Last week, I wrote an article, titled
“Rioters Want Mayhem – Not Justice” (Ref. 1)
concerning the death of George Floyd during an arrest in Minneapolis Minnesota. In what
follows, I write my version of what an honest, unbiased journalist might have written
soon after the incident. You may want to read my previous article before read this
George Floyd died while being arrested by police in Minneapolis,
Minnesota on Monday, 25 May 2020. A video taken at the scene shows one of the four
Minneapolis police officers present pressing a knee to Floyd’s neck as he is on the ground
and as tells the police that he cannot breathe. The officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck
for more than eight minutes.
Almost immediately after the event occurred, all four police
officers involved were fired and the officer who held Floyd on the ground with his knee
on his neck was charged with third degree murder.
Prosecutors later warned there was “evidence that does not
support criminal charges” in the case of four cops accused of killing George Floyd. They
said police can use a “certain amount of force - but not excessive”.
At a press conference on Thursday, 28 May 2020, the county
attorney for Hennepin County condemned the actions of the police officer, Derek Chauvin,
as “horrific and terrible”.
But he said prosecutors needed to determine if the officer
used “excessive” force when he knelt on the man's neck for eight minutes until he passed
out and later died.
The county attorney said that a video of the event was graphic
and horrific and terrible and that no person should do that what the officer was shown
doing. But, he went on to say that his job in the end was to prove
the officer violated a criminal statute and that there was other evidence that did not
support a criminal charge.
The county attorney pleaded for patience from the Minneapolis
community as he warned that the investigation couldn’t be rushed for fear that all the
facts in the case might not be uncovered. He went on to say that police officers are
allowed to use reasonable force on citizens to restrain them during arrest but the
force cannot be “excessive”. Prosecutors must now prove that this force was
Outrage built up across the nation over how pinning Floyd down
by his neck as he gasps for breath and begs officer Chauvin to stop could ever be
The county attorney did not provide any detail over what the “other
evidence” could be that provides a defense for Chauvin's actions but said his office now
had to “wade through”' it. “My business is ‘Is it criminal?’ and that's what we have to
prove,” he said. He understood that people wanted swift action but assured the public
that “we just can't rush this”.
Two autopsies, one by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner and
the second by a doctor chosen by Floyd’s family, reported some differences in their
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner conducted Mr. Floyd’s autopsy
on May 26, 2020. The autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis
of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including
coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd
being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential
intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.
The autopsy commissioned by George Floyd’s family found that he
died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression when a Minneapolis police officer
held his knee on Floyd's neck for several minutes and ignored his cries of distress.
The family’s autopsy differs from the official autopsy as
described in a criminal complaint against the officer. That autopsy included the effects
of being restrained, along with underlying health issues and potential intoxicants in
Floyd’s system, but also said it found nothing "to support a diagnosis of traumatic
asphyxia or strangulation."
Looking into Mr. Floyd’s background, it was found he had at
least five stints in jail. Floyd Had moved to Minnesota to start a new life shortly
after being released from prison in Texas. His death came as he was being arrested
for allegedly paying with a fake $20 bill at a convenience store. None of the four
officers participating in Floyd’s arrest could have been aware of his more than a
decade-old criminal history.
In Texas, Floyd had been arrested in his 20s for theft and
then later for armed robbery. He had been sentenced to five years in prison in 2009
for aggravated assault stemming from a robbery where Floyd entered a woman’s home,
pointed a gun at her stomach and searched the home for drugs and money. In one charging
document, officials noted Floyd had two convictions in the 1990s for theft and delivery
of a controlled substance, but it is not clear if Floyd served any time for either of
Outrage boiled over across the country in response to the apparent
act of police brutality committed in Minneapolis. Various groups and individuals took to
the streets to protest. Several of the protests turned violent, leading to arson, looting,
vandalism, injuries, and deaths. In some instances, law enforcement personnel were
killed and injured, police vehicles damaged or destroyed, and police stations attacked.
Just nine days after the death of George Floyd, on Wednesday
June 3rd, the Minnesota Attorney General announced that the charge against former Minneapolis
officer Derek Chauvin, had been upgraded to second-degree murder.
The Attorney General also announced that Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng
and Thomas Lane — the other officers who were at the scene of Floyd's death — were now being
charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
Despite the anger being focused on all law enforcement personnel
and agencies across this country, it must be emphasized that the alleged crime was committed
by one (or at most four) law enforcement officer and does, in no way, indicate that all,
or even a significant number of police engage in “police brutality”. The unprecedented
almost-instantaneous response by Minnesota officials in firing and charging the police
officers involved is a clear message to all that they take charges of “police brutality”
most seriously and will not tolerate any such behavior on the part of their law enforcement
personnel. At the same time, there should be no rush to judgement - the rule of “innocent
until proven guilty” must be observed. Let all the facts be uncovered and presented. Then
let the chips fall where they may and let justice be served.
- Rioters Want Mayhem – Not Justice, David Burton, Son of Eliyahu;
Article 417, 11 June 2020.