News that convicted murderer Derek Chauvin, a former Minneapolis officer, and three other officers were federally indicted for violating the civil rights of George Floyd, is significant.
It’s not justice.
We must not celebrate—and don’t make more of these charges filed by the Justice Dept. than what they are.
The world saw a Black man killed as a smirking cop and ex-officers Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane failed to act despite the pleas and cries of onlookers.
The federal government should have had no other choice but indictment in the face of the murder of a man before our eyes. But the slaughter of Black, Latino and indigenous people is so engrained in this country that charging, let alone convicting a police officer for significant wrongdoing generally never happens. Even when officers kill someone, charges are not filed as families and Black America grieve over unjustified loss of life.
The Justice Department said Mr. Chauvin kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed and compliant Mr. Floyd constituted “unconstitutional, unreasonable force” and killed the 42-year-old Black man. Mr. Thao and Mr. Kueng were charged with willfully failing to stop Mr. Chauvin from using unreasonable force. These charges are separate from pending state charges against Mr. Thao, Mr. Kueng and Mr. Lane.
All of the officers, “while acting under color of law, willfully deprived George Floyd of the right, secured and protected by the Constitution and laws of the United States, not to be deprived of liberty without due process of law, which includes an arrestee’s right to be free from a police officer’s deliberate indifference to his serious medical needs.
Specifically, the defendants saw George Floyd lying on the ground in clear need of medical care, and willfully failed to aid Floyd, thereby acting with deliberate indifference to a substantial risk of harm to Floyd. This offense resulted in bodily injury to, and the death of, George Floyd,” says the indictment.
Mr. Chauvin was also indicted separately for “depriving a teenager of his civil rights during a September 2017 encounter in which the former officer is accused of holding the minor by the throat and striking his head multiple times with a flashlight,” reported CNN.
“Mr. Chauvin held his knee on the neck and the upper back of the teenager, even after the child lay prone, handcuffed and unresisting, and that resulted in injuries,” the indictment said.
But this indictment isn’t the only thing going on: An appeal for Mr. Chauvin, convicted of second-degree murder in the death of Mr. Floyd and other charges in a state prosecution, is underway. The argument is juror Brandon Mitchell, a Black man, attended an anniversary gathering last summer marking the 1963 March on Washington, and a photo surfaced online with “Mitchell standing with two cousins and wearing a T-shirt with a picture of King and the words, ‘GET YOUR KNEE OFF OUR NECKS’ and ‘BLM,’ for Black Lives Matter.”
Ted Sampsell-Jones, a professor at the Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said the photo of Mr. Mitchell was “evidence that Chauvin can point to in order to establish that his right to an impartial jury was denied,” according to an Associated Press report.
Meanwhile in Atlanta, the ex-cop charged in the fatal shooting on Rayshard Brooks last June was wrongly terminated, according to the Atlanta Civil Service Board. He wants his job back.
Garrett Rolfe is charged with felony murder for firing shots that killed the Black father following an encounter sparked by a report of a man sleeping in a Wendy’s parking lot. Officers approached Mr. Brooks who was compliant but struggled with officers trying to handcuff him and ran away with a taser. Mr. Rolfe’s lawyers say Mr. Brooks pointed the taser at the cop while running away.
The officer will remain on administrative leave while facing charges, said Atlanta officials.
“We find it mind boggling that our elected officials and the former chief weren’t aware of the proper procedure to fire an officer,” L. Chris Stewart, an attorney for Brooks’ family told CNN. “So now it is questions of, ‘Was that done to temporarily pacify the protesters and the people around the world that were upset? … It appears that Rayshard Brooks’ life didn’t really matter and that the world has moved on.”
“You have a person who is going to stand trial for murder who is now back on the force and able to do the same things he was doing before,” Justin Miller, another attorney for the family, told CNN.
“Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard alleged at the time that Rolfe kicked Brooks after the shooting and Brosnan stood on top of him. An attorney for Rolfe has denied his client kicked Brooks,” CNN said. The accused officer is out on bond.
“In the 22 days between the start of the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer and his conviction, 103 people were shot and killed by law enforcement, according to the Gun Violence Archive. … Data shows only 1.1 percent of police involved in these killings will ever be charged with murder or manslaughter,” WRAL TV Channel 5 in Raleigh, N.C., reported.
“Securing a conviction is even less common. Research from Bowling Green University shows only 44 police officers were convicted of murder or manslaughter for charges they faced following on-duty shootings between 2005 and 2021; only seven were convicted of murder, the more serious charge.
Throughout that period, between 900 and 1,100 people were killed by law enforcement annually, research from the university and Mapping Police Violence shows. … Some European countries’ police officers have killed around a handful of people since the early 2000s, while law enforcement in the U.S. has killed around 15,000 since over the same time frame.”
“While, combined, Black and Hispanic people make up around 32 percent of the country’s population, they’ve accounted for over half of those who have been killed by police since the Chauvin trial,” said WRAL TV. “The Mapping Police Violence database shows there have been three days since the beginning of this year where police didn’t kill anyone. None of those occurred since the beginning of Chauvin’s trial.”
The killing continues. The police slaughter of our people continues without stopping. Indictments aren’t enough. Convictions aren’t even truly enough because the dead cannot come back. Convictions are a beginning in moving toward justice. Don’t let the enemy trick you into believing—or accepting—anything less.