Thank God Almighty, Derek Chauvin Is Arrested At Last
Four days after killing George Floyd, now-former Minneapolis, Minnesota, police officer Derek Chauvin was finally arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman announced at a press conference Friday that Chauvin was in custody and that his office might even file additional charges.
I've given Freeman a hard time about dragging his feet on having Chauvin “picked up" "Law & Order" style, but he did come through. Maybe he's one of the rare prosecutors who'll consider prosecuting even former cops.
The officers who sat around munching popcorn while Chauvin crushed the life out of Floyd are still free but have reason to worry. Freeman said the investigation is “ongoing," but he thought it best to focus on the “most dangerous perpetrator." Chauvin is dangerous, and it's a condemnation of the Minneapolis Police Department that Chauvin's trigger-happy knee remained on the force for 19 years after more than a dozen police misconduct complaints. He was never seriously disciplined and received just one “letter of reprimand," probably written on 18th Century stationery, during his entire career. Minneapolis was fine with his highly selective protection and service. The city and the state need to reckon with this form of “Minnesota nice."
Live: Hennepin County Attorney Gives Update on Officer Involved in George Floyd's Death www.youtube.com
Freeman described Chauvin's killing of Floyd as a “criminal action," which it was, and stressed the speed with which an arrest took place.
FREEMAN: Less than four days ... that's extraordinary. We've never charged a case in that kind of time frame, and we can only charge a case when we have sufficient admissible evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt. As of right now, we have that.
A reporter asked Freeman the question we've all had — even Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey: Why wasn't Chauvin arrested on the spot? He choked the life out of Floyd in broad daylight in front of multiple witnesses, who pleaded with him to stop. The answer is frustratingly simple. Chauvin wasn't an average sociopath. He was a sociopath with a badge. They can kill black people with as much thought as we give to swatting a fly, and the state has to prove that
the fly the black person didn't deserve to die based on past actions or possible future Minority Report crimes.
Freeman insists the case was charged as quickly as admissible evidence would allow. That's parsing parsnips, though. If George Floyd had suffocated an innocent person in front of people (and on tape), he'd have been arrested on the spot. The police don't usually let killers go home while they dot “t"s and cross “i"s and then start all over because they should've done it the other way. And if Floyd had attacked Chauvin, he'd have been killed instantly.
Chauvin obviously received special treatment because he's a cop, and that's how the protection rackets known as police unions like it. This is why conservatives can stick their "black-on-black" crime deflections up their ass. If some gangbanger was crushing someone's windpipe on a city street, the assembled crowd might, you know, DO SOMETHING. They could jump him. Or the NRA's fabled "good guy with a gun" might shoot him. Or someone could scream read loud and chase him off (for the record, I'm always Option 3). Unfortunately, because the killer was a cop, people had to stand helplessly and watch George Floyd die in front of them.
Floyd is dead because Chauvin was a cop and was entrusted with the power to detain him, which he abused. We should hold Chauvin to a higher standard, but instead he's charged with manslaughter or GED murder. Freeman himself points out that's the same charge filed against former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who shot a white woman in her pajamas. Noor's defense was that he tragically fired his weapon in a split-second out of fear. Chauvin's only defense is that he doesn't know how necks work. He had more than eight, agonizing minutes to make better, human-resembling decisions that could've spared Floyd's life. That is premeditated goddamn murder. Chauvin should spend the rest of his life in jail.
But even the third-degree murder and manslaughter charge isn't a given. Not when the defendant is a police officer, and the victim a Minnesota jury has to give a damn about is a black man. This is why we kneel, and Floyd's death has made that form of protest an all-the-more potent symbol.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."