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Is there enough evidence to charge Chauvin with first degree murder

Discussion in 'Constitutional Law & Civil Rights' started by ZJhilltop, May 28, 2020.

  1. ZJhilltop

    ZJhilltop Law Topic Starter New Member

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    So I was checking for updates on this case and they still haven't arrested him. The county attorney said that the reason is because he hasn't found a criminal charge and that evidence contradicts that. However wouldn't the first video be enough as he is strangeling him while he is restrained and refused to ease up also he has a cold stare with no remorse.
     
  2. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    He's talking about the Derek Chauvin/George Floyd matter.
     
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  3. adjusterjack

    adjusterjack Super Moderator

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    Oh, OK. I saw the video the other day. The cop hadn't yet been named.

    Now that I know what you are referring to, Chauvin and 3 other cops have been fired. The investigation is only a few days old. I think the FBI is looking into prosecuting on a federal level.

    As for your title question:

    Doubtful. First degree murder requires premeditation. I don't see that in this case.
     
  4. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    The video would be admissible evidence against the cop. But it does not by itself show that all the elements of a first degree murder charge are met. In Minnesota, there are several different situations in which first degree murder would apply, but the only one that could possibly fit this circumstance is that the defendant "causes the death of a human being with premeditation and with intent to effect the death of the person or of another." So the prosecutor has to show that the officer acted with premeditation, which means that the officer planned ahead of time to commit the act, and the prosecutor has to prove that the officer intended to cause death by that act. The video shows the actual act and we know it resulted in death. But did the officer intend to commit that act before he did it? And did the officer intend to cause the guy to die? The video doesn't answer those questions. You'd need other evidence to prove those things. So, just based on the video, the prosecutor doesn't have enough for a first degree murder charge. But some other offense might fit, however. In most murder cases the prosecutor is going to take some time before filing charges to wait until all the evidence is available and to decide which charges the prosecutor believes he/she can prove beyond a reasonable doubt. The prosecutor wants to get it right since the state only gets one chance at it. If the prosecutor tries for first degree and fails, it may be that the prosecutor doesn't get a conviction on any charge.
     
  5. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    I agree murder is not supported by the evidence. The best possibility might be involuntary manslaughter, however even that is shaky. I suspect there will be no criminal charges unless MN has a statute that covers the failure to render aid. Any one of those officers could have exercised the common sense to check vitals once Floyd was unresponsive. It is likely this failure to act is what got them fired. Their indifference toward the well-being of Floyd is appalling, when even the bystanders are pleading with them to do that one simple task that is within their training and could have saved him.

    My own summation based on the audio and video-
    Floyd was compliant initially during the encounter and was handcuffed before officers even arrived. Officers determined to arrest him either for the counterfeit money or for being under the influence of drugs. They escorted him across the street to their vehicles where he resisted when they attempted to put him in the back of the vehicle, apparently complaining about a bad knee. This resistance resulted with Floyd facedown beside the vehicle with all three officers holding him down. It isn't clear how aggressive Floyd may have been, but the allegation that he was under the influence coupled with the officer's reactions suggests to me they had significant difficulty with him. Handcuffs restrain, but they do not prevent combative behavior.
    Rather than continue to fight with him over getting into the vehicle the officers opted to hold him in place and await the arrival of the ambulance.
    During this time Floyd became obviously unresponsive and all four officers failed to do anything at all to at least check for a pulse or show any interest whether he was alive.

    None of that leads to a murder charge, even with the officer's knee on his neck. Personally I suspect the weight of other officers compressing the chest was a bigger problem, or the stress coupled with drugs may have even caused a cardiac arrest. Cause of death won't matter. No matter what the officers failed to act when they had opportunity.

    The PD policy and procedure manual, available on their website, specifically indicates the neck restraint as an allowable NON-DEADLY force option. It is unknown how much pressure was even exerted on the neck as Floyd was able to talk initially, and the officer does not appear to be exerting himself. I think the only intention was to restrain, not to choke, restrict blood flow, or to kill.

    This piece of policy that ok's what the officer did is why he is unlikely to face any criminal charge for manslaughter. He received training in a non-deadly technique that resulted in death, but was the death from the technique or something else? Doesn't really matter because the technique was allowed. The officers encountered resistance and an authorized non-deadly option was applied.

    The death was accidental. Nobody intended to kill Floyd. There will likely be a civil wrongful death payout because the officers failed to exercise due care, but criminal action just doesn't seem likely.

    I'm not sure what the federal investigation might make of it. They would likely try to call it excessive force if anything, but we go right back to the officers using a trained non-deadly option within department policy. They didn't know he was going to die, and it is unreasonable to expect they would all go along with it if they did.
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2020
  6. Disabled Vet

    Disabled Vet Active Member

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    They are guilty in the court of public judges...…. I think since all the riots, looting and burning going on the state will press this to the fullest. I wouldn't be a cop today for nothing.....
     
  7. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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  8. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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  9. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Chauvin has been charged with 3rd Degree Murder and manslaughter.

    I think the murder charge is to appease the rioters, nothing more. Supporting this charge would be incredibly difficult considering the "act" is one allowed by policy and classified as non-deadly, and there is likely nothing to support the depraved mind element.

    For reasons above, even though arrested and charged, I suspect there will not be a criminal conviction. This just has to run its course.
     
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  10. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    Have you actually see the policy of this particular police department, or are you assuming that the policy of the department is similar to the departments for which you have worked? Bear in mind that policies do vary from one department to another.

    Also, we do not yet know all the evidence the prosecutor has. There may be (and likely is) more than has been released to the public, and that evidence might well change your mind on whether the charge is appropriate.
     
  11. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    The policy is available on the department website. The neck restraint is covered under the Use of Force Section.

    http://www.minneapolismn.gov/police/policy/mpdpolicy_5-300_5-300

    Neck Restraint: Non-deadly force option. Defined as compressing one or both sides of a person’s neck with an arm or leg, without applying direct pressure to the trachea or airway (front of the neck). Only sworn employees who have received training from the MPD Training Unit are authorized to use neck restraints. The MPD authorizes two types of neck restraints: Conscious Neck Restraint and Unconscious Neck Restraint. (04/16/12)


    I think the main thing I would still like to see is the body cam footage. If Floyd offered resistance I would like to see to what degree in order to determine the reasonableness of the response. What occurred immediately before he got proned out beside that car?

    I am reading this morning that Floyd had come up from Texas after getting out of prison in 2014.
    He had a history of cocaine use/possession and did time for aggravated robbery, having held a gun to a woman's stomach while searching her house for drugs.
    His history makes me suspect officers were correct when they suspected he was under the influence, and this could explain why all three officers felt the need to hold him down.

    I am assuming the coroner has made a determination of cause of death as asphyxiation or else they would not have moved on Chauvin yet. The toxicology may not be far behind.
     
  12. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    So among other things, it would be important to know if the officer did in fact get that training and whether he acted in accordance with that training.
     
  13. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    I am willing to bet that over a 19 year career he had that training, but yes, it should be confirmed. I had it in the academy... It isn't anything unusual.
     
  14. Tax Counsel

    Tax Counsel Well-Known Member

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    But assuming he had it would be a mistake by the prosecutor. There is always the chance that somehow he never got it. If I were the prosecutor I'd verify everything. That's what I do with all my cases. You never want to leave anything to chance. Similarly, I'm not willing to assume the officer had the training. Maybe he did, but until I hear all the evidence I'll not assume one way or the other.

    Even if he did get, if it was 19 years ago and he never got continuing training on it, I'd question how effective he is at employing the method properly and safely.
     
  15. Zigner

    Zigner Well-Known Member

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    From my understanding, the preliminary finding is that the knee on the neck wasn't the direct cause of death.
     
  16. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Apparently it was standard training until 2016 when it was discontinued. I didn't see a reason the training was discontinued, just a date, however it remained allowable under policy. I am very curious to find out why the training was discontinued.

    Apparently most of the state already forbids the use of the neck restraint. Minneapolis is one of only a few jurisdictions that still permit it, although I am sure that is about to change.

    I don't know about MN, but here in CA we are required to renew that training every three years along with some other things. Apparently nobody would have received an update on the neck restraint since 2016. That could open another can of worms.
     
  17. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    I haven't heard anything yet, but I would be surprised if they could conclusively say it was the knee on the neck that killed him- the officer just doesn't seem to be putting much effort into it and is just controlling movement. I think weight on the chest may have been a bigger problem... Coupled with adrenaline and stimulants Floyd had a lot going on inside.
     
  18. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    For 2+ min's after George Floyd had no pulse that POS continued to kneel on him. If he had training he either disregarded said training or "forgot" how it is supposed to be done.
     
  19. justblue

    justblue Well-Known Member

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    You should read the charging documents.
     
  20. mightymoose

    mightymoose Moderator

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    Apparently the family is paying for a second autopsy. They must not be satisfied with the initial findings.
     

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