SHREVEPORT, LA.-A police sergeant in Shreveport, Louisiana has been placed on departmental leave after making a Facebook post where he said that he believed that the death of George Floyd was a “common mistake and poor technique” and “not murder.”
Let’s preface this story by making this clear.
The technique used by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was, in our expert opinion, tactically wrong.
This particular technique of kneeling on a suspect’s neck is nothing that is taught in any police academy that we are aware of.
When George Floyd complained about not being able to breathe and was shown as being in obvious distress, Off. Chauvin should have ceased kneeling on his neck.
There were likely other accepted techniques that Chauvin could have employed.
With that said, the United States is a country of laws. While people wailed that Chauvin should have been charged with murder right away, it is important for police and prosecutors to ensure that whatever charges they employ meet the standards of probable cause and pass statutory muster.
We saw what happened a few years ago in Baltimore in the Freddy Gray case when District Attorney Marilyn Mosby rushed to judgment. All six Baltimore officers were either exonerated or had their cases dismissed.
There are constitutional provisions that must be met. It is not enough to merely charge someone with a crime.
Police and prosecutors need to make sure that they cross their “t’s” and dot their “i’s”. Otherwise, you end up with a situation such as Baltimore.
The Shreveport officer, Sgt. Brent Mason was commenting on an article which was telling the story about the situation in Minneapolis, where Floyd died after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for some eight minutes while Floyd pleaded for his life, repeating, “I can’t breathe, officer.”
“I have been training police for over 12 years now and with more than 25 years of service…this is a common mistake and poor technique often made by police officers.”
“The knee is not supposed to go across the nape of the neck. Most common when the suspect is assisting by bucking or bridging. The knee had to [be] angled across the shoulder blades during handcuffing.”
Mason went on to say that he believed Floyd, who was 46, likely had some type of a health condition which put him at higher risk of dying from the technique used by Chauvin.
Mason posited that Floyd may have died resulting from a phenomenon known as excited delirium—a condition that may be found in men with either a history of mental illness or drug abuse.
“This was a mistake or misstep not an act of murder. Normally this mistake does not result in death,” Mason said.
“The cause of death will be more likely to be positional asphyxia or excited delirium. This individual more than likely had health conditions and toxics in his blood. (no report yet).”
Over the past two days, Minneapolis, and now other parts of the country have erupted in violence, while most demanded that the four police officers be charged with murder.
As of this writing, the only one who has been charged is Chauvin, who was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
According to Mason, he felt that the officers had been already punished too harshly.
“I feel that Minneapolis Police Department jumped the gun by arresting and firing the 4 officers [note: only one has been arrested thus far]” he wrote on Facebook. “Wow…where is the innocent until proven guilty!!?? Minnesota??”
When Mason’s post went somewhat viral, both the mayor of Shreveport, Adrian Perkins, and Shreveport Police Chief Ben Raymond said Thursday they had spoken to Mason on Wednesday after being advised of the post.
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While he did not name the officer, Raymond said that “an individual made some comments that our community is very much in arms about.”
Mason was asked to remove the post while the city reviews their social media policy to see if he had violated its provisions. For some reason, they said that it would take around six to eight weeks.
Still, Raymond did call the video “disturbing to say the least” while noting that personally he had never been witness to such a use of force with the exception of deadly circumstances.
“I was an instructor at our police academy and taught use of force and defensive tactics as part of my daily duties during that time,” Raymond said.
“I’ve never been taught, nor do I believe, that placing the knee on the back of somebody’s neck for an extended period of time is an acceptable or justifiable use of force, except in instance of deadly force.
Raymond said that he found the actions of the Minneapolis officers “painful to watch.”
“They are insensitive, and in the words of my friend and the fellow mayor from Minneapolis, Jacob Frey, the actions of those officers in Minneapolis were completely unacceptable,” the chief said.
“Police officers’ duty is to serve and protect. Not only was the duty absent in their actions, but also an element of humanity was lacking.”
“To hear somebody, cry out for help and say they can’t breathe and keep the knee on back of someone’s neck for over five minutes is painful to watch.”
Now here’s the thing.
The Hennepin County medical examiner said he’s found no physical evidence that George Floyd, 46, had been suffocated or strangled by the Minneapolis Police.
What he DID find, however, were underlying health conditions and possible intoxicants.
Surprisingly, those results were part of the criminal complaint used to charge former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter on Friday.
The charges came in connection with Floyd’s death during his arrest on Monday.
Reads the complaint:
“The Hennepin County Medical Examiner (ME) conducted Mr. Floyd’s autopsy on May 26, 2020.
The full report of the ME is pending but the ME has made the following preliminary findings. 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 complaint continued.
“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.”
According to the complaint, Officer Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total.
That includes 2 minutes and 56 seconds after he appeared to have lost consciousness.
The complaint said the Hennepin County District Attorney’s Office charged former Officer Chauvin with murder based on a presumption.
According to the presumption, it was that he knew that holding a suspect in that position was “inherently dangerous,” even though he didn’t directly kill Floyd.
Details in the complaint state that it started at about 8:08 p.m. on May 25.
That’s when Minneapolis Police Officers Thomas Lane and J.A. Kueng responded to a 911 call. That call was a man had used a $20 counterfeit bill at a deli called Cup Food in the 3700-block of Chicago Avenue.
Store management told responding officers that the man was sitting in a parked car around the corner from the deli.
According to the complaint, police bodycam footage showed three people in the vehicle – with Floyd as the driver.
The complaint says that Officer Keung spoke with the passenger. Officer Lane, in the meantime, ordered Floyd out of the car – and when Floyd refused to cooperate, Officer Lane pulled him out.
The complaint also states Floyd actively resisted arrest while Officer Lane struggled to put handcuffs on the suspect.
Floyd was over 6 feet tall and weighed more than 200 pounds.
After he was handcuffed, Floyd briefly complied with the orders from Officer Lane, who walked him over to the sidewalk to sit.
The charging documents state it was at that point that Officer Lane asked Floyd if he was “on anything”.
In a conversation that lasted fewer than two minutes, he explained why he was being arrested.
Now it was 8:14 p.m. According to the report, when Officers Lane and Kueng stood Floyd up to put him the back of the police car, Floyd snapped.
He stiffened up, dropped down and then told the officers he suffered from claustrophobia.
At that point, Minneapolis Police Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thoa arrived on the scene to provide back up.
The suspect actively resisted multiple attempts to put Floyd in the back of the police car, according to the documents.
“Mr. Floyd did not voluntarily get in the car and struggled with the officers by intentionally falling down, saying he was not going in the car, and refusing to stand still,” the district attorney’s complaint said.
When he first told officers he couldn’t breathe, Floyd was still standing beside the car, the documents state.
That’s when Officer Chauvin went around to the driver’s side of the vehicle. He then to pull Floyd into the vehicle from that side.
At this point, it was 8:19 p.m.
Officer Chauvin put Floyd, handcuffed, on the ground in a prone position, putting his knee “in the area of Mr. Floyd’s head and neck” while Officer Kueng held his back and Officer Lane held his legs.
Those details are according to the charging documents.
According to the complaint, Floyd said “I can’t breathe” several times and repeatedly begged “please” and called for his “mama” while they held him still.
Apparently Officer Lane expressed concerned about Floyd’s position.
Officer Chauvin told him they were staying put. The documents state he told him “that’s why we have him on his stomach,” and they then held the positions for almost 9 minutes.
The complaint says that Floyd stopped moving and breathing during that time.
At this point, Officer Lane again expressed concern.
When Officer Kueng checked Floyd’s pulse but did not find one, they for some reason still held their positions on top of the unconscious suspect until EMS arrived on the scene.
Officer Chauvin removed his knee from Floyd’s neck at 8:27 p.m. and then the suspect was transported to the hospital – already deceased.
According to the autopsy, which was conducted on May 26, there were no signs that Floyd had been suffocated or strangled during his arrest – a fact that was in the complaint.
On Friday, Officer Chauvin was arrested and charged with Floyd’s murder.
Minneapolis, Minnesota – After days of protests, riots, and rallying cries from locals and elected officials, former police officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested for the murder of George Floyd.
The announcement came from Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman on May 29th, who said that the official charges are third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Chauvin was taken into custody by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension within Minneapolis.
BREAKING – MPD Officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested in the death of #GeorgeFloyd.
I am at a news conference in Minneapolis City Hall with black leaders in Minnesota and friends of George Floyd. They found out the news in the moment and this is their response. #WCCO pic.twitter.com/JNOE2zm1IG
— Marielle Mohs (@MarielleMohs) May 29, 2020
There was some speculation about whether Chauvin had managed to leave the city to a home in Florida recently, but with the arrest happening in Minneapolis, those speculations can be obviously put to rest.
Freeman explained on May 29th that through the course of the expedited investigation, enough evidence has been obtained to warrant criminal charges against Chauvin:
“We have now been able to put together the evidence that we need. Even as late as yesterday afternoon, we did not have all that we needed.”
It’s unclear as to what other evidence was obtained, outside of the heavily circulated video of Chauvin pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck that has been the source of protests and riots across various cities within the country.
Freeman explained that this investigation was “by far the fastest” one performed when involving a police officer as a suspect:
“This is by far the fastest that we’ve ever charged a police officer.”
While none of the other officers featured on the video have had charges levied against them yet, Freeman stated that he “anticipates” charges to eventually come their way.
However, at this time, their actions and involvement are still being investigated.
Ben Crump, who is representing Floyd’s family during this case, released a statement online in response to the arrest of Chauvin. According to the statement released, the arrest was described as a “welcome but overdue step on the road to justice.”
FAMILY STATEMENT: The family of #GeorgeFloyd and I released the following statement in response to the arrest of Derek Chauvin, the officer videoed kneeling on George Floyd’s neck. #JusticeForFloyd #JusticeForGeorgeFloyd pic.twitter.com/BkSFRlYB6j
— Benjamin Crump, Esq. (@AttorneyCrump) May 29, 2020
Apparently, what makes the case all the more interesting, is that Floyd and Chauvin actually worked together – for the entire year of 2019.
Both were employed at the El Nuevo Rodeo Club, with Chauvin working outdoor security and Floyd working indoor security.
The employment of both Floyd and Chauvin was confirmed by the club’s former owner, Maya Santamaria, who recently sold it.
Santamaria said that Chauvin worked as their off-duty police officer outside of the club for 17 years, and that Floyd was the bouncer inside for 2019.
BOMBSHELL: Minneapolis bar owner Maya Santamaria says George Floyd and police officer Derek Chauvin overlapped shifts as security guards for her business.
— Spencer Neale (@Spencer_Neale) May 29, 2020
Santamaria said that while they did work together, it’s possible they may not have been familiar with each other:
“They were working together at the same time; it’s just that Chauvin worked outside and the security guards were inside.”
It is unclear whether the revelation of the aforementioned played any part into the investigation of Chauvin that led to him being formally charged.
The charges against Chauvin are pretty serious, as third-degree murder could land him in prison for 25 years.
What separates third-degree murder from that of first or second-degree is whether there was intent to actually commit a murder, but also engaging in a manner consistent with having a “depraved” mindset “without regard for human life.”
BREAKING: (Former) officer Derek Chauvin has been arrested, according to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
— Courtney Godfrey (@courtneygodfrey) May 29, 2020
What’s currently known about Chauvin, outside of the arrest and controversy of Floyd’s death, is that the 44-year-old served with the MPD for 19 years. During his career, he’s been involved in at least three officer involved shootings, with one in 2006 being fatal.
The 2006 incident involved suspect Wayne Reyes pointing a shotgun at police after having stabbed two people, with Chauvin being one of six police officers to open fire at Reyes which resulted in his death. He was also the recipient of a medal of valor back in 2008.
There were some very minor oral reprimands within Chauvin’s career as an officer, which all three were cases of inappropriate language used or demeaning tones. Essentially, nothing too egregious when considering only three oral reprimands were delivered within a 19-year career.
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