Filming Cops Is The Best Accountability Tool: Officer Derek Chauvin Convicted Of Murder For Killing George Floyd

from the one-down,-hundreds-to-go dept

This isn’t an endpoint. This is only a beginning. This is one small step forward for accountability. It doesn’t change the police culture that not only allows, but encourages, this sort of force deployment. But it does send the warning that juries may not be as deferential to police officers as they’ve been historically.

To successfully prosecute a cop, you have to want to do it. Too many prosecutors would rather not expend the effort needed to hold their comrades-in-arms accountable for their actions. But every so often, a cop engages in such a callous display of violence, even those normally on the side of law enforcement can’t condone their actions.

That’s what happened to former-officer, current-convicted-murderer Derek Chauvin. Thanks to bystanders and their recording devices — especially then-17-year-old Darnella Frazier, whose recording of the 10-minute ordeal was instrumental in building a case against Chauvin — this one cop wasn’t able to escape the consequences of his actions. For nearly 10 minutes, Chauvin pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck. He ignored Floyd’s increasingly-distressed statements that he couldn’t breathe. He ignored a fellow officer who informed him he could no longer detect a pulse. He remained in place, looking for all the world like the personification of every racist policy this nation has enacted, until George Floyd was dead.

And for that callous and reckless display of power, Derek Chauvin will be going to jail. The Minneapolis jury convicted him of all three counts. Here’s the recording of that moment, which cathartically includes the cuffing of Chauvin by sheriff’s deputies.

There are three counts, but Chauvin will only be sentenced for the most serious charge: second-degree unintentional murder. That’s perhaps still unsatisfactory (nothing about Chauvin’s actions appeared to be “unintentional”) but it’s better than we’ve come to expect from our criminal justice system when it’s forced to address the actions of law enforcement officers.

Let’s not forget that without the recordings made at the scene by citizens and nearby surveillance cameras, it’s likely no charges would have been filed.

This is how the Minneapolis PD originally described a white cop pressing his knee into the neck of an unarmed black man until he was dead:

Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction

May 25, 2020 (MINNEAPOLIS) On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress. Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.

Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car. He was ordered to step from his car. After he got out, he physically resisted officers. Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress. Officers called for an ambulance. He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.

At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.

Oh, and just in case you worried about this particular aspect…

No officers were injured in the incident.

The death was apparently unrelated to the act of violence perpetrated on George Floyd by Officer Derek Chauvin. At least according to the Minneapolis PD, which whitewashed this press release and whitewashed it again before posting it. But once the videos started showing up on social media, it could no longer ignore what anyone could plainly see had happened. This wasn’t a “medical incident.” It was — as the jury declared — a murder.

Police reform efforts are still important. This blip on the zero-accountability radar shouldn’t be treated as a sign things are fixed. It shouldn’t even be an indicator that things are getting better. But hopefully some law enforcement agencies will recognize the public is, at best, unimpressed with their efforts and their careless disregard for all lives that aren’t “blue,” but especially those that aren’t white.

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Comments on “Filming Cops Is The Best Accountability Tool: Officer Derek Chauvin Convicted Of Murder For Killing George Floyd”

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49 Comments
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

True justice requires both accountability and restoration. Since we can’t bring George Floyd back from the dead, I’d consider the conviction of Derek Chauvin to be a half-measure of justice at best. That said: A half-measure is still better than none.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
bt says:

Re: Re:

Something that is happening, slowly, is that the Police are losing credibility with the "general" public.

Once you’ve seen that video of a cop shooting a guy in the back and then dropping the gun on him, or of Chauvin killing a guy for 10 minutes with his hands in his pockets, you can’t unsee it.

Once that happens, you are in a state of mind to accept that the police may not be telling the truth all the time. Once you’re there, it’s a new ballgame for the police. If they had any smarts they’d stamp out these "bad apples" on their own. They are a threat to the whole system.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

If they had any smarts they’d stamp out these "bad apples" on their own. They are a threat to the whole system.

That presumes the behavior of these "bad apples" is somehow in opposition to the system, rather than exactly what the system is designed to accomplish.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bluegrass Geek (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

If they had any smarts they’d stamp out these "bad apples" on their own. They are a threat to the whole system.

Anyone cop who tries to out bad cops gets punished by the police force. They find themselves assigned to the most dangerous beats, get denied backup, are harassed by fellow cops, and are told in no uncertain terms that they should just quit.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

Check out Fox news headlines

Stuff akin to "Tucker: Jury said please don’t hurt us" (something like that, not wanting to read that tripe again). And lots of other stuff basically along the lines that this was not justice but rather judge and jury being too timid to, well, do what? Acquit a callous murderer because that’s what he’s historically entitled to and relied upon? Or what? Justice must not happen when there is pressure for justice?

Frankly, when even the largest police union says that the trial was fair, I don’t really get (or don’t really want to get) whose agreement this outlet is even angling for.

David says:

Re: Re: Check out Fox news headlines

Well, I find it helpful at times to make sense of things. Stuff of the "I cannot believe how anybody in his right mind could believe" kind.

You cannot escape a toxic news anchor like you have a chance with a toxic spouse. There is no way to get an effective restraining order that would keep its effects out of your life.

So sometimes you just need to check what its minions might be thinking of.

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Baron von Robber says:

Re: Check out Fox news headlines

"Frankly, when even the largest police union says that the trial was fair, I don’t really get (or don’t really want to get) whose agreement this outlet is even angling for."

They are angling for some scared white supremacy fish.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

The kind of people who think Chauvin was innocent/didn’t deserve to be put on trial

Oh, I don’t think they thought he was innocent or did not deserve to be put on trial. It’s more that he just did society a favor and it’s not customary to give policemen trouble for that.

Sure, it was technically murder and the law spells out jail for that, but it was the good kind of murder, the kind of murder our revered ancestors committed for our sakes. It’s an ugly job but someone has to do it, and that’s what we have our boys in blue for, and we shouldn’t make their job harder than it is.

Something like that. In a manner of speaking, "conservative", preserving values that were once generally accepted.

It’s just that it’s, well, the kind of conservatism that Lincoln chose to leave behind by abandoning the Whigs and running for the new Republican Party instead.

Tanner Andrews (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

the kind of conservatism that Lincoln chose to leave behind by abandoning the Whigs and running for the new Republican Party

Surely this is the same Abraham Lincoln (R-Ill) who said to abolish slavery, but do not permit negroes to marry whites, or socialize with whites, or serve on juries, or vote. Conservative values, indeed.

He would be right at home with police abusing negroes, so long as the latter were nominally free. And the party is right there with him, though more flexible now: “good people on both sides”.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Khym Chanur (profile) says:

Re: Check out Fox news headlines

I think he’s claiming that the judge and each of the jury members was thinking:

If the cop is acquitted the Antifa will track me down and murder me, so for the sake of my own skin I’ll make sure he’s found guilty.

Y’know, just like how SCOTUS threw out the obviously meritorious pro-Trump lawsuits alleging election fraud because the SCOTUS judges were all afraid of being murdered by Antifa if they sided with Trump.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

Re: Re: Check out Fox news headlines

I think he’s claiming that the judge and each of the jury members was thinking:

If the cop is acquitted the Antifa will track me down and murder me, so for the sake of my own skin I’ll make sure he’s found guilty.

Sure, I get that. But does that make him innocent? I mean, "if the cop is convicted the Klan will track me down and murder me, so for the sake of my own skin I’ll make sure he’s found innocent" does not make him guilty, either.

It’s the evidence that judge and jury need to consider. And when there is public pressure because there is a large and offensive history of evidence going out the window when race is involved, it should increase rather than decrease the obligation to consider the evidence properly and come to the correct verdict. And the evidence here (particularly the video evidence) was rather open-and-shut to a degree where I don’t envy the defense lawyers because they have little venue open other than arguing cynical nonsense or appealing to institutional racism.

It’s an ungrateful job for the defense, but it should be no job at all to the media. And yet there you are.

Yes, there was pressure building in the public because of a century-long series of verdicts in plain sight that make clear that people are not equal before the law, not before the executive and not before the judicative.

And that pressure is not a good thing. But what caused it is worse.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Check out Fox news headlines

"Sure, I get that. But does that make him innocent?"

Irrelevant. Fox news is telling their audience what their audience wants to hear. And the modern-day Sturmabteilung and the good ole boys in the white hoods don’t want to hear that a white cop could be convicted over killing a black man in any sort of fair trial.

It’s that simple.

You can tell the Trumpers, Klansmen and White Power-people the facts; They’ll ignore them in favor of their personal religion of race hate and loathing for the "liberals" – you know, those baby-eating child-trafficking satanists Killary uses for minions we’ve all read so much about in the "conservative" media.

Tucker is selling Feel-Good to the Proud Boys. Nothing more than that.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Check out Fox news headlines

Y’know, just like how SCOTUS threw out the obviously meritorious pro-Trump lawsuits alleging election fraud because the SCOTUS judges were all afraid of being murdered by Antifa if they sided with Trump.

And definitely not like how republicans in office treated Trump, so afraid of alienating voters/psychopaths that they let him get away with anything he wanted, because clearly that never happened…

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Check out Fox news headlines

"Frankly, when even the largest police union says that the trial was fair, I don’t really get (or don’t really want to get) whose agreement this outlet is even angling for."

Because, like Baron von Robber and Stephen T. Stone indicated, Fox isn’t catering to people who want the facts.
Tucker Carlson especially just feeds the stormfront echo chambers. The people who give exactly zero fscks about justice because what they want to hear is that a white man got away with lynching a black man. That sort of people.

The sort of people who make up 1 in 3 american voters. Who’ve been told by their elected representatives – like Marjorie Taylor Green and Josh Hawley – that the system is "out to get them all". That white people are fighting for their "lebensraum" and race. That satanist child traffickers helmed by the Kenyan Muslim and his trusty minion Killary are going to kidnap your daughter and wear her face as a mask, all on behalf of the lizard people sitting in that pizza parlor. Toss in some extra antisemitism and jewish space lasers on top of it just to spice that toxic pot.

THOSE people. The ones the modern GOP is really aiming for as an electorate, going so far as to pound out a message of "Blood and Soil" mixed with fear of the dark-skinned other and religious doom-cult hysteria from on top of a speaker’s floor shaped like the old SS symbol for racial purity in their latest CPAC.

And Fox news knows exactly that what their viewers want is just another set of dogwhistles telling them from a monitor exactly what they read on Der Stürmer (US version).

That’s what Fox is angling for. Entertainment and feel-good for the modern american SA.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
ECA (profile) says:

one persons facts over another be they true or false.

It has become that a Police officer is the BEST witness to his own deeds.
Even with 20 people watching, they could never be denied.
The BETTER witness is now the camera. Including their Own. the Use or non-Use of their OWN cameras decries the Meaning and USE of the camera’s.
IF’ they will not USE the camera’s, We Can and We Will.
We need not Witness’s to debate right and wrong, as it is against us to Prove what you have done. Now we have use of our proof, and you can not deny what has been done.

AND a good reason Personal camera’s on Private property is a Very good thing. Not for the state to hide and lose. Not for the State representative, to Turn off/on at will.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Anonymous Coward says:

I just can’t help think back to how in 2007 the Minneapolis police department was targeting gay men in the airport, but because they happened to catch a conservative senator, no one seemed to care why they felt it was required to go after gay men. Was this the same department? I honestly don’t know, but maybe if those red flags of a police department targeting marginalized people were followed up on instead of celebrating Craig’s hypocrisy, Floyd might still be alive.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Bobvious says:

Re: Re: Re:public .. right to record the police.

Except we can now probably expect "backup" to arrive quickly and force everyone filming to "backup" a few blocks away. The alternative is "privacy" screens being erected around the murder-in-progress.

"We were protecting the deceased’s privacy, Your Honor"

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dickeyrat says:

Let’s just say that, as an Amerikan, I am damn sick & tired of watching paid ex-playground bullies making over $100K per year to put on a uniform to push people around, in search of abject submission to Their Will. And having been born and raised in the Urban South, long-ago enough to remember the 1964 Civil Rights Act coming to be, I am really, really, REALLY sick & tired of seeing this happen disproportionately to Black people. It’ll suffice to say that the conviction of this dumb-animal Chauvin is arguably the best thing that’s happened anywhere in the past two years. I sure hope he has many fun years to look forward to, being the plaything of Bubba, Leroy and all their muscular friends!

Scary Devil Monastery (profile) says:

Re: Re:

"I sure hope he has many fun years to look forward to, being the plaything of Bubba, Leroy and all their muscular friends!"

With the overlap between violent crime, white supremacy group membership, and police employment overlapping that much the reality is likely to be that all he gets is a warm welcome by a few of those of his brothers in the Proud Boys to be clumsy, poor, and disconnected enough to be doing time for their crime.

It’s a sad fact that Chauvin isn’t alone. As this verdict got out, somewhere around 1 in 3 american voters became very distressed and they are all currently shopping for the next Dear Leader to make the streets safe for the Boys in Blue again.

This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
Stephen T. Stone (profile) says:

Re:

I sure hope he has many fun years to look forward to, being the plaything of Bubba, Leroy and all their muscular friends!

I want to be clear about what you’re saying. Yes or no: Do you want at least two men to repeatedly and violently rape Derek Chauvin while he serves his prison sentence?

  • If no: “Joking” about prison rape isn’t all that funny.
  • If yes: Your desire for vengeance via forced sodomy for the sake of humiliation and revenge isn’t justice in any way, shape, or form.
This comment has been deemed insightful by the community.
David says:

Re: .But for video

Video evidence is seminal for a decade of racial unrest now because, well, it leaves no wiggling room for denial.

We got comparative stability since the sixties left the mechanics of racism in the state of "ok, formally you get equal rights but we control the narrative", and that is a tool for prejudicing even those who aim not to be prejudiced. The testimony of police and populace differs frequently? Well, the populace is unreliable.

Video evidence turns it into Groucho Marx’ "Who are you going to believe? Me or your lying eyes?".

We have maybe a decade to use the difference video makes for changing society. Until fake video quality has caught up.

nasch (profile) says:

Sentencing

There are three counts, but Chauvin will only be sentenced for the most serious charge: second-degree unintentional murder.

In case anyone else is wondering what that is about:

"Chauvin will only be sentenced on the second-degree murder charge because, per state law, if a defendant is convicted of two or more felony offenses from the same incident, the defendant is punished for the “most serious” of the offenses."

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