Did Derek Chauvin Kill George Floyd?

 

If there is one thing that we all know, it is that, on 25 May, Derek Chauvin of the Minneapolis Police Department killed George Floyd. This is what the newspapers say, and this is what we are told on television news. The only thing that seems to be in question is whether Chauvin is guilty of second- or third-degree murder.

Ordinarily, in the past, journalists took care to distinguish allegations from facts, but not in this case. They stuck to their claim that Chauvin had killed Floyd even when the medical examiner of Hennepin County issued a preliminary coroner’s report indicating that the latter had died of “cardiopulmonary arrest” – which is to say, a heart attack – and not asphyxiation; that he suffered “arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease”; that he was at the time of death hopped up on fentanyl; and that he had recently used methamphetamines. On National Review Online, on 4 June, the LAPD veteran who writes under the name of Jack Dunphy pointed out the obvious implications, but no one in the mainstream media bothered to note that drugs of this sort can cause shortness of breath and cardiac arrest and that Floyd may have died of a drug overdose.

We now know more – thanks to a fuller coroner’s report and thanks to footage from the body cams worn by two of the officers involved in Floyd’s arrest. We know that he had consumed more than twice the dose of fentanyl apt to be fatal, and we know that he had the Wuhan coronavirus. We also know that Floyd, who was 6’ 4” and weighed in at 220 pounds, resisted arrest; that the four officers involved had a difficult time subduing him; that they recognized that he was hopped up on something; and that they called an ambulance and urged that it come as quickly as possible. On 3 August, John Hinderaker laid out the evidence on the website Powerline. But, to date, no one in the mainstream media has addressed the implications.

There is no reason to think Chauvin guilty of second or third-degree murder. Indeed, there is every reason to suspect that he is not in any way legally or morally responsible for George Floyd’s death. It is, moreover, possible that he and his colleagues did everything by the book. Eventually, if and when there is a trial, we may learn the whole story. In the meantime, I doubt that we can expect any help from America’s professional journalists.

Published in Policing
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  1. FloppyDisk90 Member
    FloppyDisk90
    @FloppyDisk90

    Hoyacon:

    Sorry, we will have to disagree. I don’t regard almost nine minutes as “nothing,” nor do I regard Floyd’s conduct as a literal “get out of jail free” card for police actions to follow. In subduing Floyd, the officers should balance concerns for their safety with concerns for Floyd’s health, and continue that balancing throughout the encounter . . . .from minute one to minute eight. There were four officers present to assist. It’s appropriately up to a jury to weigh these facts, and it’s appropriately up to a judge to decide whether the charges should even stand. They are the determinants of what was “reasonable” or “likely.”

    Rahe:

    So tell us. What should the cops have done?

    Me:

    Sorry for the copy/paste hack….the quoting function doesn’t seem to be working for me.

    @Rahe:  Hoycon already addressed your question in #46.  More importantly, you don’t have to know what the cops should have done in order to know that what they did do was likely not the right thing.  If the plumber botches a repair are you going to take kindly to the response of “OK, well, what should I have done.”?

    • #61
  2. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio…
    @ArizonaPatriot

    FloppyDisk90 (View Comment):

    Hoyacon:

    Sorry, we will have to disagree. I don’t regard almost nine minutes as “nothing,” nor do I regard Floyd’s conduct as a literal “get out of jail free” card for police actions to follow. In subduing Floyd, the officers should balance concerns for their safety with concerns for Floyd’s health, and continue that balancing throughout the encounter . . . .from minute one to minute eight. There were four officers present to assist. It’s appropriately up to a jury to weigh these facts, and it’s appropriately up to a judge to decide whether the charges should even stand. They are the determinants of what was “reasonable” or “likely.”

    Rahe:

    So tell us. What should the cops have done?

    Me:

    Sorry for the copy/paste hack….the quoting function doesn’t seem to be working for me.

    @Rahe: Hoycon already addressed your question in #46. More importantly, you don’t have to know what the cops should have done in order to know that what they did do was likely not the right thing. If the plumber botches a repair are you going to take kindly to the response of “OK, well, what should I have done.”?

    Floppy, I find this to be a very weak argument.  Hoyacon’s, too.

    From a criminal law standpoint — and that’s what the case is about right now — the question is whether the prosecutor can prove that some misconduct by the police caused Mr. Floyd’s death.  The prosecutor must prove this beyond a reasonable doubt.  The fact that he died is not enough, in light of the evidence of alternative potential causes of death (especially fentanyl overdose, but the heart conditions as well).

    So there’s no evidence that the police “botched” anything.  A man died in their custody.  That does not prove misconduct on the part of the police.

    The 8 1/2 minutes stuff is, to me, whining.  There is no evidence that substantial force was used.  Mr. Floyd was merely held down, lying on the ground — which is actually what he asked for.  They tried, with great patience, to get him to sit upright in the back of the cop car, and he went nuts.

    So they were holding him down, until the EMTs arrived, and the EMTs were quite close.  They also had a hostile crowd gathering.  Further, given Mr. Floyd’s erratic and then violent behavior (he was violent in the back seat), they had to keep him secure.

    Notice that he went out the traffic side of the cop car.  The cops, while holding him down, were shielding him from the danger of being run over using their own bodies, and were making sure that he didn’t run into traffic in his erratic or panicked state.

    The knee-to-neck hold, with minimal pressure, strikes me as a highly effective way to keep a person subdued.

    • #62
  3. FloppyDisk90 Member
    FloppyDisk90
    @FloppyDisk90

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Floppy, I find this to be a very weak argument. Hoyacon’s, too.

    From a criminal law standpoint — and that’s what the case is about right now — the question is whether the prosecutor can prove that some misconduct by the police caused Mr. Floyd’s death. The prosecutor must prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. The fact that he died is not enough, in light of the evidence of alternative potential causes of death (especially fentanyl overdose, but the heart conditions as well).

    So there’s no evidence that the police “botched” anything. A man died in their custody. That does not prove misconduct on the part of the police.

    The 8 1/2 minutes stuff is, to me, whining. There is no evidence that substantial force was used. Mr. Floyd was merely held down, lying on the ground — which is actually what he asked for. They tried, with great patience, to get him to sit upright in the back of the cop car, and he went nuts.

    So they were holding him down, until the EMTs arrived, and the EMTs were quite close. They also had a hostile crowd gathering. Further, given Mr. Floyd’s erratic and then violent behavior (he was violent in the back seat), they had to keep him secure.

    Notice that he went out the traffic side of the cop car. The cops, while holding him down, were shielding him from the danger of being run over using their own bodies, and were making sure that he didn’t run into traffic in his erratic or panicked state.

    The knee-to-neck hold, with minimal pressure, strikes me as a highly effective way to keep a person subdued.

    I’m not arguing the merits of the legal case either pro or con.  I’m simply responding to Rahe’s repeated insistence that Hoyacon provide the correct COA.  I think it’s a red herring.

    Edit:  Ok, yes, I obviously have a view on the situation.  I agree that all of what you say above should be factored into the legal considerations.  Still, if you put your knee into the neck (and neither you nor I know how “minimal” the pressure was) of a prone suspect and keep it there when the person ceases to resist then I think you bear some responsibility for whatever consequences ensue, intended or otherwise.  But, as Hoyacon said, that’s for a judge and jury to decide.

    • #63
  4. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

     

    Floppy, I find this to be a very weak argument. Hoyacon’s, too.

    From a criminal law standpoint — and that’s what the case is about right now — the question is whether the prosecutor can prove that some misconduct by the police caused Mr. Floyd’s death. The prosecutor must prove this beyond a reasonable doubt. The fact that he died is not enough, in light of the evidence of alternative potential causes of death (especially fentanyl overdose, but the heart conditions as well).

    So there’s no evidence that the police “botched” anything. A man died in their custody. That does not prove misconduct on the part of the police.

    The 8 1/2 minutes stuff is, to me, whining. There is no evidence that substantial force was used. Mr. Floyd was merely held down, lying on the ground — which is actually what he asked for. They tried, with great patience, to get him to sit upright in the back of the cop car, and he went nuts.

    So they were holding him down, until the EMTs arrived, and the EMTs were quite close. They also had a hostile crowd gathering. Further, given Mr. Floyd’s erratic and then violent behavior (he was violent in the back seat), they had to keep him secure.

    Notice that he went out the traffic side of the cop car. The cops, while holding him down, were shielding him from the danger of being run over using their own bodies, and were making sure that he didn’t run into traffic in his erratic or panicked state.

    The knee-to-neck hold, with minimal pressure, strikes me as a highly effective way to keep a person subdued.

    At the risk of making yet another “weak” argument, I am not litigating the guilt or innocence of Chauvin here as you appear to be be.  The question I’m discussing is whether there are sufficient grounds to bring Chauvin to trial, and I have never defended Ellison’s upgrading of the charge to second degree.

    Those of us “whining” about the time of the neck restraint at least seem to be aware that two autopsies ruled Floyd’s death a homicide,  your own continued speculation about the degree of force used notwithstanding.  We also know that departmental policy curtailed the use of neck restraints to specific circumstances because of the danger involved. We are aware that, when Floyd was “merely held down,” this restraint continued for a couple of minutes after no pulse was detected.  Hope that helps.

    • #64
  5. Paul A. Rahe Contributor
    Paul A. Rahe
    @PaulARahe

    For the record, there was only one autopsy. It was done by the medical examiner of Hennepin County. He ruled it a homicide but his coroner’s report provides no support for that ruling. The other medical doctor who opined on the matter did not conduct an autopsy. He is an associate of Al Sharpton hired by the family. He claimed asphyxiation but the coroner’s report shows that there was no neck damage at all. Floyd had contusions on his face of the sort that you might get in a fight. There are no grounds for either a second-degree or third-degree murder charge. There may be grounds for some sort of departmental reprimand. But not even that is clear. We know that the police called for an ambulance and asked that it come as soon as possible, and it is pretty obvious that they were keep Floyd where he was until the ambulance came. After a ten-minute fight in which four policemen had trouble subduing the man, it would have been folly to get him up again until the ambulance arrived.

    • #65
  6. Front Seat Cat Member
    Front Seat Cat
    @FrontSeatCat

    Paul A. Rahe (View Comment):

    The key fact is that the cops called for an ambulance and wanted it there as quickly as possible. By that time, they had figured out that they had a serious medical problem on their hands. My bet is that they had seen people OD on opioids before. They may come out smelling sweeter than a rose.

    The real scoundrel is Keith Ellison and those who fired the cops before investigating the incident, and the press bears a heavy responsibility.

    My piece, by the way, was submitted to a newspaper and rejected before I posted it here.

    The Catholic Chaplain at MIT also raised similar questions in an email, and did it in a respectful and dignified way, and was fired for it just recently.

    https://www.crisismagazine.com/2020/boston-baked-bombshell

     

    • #66
  7. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Chauvin memo re motion to dismiss 

    http://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Memorandum08282020.pdf

    full docket with exhibits

    http://www.mncourts.gov/media/StateofMinnesotavDerekChauvin.aspx

     

    • #67
  8. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Thao memo in support of motion to dismiss

    http://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12949-TT/Memorandum08052020.pdf

    State opposition/response

    http://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12949-TT/Briefs08242020.pdf

    “And Thao—who saw what the other officers were doing and heard Floyd’s cries for help—encouraged the others to continue pinning Floyd down, pushed back a group of concerned bystanders, and prevented them from intervening.”

    The encouragement was allegedly recommending against use of a hobble device.

    Docket

    http://www.mncourts.gov/Media/StateofMinnesotavTouThao.aspx

    State upward sentencing departure re Thao:

    http://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12949-TT/NoticebyAttorney08282020.pdf

     

    • #68
  9. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Hearing on pretrial motions set for 9/11

    http://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12951-TKL/SchedulingOrder09012020.pdf

    • #69
  10. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    $1 million bond posted

    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/NonCashBond10072020.pdf

    • #70
  11. DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Man of Constant Sorrow
    @DrewInWisconsin

    ctlaw (View Comment):
    $1 million bond posted

    If only he’d been burning down businesses, he’d be out already.

     

    • #71
  12. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    3rd degree murder charge against Chauvin dismissed for lack of probable cause. 2nd degree manslaughter and 2nd degree murder remain as do the charges against the three others (which required the intent involved in Chauvin’s 2nd degree charge).

    https://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Order10212020.pdf

    • #72
  13. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Thao motion for discovery sanctions over delays in disclosing exculpatory info from medical examiner Baker.

    From pages 2 and 3 of an FBI interview with the medical examiner:

    Baker defined the mechanism of death as Floyd’s heart and lungs stopping due to the combined effects of his health problems as well as the exertion and restraint involved in Floyd’s interaction with police prior to being on the ground.

    Emphasis added.

    Thao’s alleged liability is most clearly premised on his actions after Floyd was on the ground.

    • #73
  14. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Prospective juror questionnaire:
    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/JurorQuestionnaire12222020.pdf

    It appears to be an edited form or edited baseline document. Dark type appears to show questions customized to this case or otherwise added to the baseline. Slightly lighter type appears to be the form or baseline document wording.

    • #74
  15. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Prospective juror questionnaire:
    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/JurorQuestionnaire12222020.pdf

    It appears to be an edited form or edited baseline document. Dark type appears to show questions customized to this case or otherwise added to the baseline. Slightly lighter type appears to be the form or baseline document wording.

    That was insane. If you fill out the whole thing do you qualify for a bank loan?

    • #75
  16. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    State moves to put off trial until June. Cites covid vaccine as reducing trial risks at that point:

    https://mncourts.gov/getattachment/Media/StateofMinnesotavDerekChauvin/Container-Documents/Content-Documents/Memorandum-In-Support-of-Motion-For-Continuance-of-Trial.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US

    Zeke Emmanuel provided an expert affidavit:

    https://mncourts.gov/getattachment/Media/StateofMinnesotavDerekChauvin/Container-Documents/Content-Documents/Affidavit-in-Support-of-Continuance.pdf.aspx?lang=en-US

     

    • #76
  17. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Chauvin trial to proceed in March. Other three will wait until August:

    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Order01112021.pdf

     

    • #77
  18. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Keith Ellison is appealing the court’s severance of the Chauvin trial from the others and refusal to grant continuance of Chauvin trial.

    https://mncourts.gov/media/StateofMinnesotavDerekChauvin

    We’ll get some feeling of the position of the appellate courts.

    On continuance:

    reversal would look bad for the defense;
    even worse, feet dragging (to produce the same delay) followed by not reversing would look even worse.

    On severance:

    reversal would look real bad for the defense.

    Each defendant has strong reasons for severance. Chauvin may want to avoid a compromise verdict where the jurors get to feel good about convicting him by letting the others go. Each will want to avoid the jury being enraged about any prior conduct of the others. This is particularly relevant to Chauvin and Thao for whom Lane/Kueng conduct prior to their arrival on scene is not relevant.

    • #78
  19. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Trial court sticking to its guns on no 3rd degree murder charge:

    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Order02112021.pdf

    May be altered depending on MN Supreme Court treatment of the Noor case in which the appellate court found 3rd degree applicable:

    https://mn.gov/law-library-stat/archive/ctappub/2021/OPA191089-020121.pdf

    • #79
  20. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Daily Mail banned from Chauvin trial for prior publishing of “stolen [body worn camera (BWC)] footage.”

    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Order03242021.pdf

    https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8576371/Police-bodycam-footage-shows-moment-moment-arrest-George-Floyd-time.html

    • #80
  21. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Chauvin jury instructions:

    https://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/JuryInstructions04192021.pdf

    • #81
  22. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    https://nypost.com/2021/05/04/jurors-blm-t-shirt-sparks-concerns-about-derek-chauvin-trial/

    • #82
  23. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Chauvin post trial motions notice
    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Notice-of-Motion-and-Motion.pdf

    • #83
  24. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Chauvin post trial motions notice
    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Notice-of-Motion-and-Motion.pdf

    Where would these new revelations about possible perjury by a candidate for the jury be covered (see thread below)?  I don’t think that it’s subsumed within the venue/ pretrial publicity claims.

    • #84
  25. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    ctlaw (View Comment):

    Chauvin post trial motions notice
    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Notice-of-Motion-and-Motion.pdf

    Where would these new revelations about possible perjury by a candidate for the jury be covered (see thread below)? I don’t think that it’s subsumed within the venue/ pretrial publicity claims.

    Possibly under item 2. “…on the grounds that the jury committed misconduct…”

    • #85
  26. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Fed indictment of all 4 officers:

    https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/59889267/united-states-v-chauvin/

    Noteworthy is that the Kueng and Thao conduct in Count 2  appears to reach a crime only once Floyd stopped resisting:

    Specifically, Defendants Kueng and Thao were aware that Defendant Chauvin was holding his knee across George Floyd’s neck as Floyd lay handcuffed and unresisting, and that Defendant Chauvin continued to hold Floyd to the ground…

    Count 3, against all four is that they “willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd.”

     

    Separate indictment of Chauvin for 2017 incident:

    https://www.courtlistener.com/docket/59889133/united-states-v-chauvin/

     

    • #86
  27. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    Judge finds against Chauvin on aggravating factors except Floyd being particularly vulnerable:

    https://mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/Order05112021.pdf

    • #87
  28. ctlaw Coolidge
    ctlaw
    @ctlaw

    In all four cases, the respective defendants’ attorneys have filed affidavits that they were not the source of the Chauvin plea deal leak. Stay tuned!

    • #88
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