Cop Supervisor Says Derek Chauvin Should Have Stopped Killing George Floyd When Floyd Stopped Moving
So far, in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, we have heard the defense try to argue that George Floyd died because of factors other than Derek Chauvin's knee on his neck for nine minutes, and that Chauvin was just doing what he was trained to do; we have heard from witnesses on the scene; and we have heard from the young man who blames himself for having taken the allegedly fake $20 in the first place. On Thursday, we heard from the paramedics who tried to save Floyd's life, from his girlfriend, and from his former shift supervisor.
Two of the paramedics who arrived on the scene testified that Floyd showed no signs of life when they got there, and that none of their attempts to revive him were successful, even briefly. One of those paramedics, Derek Smith, explicitly said, "In layman's terms, I thought he was dead." This matters because of the aforementioned assertion from the defense that Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck was merely incidental to his death — which really would have been one hell of a coincidence, timing wise. Especially given that most people could not survive someone kneeling on their neck and making it impossible for them to breathe for that long. Even Houdini could only hold his breath for three minutes.
Generally speaking, underlying conditions are not factored in to murder charges. If you shoot someone who happens to be a bleeder and they die from excessive blood loss, you still murdered them, even if they might have survived if they were better at clotting. People have all kinds of conditions that one may not know about, which is why it is better to hedge one's bets and just not kneel on anyone's neck for several minutes.
In her testimony, Courteney Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend of three years, testified to the kind of man he was, how they met when he was working at a shelter and offered her support when she took her children there to see their father. She also testified that the two of them, like many Americans, developed an addiction to opioids after a doctor prescribed them for chronic pain. It is just a fact that doctors used to hand out opioids like candy. When I was 15 a doctor tried to give me Vicodin for menstrual cramps. Tons of people got addicted that way and then were shit out of luck — and, importantly, still in pain — when the crackdowns came.
This shouldn't matter, but those on Chauvin's side have repeatedly attempted to justify his killing of Floyd on the grounds that his being a "drug user" made him inherently bad somehow.
We’ve turned George Floyd, a criminal drug addict, into an icon. We are promoting Satan shoes to wear on our feet.… https://t.co/0YAU0FZfTy— Candace Owens (@Candace Owens)1616959482.0
I've also heard people justify keeping the death penalty around despite the execution of innocent people as "Well, they were probably guilty of something, no one ends up on Death Row if they're entirely innocent."
These justifications are not okay — they are in fact disgusting — but that doesn't mean that people don't make them. Unfortunately we live in a society where certain people are more likely to find drug addiction understandable if it resulted from a doctor's prescription, and Ross's testimony to this may have some sway with any jurors who would otherwise be of the opinion that it is okay for police officers to murder people if they are "criminal drug addicts." It's often easy for people to justify horrible things happening to other people if they think they themselves are safe from horrible things happening to them because they are "good."
Perhaps the most damning testimony, however, came from Chauvin's former shift supervisor, David Pleoger, who had arrived on the scene as Floyd was being taken away. Pleoger stated — in no uncertain terms — that this was absolutely not what Chauvin was trained to do in this kind of situation, as his lawyers have asserted.
Via the New York Times:
Mr. Pleoger spoke about the department's policy on use of force and was probed by prosecutors on whether Mr. Chauvin complied with those policies. Asked whether police officers should remove their knees from a suspect's neck when the suspect stops resisting, Mr. Pleoger said they should. According to video evidence, Mr. Chauvin kept his knee on Mr. Floyd for several minutes after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive. The defense objected when prosecutors tried to ask Mr. Pleoger whether Mr. Chauvin violated use of force policies, but the prosecution did ask him when, in his opinion, the police officers should have ended their restraint of Mr. Floyd. He replied, "When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint."
Well that would seem like the obvious thing to do.
It also seem like it would be a pretty big problem if the police department were to come right out and assert that this is exactly what officers are trained to do in these situations. Surely, even those who are inexplicably on Chauvin's side, or fine with police doing this to Black people or people they think are "bad," would not like this sort of thing to happen to them.
The trial continues today, with several senior police officers from Chauvin's department expected to testify.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse