George Floyd

Did Prosecutors Undercharge the Cop Who Killed George Floyd?

The answer hinges on Derek Chauvin's state of mind as he kneeled on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes.

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Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who was arrested on Friday in connection with the death of George Floyd, faces two charges as a result of that incident: third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Floyd's family argues that Chauvin should have been charged with first-degree murder. The distinction hinges on Chauvin's state of mind as he pinned Floyd to the ground with a knee on his neck, which he continued to do even as Floyd complained that he could not breathe, even after Floyd stopped speaking or moving, and even after another officer reported that he could not detect a pulse.

The May 25 incident, which sparked protests across the country, began when someone called 911 to report that a man had used a counterfeit $20 bill for a purchase at Cup Foods, a restaurant on Chicago Avenue. Shortly after 8 p.m., Officers Thomas Lane and J.A. Kueng arrived at the restaurant, where employees reported that the customer who had made the purchase was sitting in a car parked nearby on 38th Street. Lane and Kueng found Floyd sitting in the driver's seat and ordered him, then pulled him, out of the car. According to the criminal complaint against Chauvin, which is based largely on body camera video of the incident, Floyd "actively resisted being handcuffed" but "once handcuffed…became compliant and walked with Officer Lane to the sidewalk and sat on the ground at Officer Lane's direction."

The complaint says Lane asked for Floyd's name and identification, asked if he was "on anything," and informed him that he was under arrest for passing a counterfeit bill, a misdemeanor when the offense involves merchandise worth no more than $1,000. When Lane and Kueng stood Floyd up and tried to walk him toward their squad car, the complaint says, he "stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic." At this point Chauvin and Officer Tou Thoa arrived at the scene in a separate squad car.

According to the complaint, the officers repeatedly tried to get Floyd into Lane and Kueng's car. The complaint says Floyd "did not voluntarily get in the car and struggled with the officers by intentionally falling down, saying he was not going in the car, and refusing to stand still." While standing outside the car, Floyd "began saying and repeating that he could not breathe." About five minutes after Lane and Kueng intially tried to put Floyd in their car, Chauvin pulled Floyd "out of the passenger side of the squad car." Floyd "went to the ground face down and still handcuffed." As Kueng held Floyd's back and Lane held his legs, Chauvin "placed his left knee in the area of Mr. Floyd's head and neck."

Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd's neck for nearly nine minutes. "I can't breathe," Floyd repeatedly said. "Please," he pleaded more than once. "Mama," he cried out. CNN legal analyst Elie Honig, a former state and federal prosecutor, notes that Floyd also can be heard saying "don't kill me" and "I'm about to die" in video of the incident, although the complaint omits those statements. It also does not mention that bystanders, worried about Floyd, urged the officers to get off of him.

Chauvin and the other two officers nevertheless "stayed in their positions," although Lane twice suggested that they roll Floyd off his stomach and onto his side. "I am worried about excited delirium or whatever," Lane said at one point. Chauvin rejected Lane's suggestions.

About five minutes after the officers pinned Floyd to the ground, he stopped moving. A minute later, "the video appears to show Mr. Floyd ceasing to breathe or speak." Kueng checked Floyd's right wrist for a pulse and said, "I couldn't find one." Still, "none of the officers moved from their positions." About two minutes later, Chauvin finally removed his knee from Floyd's neck. An ambulance arrived and took Floyd to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead.

The third-degree murder charge against Chauvin, which is punishable by up to 25 years in prison, alleges that he caused Floyd's death by "perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life," but "without intent to effect the death of any person." The lesser charge of second-degree manslaughter, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison, alleges that Chauvin killed Floyd through "culpable negligence" that created "an unreasonable risk" of "death or great bodily harm."

Both of those charges seem well-supported by the facts revealed in the video. What about first-degree murder, the charge that Benjamin Crump, the attorney representing Floyd's family, thinks should have been brought? That charge, which carries a mandatory life sentence, requires that Chauvin acted "with premeditation" and "with intent" to kill Floyd. "We now have the audio from the police body cam, and we hear where one officer says, 'He doesn't have a pulse, maybe we should turn him on his side,'" Crump said today on Face the Nation. "But yet, Officer Chauvin says, 'No, we're going to keep him in this position.' That's intent."

That claim seems plausible given the repeated pleas from Floyd, the repeated exhortations by witnesses, and Lane's repeated suggestions that Floyd should not be left on his stomach—any of which, if heeded, could have prevented Floyd's death. But do Chauvin's actions suggest "premeditation"? That element does not require a carefully laid plan to kill someone, but it does mean that the defendant "consider[ed], plan[ned] or prepare[d] for, or determine[d] to commit, the act…prior to its commission."

Second-degree murder, which is punishable by up to 40 years in prison, seems like a better fit. That charge requires that the defendant "cause[d] the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation." Yet even that charge requires an intent that Chauvin surely will deny.

Prosecutors may yet revise the charges against Chauvin. They may also file charges against Kueng and/or Lane, who were complicit in keeping Floyd pinned to the ground on his stomach despite all the warning signs. All four Minneapolis officers who were involved in the incident were fired the day after Floyd's death.

"The defendant had his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total," the criminal complaint notes. "Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr. Floyd was non-responsive. Police are trained that this type of restraint with a
subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous."

Some of the details in the complaint could be useful to the officers' lawyers. The complaint claims that Floyd was uncooperative and that he began complaining about difficulty breathing even before he was pinned to the ground, which might have led the officers to discount his subsequent complaints. "You are talking fine," one of them said while Floyd was still moving.

The report also notes—gratuitously, in Honig's view—that Floyd was "over six feet tall and weigh[ed] more than 200 pounds." While that information might be relevant in understanding why the officers had trouble getting Floyd into the patrol car, it has no real bearing on what they did once they had him pinned. In particular, it does not explain Chauvin's decision to keep kneeling on Floyd's neck.

Honig also faults the prosecutors' description of what caused Floyd's death, which is based on preliminary autopsy results. "The autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation," the complaint says. "Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death."

Honig notes that "the lack of 'physical findings' by no means rules out the possibility that the victim died of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation." And he questions the reference to intoxication as a factor that may have contributed to Floyd's death. "In my 14 years as a prosecutor (or my 45 years of life), I've never heard of a 'potential intoxicant,'" he writes. "Did Floyd have intoxicants in his system or not? A basic toxicology test should answer that question conclusively, and there is no excuse for prosecutors to not know the answer, or to state it ambiguously, four days after Floyd's death."

Contrary to Honig's assertion, toxicology results often are not available for weeks after an autopsy. At this point, the speculation that Floyd was under the influence of a drug seems to be based on little more than the officers' suspicions. In any event, as Honig points out, that question is irrelevant to Chauvin's culpability. Regardless of Floyd's preexisting medical conditions or any drug he may or may not have taken, the relevant question in the causal analysis is whether he would still be alive but for Chauvin's actions, and the answer to that seems clear.

Addendum: Harvard law professor Laurence Tribe and Minnesota attorney Albert Turner Goins, writing in The Boston Globe, argue that the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin is inappropriate because case law limits that charge to "reckless or wanton acts…without special regard to their effect on any particular person," such as "shooting aimlessly into a crowd." They say a second-degree murder charge, under a provision dealing with a defendant who causes someone's death "while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense" (in this case, the assault on Floyd) makes more sense. That provision does not require proof of an intent to kill.

NEXT: Protesting Police Violence Is Critical. But Why Are the Social Distance Shamers Suddenly So Quiet?

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  1. It may be a slight undercharge. It seems Floyd did not die of asphyxiation or being choked out, but having a guy putting weight on someone in medical distress while he’s begging for help is certainly depraved and indifferent. 2nd degree murder would not be unwarranted.

    The people who ARE undercharged are his three accomplices, given that they haven’t been charged at all. It’s not that they were innocent bystanders, they actively kept a crowd from intervening while Floyd was being killed and did nothing to stop Chauvin.

    1. I think 1st would just be too hard to prove.
      2nd seems right

      1. 1st would be a clear overcharge, and it’s why race-baiters like Benjamin Crump need to stay out of this. He’s pretending to give his aggressive tactics credence by offer pseudo-legal claims as a lawyer when he’s really adding nothing except more animus. It’s a 2nd degree murder and a clear felony.

        But it’s bullshit that his accomplices haven’t been charged yet. Tau Thoa screened people away and seemingly had zero concern for the guy on the ground who completely stopped moving, even as his partner kept his knee on the man’s neck for another 3 minutes.

        1. Definite accessories

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          2. Other cams show two of the four officers on top of Floyd’s back. The middle officer is compressing his chest. I doubt anyone can breath with three people holding them down.

      2. If you look at the Minnesota law, depraved indifference falls under 3rd degree murder. FindLaw uses the example of firing randomly into a crowd. Most states don’t even have third degree murder, so our usual notes don’t apply.

        Second degree murder would mean that they have to prove he intended to kill Floyd. That’s a fairly high burden to prove. You could say that violating his civil rights was a felony, which would also elevate it to second. However, third degree allows that he intended to hurt him (inarguable) and was depravedly indifferent to the possibility of death (In my opinion, beyond any reasonable doubt).

        I know there will be legitimate disagreement, but I would much rather them go for a charge they know will stick (that has a 25 year maximum penalty, mind you) rather than overcharge and have him get off on a technicality.

        1. The issue of intent might be sticky. I’d still argue that 2nd degree murder fits.

          It’s clear he had “intent” to keep his knee on the neck of the man and to keep him in a prone position even when it was clear the man was in medical distress. When the other officer told him that Floyd had no pulse and should be moved, he said, “No, I’m keeping him in this position.” Which is what he said when the guy had no pulse, which sounds pretty damning-I’m keeping a guy with no pulse trapped in this position with my knee on his neck for another few minutes. What can be his intent in doing that beyond making sure the guy would die?

          That said, I don’t know how charging in Minnesota works. Ideally he’d charge him with 2nd degree murder with the option for a lesser-included charge, so the jury could rule instead for 3rd degree murder at trial if the intent element doesn’t hold up. So you’re right, it might be better to just go for the slam-dunk charge and leave it there.

          1. Third Degree Murder fits here in Minnesota. I understand that people want to thrown the book at Chauvin, but nothing I’ve see or heard would justify those charges. Honestly the government here has taken pretty fast action in first firing and with charging Chauvin.

            Justice for George Floyd is not to deny justice for Derek Chauvin. Justice for George Floyd is to have charges against Derek Chauvin, and have him stand trial. In my opinion based on what I have read and seen he should be found guilty, however I’m not on the jury.

            There is a difference between peaceful protest and rallies demanding justice and mourning the loss of life and riots and looting. I also believe that the interest of justice the looters and rioters who have destroyed so much should also be prosecuted.

            1. I don’t think people realize that even third degree murder and even manslaughter are going to be hard to prove in court. Both are going to require showing the court that Chauvin understood Floyd had a risk of dying from what he was doing.

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      3. Whether or not a charge of 1st degree could stick would depend a lot on the laws in Minnesota. In California, any death which results from something done during the commission of other violent felonies can be charged as 1st degree murder without proving specific intent or premeditation to cause that death. Since it’s a “special circumstances” charge, it would also possibly apply to all of the officers involved in the incident if they could be charged as “accessories” to the primary felony.

        It’s probably not very “libertarian” to point out that if a cop like this could be sentenced to not be held in “segregation”, there’s a better than decent chance that even a 5 year sentence would be one that he’d end up coming out of feet-first (and that it wouldn’t seem like an injustice IMO).

        1. Well, Keith Ellison is taking over the prosecution… so expect him to f it all up

          1. Ellison might actually be interested enough in raising his profile with the fringe left that he’d be willing to get on the “bad side” of the police unions in this one (which would apparently make him nearly unique among prosecutors from what I’ve heard)

    2. It’s not clear he was being killed, because we literally do not know the exact cause of death yet.

      If he died from being choked to death, that would be murder and they would be accessories. But what if he would have had a heart attack, and it was simply the stress of being arrested in the first place that caused it?

      We don’t know.

      1. If a man is having a medical incident and you’re restraining him, you take responsibility for that medical incident because you’re keeping him from seeking medical attention. He’s not free to the hospital or call an ambulance for himself when an officer’s weight is upon him.

        It’s entirely possible the man was dying from a drug OD compounded by the stress of being arrested. But you can murder someone without being the primary cause of death if you’re displaying a depraved indifference to the life of another. From the article, I would say it’s easy to make the argument for “culpable negligence” even in that circumstances because he kept the man pinned under his weight well after the man stopped moving or responding and had even lost his pulse. What the fuck was he doing if the man isn’t struggling, is in medical distress, and is put in an unhealthy position? And what were his fellow officers doing by letting this continue well after the man passed out and became unresponsive?

      2. Really. WTF?

        Please explain, what possible justification was there for this.

        1. That said, however bad any of us might think this is, those implicated, however many are finally charged deserve due process and an opportunity to defend themselves in court in a legal and fair trial.

          No one deserves a lynch mob.

      3. The fact that the coroner reported that there were exacerbating circumstances doesn’t remove culpability from the officer.

        If you sucker punch someone and snap their neck and kill them because they had an old injury you didn’t know about, it might reduce the charge to manslaughter (or in Minnesota, Murder 3), but it doesn’t remove culpability.

    3. Well shit, if everyone is charged within 24 hours of the incident they go free. Oh wait, they don’t. Maybe they’re……… investigating first?

    4. Given that Floyd was already complaining that he couldn’t breathe while he was standing up and refusing to enter the car, you can’t really take that into account either way.

      1. He was cooperating with police up until he collapsed outside the car. There’s video of the incident, of them walking him from his car, around the sidewalk, then crossing the street over to their police cruiser where he collapsed.

        They said he “refused to enter the vehicle,” because they thought he was sandbagging when he went down. Boy, were their faces red when he was dead inside of ten minutes after that.

        1. The video, from across the street, didn’t show what had happened before, but it is doubtful that three officers decided to get on his back – as shown – of he just “went down”.
          It is commonplace for someone arrested to try to make a run for it, when they think it is their last chance to escape – like getting put into the police car.

    5. “The people who ARE undercharged are his three accomplices, given that they haven’t been charged at all. It’s not that they were innocent bystanders, they actively kept a crowd from intervening while Floyd was being killed and did nothing to stop Chauvin.”

      Nailed it.

    6. They worked at the same place and probably knew each other, so 2nd looks likely. A little investigation might turn up a motive.
      Hindi Sad Shayari

      1. Well, that actually is less clear then “shall not be infringed”, and we know what ‘common sense’ looks like now., Boys Attitude Status

      2. The motive is clear as day. Just like the other (dead) victims of police brutality, he was a drug dealer who paid police for not busting him. The police need to make sure the thousands of Floyds nationwide who line their pockets do so frequently and generously, so every now and then they kill one of their clients (so he can’t testify as to the “deal.”)
        That keeps the smart ones paying up right smartly.
        End the drug war. The whole thing. Just like Prohibition.
        This will continue until we do.
        Remember Prohibition? I didn’t think so.

    7. We haven’t got the autopsy, what if it turns out he’s got a history of heart problems, was full of cocaine and meth and just had a heart attack caused by the exertion of resisting arrest? It’s entirely possible the restraint had nothing to do with his death at all, why would anyone be charged with murder for that? Every side has overreacted long before we actually have all the facts to make any decision on at all.

    8. Manslaughter is about right. that cop did not kill that man. Wait till the tox
      screen comes back.Of course the cop did not help by holding him down.

  2. They worked at the same place and probably knew each other, so 2nd looks likely. A little investigation might turn up a motive.

    1. Same thing I thought, was this personal? They had worked together, there may have been a personal beef between them. That would up the charge.

    2. That’s the funny thing. Everyone here gets pissed when the cops and prosecutors act rashly. Then when we have a high profile case where they’re actually taking a little time to investigate, that becomes a problem.

  3. A pity they’re not death penalty offenses because this cop should get the needle.

    1. Why not just skip the trial and go back to mob lynchings?
      Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power!
      #BlackLivesMatter

    2. Well, obviously, we should have the death penalty only for white defendants! #blm baby!

  4. Live coverage on TV right now of drugstore and “Islamic items” store being looted in Philly. It is curious how this particular group of white supremacists have managed to recruit 100percent people of color.

    1. People of color with internalized white supremacy can be instruments of structural racism. For instance, normally Hispanics are considered oppressed but when they act on behalf of white supremacy, like George Zimmerman did when attacking Trayvon Martin, their racial status is altered to white supremacist ally. In my opinion, George Zimmerman belongs on death row for his racially motivated homicide of the gentle student, Trayvon Martin. #RIP

      1. You’re a funny fucker! Is your bullshit some kind of performance art?

  5. Not sure how one would get First Degree murder out of it but 2nd does seem to fit.

    And, yes, it’s nonsense the other cops aren’t up for being accessories to the crime.

    1. There is just too much use of police force in this country. Police officers should NOT be instruments of government force. Instead, they should be more like community advisers or neighborhood chaperones. They should be present in the community to consult and comfort, not to enforce totalitarian laws, like asset protection or restrictions on counterfeit currency.

      1. The “counterfeit” charge is completely bogus. Why was Floyd hanging around after the shopkeeper refused his $20?
        The shopkeeper called the “police” (a particular cop, I expect) because he had been asked to do so when he saw Floyd. And Floyd waited for the “police.” He had business with them.
        Detecting and deterring counterfeit US currency is the exclusive preserve of the US Secret Service, and no other agency. Not even the FBI.

        1. He was stoned stupid according to the the ME.

    2. Who says they won’t be? In the end, does it really matter if they’re charged a few days earlier or later?

      1. I mean, it matters for the owners and customers of businesses that get burned down, I suppose.

        1. So prosecutors should rush to justice in order to satisfy violent Antifa?

      2. I hope they are but as shocking as it was that Chauvin got arrested, I am not super optimistic they will be.

        If it was a civilian, they’d be arrested already.

        1. Civilians do not have a duty to intervene; so, no charges. As police officers they have a duty to intervene. Failure to intervene may not be criminal otherwise there would be a lot of cops in Portland OR & other cities where demonstrations that turn violent & they don’t intervene to stop it.

    1. “#Rioters in Manhattan chanced upon a cache in the street equipped with bricks and a shovel”

      Finally some shovel ready jobs!

      1. They worked at the same place and probably knew each other, so 2nd looks likely. A little investigation might turn up a motive.
        Attitude Shayari Hindi

    2. I don’t know. It’s possible these pallets were there before the riots and were being used to repair a building or a sidewalk.

  6. Trump wants to designate antifa as a terrorist org, so obviously all the media outlets are saying he can’t possibly do that. That designation is only for really dangerous groups like pro life grandmothers and deer hunters and it should be determined by the NYT editorial bosrd.

      1. And people who make ty[os while commenting on Reason.

        1. It is hard to prove intent with Reason typos; often the offense is done by squirrels.

          1. Their r girmlens in my kaybroad. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

        2. Sites that use Disqus give you a edit button to correct typos and other mistakes. Reason does not. Proof reading is not always easy, as our minds automatically correct mistakes without our notice. Reason could use an edit button. Also people should be kind, we all make mistakes.
          Study: People Who Point Out Typos Are Jerks
          https://gizmodo.com/study-people-who-point-out-typos-are-jerks-1767969516

    1. Antifa is just an antifascist organization. The real terrorists are the Tea Baggers who bring assault rifles into the capital buildings of every state to threaten and intimidate our democratically elected politicians.

      1. Yep. The dozens of massacres committed by mobs of armed TEA party members have resulted in the deaths of thousands.

      2. Antifa’s actions pass the duck test. Looks like Brown Shirts, Swims like Brown Shirts. Quacks like Brown Shirts. Probably are Brown Shirts.

  7. The thing is though, what exactly caused his death? If you can say “I can’t breathe”, you literally can breathe since otherwise you wouldn’t be able to talk.

    Until we know what was the exact cause of death, it’s hard to charge a man accurately.

    What we are seeing is a rush to “justice”. Instead of actually assessing facts, the narrative is already.

    Taking short cuts to justice, even when the suspect is a dick cop, is bad for everyone in the long run.

    1. Obviously the cop is a murderer, even if his knee was not cutting off the man’s flow of breathing-he restrained someone in medical distress and ignored his pleas for help, even after the man fell unconscious and his heart stop beating. Putting your knee on the back of a man’s neck may not choke but it’s extremely dangerous for a variety of reasons, and once the man stopped responding, he continued to keep his knee applied to the neck for several more minutes.

      The fact that it took them several days after the fact to make an arrest is applying a LARGE deference to the fact that he was a cop, and demonstrates the double standard.

      Moreover, while saying, “I can’t breathe” demonstrates that the person can breathe, it also may be a short-hand for “I am having trouble breathing.” To completely ignore that for several minutes while making it worse, and then refusing to roll the guy over onto his stomach when your fellow officer says, “Hey, this guy has no pulse,” is simply evil.

      1. You may not be able to use Floyd’s statements as evidence of anything since he was using initially false claims of a medical emergency to manipulate the situation.

        This needs to be examined carefully in a trial. It’s absurd for people to rush to judgment based on media reports.

        1. “Initially false”
          Well, if you ignore the fact that one of the symptoms of an anxiety attack is shortness of breath, sure. Unless you had a pulse and O2 monitor hooked up to him at the time and are withholding the results.

        2. Whose word are you taking that he was making false claims of a medical emergency? The cops who murdered him?

          He wasn’t resisting arrest prior to his collapse, there’s more video that shows it.

    2. Holy crap, you’re really digging yourself a hole on this.

      If you don’t want people to think you’re a depraved, inhuman monster, I’d suggest you quit.

      The cause of death has, in fact, already been established. I’ll leave it up to you to check but as near as I can tell it provides nothing this cop can use in his defense to mitigate the effect of his actions.

      I’ve expressed my problems with the lynch mob mentality that seems to exist but even in the face of a mob justice must be done.

    3. “I can’t breathe”, you literally can breathe since otherwise you wouldn’t be able to talk.

      Technically true, except for two things:

      1. Occasional letups on the pressure may give you enough to squeak for help, yet not be sufficient to prevent distress and death.

      2. Having a heart attack causes poor circulation and the buildup of CO2 in the blood, giving the suffocation feeling, which might also be described as being unable to breathe. We don’t know this yet.

      I’d like to think this is part of their training, but it seems clear, in the best argument you can make for the cop, he was relying on “if you can talk, you can breathe” way too much.

    4. You’ve obviously never had a severe asthma attack or an allergic reaction that closes your airways. I have and having enough air to get out a few words is not the same as having enough to sustain life. I thought we went over this with the Eric Garner episode.

      1. Eric Garner died of a heart attack, one of the symptoms being shortness of breath.
        The initial report of the Medical Examiner’s report on George Floyd “also listed other significant conditions, including arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and recent use of methamphetamine.”

    5. ” If you can say “I can’t breathe”, you literally can breathe since otherwise you wouldn’t be able to talk.”

      Said no asthmatic, ever.

  8. Not sure what difference it makes. I would guess that sending this policeman to jail would be a death sentence whether it was 10 years or 40 years. He’ll get his a lot sooner than that. If he’s not convicted, there will be 10 times the riots we have now. Go for the easiest charge. Cop gets the Jeffrey Epstein treatment. Seems pretty cut and dried to me.

  9. Be careful about overcharging. A few years ago th state’s attorney in our failed city of Chicago charged an off-duty cop with first degree murder for spraying bullets over his shoulder as he drove away from some hoods, and a poor girl caught one in the head. If I recall correctly, the judge either tossed it outright or gave a directed verdict of not guilty because the worst it could’ve been, by statute, was manslaughter. He wasn’t “guilty” of first degree murder and walked. Of course it was a bench trial because all cops choose that, and I still wonder if the prosecutor overcharged on purpose knowing there was no way he’d be convicted, but she’d still get the votes for showing she cared.

    1. Yeah, the prosecutor effectively tanked the case, or was too arrogant to charge him so that manslaughter in the alternative was an option.

  10. If Floyd is in the backseat of the patrol car and claiming he cannot breathe, why aren’t paramedics called? Why don’t they haul ass to the nearest ER? Why is he pulled out of the vehicle and a knee dropped onto his neck for 7 minutes?

    It’s entirely possible that Floyd did not die of asphyxiation if this depiction of events is true to life. At best Chauvin is negligent but the visuals indicate it’s a wee bit more than that. Not to mention his documented history of being an asshole.

    1. You, my friend, have a talent for understatement.

    2. Where did you get the idea that he was ever in the backseat of the patrol car?

      1. From the article:
        Chauvin pulled Floyd “out of the passenger side of the squad car.”

  11. Perhaps the third degree charge was selected because it will be a slam dunk conviction? This looks good for the prosecutor, shows the black community “they care”, and assures some jail time. Even second has some wiggle room for the level of lawyers the union can whistle up, but third should result in a plea bargain, or a five minute trial.
    As noted, anything over six months could well be a death sentence.

    1. He’ll go into segregated custody, same as with snitches and children abusers. He’ll be as fine as it’s possible to be, if you’re hated in prison.

      Murder 3 seems like a good fit from my NAL view, and from Mr. Sullum’s detailed descriptions of the elements of each crime. Too bad they can’t bump it a degree for committing the assault under color of authority.

      Bet they all wish they would have simply dragged his huge ass into the back of a cruiser, dumped him on the ER staff with the first, “I can’t breathe”, and claimed some hefty OT while flirting with nurses.

    2. Its not slam dunk. I think people are going to be surprised.

  12. The lack of charges against the other officers who were complicit in this killing readily justifies public outrage.

    We need to find a way to attract a better class of person to law enforcement.

    1. You do realize that they might still be investigating the other cops, and that charges are still forthcoming, right? Or do you think arrests and prosecutions should all be wrapped up in an hour like on TV?

    2. Arthur, this is lightning speed for police work. Remember, they go at the speed of government. The cops are also already fired and not going anywhere.

      We don’t want the prosecution to screw this up by rushing.

    3. The other officers may still get charged.

      As for attracting a better class of persons, you’re not going to get that by vilifying police.

      Unfortunately, the police will keep having to hire angry, illiterate jerks like you, Kirkland.

    4. How about more diversity training?

  13. “About five minutes after Lane and Kueng intially tried to put Floyd in their car, Chauvin pulled Floyd “out of the passenger side of the squad car.”

    That sentence doesn’t make any sense. Of course we’ve seen on the new video that they had him in the car so any mention of the difficulty of getting him in is irrelevant. Chauvin pulling Floyd out of the car might effect the perception of his frame of mind.

    1. The video is of Floyd being taken out of his own car, and it is long before he is seen sprawled on the street, being restrained by Chauvin.

  14. “intent to effect the death” seems less plausible than depraved indifference.

    1. I agree. The problem with intent is that even if he had intended to kill the guy, it will be hard to prove that he intended to kill him, because he seemed to be moderately strangling him, which probably wasn’t the direct cause of death, but instead only killed him because of his underlying comorbitities.

      The problem is not that a first degree case couldn’t be made, but rather that they would have problems proving the intent element beyond a reasonable doubt.

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  16. Maybe the store owner or clerk shouldn’t have called the cops in the first place.

    1. On the other hand, we don’t know what happened at that store, unless a surveillance camera was covering the service counter.

  17. Since they charged him with 3rd and manslaughter I’m assuming that MN law does not automatically include lesser charges.

    In which case the 2nd degree charge seems a bit of a stretch, because you have to prove intent to cause death. Maybe if there is a strong history of bad blood between the two (there are rumors to that effect) but otherwise it’s an easy dodge for any jury.

    The 3rd degree charge seems most solid to me.

  18. Well, that actually is less clear then “shall not be infringed”, and we know what ‘common sense’ looks like now., Attitude Status for Boys

  19. Here’s the easy way to resolve it. What charge would prosecutors be bringing if the killing had been by a non-cop with a bunch of other non-cops standing around? Do you seriously think the prosecutors would have brought anything less than 1st degree murder if the killers had been, for example, members of a drug gang or suspected mob enforcers? Or even just a couple of guys in a fight at the local bar who did the same thing? Prosecutors would throw every charge in the book at it and then argue that it’s the jury’s job to sort out.

    I am okay with standards that allow for nuance based on factors such as intent. I am very much not okay with double standards.

    1. The only problem with that argument is that anyone else would need an insanely good reason to be restraining another person in any manner. So far there is no indication that the initial grounds for arrest were not valid, meaning they could restrain him.

      The problem here is the manner employed appears to be both grossly inappropriate and the immediate cause of his death. The thing that bears consideration is that, had he not dies, the episode would have gained little or no attention. And that is a problem in and of itself.

      1. Not really. In a fight, “he kept hitting me” is considered a really good reason to restrain someone.

  20. I think y’all are just feeling jealous and unmanly because BLM has a legitimate social grievance involving people dying at the hands of the state while all the passion you can muster is for the poor downtrodden cake decorators. Ha, fags.

  21. Properly and promptly charging, only, the primary police offender can only go a small distance to remedying police abuse. The huge and totally unaddressed problem is that of the secondary police offenders. In so many of these instances, while one cop is the killer, many cops present aid and abet the killer or look away from the crime. To effectively remedy police abuse we need a special extension of the felony murder laws to police, to hold all assigned and / or present fully accountable.

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  25. My guess is that the prosecutor has also seen the body and dash cam footage which fills in the gap in the video that most of us have seen online. Maybe there’s nothing in there, maybe there’s just enough of an action on Mr. Floyd’s part to make it even more difficult to prove intent.

  26. The police in the Breonna Taylor case have thus far only been placed under administrative leave. I think they deserve a longer sentence than Floyd George’s killer. They killed an innocent, unarmed lady at her residence. One of the attorneys in the wrongful death suit said they had never seen so many bullet holes. All because maybe someone was receiving illegal drugs there? U.S. policemen are not good shots; they miss over 50% of the time at 0-60 ft. To spray bullets in an Apt. building is so callously reckless; so you risk the lives of you don’t know how many people to confiscate some drugs?

  27. Chavin is now charged with second degree murder under a “felony murder” theory. That theory is if someone is foreseeably likely to suffer death or injury while the defendant is committing a felony, the defendant is guilty of second degree murder. Here, the operation of the statute is odd, because third degree murder is a felony, and one in which the victim is likely to suffer death or serious injury. So it would seem that all third degree murder cases are second degree murder cases.

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