if what comes out in the trail comports with the media narrative. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a hung jury.

    1. Since the whole trial is televised, you don’t have to depend on the “media narrative,” which, as far as I can tell is reporting on what is said at the trail.

  4. I found this quote disturbing.

    Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson countered by arguing that his client “did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career.”

    So cops in Minneapolis are trained to put knees on necks for over 9 minutes and grind and choke suspects to death? Perhaps that training needs to be scrutinized, no? The attorney also said Chauvin was “distracted” by the onlookers. Perhaps he was, but it sure didn’t look like it; he seemed to be ignoring the onlookers. And there was that smirk. It looked to me that he wanted to cause pain and injury.

    1. Minneapolis police have received training, at least for the past 7 years, to be “bulletproof warriors” and, figuratively speaking, to kill at the drop of a hat. Chavin’s attorney may be correct about the training, but not in the way he intended. It is good to remember that police officers in the US are extremely well paid and their profession safer than others that pay less, such as truck drivers and construction workers in general.


      1. Yes, that’s a very good point to make. Perhaps we need to have parades through city streets when truck drivers and construction workers meet untimely ends. 😉

        But seriously, I would like to see cops taken off their pedestals. Doing their job certainly has stresses that most jobs don’t have but it isn’t like they’re storming the beaches of Normandy on a daily basis.

      2. “Minneapolis police have received training … to kill at the drop of a hat.”

        Given the hundreds of police-citizen interactions per day in Minneapolis, that training wasn’t very effective in turning them into rampant killers.

      3. What is your definition of “extremely well paid”? What descriptor would you use to describe the pay rate of, say, the CEO of Wal-Mart who, IIRC from several years ago, made on the order of $11,000/hour?

      4. What would you consider good pay to do a police officer’s job? You couldn’t pay me enough to do that job. And paying them less is unlikely to improve policing.

        Do you have data on, “police officers in the US are extremely well paid and their profession safer than others that pay less”.

        Roughly 165 officers die in the line of duty in the US every year.

        1. What do you consider “every year?” According to the USAToday chart below, 108 died in 2016, which was the most since 2011. And almost half of them were car accidents.

              1. That chart ranks professions by fatal injuries per 100,000 workers. Police ranked 14th at 14.6 per 100,000. Fishers and fishing workers had roughly six times as many at less than half the median wage. And loggers, at #1 are practically off the charts (136 fatalities per 100k workers.)

              2. I suspect they mean a lot to those 1600 families. I was simply answering the assertion that I was wrong on the numbers (count).

                I also never claimed that policing was the most dangerous job in the USA.

                I am claiming that it is a dirty, dangerous job, that has high rates of stress-related problems (depression, alcohol use, suicide) and that police face the potential of death on every call they respond to.

                I’m damned glad there are people willing to do that job.

                Anybody who thinks “getting rid of the police” is going to solve any problems (for anyone other than criminals) is living in a fantasy land.

                Police need better training. It’s true. Watch videos of police-perp. interactions.

                And it would be great to select better candidates. But: Cutting police pay, blaming police for society’s ills, taking away legal protections for the people who have to face down armed criminals, and painting all police as racist thugs is unlikely to produce that result.

                There are approximately 50 million police-citizen interactions per year. 5 X 10^7. Those are huge numbers. Mistakes are going to be made. The key is how to deal with the mistakes.

                I have written to my elected officials requesting that CAPA systems be used in policing. These systems work. They are onerous (making quality improvements — and proving that you have done so with evidence — is hard work). Funding should be provided for that work.

              3. I would think that police attitudes about their job, and the suicide, etc. that derives from it, would change if they viewed their job differently. This is hard to prove, of course, but it is well known that people that give service to their community feel good about themselves. I know this sounds pollyannaish but changes to rules of engagement, mission definition, training, and hiring practices can be justified solely on their benefit to the community. All I’m saying is that it is almost certain that improvement on cops’ outlook and job satisfaction will directly follow.

  5. I would not want to be on this jury at all. They are making it very hard on regular people, having to choose between at least three different guilty verdicts. I was on a jury in a murder case and we did not have all of that to worry about. Our only mission was guilt or not. The prison term was automatic for a guilty verdict. Much easier. I would think they have to find him guilty so the issue will be of what. This whole case was handled so poorly from the beginning it is hard to say how it will go. My question is this. Is finding the person guilty or innocent separate from determining which of three items to choose from. If the entire jury has to agree to the guilt and the specific degree of guilt, this makes it much more difficult.

    1. I agree. It seems almost as though they are requiring the jury to pronounce on matters of law rather than just on matters of fact, which is supposed to be their role, if understand things correctly.

      1. This is just my opinion; but I don’t think that’s true. They just have several sets of facts to find. This is common. Many cases involve multiple charges.

        It does however muddy the waters. And it’s done for political reasons. But it also common: Prosecutors want more than one “shot on goal”.

        1. I don’t see why that means it’s for “political reasons.” The prosecution wants a conviction, that’s their job. They upgraded charges to 2nd degree murder because that can be easier to prove.

          Richard Frase, a criminal law professor at the University of Minnesota Law School: “Second-degree felony murder is an even lower standard than third-degree murder,” he said.

          It does not require proof of intent to kill but rather proof of intent to assault someone. That intent triggers a cascade that, if death results, means the assailant can be culpable of murder, Frase said.

          “The only intent you have to show is an intent to cause bodily harm,” he said. “They don’t have to show extreme recklessness as to death.”

          He used a bar fight as an example. If someone takes an unprovoked swing at another person, that could be misdemeanor assault. If the victim falls and is injured, that could be felony assault. If the person ends up dying, that could be second-degree murder — without the intent to commit murder.

          1. Higher charges were brought to appease the mob. Full stop. And I understand that. Keith Ellison knows he hasn’t got the horses for M2.

            Minnesota Statutes, 2020:

            609.19 MURDER IN THE SECOND DEGREE.

            Subdivision 1.Intentional murder; drive-by shootings. Whoever does either of the following is guilty of murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years:

            (1) causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation; or

            (2) causes the death of a human being while committing or attempting to commit a drive-by shooting in violation of section 609.66, subdivision 1e, under circumstances other than those described in section 609.185, paragraph (a), clause (3).

            §Subd. 2.Unintentional murders. Whoever does either of the following is guilty of unintentional murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years:

            (1) causes the death of a human being, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence or a drive-by shooting; or

            (2) causes the death of a human being without intent to effect the death of any person, while intentionally inflicting or attempting to inflict bodily harm upon the victim, when the perpetrator is restrained under an order for protection and the victim is a person designated to receive protection under the order. As used in this clause, “order for protection” includes an order for protection issued under chapter 518B; a harassment restraining order issued under section 609.748; a court order setting conditions of pretrial release or conditions of a criminal sentence or juvenile court disposition; a restraining order issued in a marriage dissolution action; and any order issued by a court of another state or of the United States that is similar to any of these orders.

            Intent is there. They have to prove he intended to inflict harm. Ain’t gonna happen.

            This is almost an exact parallel to the Mohammad Noor case. Noor was charged with M2 and M3 and was convicted of M3.

            1. “Appease the mob?” You mean the people who object to cops killing people, I guess. Saying “full stop” doesn’t actually make it true.

              1. Obviously you are entitled to your opinion.

                Minneapolis was still smoldering when the charges were brought. Many were calling for first degree murder.

                M2 won’t stick. But I see why Ellison chose to charge it.

      1. I’m all for professional juries and elimination of the jury selection process in favor of a random selection process. Surely they would save money overall.

        1. You’d have to repeal the Sixth Amendment. I’m not sure what “professional juries” would entail, but I don’t think it would comport with any understanding ever given of the jury clause of the Sixth Amendment.

          Juries are subject to “a random selection process” within certain constrains as it is. Potential jurors are summonsed to service randomly; all that’s required is that they be adult US citizens, that they live in the jurisdiction, that they have a driver’s license or state identification card, and that they not be convicted felons or have felony charges pending. Potential jurors eligible to sit on a panel (aka the “venire”) can be stricken for cause if they have an interest or bias regarding the trial’s outcome, and each side — prosecution and defense, in a criminal trial — is allotted a specific number of “peremptory” challenges (challenges that can be exercised for any reason, save prohibited reasons such as race, ethnicity, or sex), but beyond that the jurors are called and sat randomly.

          1. What particularly in the Sixth Amendment would make professional jurors unconstitutional? Jurors are already paid in certain circumstances. In my scenario, they would be paid enough to live on and be expected to have some training, report for work on a regular basis. In short, it would be a regular job. I remember reading discussions of it but, as far as I can recall, the objections were more political. I have little hope it would happen here. Advantages include regular folk not having to report for jury duty, jurors who might decide based on the law and not emotion, jurors who are presumably happy to do the work.

            Elimination of jury selection is really a separate issue. The randomness would be more important if the two parties couldn’t change the jury makeup. I suppose there would still have to be a mechanism for eliminating jurors with interest in the outcome. First, it would be a requirement of the juror job to recuse themselves in such cases. They would lose their jobs if they failed to do this. Perhaps there would be some challenge mechanism but the rejection bar would be higher.

            1. Yeah, I was paid for my jury duty: $10 a day! 😀 :D. Didn’t cover my parking charges to attend (leaving all the other costs out of it).

    2. Plus, if they reach an unpopular verdict, they can expect to be in considerable personal danger from now on.

  6. Thoughts in no particular order:

    1. It was ironic that the length of time Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck was not 8:46 but 9:29. The former number has been put on many tee-shirts and placards as is appropriate as it is the most significant piece of evidence. But how was this mistake made?

    2. The prosecutor started making the case against Chauvin by emphasizing how this case, unlike many cop trials, wouldn’t involve the old “cops have a split second to decide” angle. Chauvin had lots of time to consider what was happening. It showed his complete disrespect for the life of another human being.

    1. Chauvin and George Floyd both worked as security guards during a same time interval a few years ago for the same restaurant or bar, and it is possible that something might have happened between them and Chauvin had the chance for revenge. He might have recognized him after Floyd was apprehended. Especially when Floyd became silent, Chauvin had this strange satisfied look,

      1. Yes, I’ve heard that speculation though no one seems to have made a stronger connection, AFAIK. I assume that we would have heard a lot more about it if investigators had evidence that his death was the result of a personal vendetta.

        1. If Chauvin had intended to kill Floyd, he wouldn’t have done it on a crowded street, in front of dozens of witnesses, while being obviously filmed by people nearby.

          1. I doubt he intended it but simply had insufficient regard for Floyd’s life. Chauvin had to know that placing his knee on a person’s neck for that long would endanger that person’s life. If he didn’t know, many people around him were reminding him. He didn’t seem to care or he put a priority on his own motives over Floyd’s right to continue living. I suspect that Chauvin felt that his job and Floyd’s earlier resistance gave him the right to endanger Floyd’s life. This is the main kind of calculation that needs to be corrected in US police, IMHO.

            1. I agree that he had insufficient regard for Floyd’s condition/life. He f*cked up. That’s what he’s guilty of and should be found so. M3, in my opinion.

  7. Here’s my $0.02, being nearly a Minneapolis resident and follower of local events. And as an old-fashioned liberal who believes black lives matter but doesn’t agree with the whole BLM political agenda.

    Chauvin will be convicted of 3rd degree murder. This is very parallel to the Mohammad Noor case from a few years ago.

    Minnesota statutes, 2020:


    (a) Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.

    (b) Whoever, without intent to cause death, proximately causes the death of a human being by, directly or indirectly, unlawfully selling, giving away, bartering, delivering, exchanging, distributing, or administering a controlled substance classified in Schedule I or II, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years or to payment of a fine of not more than $40,000, or both.

    [emphasis added]

    This charge fits the facts, in my opinion.

    (I was sorry to see the first police office in MN convicted of killing a civilian be a Somali immigrant. That was bad luck. I also wonder whether M3 was really appropriate in his case. Maybe Ken K can weigh in there.)

    The charge of “involuntary” 2nd degree murder seems incoherent to me (and a political flag, nothing more). If M2 doesn’t include intent, it seems to be obviated to me. Many the “the community” called for M1 charges. This just demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the law.

    Chauvin did not intend to kill Floyd. No one watching that video could think he intended to kill him. He f*cked up. Incompetence is much more common than malice; and it was the overriding factor in this case. His attorney said yesterday that he did as he had been trained; and that’s probably true: Police training needs to change.

    Floyd’s physical condition and drugged state almost certainly contributed to his death.

    However, as an officer of the law, Chauvin had a duty to not harm Floyd unnecessarily. In this he failed, and, in my opinion, he failed in a criminal degree. He should have checked on Floyd’s condition. He was reminded of this many times.

    Finally, there will be more rioting after the verdict. Or should I put on my CNN and NPR hat: “Mostly peaceful protests.”

    I’m glad I don’t live in Minneapolis. And I won’t be going there any time soon.

      1. M1 wasn’t charged and M2 won’t stick. There will be riots. Or, as the media say, “mostly peaceful protests.”

        (The Jan 6, 2021 insurrection in DC was “mostly peaceful” as well. Only a small minority went into the capitol or were violent. And I don’t defend Jan 6 in any way. It’s just that the media need to get past their powerful filter and report things as they are: Riots and looting are riots and looting.)

    1. Thanks for providing the text of the law. “(a) Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.”

      This looks harder to prove than the manslaughter charge. I’ve read elsewhere that the restraining method used by Chauvin is taught by the police department and has been used against other suspects without causing death. If that is true and if the length of time it was used is not unusual, it would be hard to argue that Chauvin “evinced a depraved mind.”

      If the defense attorneys can communicate that nuance effectively and if the jurors ignore the risk of riots (and potential personal harm), this guy could walk.

      Lots of ifs.

  8. What bothers me is that George Floyd died over a possible counterfeit $20, Eric Garner was killed over the possibility that he was selling loose cigarettes. In my town a homeless guy was chased and shot after urinating on a wall. We would never condone this sort of over-the-top reaction from a parent disciplining their kid. Whatever happened to “Protect and Serve”?

    1. Policing by consent… without that it is them v us. See the Everard case in the UK & the policing of the demonstration.

    2. It seems fairly clear that many of these deaths are the result of a citizen resisting the officers who retaliate and show the citizen who’s boss. The intent is not to kill but deaths will result in a small percentage of cases as simply a matter of statistics. With men at least, the desire to do this is strong, especially in those likely to want to be cops.

      What is needed is more of a work ethic. The cop needs to fear his or her own feelings when it comes to subduing someone who is resisting. First, police departments need to not hire people with these tendencies. Second, they need to be trained to recognize when their emotions are running high and see that for the danger zone it is. Third, they need to recognize this in their fellow officers and have a mandate to save them from themselves, sparing civilian lives as a result.

      My two cents.

      1. This is sensible.

        I doubt anyone is saying police that training does not need to change.

        I have written to my elected representatives (at all levels) suggesting (requesting) that a CAPA (corrective and preventative action) system be applied to police problems and misconduct.

        CAPA system are what has brought us continuing safety in air transport, pharmaceuticals, and medical devices, and other industries. These systems work. They have long track records of working. They require internal and external auditing. They require hard-dated actions and planning.

        1. It’s amusing to read about better training for police. One would think that police, even now, would be trained enough so that four strong men could get one handcuffed suspect into a police car. How much training does that take.

          1. I also have trouble with more “training” being the solution. I feel the problem lies much deeper in the rules of engagement and hiring practices.

            Since I’m a law abiding citizen, and was the opposite of a “wild kid” when I was young, I have not had much direct contact with the police. Still, in those few occasions their attitude seemed wrong. They seem to regard everyone as a potential criminal. As the interaction ends, I always hear them thinking, “Ok, I guess you didn’t do anything wrong. Just don’t let it happen again.”

            When I was 18 or so, me and my friends were coming back from an evening at the movies. We were pulled over, handcuffed, and taken in a police car to a nearby house where a burglary had occurred. The officer paraded us in front of the homeowner saying, “Are these the guys?” Eventually, they decided we had nothing to do with it. We were taken back to our car. No apology was given. They had even misplaced our driver’s license and found it later crumpled in the officer’s holster. It was unbelievable.

            Just a couple of months ago, I was driving in a busy intersection, trying to make a left turn. Before I had a chance to do so, a fire truck came down the street with lights and sirens blazing. I did my best to move to the side of the intersection so as not to obstruct them. The fire truck had no trouble getting through the intersection and certainly didn’t come that close to me. After making my left turn, a police car pulled me over and the officer gave me a lecture about the need to pull over in such situations. It really pissed me off because I had done everything I could to get out of the way and had been successful doing so. Furthermore, I doubt the officer had been close enough to the situation to really know what had transpired. He simply assumed I was guilty. He left without giving me a ticket but I would have been willing to fight it all the way.

            Although it’s not a scientific sample, I would say that only 50% of my contacts with police have been wholly satisfactory. There’s virtually always a heaping dose of attitude. I’m white so I can’t imagine what it’s like if you’re black.

          2. But they aren’t. It’s a fact. They need to incorporate a CAPA system and stick to it. Most police are inadequately trained to deal with a grappling suspect.

            Have you ever had to do it? I haven’t; but viewing video online — it’s a damned hard thing to do well.

            It’s hard to get a resisting person (especially a large male person) into a car or into a passive position without injuring them. And we know what happens if they injure them. I’m sure having to struggle with a resisting arrestee played into the choices Chauvin made with regard letting Floyd have a more movement or a change in position. I’m not saying that was right — it wasn’t; but it’s understandable how that happens under those conditions.

            Is grappling to subdue someone less dangerous (to that person) that tazering them? Almost certainly.

            The next step up from that is shooting or clubbing.

            The step back from that is trying to talk them into doing what you want, which had failed: Floyd was resisting for a long time.

            1. One thing that often goes unmentioned in situations like the George Floyd arrest is the possibility of simply waiting him out, while convincing him that he wasn’t going to be able to walk free. There seems to be the assumption that the citizen needs to be dealt with as soon as possible. Sometimes that’s true, of course. If the person has a loaded weapon, for example. AFAIK, Floyd was purely resisting arrest and had made no threats to regular citizens. If he says he’s claustrophobic, take him at his word and get some kind of van to take him in. Negotiate with him.

              1. IMO, you are pointing to the need for better training. I agree.

                It’s quite obvious that those police officers did not handle this is the best way possible. That’s one reason Floyd ended up dead. They f*cked up. Yelling at them isn’t going to help them not f*ck up. Training them has a chance to do that.

              2. Yes, more training, but I believe the problem is more fundamental. The rules of engagement and definition of their mission must be changed first, then hiring practices, including weeding out those that should never have been hired. Training is last.

    3. I take it you didn’t read the statement from the shopkeeper, which went something like: George Floyd and his friends came into the store and tried to buy something with an apparently fake $20 bill. The shopkeeper said they had a whole bunch of them. When he refused to accept the bill, they became angry and stole items from the store. The shopkeeper followed them outside and tried to recover the stolen items. They refused to return the items and began verbally abusing him. It was at that point that he decided to call the police. So the main crime was robbery.

      Eric Garner was killed more by his own poor health than by any specific actions of the police. (He wasn’t choked to death, as some claim.)

      Both Floyd and Garner were killed not by police acting with unusual malice, but by police following normal procedures that are considered to be generally safe but in case of certain rare health conditions can lead to death, similar to how pepper spray, tazers, and other tools sometimes kill.

      That said, I’d agree with you that police are too quick to shoot, and shoot unjustifiably. And I’d agree that police shouldn’t make people lie down on the ground except in very rare cases. (Floyd, however, insisted he be allowed to lie down.) And ideally they would really listen when somebody says “I can’t breathe.” Unfortunately, according to some police I know, it’s a common tactic these days to falsely claim that you can’t breathe in an attempt to effect an escape, so police soon become numb to such claims.

      1. “make people lie down on the ground”

        This is the standard way of making adversaries immobilized, at all times (short of killing them anyway). It is done all the time. Many many times per year. Perfectly safe in almost all cases.

        “police are too quick to shoot, and shoot unjustifiably”

        Do you have data on this? I don’t think this is true. It is very rare. Most of the time (vast majority) when police shoot, they can clearly see a weapon and are often being shot at. In a resisting arrest confrontation this can always happen (and cops know this):


        I pulled what data I could find and deaths of unarmed POC from police action have gone way down since 2015, back to a very low background rate of a tiny handful per year.

        Of course the goal is zero. But with armed and dangerous criminals out there and policing and crime being done by semi-irrational monkeys (humans), zero will not be achieved except by accident.

    4. Your summaries skip out on a load of relevant information to the point of borderline dishonesty. Maybe include the points that Floyd resisted arrest and had taken a lethal dose of drugs. Also remember to include that Garner was 400 lbs and decided he’d rather fight with police instead of submitting to a legal arrest. When I read something like you wrote my first inclination is to write you off as a liar.

  9. I am curious – the case is sub judice – surely you are not allowed to comment & speculate in print? Not sure it is appropriate while the case is under trial?

    1. I’ve no idea what the law says in the US, but I’m happy to wait until the jury reaches its verdict before weighing in.

      1. I’m with JezGrove, in being “happy to wait until the jury reaches its verdict before weighing in.”
        On the other hand, the fortification of the courthouse against the eager mobs alleged to be waiting outside suggest that extrajudicial verdicts are already cast, and that a savage revenge despite trial is expected to become the order of the day.

    2. From Wikipedia:

      n England and Wales, Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Canada, Sri Lanka, and Israel it is generally considered inappropriate to comment publicly on cases sub judice, which can be an offence in itself, leading to contempt of court proceedings.
      . . .
      In the United States, there are First Amendment concerns about stifling the right of free speech which prevent such tight restrictions on comments sub judice. However, State Rules of Professional Conduct governing attorneys often place restrictions on the out-of-court statements an attorney may make regarding an ongoing case. Furthermore, there are still protections for criminal defendants, and those convicted in an atmosphere of a media circus have had their convictions overturned for a fairer trial.

  10. That is not really what is going on in these cases. Sure, the relatively minor offense is what brought them into contact with the cops, but it is usually their actions during the encounter that ends in tragedy.
    If I get pulled over for a bad tail light, I can be polite and respectful and end up with a citation or warning. If I instead get combative with the cop, or try to flee, my consequences will be more dire. If I escalate the situation and the cops decide to arrest me, I can follow their instructions and possibly spend the night in jail. I could resist arrest, or fight with the cops. If I end up shot struggling with the cop and trying to take his gun, it is not reasonable for me to claim that I was shot over a burned out tail light.
    Both Floyd and Garner had been arrested many times. I have not. If I thought that I was going to be arrested, I would certainly be panicked, at least internally. A lot of that would be apprehension of the unknown. Floyd knew pretty much what to expect, as he had spent years in jail on a variety of offenses. Of course acting rationally is much harder when one has ingested a bunch of drugs.

    Officer Kueng- “You got foam around your mouth too?”
    Floyd- “Yes, I was just hooping earlier”

    “hooping” is not ingestion, by the normal definition. Anal insertion of fentanyl patches is an emerging and particularly dangerous form of abuse. It seems to allow much faster absorption of the drug into the bloodstream. Foaming at the mouth and “confusion, extreme fear, unusual thoughts or behavior” are among the primary symptoms of fentanyl toxicity.
    And of course difficulty breathing.

  11. I’m sick of the case, actually. I regard it as a horrible aberration and, sorry Van Jones, I doubt it will “encourage” any cops to do anything differently – good or bad.

    And I’m sooo sick of living in a country where ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHNG is seen and cast through our obsession with race.
    D.A., J.D.

  12. Some questions I’d like to see answered:

    1) Chauvin and Floyd knew each other from before; they both worked as part-time bouncers at the same club. What happened between them there?

    2) Compressing a person’s carotid arteries will knock them unconscious in 30 seconds, and compressing the windpipe will do it in 3 minutes. So how was Floyd able to keep saying “I can’t breathe” for *nearly 9 minutes*?

    3) All cops these days carry hand-stunners, if not stun-batons and tasers. Why didn’t Chauvin use his stunners instead of kneeling on Floyd’s neck?

    4) Surely Floyd guessed that if he lay still, kept quiet and played dead, Chauvin would stop kneeling on him. Why didn’t he do it?

    5) When the other cops saw what Chauvin was doing, why didn’t they intervene?

    1. Here are my guess answers to your questions:

      1. If investigators had uncovered anything significant about their prior relationship, it would have come out by now or used in the trial. I suspect it was no more than some people guessing that they might have met.

      2. The times you state are surely averages taken under ideal conditions. Variations in the amount of pressure, the person’s anatomy, physical condition, size, etc explain the difference.

      3. Because Chauvin preferred the knee method.

      4. Because Floyd felt that he couldn’t stand it much longer. After so many minutes, he could guess that he wasn’t going to have the knee removed from his neck soon and that it might kill him.

      5. Wasn’t it because Chauvin was the senior cop on the scene? It is also a macho thing with cops. None of them wants to be the “wimp”. Also, it’s an unwritten code among (some) cops that they have the right to get their aggressions out on a suspect.

      1. 5). Yes, I think you nailed that. Chauvin was, by far, the senior officer in place. One of them it was his 1st or 2nd shift (ever). Chauvin took charge and the rest followed his direction. Can’t agree or disagree with your last sentence – pure speculation, especially in a particular case.

  13. Per PCC(E)’s invitation, here’s another subject, addressed by Bari Weiss:


    prompted by the attack on the 65 year-old Filipino-American woman in NYC in the last couple of days. Several Substack commenters (commentators? Or is that moniker reserved for media types?) contemplate how media outlets (like the NY Times) decide whether to specify in print the ethnicity of assailants.

    The Times did print images from surveillance video (I don’t see how it could do otherwise without being mightily criticized.), and reported that the assailant told the women, “You don’t belong here,” while managing to avoid reporting that he also said “F*** you!” to her.


    Weiss properly-enough criticizes bystanders/apartment building staff (guards, I gather?) for not coming to the aid of the victim. At the same time, when resting one’s head on one’s pillow at night in the relative security of one’s abode, one can contemplate whether one has the courage to physically confront such a robust assailant possessing who knows what weapon. NPR reported that after the incident someone chased down the assailant and confronted him, at which time the assailant turned and brandished a knife. Should the chaser have done more, and if so, what? (I’m reminded of reading in the NY Times of a man in his early 20’s, a Mormon, in NYC on vacation with his parents and siblings 10-15 years ago. He witnessed an assault, physically intervened, and was knifed to death for his trouble.
    No doubt, not a few such incidents have occurred in NYC, and not a few NYC residents all too well remember them. )

    The Times quotes, among the political anointed, De Blasio, Cuomo and Andrew Yang lamenting that bystanders of whatever stripe did not spring into action. The corporate owner of the apartment building, in front of which the vile attack took place, also issued a public statement including criticism of the guard for not taking action, and suspended the guard. The Times article briefly reflected on the reality that corporations, out of fear of liability, forbid guards from inserting themselves into such off-property situations. I’ll be interested to know if the guards’ employment contract so specifies. (Surely most of us have heard of guards/staff getting fired for succumbing to their Good Samaritan predispositions.)

    It is the misfortune of this and other such victims that these noble political and corporate bloviators, ensconced as they are in the executive suite security blanket, were not on the scene to physically intervene and go in harm’s way, and thereby meaningfully earn those big bucks. As an Old Marine once reflected to me, “Everybody rides the bucking horse better than the guy riding it.”

    1. Unless I saw a chance to push the attacker into an oncoming bus, I probably wouldn’t have tried to intervene either. Instead, call the police/ambulance and then try to get a photo of the guy. The attacker was clearly deranged, huge, and might very well have a gun.

  14. Here’s something that was reported on my local MPR station yesterday (I do still manage to listen to it sometimes).

    In Minnesota, apparently, it’s legal to bring in character witnesses for the victim of the crime and talk about how great they were as a person. They are doing this right now in the Chauvin trial.

    What does this have to do with whether the charged crime was perpetrated by the accused?

    Answer: Absolutely nothing. It has everything to do with jury influencing (jury tampering I would almost say). Make the jury like the victim so they are more likely to convict the accused (not based on the facts of the case). It amazes me that this is allowed.

    Note that no mention can be made of Floyd’s past crimes, time in prison (and I’m sure a wide trail of chaos left in his wake through life).

    I think, listening to the prosecution’s case (audio only on the radio), that they have already lost the point of proving intent. The tape of Chauvin arguing calmly with a bystander about the restraint makes it pretty clear he thought he was doing what he was supposed to do. And that he was calm and not losing his head.

    It surprises me somewhat that they played that audio; but I suppose they want to get out in front of that and paint their version of it before the defense gets to present their version and interpretation.

    I’ll just reiterate my position on the case: Of the major charges, I think Chauvin is guilty of M3 (disregard for the life of others) and will likely be convicted of that. I haven’t read into the lesser charges because the top-level charges are the only ones that matter, politically and in terms of punishment. (I point again to the Mohammad Noor case, which is strongly parallel to this one.)

  15. I just read important testimony by the head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide division, Lt. Zimmerman, who testified Friday. That’s what I’ve been very disturbed by: why apply such a dangerous move on a prone, handcuffed man who is going nowhere and who’s struggling to breathe? Floyd was already under control after a few minutes, to say the least. It seems to me that Chauvin was getting off on a power trip of his own, and wanted to do serious harm.


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