George Floyd

Would Derek Chauvin Receive Qualified Immunity for Killing George Floyd?

The answer speaks volumes about the extent to which that doctrine protects police officers from liability for outrageous conduct.


Derek Chauvin, the now-former Minneapolis police officer who kneeled on George Floyd's neck for more than eight minutes while arresting him for passing a counterfeit $20 bill on Memorial Day, has been charged with murder and manslaughter for causing Floyd's death by using excessive force. But whether or not Chauvin is convicted, it is not clear that he would be liable under 42 USC 1983, a federal statute that allows lawsuits against police officers who violate people's constitutional rights.

Benjamin Crump, an attorney who represents Floyd's family, plans to file a lawsuit under that statute. Given the relevant precedents in the 8th Circuit, which includes Minnesota, it is by no means a surefire winner. The uncertainty speaks volumes about the leeway that courts tend to give cops in excessive force cases and the extent to which the doctrine of qualified immunity, which bars claims under 42 USC 1983 when the rights police allegedly violated were not "clearly established," shields them from liability for outrageous conduct.

Chauvin, assisted by two other officers who also face criminal charges, kneeled on Floyd's neck while he was handcuffed and restrained in a prone position. The autopsy report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office describes the cause of death as "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." An independent autopsy commissioned by Floyd's family said he died from "mechanical asphyxiation." Both reports agreed that the manner of death was homicide.

In two recent cases with broadly similar facts—a handcuffed detainee who died while restrained in a prone position by several officers—the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit blocked claims under 42 USC 1983. Those cases may not be dispositive, since both involved detainees who were actively resisting. Although Chauvin and the other officers said Floyd initially resisted their attempts to put him in a squad car, he was under control and posed no apparent threat to them while Chauvin was kneeling on his neck. But the 8th Circuit does not seem to have previously addressed a situation quite like that, and the lack of sufficiently specific precedent is enough to trigger qualified immunity.

In the 2017 case Ryan v. Armstrong, the 8th Circuit considered the 2012 death of Jerome Harrell, who surrendered himself at the Stearns County jail in St. Cloud, Minnesota, because he had outstanding traffic warrants. During his night in jail, the court noted, Harrell "scream[ed], howl[ed], and bang[ed] against his cell door for eight hours." The next morning, when correctional officers tried to remove him from his cell, Harrell resisted them. They handcuffed him, shackled his legs, tased him twice, and pinned him to the floor face down for three minutes.

Five minutes after the officers entered Harrell's cell, he was no longer responsive, and jail staff could not revive him. He was pronounced dead at a hospital later that morning. The official autopsy report described the incident as a "sudden unexpected death during restraint."

The 8th Circuit ruled that the use of force against Harrell was objectively reasonable in the circumstances. "Harrell was actively resisting the extraction procedure by
ignoring directives to lie down on his bunk and resisting the defendants' efforts to
subdue him once they entered his cell," the court said. "We, therefore, conclude that the defendants are entitled to qualified immunity on the trustee's excessive force claim."

The 2020 case Lombardo v. City of St. Louis involved the death of Nicholas Gilbert, who was arrested by St. Louis police officers in 2015 for trespassing in a condemned building and failure to appear in court after receiving a traffic ticket. "While Gilbert was in the cell," the court noted, "the officers observed him engaging in unusual behavior, including waving his hands in the air, rattling the bars of his cell, throwing his shoe, and bobbing up and down." One officer "observed Gilbert tie an article of clothing around the bars of his cell and his neck." Worried that Gilbert was trying to hang himself, another officer entered the cell but found him with nothing around his neck.

The officer nevertheless started to handcuff Gilbert, precipitating a struggle in which several officers eventually handcuffed him, shackled his legs, and pinned him to the ground on his stomach. "Throughout the altercation," the court said, "the officers controlled Gilbert's limbs at his shoulders, biceps, legs, and lower or middle torso. While continuing to resist, Gilbert tried to raise his chest up and told the officers to stop because they were hurting him. After fifteen minutes of struggle in the prone position, Gilbert stopped resisting and the officers rolled him from his stomach onto his side."

At that point, Gilbert had already stopped breathing, and the officers could not find a pulse. He was transported to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The official autopsy report said "the cause of death was arteriosclerotic heart disease exacerbated by methamphetamine and forcible restraint." An independent medical report commissioned by Gilbert's family said the cause was "forcible restraint inducing asphyxia."

Citing its decision in Ryan, the 8th Circuit concluded that "the Officers' actions did not amount to constitutionally excessive force." The court noted that "the Officers held Gilbert in the prone position only until he stopped actively fighting against his restraints and the Officers." And "once he stopped resisting, the Officers rolled Gilbert out of the prone position."

By contrast with Harrell and Gilbert, Floyd was not resisting at the time of his death, except to repeatedly complain that he could not breathe. Presumably, that distinction would make a difference in the constitutional analysis, although we can't be sure.

Another seemingly relevant difference is that Chauvin used a neck restraint, while the defendants in Ryan and Lombardo applied pressure to other parts of the detainees' bodies. Other federal appeals courts have ruled that neck restraints are reasonable under the Fourth Amendment in some situations, primarily when the suspect is violently resisting and/or has a history of doing so, and unreasonable in others, primarily when those circumstances are lacking.

Even if the 8th Circuit followed that general trend and concluded that Chauvin's actions were unconstitutional, it could still decide that the law on that point was not clearly established at the time of Floyd's arrest, meaning the excessive force claim would be barred by qualified immunity. It could even reach the latter conclusion without resolving the constitutional question, as courts have commonly done since 2009, when the Supreme Court began allowing that shortcut.

Other 8th Circuit decisions have recognized that the gratuitous use of force during an arrest violates the Fourth Amendment, even when the outcome is not fatal. But that general principle is not enough to defeat qualified immunity in cases with different details.

Last year, for example, the 8th Circuit granted qualified immunity to a Nebraska sheriff's deputy who, while responding to an erroneous "domestic assault" report, lifted the purported victim in a bear hug and threw her to the ground, knocking her unconscious and breaking her collarbone. "It was not clearly established in May 2014 that a deputy was forbidden to use a takedown maneuver to arrest a suspect who ignored the deputy's instruction to 'get back here' and continued to walk away from the officer," the court concluded. Last month the Supreme Court declined to review that decision.

To avoid dismissal of their claims, says UCLA law professor Joanna Schwartz, a leading critic of qualified immunity, Floyd's family "would have to find cases in which earlier defendants were found to have violated the law in precisely the same way." Thanks to qualified immunity, suggests Brett Kittredge, director of communications at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy, "Floyd's family would likely have their claims against the officers dismissed because there isn't a case in the 8th Circuit…or the U.S. Supreme Court specifically holding that it is unconstitutional for police to kneel on the neck of a handcuffed man for nine minutes."

We may never find out. Last year, the city of Minneapolis reached a $20 million settlement with the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond, who was shot to death by Officer Mohamed Noor after she called 911 to report a possible assault in the alley behind her house. Noor had already been convicted of third-degree murder. The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that "legal experts" think the payout in Floyd's case could "dwarf" that settlement.

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  1. Look, I don’t like QI, but it is not the most important thing right now. The real problem is that the government is unwilling to hold these people accountable. This Chauvin guy should not have been working for the police. But he was. And Qualified Immunity isn’t going to change that.

    He should have been fired on about his 3rd complaint. He should have been charged on his 6th. The fact that he made all the way to this year is absurd. We need to bust the Police Unions. And we need to have the national use of force databases. We also need to figure out ways to destroy the incestuous relationship between police and the DA that both depends on them and is supposed to prosecute them for wrong doing.

    1. “The real problem is that the government is unwilling to hold these people accountable.”

      And maintaining qualified immunity, as it is presently, sure does impede We the people from holding them accountable. Why shouldn’t the actual victim or their heirs be able to be made whole?

      Threats of lawsuits are used to make We the people modify our behavior, often to the point of absurdity, but that threat does not apply to cops somehow?

      1. QI isn’t going to solve that. Sure, sue the cop. And then when they settle for pennies, or declare bankruptcy, they will be back working again.

        At the end of the day, these guys should not be working. And until we bust the police unions, the ability to sue cops won’t solve anything.

        1. Cops are indemnified by the department and local government even under the current regime, in the few cases that make it past a QI defense, the individual officers will never pay a dime out of their own pocket.

          1. It is very clear that Derek Chauvin would be denied qualified immunity. As the civil-rights lawyer Chris Wiest noted, “I do civil rights cases. And I sue police. I assure you, there is no qualified immunity in [the Floyd] case for the officers involved on these facts with the video evidence.” Qualified immunity does not apply when a government official commits a violation of “clearly established” constitutional rights. That includes violations that are so outrageous or unique that no prior court ruling could ever have dealt with “nearly identical” facts. Such violations are nevertheless deemed “clearly established” and grounds for denying qualified immunity. As the Supreme Court explained in United States v. Lanier (1997), “The easiest cases don’t even arise. There has never been…a section 1983 case accusing welfare officials of selling foster children into slavery; it does not follow that if such a case arose, the officials would be immune from damages [or criminal] liability.”

            1. Qualified immunity is a dumb doctrine that should be abolished, but it is just blatantly false to claim, as the people Reason quotes, that to overcome qualified immunity, “Floyd’s family ‘would have to find cases in which earlier defendants were found to have violated the law in precisely the same way.'” Not only has the Supreme Court rejected that proposition, courts reject it almost every day in ruling against cops. The fact that a cop has chosen to abuse you in a novel way doesn’t mean courts will grant him qualified immunity, and it doesn’t mean it doesn’t count as “excessive use of force.” For example, the fact that cops previously violated the Constitution by beating or shooting the people they arrested didn’t keep the Ninth Circuit from denying qualified immunity to cops who put pepper spray in people’s eyes. The fact that police chose a novel way to use excessive force didn’t prevent the judges from finding it was still a violation of “clearly established” constitutional rights. (See Headwaters Forest Defense v. Cty. of Humboldt, 276 F.3d 1125 (9th Cir. 2002)). Similarly, a federal appeals court recently ruled that prison officials violated clearly established constitutional rights if they failed to remove items from an inmate’s cell that he could use to hang himself. It allowed the officials to be sued, even though the appeals court had never before confronted nearly identical circumstances, and it ruled the prison officials could be sued even if they did not intend specifically to cause the inmate’s death. (See Converse v. City of Kemah (2020)). Similarly, an appeals court allowed a man’s estate to sue the police for unnecessarily shooting him, even though he allegedly possessed a knife, and had resisted arrest, in Estate of Jones v. City of Martinsburg (2020).

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              2. QI exists precisely so spiteful people like you can’t sue an officer for following MPD procedure to a T. The neck and prone restraints were authorized and executed correctly.

                I hope you realize you’re basically in the pro-OJ crowd right now. It might take you a decade or two, but you’ll come around once the trial happens.

                1. Maybe I overstated things by saying that Chauvin would be denied qualified immunity, in my comments above. If the standard media narrative about what happened were true, he would in fact be stripped of qualified immunity, for the reasons given in my comments above. But the comments further below, and an article called “Why Derek Chauvin May Get Off His Murder Charge,” suggest that the standard media narrative was just wrong — so wrong that it is conceivable that Chauvin not only did not commit murder or knowingly commit excessive use of force, but also did not even violate clearly-established constitutional rights. I recommend that everyone read that thoughtful article by Gavrilo David, “Why Derek Chauvin May Get Off His Murder Charge.”

                  1. I’d say the biggest problem is that it seems unlikely his kneeling on Floyd’s neck played any part in Floyd’s death. Why do people think that caused Floyd’s heart attack, rather than the fentanyl, meth, and excitement of the struggle earlier? An honest question.

                    1. Stupid liberals, BLM cretins and Pantifa have no interest in hearing facts. Brain dead and close minded.

                    2. Maybe I understated the risk that a judge would grant qualified immunity. A judge granted qualified immunity in the Tony Timpa case, which has some similarities to Floyd’s (in some ways, worse than the Floyd case):


                      I had always though qualified immunity was only mildly stupid. But I guess it was more stupid than I thought, if that could happen.

                2. QI exists precisely so spiteful people like you can’t sue an officer for following MPD procedure to a T. The neck and prone restraints were authorized and executed correctly.

                  Poor training & illegal procedures are no excuse for violating the law nor for killing someone. Can you tell me the last the piss-poor time training & procedures were revised to get cops to stop killing people and violating rights?

    2. The closest quick remedy I can imagine , besides throwing out QI (and AI), is making cops carry malpractice insurance just like doctors. I don’t care whether hospitals pay the premiums any more than I care of police departments pay the premiums. I want individualized premiums. That would go a long long way towards weeding out the irresponsible ones. It would make it real easy to publicize how much the most expensive cops are costing the city, and undercut union guff about protecting the thin blue line.

      1. Our governments are not price sensitive, so I don’t think this is going to solve the immediate problem. State and City police departments get sued ALL THE TIME. And they pay it. Well, you pay it. And life goes on, with bad cops still being bad cops.

        Again, over the long term, I think this is a good reform. I just think people over estimate how responsive the government is to market forces. Money doesn’t work the same for the government as it does for private individuals.

        1. Money doesn’t work the same for the government as it does for private individuals.

          How about this? As the lawsuits pile up, the governments would have to raise taxes to support the payouts. As the taxes go up, it encourages individuals/businesses to move someplace else. It’d also serve as a warning to anyone looking to move there that maybe they should look elsewhere.

          1. That already happens, the raising of taxes because of the lawsuits. No one moves out now. The difference is being able to point at individual cops and show how much those specific cops cost. That can’t be done now, it’s just some grand total, like $130M last year, or whatever.

            If people can think “wait a sec, it’s just those 5 cops? It’s not all cops?” they just might get a little more upset.

            1. There is nothing preventing the government form doing this today. If the police department gets sued for a wrongful death, they could easily point to the officers involved.

              Qualified Immunity is not why this doesn’t happen today. It doesn’t happen today because Police Unions have utterly neutered the management of police departments. Departments don’t hold individual cops responsible because the Unions they belong to will get the department heads fired if they try to do that.

              Without busting the unions, QI will mean that police departments pay for liability insurance for officers. And nothing else will happen, because the Union’s sole job is to ensure that the city/state shields the cops from any accountability.

              1. Our society is obsessed with crime and punishment and conditioned to engage in hero worship. There’s not the willpower to hold cops to the same standard as the rest of us. And let’s not kid ourselves, that’s exactly what qualified immunity does, it holds officers to a lower standard.
                The blue line of privilege acts as a disincentive for cops behaving better. Look at cop-watching videos and see cops driving around in personal vehicles with dark window tinting, and writing tickets for same. Watch cops driving around in personal vehicles in California with no front license plates, and issuing tickets for same. Cops act bad because they know they will not be held accountable, and most people seem to be ok with that because of hero worship.
                We tell ourselves the lie that “it’s only a few bad apples”. A simple look at the data suggest it’s not just a few bad apples, cops regularly lie to cover bad behavior or just don’t say anything. From day one at the academy officers are indoctrinated into the Us v. Them mentality, they are at war with everyone who isn’t a cop.
                How do we help end qualified immunity? Make it a platform issue?

        2. I think being insurance premiums attributable to individual cops would make all the difference. Some hot shot watchdog would start adding them up, notice that the worst 5 cops have cost the city as much as all the rest of the cops together, or put a number on it — these 5 cops cost the city $10M last year. That can’t be done today, there is no individual accounting other than what trials or the city council paid out, and the info is too scattered, especially when it comes to naming those individual cops. I’ve read too many reports where they don’t release the cop’s name because that would violate his privacy.

          1. Again- you could have that today. Departments are sued all the time. Why isn’t anyone adding up all these settlements and saying, “Huh, this group of cops has cost us 100 Million last year.”

            They aren’t doing it because that data isn’t kept. And that data isn’t kept because it is exactly what is necessary to hold police accountable, and police unions cannot have that.

            1. It’s not individualized. At some point a single officer stacking up payouts would become uninsurable.

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    4. Don’t need to bust unions; probably illegal to restrict people from associating with whomever. What needs to be done is to prohibit public sector unions from donating money or in kind services to electoral campaigns. End the incestuous log rolling and sweetheart deals between politicians and their employees.

  2. “The Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that “legal experts” think the payout in Floyd’s case could “dwarf” that settlement.”

    A) Cause racism
    B) Damond tried to pass a $50 counterfeit bill
    C) Cause she was from down under
    D) Minneapolis did not learn its lesson
    E) Gender inequality

  3. Please please ghod let the judge throw this out on QI.


    1. Ya, that would end the QI doctrine (if it can really be called a doctrine, since they enforce it differently than they state it) pretty quickly.

  4. No cop should be held accountable for killing someone.
    We all know cops are superhuman and can do no wrong.
    Did the cops in Nazi Germany ever make a mistake when they were killing millions?
    Did the cops in Stalin’s Soviet Union ever make a mistake when they were killing millions.
    Did cops in Mao’s China make a mistake when killing millions?
    There are no innocent people who didn’t deserve to die when cops kill them. The cops have every good reason behind to take their lives and questioning their procedures and motives only makes them grumpy.
    So let’s stop all this talk about making cops accountable and responsible for their actions before the cops start getting their feelings hurt.

  5. Last month the Supreme Court declined to review that decision.

    Question for the lawyers… if the SCOTUS declines to review a decision, does that mean the decision is ‘correct’ or does it mean that the SCOTUS merely felt it wasn’t a question that the supreme court should answer?

    1. It has the legal effect of upholding the lower appellate court’s decision and is “final” as to the parties, and typically also means the decision is binding precedent in that lower court’s jurisdiction. It does not mean that the law pronounced by the lower appellate court can never be challenged again, as SCOTUS could take up the legal issue if it comes up in a different case.

      Declining certiorari could be for any reason, or even no reason at all. There is no right of appeal to SCOTUS (meaning they don’t have to hear it if they don’t want to, and they don’t have to say why).

      In short, the answer to your first question is “no,” while the answer to your second question is “possibly.”

  6. Every time I see that damned picture, it makes my blood boil. Kneeling in his neck so casually, so long, hands in pocket, looking around like he’s bored and forgotten he’s even squeezing the life out of someone. That alone ought to qualify him for first degree murder, premeditated murder, depraved murder, whatever you want to call it. A minute or two, that’s one thing. Floyd must have stopped struggling long before the cop got up.

    What a cold-hearted asshole. He belongs in prison with all the people he mistreated over the years. His kids (if he has any) need to remember their father as beyond redemption.

    1. I don’t know what possesses an officer to behave that way. An initial (brief) neck restraint is effective and sometimes necessary, but Jesus, once he’s in cuffs and you’re surrounded by assistants who also have guns, what the fucking fuck?

    2. They shot up Elijah McClain with Ketamine. They had no Constitutional right to stop him at all.

      The paramedics are complicit and should stop supporting these goons or go to prison.

      Yeah… Blood BOILING.


        Fuck the fucking fucks…

        “In Colorado, 90 fire departments and emergency medical agencies can legally use ketamine to treat people who are agitated or aggressive.”

  7. It’s the victim’s fault for allowing their survival instinct to prevent them from ceasing to struggle and going limp before they die.

    1. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if a Cop’s lawyer tried to make that argument.

    2. This actually is true. If the person continues to resist, they’ll die from cardiac arrest. If they stop resisting, there’s a better chance they’ll live long enough for EMS to stabilize them.

      Here’s a practical solution; whenever police get a call about someone who may be in medical distress, why not train senior officers in more advanced medicine so they can function as more of a stopgap while waiting for EMS? Or why not deploy EMS at the same time? Minutes matter.

  8. This will be the case that ends Qualified Immunity, because the country will erupt in flames when Chauvin is let off of the hook.

    1. Qualified immunity is not a defense in a criminal case.

  9. Well if he does get off I hear the Minneapolis City Council is hiring private security for their pathetic council members.

    I suspect once the far left gets in power there will be lots of Chauvins around to “keep the peace”.

    1. “I suspect once the far left gets in power there will be lots of Chauvins around to “keep the peace”.”
      Please tell me this is sarcasm. Who do you think runs Minneapolis right now and has been running it for decades?

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  12. 1. “Chauvin and the other officers said Floyd initially resisted their attempts to put him in a squad car”.
    2. Chauvin didn’t “intend” to kill Floyd. In fact he tells Floyd while kneeling on his neck – “Are you going to get up and get in the squad car?”
    3. Floyd was no model citizen himself; He was previously convicted of armed-robbery.
    4. Floyd is probably 2x the size of Chauvin.

    The prosecution has 0-ZERO evidence (as far as news has coverage) of “murder” charges. It’s absurd and disgusting they even filed for it and should be laughed out of court as a bunch of crooks for the very fact that such a charge was even claimed. It rather demolishes any respect on their behalf.

    Chauvin might be guilty of neglectful homicide and probably deserves minor infliction (certainly fired + fined/probation) for his ignorance of pleas by an already constrained citizen but there is no intent (outcome isn’t always a sign of direct guilt which requires intent) in a just system.

    Even the coroner believes his death was due to his own “Coronary Artery Disease” and “hypertensive heart disease” and the autopsy report showed “no life-threatening injuries”.

    A sad and disheartening situation; yes. A situation that deserves massive protest and all encompassing hate for every police officer that exists — not hardly.

    1. Your 1, 3, and 4 are completely irrelevant.

      1. 1 and 4 are wholly relevant. The use of a neck and prone position restraint became appropriate based on MPD procedures (as you dig further you’ll find most police departments approve of these tactics) BECAUSE Floyd continued to resist. They didn’t just slam him on the ground and immediately knee his neck. Floyd escalated the situation to that point and that’s why Chauvin had to use a more forceful tactic. The size discrepancy is a strength discrepancy and also illustrates that Floyd exhibited ExDS symptoms. If someone is high as a kite and exhibiting a level of strength that multiple officers cannot overcome, what are they supposed to do? Guns and tasers would be MORE lethal in this situation. They did as they were trained to do and used the least lethal option available.

        Some problems don’t have perfect solutions. Failure to restrain Floyd would have been even worse because he could have over-exerted himself while experiencing a heart condition. If the officers just stood there and watched while waiting for EMS and he died anyways, I seriously doubt you would be defending the officers for not using force.

  13. They had Floyd in the car then pulled him out.

  14. It still hasn’t been established that Chauvin’s conduct was outrageous, so you’re kind of skipping a step, there.

  15. Mr. Sullum – you are very close to the answer. The key fact of the Lombardo case was restraint on his stomach, producing compression asphyxia. I strongly recommend EVERYONE read this two-part series “Restraint and Asphyxia” in the AELE Monthly Law Journal (Dec 2008 & Jan 2009). This should start people in the right direction in the necessary research. Officer Kueng, on Floyd’s back, was most responsible for Floyd’s death because he impaired diaphragm function. Chauvin had the bad luck to be on the only video seen for several days after the event. Morever, even though there is a lot of literature on the danger of positional/compressional asphyxia, it seems that very little of it seems to part of police training. Since the autopsy report shows ZERO neck trauma AND a Section 1983 action will be subject to the Daubert rules of evidence, Michael Baden’s junk science autopsy that concluded Floyd was not strangled, will almost certainly not be admitted. (Ironically, Minnesota is one of nine Frye states, so I suppose it might find its way into a state prosecution. I doubt it but I don’t know enough about Minnesota law to say.) The fact that it can be shown that the proximate cause of death was compression asphyxia, I don’t see how Chauvin can lose. Also, please look at the Eric Garner case. The Obama Justice Department didn’t more on a Section 1983 case and the Trump Justice Department abandoned it. The so-called “choke” hold didn’t kill Garner – it was positional asphyxia brought on by preexisting medical conditions, his weight and being on his stomach. Police restraining people on their stomach is the problem.

    1. Opps, correcting myself.
      “Michael Baden’s junk science autopsy that concluded Floyd was not strangled” – remove the NOT. Baden said that Floyd was strangled. Refer to P9 of the autopsy report.

      If you don’t know about Daubert and Frye, you really should learn about it. Lots of forum shopping going on where class actions take place in non-Daubert states and run up a score of favorable jury decisions built on rejection of “dueling experts” and rendering their decision on pure emotion.

  16. “Would Derek Chauvin Receive Qualified Immunity for Killing George Floyd?”

    He would’ve gotten a medal, a promotion, a lifetime pension, a blowjob from Warren and lifted into heaven by Jesus Himself without dying.

  17. Amazingly, the MSP allows that type of restraint…. So the fault is not only on Chauvin….His actions were within the policy of the MSP.


    1. I’ve been unable to verify this. Perhaps you could share.

      My initial reaction to this affair was based on the first video we saw: Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck with the POV from the driver’s side/rear of the vehicle. Chauvin was the only person visible. As more videos came to light I started having some serious questions. I think it was on day 3 or 4 that we got the first video from the passenger side/rear and saw THREE people hold Floyd down. That’s when I started researching. Eventually I was able to find all sorts of information pointing to the problem. Related to respiratory distress that can ensue for people at risk (Floyd had sickle cell) phenomenon known as Excited Delerium Syndrome (XDS). It is often present in situations where respiratory distress is beginning to manifest. Certain drug combinations as well as cardiovascular problems may be potentiators.

      I was in a Zoom meeting today of a group called “Braver Angels” – primarily conservatives and liberals who get together to “bridge the partisan divide”. I’m the lone libertarian in the group. I tried to bring up a discussion of the complexities of the Floyd case but it was (as I anticipated) impossible to do so. Some people (all were on the left) were offended by the idea that what happened to Floyd was anything but murder.


        This is the best article that explores ExDS and MPD procedures.

  18. I think the article misses the point that the application of any force after the person ceases resisting or otherwise posing a threat is unconstitutional. QI only enters the picture if a reasonable officer could conclude that what he was doing was constitutionally permissible. No reasonable officer could conclude that ANY force was necessary 5+ minutes after all resistance stopped, or that kneeing a person’s neck for that long while there was no reason to use force at all was OK under the Fourth Amendment.

    1. But the real battle will play out over whether Chauvin caused Floyd’s death. That is far from a slam dunk.

    2. If you have previously resisted for an extended period of time and you are known to be intoxicated, it is completely reasonable for someone to assume that ceasing to restrain someone will result in them moving again. If Chauvin had done so, he and the other officers would be negligent and criminally liable for allowing someone exhibiting ExDS symptoms to move freely. Any kind of overexertion like that can exacerbate their symptoms and kill him. If they had just let him walk around and never restrained him and he still died, all of the officers would be fired and we would still be charging them.

      If you don’t want officers using force based on your assessment of a video, stop putting them in a lose-lose situation where they’ll lose their jobs and risk jail time for not using force.

    3. Yours is not a bad argument but if you look at some of the actual cases it is rather more complex. Moreover, when one stops struggling, it may already be too late. That is part of the insidious nature of positional/compressional asphyxia. And remember, I’ve adduced pointers to what I consider compelling evidence that the neck restraint was not a primary factor or possibly even a factor at all in the death. If, as has been claimed, Floyd was complaining of difficulty breathing when he was still on his feet, and while violently struggling with considerable strength, a “reasonable officer” might be expected to conclude that restraint was necessary. I expect the body cams will be dispositive on this issue. I’ve suggested to the few people I’ve been able to discuss this with that we may see the “cry wolf defense”. Floyd was struggling so hard that several people could not get him into the back of the vehicle. A “reasonable officer” might conclude that Floyd was lying as a way of getting officers to relax their hold. Of course, if XDS were kicking in, difficulty breathing generated a panic would explain the behavior and indicate that Floyd was in the early stages of respiratory distress.

      My view at this point – more information could change it – is that MPD did a poor job of training its people. I also think that there is enough evidence in the literature that a computer scientist like me was able to spend a few hours and discover XDS and positional/compressional asphyxia. MPD is liable and should pay. The 1st Amendment protects the media but their ignorance and unwillingness to do even minimal due diligence is the most important issue of all.

  19. I don’t know if you’re lying, but there are a lot of factual inaccuracies in this article that need correcting.

    1. The two autopsies did not both conclude homicide. The first autopsy, which is the only remotely reasonable one, explicitly states that it was cardiac arrest complicated by the restraints. The medical examiner specifically stated that homicide “is not a legal determination of culpability or intent.” Your own link to CBS admits as much, yet you chose to omit this. The second autopsy is bunk and will be tossed out of court because it was conducted by Dr. Michael Baden. If you don’t recognize this name, you should. He’s the same medical examiner who was hired to examine Donald Lewis, Eric Garner, and Michael Brown. In all 3 cases, he was caught lying. Neither Lewis nor Garner died of asphyxiation and Brown was never shot in the back (Baden made the outrageous claim that Brown was summarily executed with 6 shots to the back while surrendering).

    2. “Floyd was not resisting at the time of his death, except to repeatedly complain that he could not breathe.” This is objectively false. We have most of the video showing him resisting arrest prior to being placed in the police cruiser, then him exiting the cruiser and being restrained yet again, which is where the video all the leftists have been spamming starts. Nobody has seen the full video of how he ended up there and it is factually false to claim that he did not resist at the time of his death. If you can tell someone you can’t breathe for that long a period of time, you can breathe. It is physically impossible for air to be unable to pass while also being able to speak. Even if he could not breathe, letting him free does not re-establish breathing. ExDS is well documented and Fentanyl Floyd was exhibiting most of these symptoms. We’ll hear more once the trial starts, but the purpose of restraint is to stop the afflicted person from over-exerting themselves. Floyd was high as a kite and had a pre-existing heart condition. It is entirely possible that had police not been called, he still would have died that day. The restraints are used as a life saving measure to bring someone who is physically and mentally agitated into a relatively restful state. Neck restraints are not casually used and just because someone has their knee on your neck doesn’t mean it is a substantial amount of pressure. Floyd was able to raise his head in a manner that would be physically impossible if Chauvin was exerting enough force to obstruct Floyd’s airway.

    What I want to know is why so many people INSIST on writing about this subject pretrial. You don’t have all the evidence. The facts we do have do not support your conclusions, yet you keep lying and advancing a narrative? Why?

    1. Yes. I got involved in researching this because being a hard-core civil libertarian for most of my life, it bothered me that due process was going down the toilet. Just as soon as officers became criminal defendants, they are entitled to their full constitutional rights. One of the people in the very brief BA discussion said, we should wait until a property trial has been held before decide guilt or innocence.


    2. It is you who is lying. The most pertinent video is of Chauvin kneeling on the side of his neck for almost nine minutes with no signs of resistance, including several minutes after he had already died. Only someone gargling cop cum would suggest that a dead man was resisting arrest.

      Your opinion of the reasonableness of the autopsies is irrelevant, because you don’t know shit.

  20. Fantastic! I see this is dated 11 June. This pretty much covers what I had discovered on my own by this point but, as you say, this is really the most comprehensive piece I’ve seen on the subject and fills in some important gaps that I hadn’t yet filled.

    I’m going to pass think link on to the folks I’ve been discussing the Floyd case with.

  21. Addendum to awildseaking.

    If XDS was suspected by the officers, the fact that it can progress rapidly to a life-threatening situation may or may not be an issue here. As a conterfactual, let’s assume the officers were able to get Floyd in the back of the vehicle but THEN he experienced cardiac arrest. I expect that people would be going apoplectic over that.

    Here’s my hope. I’d like to see some rational discussion about the actual facts of Floyd’s arrest in the media. Beyond that, we’ll probably have to wait until at least Spring next year for one or more trials to start.

  22. If that cop walks they will burn America down the ground. The rioting will never stop. The recent uprisings was just a preview. They will deploy the full military because the National Guard will be overrun. America will be over

    1. Socialists look like they might win in November. Ruin this country so they don’t get much. Thats what I’m hoping for. I will sit back from another country and eat popcorn laughing…fuck this place and a big fuck you to BLM!

  23. If any of you were to READ and understand the toxicology panel that was run as part of his autopsy, youwould realise that the guy Floyd had fentanly in his blood at three to four times a lethal dose, and speed at about twice lethal dose. Taking into consideration the WHOLE video record, and his behaviour and actions leading up to his detainment, he was already beginning to fall apart under the influence of those two drugs long before the cops ever saw him. Then go and study the specific training two of those officers had had on HOW to deal with precisel the syndrome this “contact” was exhibiting. Floiyd would have been dead at pretty close to the same time even if he had gone back to his car and sat down in the driver’s seat and the cops never had found him. Instead of this circus, and the ensuing rioting, a few people in Minneapolis MIGHT have noticed the report in the police blotter the next day that a gu named Floyd was found dead in his car yesterday afternoon from an overdose of fentanyl and speed. Some counterfeit twenty dollar bills were found on his person.

    End of story.

    Per the specific training two of those officers had had, they had identified his specific syndrome, had already called medics and informed THEM of his conditioin, and were trying their best to calm him enough to hang on until the medics got there.

    Unfortunattel, one commenter above spoke the truth when he stated thatif the cops are not convicted, there will be ANOTHER round of riots, burnings, open rebellion, treasonous takeovers, etc, all because a guy with serious heart iand circulation issues OD’d on fentanyl and speed.

    1. If any of you were to READ and understand the toxicology panel that was run as part of his autopsy, youwould realise that the guy Floyd had fentanly in his blood at three to four times a lethal dose, and speed at about twice lethal dose.

      I read it and then did some checking. The autopsy did NOT say he had fentanly and speed in his blood. What it did say is he tested potentially positive for fentanly & speed. Cold & Allergy medicine will make you test positive for those two. The autopsy specifically recommended two additional specific tests to positively conclude whether fentanly & speed were in his system or not.

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  25. Chauvin did not kill Floyd. Floyd died of a drug overdose.

  26. The former police officer should not be allowed to hide his most questionable, if not criminal antics behind the fiasco that is Qualified Immunity. Matter of fact, no public employee or official of any kind, elected or appointed should be able to hide misdeeds behind the screen of Qualified Immunity, which we should long since have been eliminated.

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