Excessive Force

Derek Chauvin's Murder Trial Will Be All About 'Reasonableness'

And that means breaking through the "blue wall of silence."


Derek Chauvin, the now-former Minneapolis police officer who pressed George Floyd's head into the pavement with his knee until Floyd died, has now been charged by Minnesota prosecutors with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

The speed with which Chauvin was fired and charged is a promising sign that Minnesota officials have a real desire—whether sincere or political—to hold him accountable for Floyd's death. After all, recent history has shown that it's all too easy for prosecutors who want to shield police from consequences for misconduct to do so, either by outright refusing to prosecute, as the Department of Justice did in the case of Eric Garner's killer, or by presenting a weak case to a grand jury in order to obtain a non-indictment, as happened in the killing of Michael Brown. 

But given the rarity of police prosecutions (and the even greater rarity of convictions), it's fair to wonder how much these charges really mean. Though it's true that excessive force prosecutions are rare, comparatively speaking, they do happen often enough that we can make some educated guesses about how this one will proceed. 

There Will Probably Be a Trial

In a legal system where more than 95 percent of criminal cases are disposed of by negotiated guilty pleas, it might seem like there won't actually be a trial of Derek Chauvin. But chances are, there will be. Unlike most criminal cases, a police brutality case does not rise and fall on whether the government can prove that the defendant committed a particular act. There's really no dispute about what the officer did, or whether he was the one who did it. The question is instead whether the force was justified. 

This makes taking your chances with a jury a much more appealing prospect to a police officer than it is to your average criminal defendant. Add to that the fact that jurors are generally inclined to give greater credence to police testimony than that of other witnesses, as well as the politically-charged atmosphere around issues of police violence, and a charged officer's incentive to take a plea is greatly reduced.

The Trial Will Be All About "Reasonableness"

The facts of George Floyd's death and the offenses that Chauvin has been charged with give the ex-cop a number of possible defenses to present at his trial. 

Unlike in a case where a police officer shoots someone with a gun, the facts at hand will allow Chauvin to argue that he had no reason to think that he was putting Floyd's life in danger. The choice of charges reflect an awareness of this fact by the prosecutors—neither third-degree murder nor second-degree manslaughter require proof that the defendant consciously intended to cause death (a necessary element of Minnesota first- and second-degree murder, as well as first-degree manslaughter). Third-degree murder requires that the defendant have acted with "a depraved mind without regard for human life," whereas second-degree manslaughter applies to acts with "culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another."  

There are a number of ways Chauvin might try to defend these charges. It's possible that he will present medical evidence to try to show that drugs or preexisting conditions, rather than his use of force, caused Floyd's death. That would negate the "causation" element of all homicide crimes, which requires the prosecution to show that the defendant's acts were the cause of the victim's death.

It seems more likely, however, that his defense will attack the state-of-mind elements of the offenses charged by arguing that no reasonable officer would have known that pinning George Floyd's head down with his knee would create a serious risk of death. That would negate the "culpable negligence" element of manslaughter and the "depraved mind" indifference element of third-degree murder. 

Chauvin also might offer a justification defense, which instead argues that even if his acts otherwise meet the definition of a criminal offense, he is not guilty of that crime because another provision of the law authorized him to do what he did. In this case, that provision would be either Minnesota Statute 609.06, which authorizes police officers to use "reasonable force" when they "reasonably believe" that they are "effecting a lawful arrest," or Minnesota Statute 609.066, which authorizes police to use deadly force when necessary to protect himself or another from death or serious injury, or to prevent the escape of a person who the officer "reasonably believes … will cause death or great bodily harm if the person's apprehension is delayed."

This legal framework defines the battleground on which the trial will be fought. The prosecution will argue that no reasonable officer would have failed to appreciate the danger of compressional asphyxia posed by kneeling on the head of a man who repeatedly complains of difficulty breathing; the defense will argue that it was reasonable to believe that Floyd was exaggerating his symptoms and was in no danger. The prosecution will argue that there was no reason to think Floyd was dangerous; the defense will counter that his behavior would have put a reasonable officer in fear of being assaulted if Chauvin had lifted his knee. The jury's ultimate job will be to decide whose position is the reasonable one. 

Other Officers May Testify Against Chauvin

But the jury's consideration of "reasonableness" might be guided by the 1989 case of Graham v. Connor, in which the Supreme Court held that the reasonableness of a police officer's use of force must be evaluated "from the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight." It also instructed that "The calculus of reasonableness must embody allowance for the fact that police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments—in circumstances that are tense, uncertain, and rapidly evolving—about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation." Although Graham technically only applies to determining whether a police use of force was reasonable under the constitution, as opposed to under Minnesota law, the states have widely embraced it for interpreting what "reasonableness" requires under their own law, so it is likely that the judge will give the jury an instruction that closely mirrors the language of Graham.

Graham's mandate that reasonableness be evaluated through "the perspective of a reasonable officer on the scene" often makes juries reluctant to criticize an officer's decisions after the fact. They reason (at the prompting of defense counsel) that even if the cop's actions appear unreasonable or excessive to them, they weren't there and don't have a policeman's training or experience. 

This pattern means that, often, the most persuasive evidence a prosecutor can offer in an excessive force trial is the testimony of another officer who was present on the scene that he knew at the time that his colleague's actions were unreasonable and unjustified. Such testimony has the unique power to negate the "you're not cops, you don't understand" argument that Graham invites police defendants to make. 

However, such testimony is rarely obtained easily. As two cops testified in a recent federal excessive force trial in nearby St. Paul, there is enormous peer pressure for officers to remain silent about their knowledge of colleagues' misconduct, and officers who speak up often face harassment and retaliation at work. Overcoming this "blue wall of silence" often requires prosecutors to cut favorable plea deals with officers whose involvement in an incident might expose them to criminal liability themselves in exchange for testimony.

The criminal complaint filed against Chauvin suggests that the prosecutors in Minneapolis might be thinking along these lines. The probable cause narrative goes out of its way to note that another one of the fired officers, Thomas Lane, expressed concern about continuing to restrain Floyd face-down and suggested rolling him over, only for his suggestion to be shot down by Chauvin. The inclusion of this detail in the complaint could well be a hint that prosecutors have their eye on Lane as a possible cooperating witness. Don't be surprised if he turns up on the stand during a trial. 

There's No Predicting Which Way the Jury Will Go

The odds are stacked against any criminal defendant in our justice system. But even when they're on trial for murder, cops enjoy advantages not conferred onto others in the same position, as is true in so many other parts of the law. Add that to the fact that it only takes one juror to secure an acquittal, and conviction is anything but a safe bet. The result is that even in the rare case in which egregious, obvious misconduct is caught on video and vigorously prosecuted, accountability is a coin toss at best. And that's a real shame. 

NEXT: Those Curfews Sure Didn't Work

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  1. And we will be lucky if Keith Ellison doesn’t completely f it up

    1. Jury pool is tainted. Gov, mayor, etc refuse to use the normal “alleged” tag in front of murderer. Gov flat out says that there’s no need to in this case when asked about that by the press. 2nd wave of flames head toward MN if Ellison doesn’t deliver

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  2. …accountability is a coin toss at best.

    Heads a jury acquits him. Tails he gets acquitted by a jury.

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  3. The speed with which Chauvin was fired and charged is a promising sign that Minnesota officials have a real desire—whether sincere or political—to hold him accountable for Floyd’s death.

    100% political. 100%. Some cases are so egregious they can’t be ignored. Someone posted a link to a sickening video of an unarmed white man begging for his life while an office sat on his back, the other officers joking “five more minutes, mom” when he was lying dead on the ground and they were trying to get him up. Very little media coverage and not a damned protest in sight.

    Absolutely sickening. The only reason they acted swiftly in this case was the racial component. Which means it’s entirely political and has nothing to do with the blanket concept of accountability.

    The lesson seems to be clear to me. If you’re going to choke an unarmed arrest subject to death, or beat him to death on video (Kelly Thomas), make goddamned sure he ain’t black.

    1. Kelly Thomas

      Now there is a name I have not heard for many years. Still hear about Michael Brown though.

      There was a moment there where cops where under the microscope. But then the racial hucksters showed up and now it’s all about “black and brown bodies”.

      1. It’s gotten to the place where it’s actually hurting the cause of accountability. Don’t change the system, just be less racist!

        1. One might argue the myopic focus on race is itself racist. As we have seen white people get abused by the police as well. This seems to happen anytime an earnest anti-authoritarian movement gains footing.

          What happened to the Tea Party?

        2. “It’s gotten to the place where it’s actually hurting the cause of accountability. Don’t change the system, just be less racist!”

          This exactly

        3. I agree that focus should be accountability and that white victims of police do not garner as much sympathy from the press or the types who protest.

          It can still be both an accountability problem and a race problem.

          Over empowered police can attack whomever they will without repercussion. These over empowered police disproportionately target racial minorities.

          The origin of the drug war, which is the source of many contentious police/civilian interactions, has its roots in race based policy. Crack is still charged more severely than powder cocaine, despite having the same risks and being the exact same drug. With Jim Crow gone and the hippies mobilizing, Richard Nixon needed something new to keep his political opponents down. And boy did he get it.

          1. “It can still be both an accountability problem and a race problem.”

            Solve the accountability problem and you solve the race problem, at least as it relates to police use of force.

            1. YES! But you can’t do it the other way around, which is what we’re going to try.

        4. Also, throw this guy under the bus in the hopes of avoiding meaningful reform. See, the system works. We don’t need reforms.

        5. That is the purpose.

          The police union and Antifa are on the same side. It’s a game called good cop, bad cop.

          So long as the narrative is racism, there can exist a non-racist (good) cop. It’s not the police. It’s the wrong type of police that are the problem.

          Once the racism narrative is gone, we see that there are no good cops and never were.

          1. That is as bad as the racism. There are no good cops and never were is just imbecilic. It is the system that protects bad cops and empowers them. There are good cops, but you would rather generalize and hate as bad as any racist. It is all a form of tribalism. And no more helpful then making it all about race.

        6. Democrats: “Eliminate racial disparities in police violence: kill more white suspects!”

    2. Of course it’s political. That’s why they cut one from the herd they fired to prosecute. If it was sincere, they’d investigate the co-conspirators but we all know they won’t.

  4. 609.06 doesn’t apply because he had already been arrested. 609.066 doesn’t apply because he was in cuffs and 4 officers were present. There is video showing they had Floyd in the car and took him out. The two cops on his back need to charged with murder also. The other one charged as an accessory.

    1. The officers were clearly lying about his “resisting” as well. There’s surveillance cameras showing video of the encounter from before the on-lookers got their cameras out. Floyd willingly left his car and walked with the officer around the sidewalk and all the way up to the police cruiser-even walking past the other police cruiser-and then collapsed when they reached the other cruiser.

      And very shortly after he collapsed-which might be a sign of medical distress-two officers proceeded to put their weight on him. Zero regard for the welfare of the individual in their custody.

  5. It’s very bad new i really regret but don’t like public property damage because USA spread covid

  6. Didn’t the evidence support the cop’s story in the Michael Brown case? So why did the author blame his aquital on the prosecutor not the evidence? Or has Reason decided the 4th through 8th amendments don’t apply to cops also?
    Let’s hold bad cops responsible and change the mindset, while dispelling harmful false narratives. At least in the story on Lexington cops killing a man last night without their body cameras on they admitted that body cameras can also lead to wrongfully accused cops being acquitted.

    1. Michael Brown was in the middle of attacking the cop that shot him.
      All the evidence shows this

      1. I don’t think we’ll ever make any progress on criminal justice reforms until we can get people to stop inserting Michael Brown into the list of police victims. And I’m really not hopeful that it will happen any time soon.

      2. No he wasn’t. First Wilson chased Brown 175 feet. From where Brown turned back towards Wilson he made it 21 feet about 8 or 9 steps. The audio recording of the shots lasts 3.5 seconds. That means Brown was only moving at 4 mph or walking pace not charging “full speed” as Wilson testilied. Wilson was also outside with plenty of room to maneuver and had not seen any weapon because Brown had none.

        1. By the standards at play, based on the combined testimony, Wilson complied with policy.
          Brown was fleeing after committing a felony, then attempted to grab wilson’s firearm through the window of his vehicle.
          His rate of speed moving back toward Wilson doesn’t seem terribly relevant.

          1. Wilson tried to shoot Brown in the face. Wouldn’t you grab a gun pointed at your face? Brown fled after that. Wilson chased Brown down then shot him as Brown was walking towards him. Cops are just like us it has to be a REASONABLE fear of death or great bodily injury. Wilson’s fear was unreasonable.

            1. You’re confused as to the timeline. Brown grabbed for Wilson’s gun while Wilson was still in the car and before he was pointing it at Brown. Wilson fired only after he was outside of the car and Brown was charging at him.

              1. No. They were fighting through the car window. Wilson pulled his gun pointed it at Brown who grabbed it and was shot between his thumb and forefinger. I just proved with science Brown wasn’t charging.

                1. Please read the DOJ report. It is very thorough and lays it out in light of all the witnesses testimony and forensic evidence. Your scientific analysis falls a bit short, I think.

                  Is your contention is that Michael Brown was walking slowly towards Wilson, therefore he had no reasonable fear of being harmed?
                  It seems based on the facts, fear would be very reasonable, and whether he was moving at him at 3 mph or 10 mph, Wilson had the right to use lethal force to defend himself.

            2. He grabbed the gun while the officer was seated with the gun holstered. Keep reaching.

              1. No Wilson pulled it before Brown grabbed it.

        2. Or Brown is very slow. I don’t know if I can run much faster than 4 mph considering how out of shape I am.

          1. Not to mention that Brown had already fled the scene of a theft.

          2. Regardless, it was certainly not a case of “hands up, don’t shoot,” which remains the dominant myth.

    2. Usually when seeking an indictment, the prosecutor makes the strongest version of their case, and only their case.

      In this case the prosecutor had an open and transparent discussion about the limitations of the evidence etc. So while it might be better as a process it was so far out of process that it stood out starkly.

      1. He was only bringing it to the grand jury because of external pressures. When there’s no case to be made, it makes sense to give a good showcase to the grand jury of the case and its limitations. It’s not typical, but prosecutorial discretion usually means that cases that weak don’t ever see a grand jury.

      2. So you admit he did the right thing but still blame him?

        1. You’re reading things I didn’t write.

          I was explaining what happened and why it stood out.

          Would it generally be better if prosecutors did that? Yes.

          It is right if they only do it for agents of the state and railroad us normies?

          1. Nope! Next question.

  7. I’m still waiting for charges to be filed on his accomplices.

    1. As hinted at in TFA, the prosecutor may be holding the threat of charges over their heads, trying to turn them into witnesses. I figure if he gets them to say anything useful under oath, in a deposition, he could put them on the stand and harass them enough to wither repeat it as a witness or admit they were lying under oath.

      All assuming he actually wants to convict the cop, not just put on a sham prosecution.

      1. It’s possible he’s going to use that threat, but it makes them very shitty witnesses, especially when one of those officers (maybe two) also helped put their body weight on Floyd when he went down. They’d be better if they could find other cops in the department to testify based on surveillance video and body-cam footage and actually giving justice to those other three assholes.

  8. Can we debate the ‘reasonableness’ of sticking Chauvin the murdering cop into the general prison population, and talk about the taxpayer dollars we would save here by not having to have a lengthy trial?

  9. Reasonable won’t be allowed within 500 miles of this coming circus.

  10. It is sad that it is even up for discussion that a cop pressing their knee into the neck of a subject till they die could be “reasonable”

    1. Did you bother to read the article and see that he was referring to the actual legal arguments rather than emotions? This man will be tried in court and given due process, which is way more than he afforded his victim who was given an instant death sentence. The burden will be on the prosecutors to prove not just that he did it, which is obvious, but intent – not obvious. You may think this is a bunch of silly nonsense, but I for one appreciate that all people, even agents of the state, have to go through this process so that the state can’t just throw us in cages or kill us whenever they feel like it, for however long they feel like it. I’ve yet to read a single hot take, even on the most right wing sites, that has called this either reasonable or justified.

      1. I am very much aware of the legal issues. My point is that we have created such a special place in the law for cops that these issues exist. If any non-cop did that, there would not be any question,

        1. Non-cops don’t have the power to arrest people; cops do. And cops generally can use force when people resist arrest. Chauvin exceeded a reasonable use of force, which is what he should be tried for, but if you physically resist arrest, there is a good chance that you will get hurt.

      2. This man will be tried in court and given due process, which is way more than he afforded his victim who was given an instant death sentence.

        Oh, stop the tendentious language and stop pretending that this was police randomly killing someone on the street. Chauvin may well be guilty of manslaughter or even third degree murder, but let’s be clear here: Floyd was being arrested for legitimate reasons and he chose to resist arrest. That’s a risky choice to make. If you don’t want to end up as one of those (very rare) cases where a police officer kills you, simply comply; you’ll get to live and sue their asses off, which is much better than rotting six feet under.

  11. There’s No Predicting Which Way the Jury Will Go

    Well, in any event they’ll probably be locked down sequestered.

  12. A naive law student may think Chauvin’s trial will be about reasonableness. He must be a first year student, though, because he thinks “it only takes one juror to secure an acquittal.” That is pitiful, because it requires unanimity to have an acquittal. One juror can hold out and cause a mistrial, but not an acquittal.
    The jurors in this trial – if there is one – will not be able to deliberate reasonably. This would be a show trial and no juror would be immune from public pressure and media attention and threats to their lives. Chauvin will be convicted quickly, if there is a trial. Knowing that, he will be looking for a deal. The prosecutor will also be under tremendous, perhaps life-threatening pressure, not to provide Chauvin with any reduction in the charges.

    1. There will be a major effort undertaken to disclose the identities of the jurors. It will not surprise me if that information will be leaked by someone on the prosecution side. It has happened before.

  13. “After all, recent history has shown that it’s all too easy for prosecutors who want to shield police from consequences for misconduct to do so, either by outright refusing to prosecute, as the Department of Justice did in the case of Eric Garner’s killer, or by presenting a weak case to a grand jury in order to obtain a non-indictment, as happened in the killing of Michael Brown. ”

    Please recall that the Obama/Holder Justice Department decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge Wilson in the Michael Brown shooting. Perhaps because of the witnesses saying Brown was attacking Wilson.

    Jonathan Capehard of the Washington Post changed his mind (reluctantly) on the Michael Brown case as a result of the Justice Department post and admitted that “Wilson was justified in shooting Brown.” The WaPo is behind a paywall, so I’ll do this link:


    1. I said this upthread, but I’ll reiterate: I do not think we’ll ever make any progress toward police accountability until people are willing to stop throwing Michael Brown’s name into the list of victims of horrible police abuse. Yes, his death was unfortunate, but the officer acted appropriately in that case.

      Please shine your spotlight instead on the Tamir Rice case where the two officers got off with the simple response of “procedures were followed,” without any examination into how unreasonable it is that their procedure was to pull up on top of the kid with pistols at the ready and opening fire almost instantly. And while obviously shouting conflicting orders at him.

      1. Plus, even if you think Darren Wilson was wrong, if you want to create unity you’ll focus on more sympathetic victims. There’s a reason that Rosa Parks was chosen to kickstart the Montgomery Bus Boycott. They were hoping to elicit greater sympathy and to reach a broader base. Maybe it sucks that they had to play politics to get it accomplished, but it was effective.

        1. Whether through political or other means, what exactly is it that you want to accomplish?

          1. Criminal justice reform. Much more accountability for police when they behave badly so we don’t see so many cases where officers end up acquitted or even failed to be prosecuted in situations like this.

            In practical terms, a complete end to the practice of no-knock raids. Ending the practice of civil asset forfeiture. Officers charged with capital crimes will not get union representation, and officers who abet in crimes-like the three other cops who watched the murder of George Floyd-facing charges instead of simple termination. Heavy reductions on enforcement of drug laws in general-I think there’s too many police in some big cities and they end up looking for heads to bust in order to justify the overbloated size of the departments. The War on Drugs has been an abysmal failure and we need to roll back all the policies that went into it. I want a complete overhaul of the type of police training that has increased the past twenty years that teaches cops to be paranoid pussies. Train them that their job is always to de-escalate, and to exercise the same kind of trigger discipline we demand of combat troops (they’re always way too quick to draw weapons and point them at people when there’s no obvious reason to.)

            That much is the easy stuff. The harder stuff is more pushback on the petty infringement of citizen’s rights (like hassling people who are just standing on their own property and filming them). Shore up the fourth amendment. Get judges who will stop rubberstamping every warrant application. Plus a few other objectives that are harder to articulate and define, like finding ways to rebuild public trust in the community.

      2. I got into a (social media) argument with a cop about the Houston raid (murder) last year.
        It was a heated argument, mostly with me arguing that specific case and its implications and him defending the cop perspective.
        But then he accused/asked me about the Michael Brown case. I said that Wilson did nothing wrong in defending himself and the coverage was bullshit.
        Totally different conversation after that. He realized I wasn’t just some self-righteous, immature cop-hater, then we actually talked about the details of the Tuttle case.
        He came around and realized it was fishy as hell and ended up being disgusted by the Houston PD’s actions. I even got him to reconsider no-knocks and such from a different angle and start thinking about things in a different way.
        Would’ve been nice if he’d been less defensive from the beginning, but I get it. Part of it is training: cops today are trained to think of everybody as opposition, and a lot of people reinforce that in their rhetoric and approach. Its not constructive, it just revolves the vicious cycle of antagonism.
        Point is, holding onto a bullshit argument (hands up, don’t shoot) gets in the way of working towards solving real problems. But that’s what happens when narrative takes priority over substance

    2. The Feds only charge civil rights cases whether Brown’s homicide was murder was a state issue.

  14. His knee was on his NECK not his head!

    1. Minneapolis Police policy allows the use of neck restraints – “Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway.”

      (not trying to justify this particular Officer in this particular instance … just looking at what legs he may have to stand on in his trial – i f there is one)

      1. http://www.minneapolismn.gov/police/policy/mpdpolicy_5-300_5-300

        5-311 USE OF NECK RESTRAINTS AND CHOKE HOLDS (10/16/02) (08/17/07) (10/01/10) (04/16/12)


        Choke Hold: Deadly force option. Defined as applying direct pressure on a person’s trachea or airway (front of the neck), blocking or obstructing the airway (04/16/12)

        Neck Restraint: Non-deadly force option. Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck). Only sworn employees who have received training from the MPD Training Unit are authorized to use neck restraints. The MPD authorizes two types of neck restraints: Conscious Neck Restraint and Unconscious Neck Restraint. (04/16/12)

        Conscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with intent to control, and not to render the subject unconscious, by only applying light to moderate pressure. (04/16/12)

        Unconscious Neck Restraint: The subject is placed in a neck restraint with the intention of rendering the person unconscious by applying adequate pressure. (04/16/12)


        The Conscious Neck Restraint may be used against a subject who is actively resisting. (04/16/12)
        The Unconscious Neck Restraint shall only be applied in the following circumstances: (04/16/12)
        On a subject who is exhibiting active aggression, or;
        For life saving purposes, or;
        On a subject who is exhibiting active resistance in order to gain control of the subject; and if lesser attempts at control have been or would likely be ineffective.
        Neck restraints shall not be used against subjects who are passively resisting as defined by policy. (04/16/12)
        After Care Guidelines (04/16/12)
        After a neck restraint or choke hold has been used on a subject, sworn MPD employees shall keep them under close observation until they are released to medical or other law enforcement personnel.
        An officer who has used a neck restraint or choke hold shall inform individuals accepting custody of the subject, that the technique was used on the subject.

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  15. I doubt there will be much of a blue wall of silence. That’s just your post-adolescent stereotypes shining through. The major challenges will be two: suppressing the lies of the family attorney, who is quite a practiced liar and political manipulator; and keeping the focus on the actual facts of the cause of death, separate from the emotional reactions and conclusions inspired by the video.

  16. 31/228=14% That is the number of AA killed by cops through March this year divided by total Americans killed by cops. 14% is that over representative of AA in America? If my stats are wrong please point it out. The issue is police aggressiveness due to militarization and the legacy of the War on Drugs not systamatic racism by police nation wide. If the stats are true…

    1. And 7407 AA killed not by cops in 2018, averages to 1850 per quarter year.
      So major source of dead blacks is other blacks. Cops, maybe 2%.

      That’s the inconvenient truth that the protestors don’t want to discuss.

  17. The instant you used Michael Brown to try and make your point, you lost all credibility.

    1. Why? It wasn’t reasonable for Wilson to fear for his life. He had a gun, a taser, mace. He was outside with plenty of room to maneuver and had every cop car in town headed in his direction. Hell he could have just turned and ran away.

      1. Do you live in bizarro world or something? They weren’t outside at all. Brown literally attacked him through the window and struggled for the gun. Several shots were fired within the cruiser.

        How can you be this ignorant still?

  18. With respect to LEO’s advantages in law, e.g., immunity, “…accountability is a coin toss…”. A coin weighted in favor of the LEO. Use of jury selection to stack the deck is open and notorious. The result is fixed. Will TPTB convict or not? Will they risk defying common perception of justice? Will they open an old wound and risk a new round of protest/riots?
    Whatever they do it will be their choice, not the product of a justice system. No such system exists.

  19. The speed with which Chauvin was fired and charged is a promising sign that Minnesota officials have a real desire—whether sincere or political—to hold him accountable for Floyd’s death.

    A grand jury and a court of law will decide his guilt or innocence; why are you pre-judging it?

    After all, recent history has shown that it’s all too easy for prosecutors who want to shield police from consequences for misconduct to do so, either by outright refusing to prosecute, as the Department of Justice did in the case of Eric Garner’s killer,

    Eric Garner’s case was presented to a grand jury, and they chose not to indict. That probably had something to do with him resisting arrest. What exactly do you think should happen when people resist arrest?

    or by presenting a weak case to a grand jury in order to obtain a non-indictment, as happened in the killing of Michael Brown.

    I think the case against Michael Brown was pretty strong, actually.

    1. Curious as to how you think he has a shot in hell at the reasonableness standard given that he maintained the hold for more than two minutes after one of the other cops told him the guy had no pulse.

    2. Crap wrong box

  20. Curious as to how you think he has a shot in hell at the reasonableness standard given that he maintained the hold for more than two minutes after one of the other cops told him the guy had no pulse.

  21. “The speed with which Chauvin was fired and charged is a promising sign that ”

    Reason and rational won’t have a chance with the mob literally outside. Neither does a fair trial, since the hoard has already shown a willingness to loot and plunder the town.

  22. And…Reason has lost me. An article on THIS trial, specifically about what may be the pivotal legal issue, is published by…a law student? No offense, Mr. Ward, but if your editors/publisher don’t have anyone more experienced to comment on the single most discussed item in the news and in criminal law circles right now, it’s a pretty significant fall into libertarian fanboy pointlessness.

    1. What exactly did he get wrong? A plumber might have written the article, a person with no formal legal training, and yet have nailed it.

      1. This is the sort of thing a law student that has never taken a case to trial would write: “But the jury’s consideration of “reasonableness” might be guided by the 1989 case of Graham v. Connor.” I can’t tell if it’s just extremely poorly phrased or if the author thinks juries are handed case law.
        Then there’s this woke law student platitude: “The odds are stacked against any criminal defendant in our justice system.” Thanks for the well-researched legal analysis. Closing sentence: “And that’s a real shame.” Ugh.
        Again, if writing by the ill-informed and inexperienced is what we can now expect from Reason, then this publication has taken a significant downturn. I’ll be sure to quit clicking on other Reason links as I get my daily dose of Volokh and his band of conspirators.

  23. “or by presenting a weak case to a grand jury in order to obtain a non-indictment, as happened in the killing of Michael Brown.”

    Sincerely fuck off. They didn’t “present” a weak case. The case WAS weak. We’ve had the evidence for years. Brown reached into the cruiser, struggled for the gun, several shots were fired within the cruiser and the struggle continued. We know where the bullets entered and there’s blood and gunshot residue all over the inside of the car. The Gentle Giant wasn’t magdumped in the back like CNN lied about. Wilson was innocent.

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