Derek Chauvin Arrested in George Floyd Killing

The wheels of justice ran more swiftly than usual.

Breaking from CNN (“Minneapolis ex-officer who knelt on George Floyd’s neck is in state custody“):

The former Minneapolis police officer seen in a video with his knee on George Floyd’s neck before the unarmed black man died this week was taken into custody Friday by state authorities, according to John Harrington, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The officer, Derek Chauvin, was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as fires continued to burn from violent protests overnight as demonstrators demanded justice for Floyd.

It’s not known yet what the charge will be or whether the other officers on the video will be arrested.

That this comes in the wake of rioting, alas, will be interpreted as evidence that mob violence works rather than that it was unnecessary.

UPDATE: The story has been updated to reflect that Chauvin is being charged with “charges of third-degree murder and manslaughter.” I’m not a lawyer, much less trained in the minutia of Minnesota law, but that seems a very weak charge given what we can see on the video.

FILED UNDER: Crime, Law and the Courts
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. de stijl says:

    That Chauvin is arrested is the first step.

    What is the charge?

    James, you are really white.

    Seriously, “mob violence”?

    8
  2. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl: There has been rioting in the streets, including burning down police precincts and looting at Target stores. I don’t know how else to characterize that.

    10
  3. Jon says:

    … officer seen in a video with his knee on George Floyd’s neck before the unarmed black man died this week …

    Not strictly the passive voice, but passive voice adjacent for sure. Way to fail, CNN (and AP, etc. etc.). Yes, he had a knee on his throat, and sure he died, but these are two concurrent but unrelated events!

    7
  4. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Why is there “mob violence”?

    4
  5. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Jon:

    An Interactive Guide to Ambiguous Grammar

    It’s the past exonerative tense

    7
  6. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    I can walk you through this. You’re totally fine. Just take one step forward and the scales will be lifted.

    It’s called empathy.

    4
  7. Michael Reynolds says:

    The wheels of justice did not run quickly, the wheels of justice should have had police officers on the scene immediately arrest officer Chauvin. Police officers on the scene witnessed a probable manslaughter. And they did nothing.

    We have to break free of the assumptions that grow out of acceptance of the blue wall of silence. That blue wall is a criminal conspiracy to obstruct justice. It’s not understandable, it’s not inevitable, it is the very reason why cops kill and why they get away with it. The blue wall burned Minneapolis.

    35
  8. Jon says:

    @Stormy Dragon: Heh, nice: Speed was involved in a jumping‑related incident while a fox was brown.

    I’d never seen that before, thanks!

  9. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    Why is there “mob violence”?

    I believe I addressed this issue in the post this morning about Twitter’s flagging President Trump’s “looting/shootng” tweet.

    @de stijl:

    It’s called empathy.

    I understand why people are frustrated and angry. That does not give then the right to burn down police stations, storm statehouses, and loot department stores. It just doesn’t.

    15
  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    That this comes in the wake of rioting, alas, will be interpreted as evidence that mob violence works rather than that it was unnecessary.

    Your ignorance has you treading in very dangerous waters here James.

    ETA: or to put it another way, Bull Connor couldn’t have said it better.

    8
  11. Jay L Gischer says:

    I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I am an adherent of a non-violent denomination. I have held non-violent beliefs since I was about 15. I do not regret this for a second.

    Violent people will always find a reason to say that their violence is justified. Always. Don’t worry about whether this action or another will make them feel justified. It has no impact on them.

    For instance, if you mention Dr. King and the SCLC, they say that would have had no impact if not for the violent threat represented by Malcolm X. This is one of those arguments that isn’t worth having. No one will be enlightened, no one will change.

    To turn to non-violence requires a change of heart. It requires discipline. It requires wisdom. The practice of non-violence requires training and commitment to your cause. It requires that you be willing to lose a battle in order to win a war. Or perhaps even lose a war to win a soul.

    I sit at the feet of Ghandi and King. These days I am maybe only 95% non-violent. I recognize that in order to have a country, there are a very small number of problems where yes, violence is probably necessary. I’ve given up having arguments about this on the internet, since people will take my pushback as opposition to their cause. They think I want them to lose, and they want to win.

    Violent people don’t need any encouragement to be violent. They need a justification in their own mind, but that operates on a personal level. Human beings cannot find the path of non-violence via mass media or governmental action. This is done on a very personal level.

    14
  12. Holly says:

    “They were putting the torch to the geography of their alienation. This is what voting for Trump feels like, but for black people.”

    I read this on a friend’s FB, and haven’t been able to get it out of my head.

    4
  13. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    We have to break free of the assumptions that grow out of acceptance of the blue wall of silence.

    I think you’re right. But city officials walk a tightrope here. I fully understand why prosecutors and mayors want police officers to believe they have their back.

    I think this case was sufficiently egregious that the officer should have been arrested on the scene. But that’s because we have a videoof the incident. The polices in place really haven’t caught up to ubiquitous video capture capability and the instantaneous publication of same on the Internet.

    7
  14. Kathy says:

    @James Joyner:

    I don’t know how else to characterize that.

    People who’ve been pushed too far and ignored pushing back in a way that won’t be ignored.

    6
  15. Jon says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    I too am morally superior to others! (I kid)

    Meanwhile, in the real world, MLK and Ghandi were murdered and violence is meted out by the state disproportionally on those who have the least recourse to resist it. Sometimes the lesser of two evils is the best you can do.

    ETA: And to be clear, I don’t take this as you saying you want one side to lose. I’m just losing faith in the efficacy of non-violence.

    6
  16. de stijl says:

    You are equating the protesters with the looters.

    Ignoring the 99%, but focused on the 1%.

    This is 2020. You really need to get better on figuring out this.

    12
  17. Michael Reynolds says:

    @James Joyner:
    Prosecutors exist to enforce the law. When they fail to enforce the law in dealing with cops they lose all authority, they become perpetrators. Police are not soldiers, the citizens are not the enemy. Police and prosecutors in most developed countries understand this. But in our gun-worshipping, cowboy-mythologizing, drug-warring, militaristic country we accept this kind of behavior.

    I’ll add that Hollywood has a lot to answer for in this regard. How many cop shows and cop movies treat dirty cops as heroes, as tough guys who ‘break the rules’? A cop who breaks the rules is a criminal, and pretending otherwise just to add swagger to some crap movie is wrong.

    20
  18. Mu says:

    In the new pictures coming out today you can see two more officers were holding the man down. No idea how you could only arrest one.

    9
  19. James Joyner says:

    @de stijl:

    You are equating the protesters with the looters. Ignoring the 99%, but focused on the 1%.

    We did the same thing after Charlottesville. That’s what happens. And the rioting and looting is widespread, not one or two people.

    7
  20. Stormy Dragon says:

    Stop acting like the Minneapolis Police Department is an innocent party in this, just desperately trying to keep things under control.

    They’ve been deliberately attacking non-violent protesters for a week as part of a deliberate campaign to provoke exactly the sort of violence we’re seeing now.

    17
  21. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: I’m with you on this. Too high a percentage of our police officers in this country are thugs who should not be trusted to roam the streets with a gun. But I at least understand the rationale behind the “thin blue line” mystique. (And, while cops aren’t soldiers, we do the same thing in both cases. Our “freedom” hasn’t been at stake in any war of the last 70 years.)

    6
  22. CSK says:

    Chauvin has been charged with third degree murder and manslaughter.

    2
  23. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Why should a hypothetical prosecutor have the police backs over citizens?

    They serve the community, not just as stenographers for the cops.

    What you are saying sounds a bit authoritarian.

    Justice for some, if they behave correctly, and don’t get uppity and demand equal rights and equal treatment.

    4
  24. Kit says:

    @James Joyner:

    I understand why people are frustrated and angry. That does not give then the right to burn down police stations, storm statehouses, and loot department stores. It just doesn’t.

    Perhaps not, but they sure didn’t waste time asking and just took it, didn’t they? Rights are political constructs built on power. These people have the power, if only for a moment. It doesn’t feel comfortable for everyone, I guess. Then again, has it ever?

    3
  25. Modulo Myself says:

    @James Joyner:

    That does not give then the right to burn down police stations, storm statehouses, and loot department stores.

    Bzzt wrongo. It absolutely does. The BLM movement has tried everything peaceful. They’re not frustrated. Frustrated people protest, write, and organize. Unlike the white bozos with guns, they did everything and it didn’t matter. White people shrug and say even if you’re right what can you do there’s good people on both sides. So there’s not much left to do if you’re stuck in the midwest surrounded by dumbasses except protest and tolerate burning down a store or two. You think the police are going to forget how the people who they’re supposed to serve don’t give a shit about their stupid station? The LA riots worked, after all.

    12
  26. Jay L Gischer says:

    @Jon: And that’s yet another reason that don’t normally bring it up. Because of snide remarks about my stance of moral superiority. I don’t understand it that way. I think my life is better because of it, in a very practical way.

    But I understand the sense of losing faith in it. That’s an intended consequence of the actions of the avowedly violent. Such as Trump. They seek to challenge your faith in, well everything. They believe in nothing at all other than power. Which is why it is so terrifying to see evangelicals – people I once would have called “fellow evangelicals” – embrace him.

    Non-violence as a strategy plays out on a time-scale that is far different from violence. They don’t meet on the same ground. I would say that in the political arena, I haven’t seen anyone employ non-violence as a political strategy since Dr. King was killed. So I’m not sure how one could lose faith in it. His killing is evidence of just how threatening his methods were to white supremacists.

    8
  27. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    Comparing this to Charlottesville?

    I … Don’t know how to engage with that other than being really rude to our host. Which I won’t.

    There is a disparity of power. Which can can be seen in real time in South Minnealpolis now.

    7
  28. Moosebreath says:

    @James Joyner:

    “I think this case was sufficiently egregious that the officer should have been arrested on the scene.”

    And the other officers present who did nothing to stop their colleague from killing Mr. Floyd? Should they also have been arrested on the scene?

    3
  29. KM says:

    @James Joyner:

    I think you’re right. But city officials walk a tightrope here. I fully understand why prosecutors and mayors want police officers to believe they have their back.

    I was going to jump on this quote like the others but sat back to think about it. What I *think* you meant to convey is that systems work better if various parties are not in active conflict and that if the police don’t trust the prosecutors and mayors, they’ve be even more likely to close ranks. That, in order to achieve justice, there must be a level of cooperation and trust among the moving pieces. How can you prosecute when you can’t trust the people building the case for you? This is not a troublesome notion on its own but it does have a strong whiff of “get along to get along” and to drop standards to the lowest denominator to acquire their acceptance.

    Think of it this way: if you have a family where one child is constantly breaking things, setting them on fire and leaving dead pets in the yard, do you tell the other children not to speak up so the bad kid will still feel comfortable doing chores with them? If one kid’s always bringing up how the troublemaker keeps offing the hamsters, those rooms won’t get cleaned and Lil’ Devil might not tell Older Sibling about how they’re planning to blow up the tool shed. There is some value in keep Lil’ Devil happy with Older Sibling but it gets lost in the damage caused by just letting him stay unchallenged.

    We saw this in action. 3 other cops just stood there and watched a murder. So far, it’s cost them their jobs and maybe jail time. If they’d done something rather then tried to walk the tightrope, everything wouldn’t be going to hell. After all, isn’t the road there paved with good intentions and inaction?

    9
  30. Gustopher says:

    That this comes in the wake of rioting, alas, will be interpreted as evidence that mob violence works rather than that it was unnecessary.

    Why bring Italian-Americans into this?

    4
  31. Jon says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Thing is, claiming moral superiority is not inherently a bad thing. I mean, most people probably feel that they’re morally superior to, say, Nazis. And they’re right! And slightly over half of this country is morally superior to the current President. It’s just, like comedy, a matter of timing. There are times when it comes across as telling people they’re doing it wrong; when people have had all other avenues of redress closed to them, when their voices are not being heard, when not pushing back means more of the same with no end in sight.

    MLK’s death is absolutely evidence of how threatened people were by his methods. It is also evidence of how easily and quickly a system determined to protect itself can do so, and can turn around and co-opt that original message as a means to protect itself further. Claiming people are not living up to MLK’s standard is a handy way to dismiss legitimate concerns and shift the focus away from the actual issues and make it about the *process* of protesting.

    And one last point .. I’m not losing faith in the moral or ethical rightness of non-violence, just in how effective it is. We’ve watched much of what MLK fought for being overturned, and what Ghandi fought for being destroyed, over the past 60+ years. And I’m not sure that me feeling that I took the moral high road is worth somebody’s life. Long time-scales are all well and good for those of us who aren’t getting ground under the heel of the law. But people are still getting killed *today*, and that doesn’t help them. All that said, I’m still not claiming that violence in the face of violence is the right or best answer. I’m just increasingly unwilling to condemn others who disagree.

    ETA: Boy I really seem to like commas.

    6
  32. Gustopher says:

    That this comes in the wake of rioting, alas, will be interpreted as evidence that mob violence works rather than that it was unnecessary.

    Also, decades of non-violent protest against police brutality has had no effect.
    Meanwhile, two dozen idiots with long-guns forcing their way into a state legislature dominates the news cycle and the American conversation They define what was possible.

    I wish violence was unnecessary, but I so no evidence of it.

    @Jay L Gischer:

    To turn to non-violence requires a change of heart. It requires discipline. It requires wisdom. The practice of non-violence requires training and commitment to your cause. It requires that you be willing to lose a battle in order to win a war. Or perhaps even lose a war to win a soul.

    You’re putting a lot of weight on that soul as you balance those scales.

    I would argue that losing the war, and allowing others to perpetrate injustice puts more souls in jeopardy.

    Doctor King and Gandhi were able to change hearts and minds in the population at large, and were able to win their wars — and you could see it happening as they did it. Now? The powers that be have learned to tune out non-violent protest and prevent us from noticing it. They have found countermeasures.

    I’d rather see a Target go up in flames that heads being paraded about on pikes. I guess I support minimal effective violence.

    5
  33. Sleeping Dog says:

    @James Joyner:

    I fully understand why prosecutors and mayors want police officers to believe they have their back.

    That is why cases involving police brutality and a police killing should be investigated and prosecuted if warranted by the state’s attorney general and not the local DA. DA’s, mayors and other local officials are far too reliant on a good working relationship with the police to be objective.

    5
  34. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “I think you’re right. But city officials walk a tightrope here. I fully understand why prosecutors and mayors want police officers to believe they have their back. ”

    The point is that the police force is acting as a mafia. Not like one, or in a ‘mafia-adjacent’ manner.

    4
  35. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “I think this case was sufficiently egregious that the officer should have been arrested on the scene. But that’s because we have a videoof the incident. “

  36. Sleeping Dog says:

    but that seems a very weak charge given what we can see on the video.

    I believe that in Minnesota, the gradation of murder charges is:

    1st degree: premeditated and murder in conjunction of another felony.
    2nd degree: Intent to kill, but not planned.
    3rd degree: felony assault that results in death
    Manslaughter: Killing but not intended.

    2
  37. Monala says:

    @Jay L Gischer: many of the protesters who brought down the Iron Curtain were nonviolent.

  38. grumpy realist says:

    Looks like we’re going to have to learn the rules behind revolutions: if peaceful protests don’t fix a problem, don’t be surprised when people turn to violence (even if it REALLY doesn’t fix the problem.)

    I’m however skeptical about a lot of the people who are throwing the riots. We’ve got violent people on the left as well as violent people on the right. My suspicion is that they’re just looking for an excuse to throw bricks and loot and have fights, not to in fact fix anything.

    6
  39. Barry says:

    @James Joyner: “We did the same thing after Charlottesville. That’s what happens. And the rioting and looting is widespread, not one or two people.”

    Charlottesville was a bunch of nazis looking to hurt people (with the support of Trump). It was a deliberate attack, with no provocation.

    8
  40. de stijl says:

    Said this earlier elsewhere.

    “Fuck Tha Police” arose not from nihilism, but from experience.

    Chuck D is the man.

    I was going to work one day listening to PE, specifically “Fuck Tha Police” in my ride fairly loud (I like loud) and a cop rolled up to me in the next lane. She was not impressed.

    1
  41. Teve says:

    Some people are assuming the looters are protesters.

    5
  42. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Jay L Gischer:
    Non-violence is great, when it works. Did MLK accomplish his goals? Call it at best a partial success. Ghandi got rid of the Brits, but only because the empire was on its heels after WW2, and the end result was ethnic cleansing and war.

    Do you imagine that a peaceful protest movement by slaves in 1860 would have worked? How about Jews protesting Hitler? Or Armenians and Turks? Or Native Americans and a long list of presidents? Or anyone and Stalin?

    The reality is that violence works. The assassination of Lincoln meant a peaceful Reconstruction was doomed from the start and fostered the KKK. The murder of Yitzakh Rabin did nothing to hurt the fortunes of Israeli extremists. Japanese militarists assassinated Japanese leaders pre-war and they got the war they wanted. This country exists in large degree because peaceful protests did not work, and muskets did.

    I could go on and on.

    Black people have tried peaceful protests, they’ve tried going through the courts, they’ve tried to work through the political system, and still cops covered up for the murder of a black man. They peacefully protested in Minneapolis and nothing was done until a Target was looted.

    The reason people use violence is that it works a lot more often than we like to admit. The job of a just society is to make violence unnecessary. Our society has failed at that, and that failure, by empowering racists and thuggish cops, is the initiating violence to which this is a defensive response.

    11
  43. Jon says:

    @de stijl: Not to be a pedant, but Fuck tha Police is by N.W.A., from Straight Outta Compton, not Public Enemy.

    2
  44. Pete S says:

    @James Joyner:

    But the video shouldn’t matter. I agree Chauvin should have been arrested on the spot, not because there was a video but because he committed a crime. I think that it is insulting to police officers if we only expect them to do their jobs properly and to act with integrity because they are on camera and not because it is the right thing to do. Unfortunately being on camera doesn’t seem to be enough for some.

    5
  45. de stijl says:

    @Jon:

    Straight up correct.

    I fucked that up hard.

    1
  46. de stijl says:

    @Teve:

    Here “some people are assuming…” carries some weight.

    Generic Fox News watching white folks is one thing, but one of our hosts is another.

  47. Jon says:

    @de stijl: These things happen, and the important thing is that I got to flex my N.W.A. knowledge. Everybody wins!

    4
  48. Jon says:

    @de stijl: And I think we’re the first commenters to bring up N.W.A. or Public Enemy up in here, so we get credit credit for bringing some culture. There were some Kendrick Lamar references in a thread earlier today if memory serves, but as great as he is he isn’t OG.

    2
  49. de stijl says:

    Used to hang with a dude named E-ron.

    Aka Easy mother-fuckin’ E.

    He didn’t get the ref. Too young.

    Not a great guy, but a really good dude. Solid. You could always count on E.

    Glad to have met him.

    2
  50. de stijl says:

    @Jon:

    A big downside of being old is that you have all of these cultural and societal knowledge, and the pups just go whatever, gramps.

    A big upside of being old is that I have secret knowledge by being alive in the Seventies and Eighties. Teach us, gramps.

    4
  51. de stijl says:

    @Jon:

    Any day you get to pound for old school hard core gangsta rap is a good day.

    Peace.

    2
  52. Paine says:

    To quote another hip-hop group, Consolidated: “Violence is never the answer it’s a question; what does it take to get the media’s attention?”

    2
  53. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Paine:

    What’s that from?

  54. Jon says:

    @de stijl:

    A big upside of being old is that I have secret knowledge by being alive in the Seventies and Eighties. Teach us, gramps.

    Oh man, if I had nickel for every picture of me in a velour shirt …

    3
  55. Jon says:
  56. Scott O says:

    Will Chauvin get a presidential pardon? If he’s found guilty and Trump is still in office I’d give it an 80% probability.

    6
  57. Electroman says:

    @Scott O: Trump is unable to pardon anyone for crimes other than Federal ones. Murder is a state charge, so a pardon would do nothing there. He’d have to get the Governor to pardon him, and that’s pretty unlikely.

    6
  58. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Quickly” is relative. Consider whether what happened is quick by comparison to an investigation ordered by the President and carried out by the Barr-led DOJ. Even what has happened will be called a “rush to judgement” by some hairball or another at Lucianne, Townhowl, Faux News, or wherever by tomorrow.

    1
  59. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    To turn to non-violence requires a change of heart. It requires discipline. It requires wisdom.

    It also requires a society that will see what is happening to the oppressed and rise up in indignation over it. I’m glad for you that you live in such a society. I’m not sure I do anymore.

    4
  60. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    I’m with you on this. Too high a percentage of our police officers in this country are thugs who should not be trusted to roam the streets with a gun. But I at least understand the rationale behind the “thin blue line” mystique. [emphasis added]

    Alas one of the features of the word “but” is that it serves to qualitatively diminish or negate the truth or accuracy of the preceding statement. People use “but” to negate what was said previously in some material way.

    1
  61. DrDaveT says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    1st degree: premeditated and murder in conjunction of another felony.

    What those officers did, even if no one died, would clearly be a felony if perpetrated by non-police. Given that it was outside their legal scope of operations, whatever is the police equivalent of “rules of engagement”, it seems pretty clear to me that it’s a felony in this case, too. First degree murder is the correct charge.

    (The video is wonderfully effective at countering any claim of crime passionel, too. It’s the most cold-blooded killing I’ve ever seen.)

    4
  62. Scott O says:

    @Electroman: Ah, good point, I didn’t think of the state crime vs federal aspect. I now put the odds of a presidential pardon at 0%.

    2
  63. The Q says:

    James, blaming the protesters for mob violence is like blaming the crack in the dam for the flood when inspectors knew it was there all along, decided to ignore it, then when the dam breaks, cover up the problem so no one is blamed. “Our official inquiry blames no official, it blames the crack in the dam as the culprit, so lets move on till the next crack causes the next catastrophe.”

    The seeds of that riot, like the crack in the dam, was caused by a tragic neglect and blind unwillingness to take seriously the protestations of the black community for decades.

    9
  64. Gustopher says:

    @Scott O:

    Ah, good point, I didn’t think of the state crime vs federal aspect. I now put the odds of a presidential pardon at 0%.

    But, what are the odds that Trump understands that?

    If the Officer Murderer is convicted while Trump is president I put the odds at about even that Trump will just issue a pardon and serious people will debate whether it should be acted on, and a segment of the far right will be talking about the illegal kidnapping and imprisonment of Chauven. He’s got rights, you know. It’s a matter of principle.

    5
  65. de stijl says:

    @Jon:

    In middle school I sometimes sported the dude lifts – boy shoes with heels essentially.

    And the hair. My do was so feathery Farrah God damned Fawcett would be jealous.

    No puka shell necklass cuz that cost too much.

    Strange days.

    Remember earth shoes? Really bad design. If you are not a heel stepper, it did not work.

    There are pictures of my bad self from the early to mid 70s that I cannot, will not acknowledge. I had a center part.

    Our middle school graduation dance. OMG!

    We decided by a democratic vote that Stairway To Heaven was it. You cannot dance to that song. Maybe at the very end, but still.

    I got better.

  66. Scott O says:

    Another good point and another aspect I hadn’t considered. Trump could still issue a pardon for a state crime even though it would have no effect. Doesn’t really matter whether he understands that or not. Courts strike it down and he tells the fans that the liberal judges hate him. My odds of a presidential pardon are now at 14%.

  67. gVOR08 says:

    @Jay L Gischer:

    To turn to non-violence requires a change of heart. It requires discipline. It requires wisdom. The practice of non-violence requires training and commitment to your cause. It requires that you be willing to lose a battle in order to win a war.

    Is it reasonable to expect this level of discipline and wisdom from an unorganized bunch of people coming together for an ad hoc response to an unanticipated event? I don’t expect the cops to commit to nonviolence, but we don’t seem to expect any comparable level of discipline and wisdom from the cops, who have a standing organizational structure, doctrine, policies, and procedures, and standardized training.

    2
  68. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Scott O: Anyone have the square on the pool for “Trump demands state charges be dropped so the DOJ can charge him Federally?” If it’s not already taken, I want it.

    @The Q: A well crafted statement. And not a “Hillary slurper” reference in it. Good job!!

    @Gustopher: Another really good square to choose on the pool. Wish I’d thought of it. 😉

    1
  69. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    That this comes in the wake of rioting, alas, will be interpreted as evidence that mob violence works rather than that it was unnecessary.

    Dr. Joyner,

    You and I both know that the Rule of Law is dependent on the notion that government agents are constrained in their behavior just as private citizens are. One could even say that is the central point our system of government.

    One could argue that, given the presence of the 4th Amendment, the behavior of a private citizen is less constrained than that of a government agent. Unless I am engaged in criminal activity, I can ignore a police officer’s commands. And if I am engaged in illegal activities, an agent of government must meet a minimum burden before they can require me to follow commands (detain me.)

    Such a holding is entirely consistent with our decision in Florida v. Royer, 460 U.S. 491 (1983), where we held that when an officer, without reasonable suspicion or probable cause, approaches an individual, the individual has a right to ignore the police and go about his business. Id., at 498. And any “refusal to cooperate, without more, does not furnish the minimal level of objective justification needed for a detention or seizure.”

    –Chief Justice Reinquist, Illinois v. Wardlow

    I brought this case up this morning, not for the majority decision (5-4, along ‘ideological’ lines) but for three points Justice Stevens’s dissent.

    First, is a quote (I’m not including the whole passage for brevity’s sake) from Hickory v. United States (1896):

    “Few things … distinguish an enlightened system of judicature from a rude and barbarous one more than the manner in which they deal with evidence.

    I imagine that killing a citizen is one of those “few things.”

    Second, the first footnote, regarding a Terry stop:

    We added that a Terry frisk “is a serious intrusion upon the sanctity of the person, which may inflict great indignity and arouse strong resentment, and is not to be undertaken lightly.”

    That resentment part is important.

    Third, the central issue in the Wardlow case is whether fleeing at the sight of a police officer constitutes reasonable suspicion. Arguably, the most relevant part of the dissent:

    Among some citizens, particularly minorities and those residing in high crime areas, there is also the possibility that the fleeing person is entirely innocent, but, with or without justification, believes that contact with the police can itself be dangerous, apart from any criminal activity associated with the officer’s sudden presence.7 For such a person, unprovoked flight is neither “aberrant” nor “abnormal.”8 Moreover, these concerns and fears are known to the police officers themselves,9 and are validated by law enforcement investigations into their own practices.10 Accordingly, the evidence supporting the reasonableness of these beliefs is too pervasive to be dismissed as random or rare, and too persuasive to be disparaged as inconclusive or insufficient.11

    We have a Supreme Court Justice acknowledging that it is entirely reasonable for a minority to view an imminent interaction with local law enforcement as dangerous, and that the risk is pervasive enough that it cannot be described as “random or rare.”

    Tell me, how many ballots must be cast, and peaceful protests undertaken, that fail to change the nature of minority-police relations before it is ethical or moral to loot a fucking Target or burn a precinct down?

    These two reports ought to make anyone, particularly a conservative skeptical of government power, question whether the MPD is constrained by the rule of law.

    -The police chief fired the four officers present after discovering that their police report did not match the video.

    -That same police chief, prior to rising to his current rank, joined a lawsuit alleging widespread racism within the department.

    -The head of the Police Union is alleged to wear a White Power patch on one of his jackets, and allegedly called a Black, Muslim elected official a “terrorist.” (sounds like a lovely fellow who would never defend officers accused of misconduct.)

    -About 1% of complaints against police officers result in disciplinary action.

    -The officer charged in the recent case has had numerous complaints and was involved in a shooting in which the deceased allegedly grabbed for an officer’s gun. Considering that the recent police report was uh…sanitized…how sure can we be about that claim?

    -Floyd’s murderer (yeah, I said it) was previously involved, but not the shooter, in a foot chase that resulted in the shooting of a 22-year-old man named LeRoy Martinez. Martinez was armed, but an eyewitness stated that the deceased had dropped his gun and raised his hands before being shot. (This was in 2008, so no bodycams.)

    The NYT mentions other high profile cases from other cities, but curiously omits Philandro Castille. He was shot in a suburb of the other Twin City, after telling his murderer (yes, I said it again–his partner didn’t even reach for his gun) that he had a gun. Castille was licensed to carry.

    The officer was acquitted of Manslaughter when the two holdouts capitulated after five additional hours of deliberation. He was acquitted because the jury didn’t think firing five shots into a vehicle occupied by three people, including a toddler didn’t meet the standard of “negligent” and “reckless” behavior contained in the statute.

    That latter point is important, because it suggests that the definition of rule of law has been eroded in America. And like many things in America, that erosion seems to adversely impact minorities disproportionately.

    Oh, I suppose a should mention that there was an officer charged and convicted in a shooting. The victim’s family was also awarded $20 million dollars. That victim was White.

    Also, imagine what most Republicans (even Never Trumpers) would say if, say an EPA employee, were involved misconduct so egregious that it required a $20 million payout. (okay, maybe that’s not fair… Maybe.)

    Notice that most officers don’t receive discipline from the MPD after complaints. The officer now charged has been involved in many shootings–most officers are never involved in one. I ask again, does it appear that these officers are constrained by the rule of law?

    Now, let’s have a moment of silence for the police precinct building. And Target, who will have to scratch and claw for as much money as possible from their insurance company. And all those broken windows deserve a candlelight vigil.

    Forgive the snark, please. But how much more evidence do we need that local law enforcement agencies have become above the law? How many more questionable shootings and beatings? How many more Supreme Court opinions and Leo investigations need to acknowledge that minorities have a justified fear of interactions with police? How many more before you will concede that rioting is the only option after peaceful protests have shown to do nothing to provoke change? After all, the asshole who is charged now was only cuffed after Target lost some merchandise.

    James, I urge you, please reconsider your position. Stop feeding the same chorus of morons like the Trumps who not only deny there is a problem with police, but seem much more concerned with property damage than lives lost.

    You’re reasonable, fair, and you give a fuck… I think.

    Respectfully,

    Kurtz

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  70. Jax says:

    @Jon: Hahahaha….Youtube suggested this next song by Consolidated after your song.

    If we could all just stand outside the White House with boomboxes and play this on November 4th, AFTER TRUMP LOSES, that would be great. 😉

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GuNx22XIywY

  71. de stijl says:

    @Jax:

    Lloyd Dobler approves.

    Say Anything is one my all time faves.

  72. James Joyner says:

    @KM:

    What I *think* you meant to convey is that systems work better if various parties are not in active conflict and that if the police don’t trust the prosecutors and mayors, they’ve be even more likely to close ranks. That, in order to achieve justice, there must be a level of cooperation and trust among the moving pieces. How can you prosecute when you can’t trust the people building the case for you? This is not a troublesome notion on its own but it does have a strong whiff of “get along to get along” and to drop standards to the lowest denominator to acquire their acceptance.

    I agree. I’m describing a system that has existed since time immemorial and the balancing act it creates.

    In the days before ubiquitous video, incidents like this still took place and the community demanded justice. But police rallied around their own, either simply because they thought their brother in blue was likely doing the right thing or because they blamed the victim for not being sufficiently respectful of police authority and got what was coming. So, prosecutors—who are often elected officials or work for elected officials—and who depend on police all through the criminal justice process (arrest, investigation, testimony, keeping good paperwork, etc.) tended to bend over backwards to keep their trust.

    As noted above, the fact that these are regularly on video—unlike the Rodney King incident which was a one-off—-means all of that needs to change. Prosecutors don’t have a couple of weeks to thoroughly investigate anymore.

    And note that the officers were all immediately fired. It took a few days for the first to be charged but their superiors took swift, appropriate action. But, again, with the presence of video and this being one of innumerable cases like it, it’s just not being perceived as enough.

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  73. James Joyner says:

    @Sleeping Dog:

    That is why cases involving police brutality and a police killing should be investigated and prosecuted if warranted by the state’s attorney general and not the local DA. DA’s, mayors and other local officials are far too reliant on a good working relationship with the police to be objective.

    Yes, that makes good sense. State police tend to be better trained and more competent as well.

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  74. James Joyner says:

    @Barry:

    Charlottesville was a bunch of nazis looking to hurt people (with the support of Trump). It was a deliberate attack, with no provocation.

    It was a bunch of nazis, neo-nazis, and other alt-right groups.

    But, as far as I know, the only violence was a man who drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one and injuring several. And, while I haven’t followed it all that closely, I don’t believe it was in any way coordinated—just an asshole acting on his own. He was rightly convicted of first-degree murder and numerous lesser charges.

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  75. James Joyner says:

    @Pete S:

    But the video shouldn’t matter. I agree Chauvin should have been arrested on the spot, not because there was a video but because he committed a crime. I think that it is insulting to police officers if we only expect them to do their jobs properly and to act with integrity because they are on camera and not because it is the right thing to do.

    The video matters to me because it gives me clear and convincing evidence as to what happened. That’s usually not the case.

  76. James Joyner says:

    @Kurtz:

    But how much more evidence do we need that local law enforcement agencies have become above the law? How many more questionable shootings and beatings? How many more Supreme Court opinions and Leo investigations need to acknowledge that minorities have a justified fear of interactions with police?

    I’ve been arguing that our criminal justice system, and especially our local police, have been broken for a long time. It’s not really my beat (that’s Radley Balko, who I’ve cited often here) but I’ve posted many times about it here. Hell, I’ve written many times about the horrendous conditions we tolerate in our prison system.

    How many more before you will concede that rioting is the only option after peaceful protests have shown to do nothing to provoke change?

    The problem with rioting, aside from the danger it imposes on innocents, is that it provokes the sort of backlash that Trump was trying to stoke with his tweet: a demand that they be shot down in the streets.

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  77. Kurtz says:

    @James Joyner:

    The problem with rioting, aside from the danger it imposes on innocents, is that it provokes the sort of backlash that Trump was trying to stoke with his tweet: a demand that they be shot down in the streets.

    So we really are stuck in a cycle of dancing around the lowest common denominator?

    Catering to those voices, a criticism I, among others, have leveled at the GOP, is the reason peaceful demonstrations don’t work. IIRC, the 2012 election “autopsy report” made some mention of this.

    I will repeat the opening point from my post: this undermines rule of law. Really, it undermines it way more than occasional riots.

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