It’s becoming tiresome to see another unarmed citizen wantonly lose their life at the hands of law enforcement. The most recent case focuses on the death of George Floyd, a 46 year old Minneapolis resident that was accosted by four police officers for suspicion of bouncing a check.
Officer Derek Chauvin was shown on video kneeling on Floyd’s head, with the officer’s left hand in his own pocket appearing to apply pressure. The illegal maneuver suffocated Floyd, who said he couldn’t breathe. The other three officers stood as Floyd was eventually taken to the hospital, where he later died.
The incident is eerily similar to the death of Eric Garner in 2014 in Staten Island, New York. Garner was placed in an illegal chokehold by undercover officer Daniel Pantaleo for selling illegal cigarettes on the street. Garner was shown on camera saying “I can’t breathe!” as Pantaleo continued to choke him out. Pantaleo was not charged in the incident.
These documented incidents are becoming far too prevalent, as the families of the victims (most notably Black) are left to justify their deceased loved one’s humanity, as well as their own. Whether or not Floyd or Garner were angels is irrelevant. Neither of them were cold blooded killers. They were lynched by the same law enforcement officers that are sworn to protect and serve all citizens for absolutely no reason. Floyd and Garner were each on the ground in total surrender. That was the time for the arresting officers to handcuff them, take them to jail, and let the penal system run its course.
That never happened. While the four officers were fired by Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo, that clearly isn’t enough. The city of Minneapolis is experiencing an uprising, as thousands of protestors screamed for charges to be filed against the officers. Some protestors have taken to looting and burning down some local businesses. Their angst is understandable, as society can only tolerate so many of these wanton incidents before combustion occurs.
Chauvin has a history of violent incidents as a 19 year veteran of the Minneapolis police department. The twin cities of Minneapolis-St. Paul aren’t strangers to police involved killings. In 2016, Officer Jeronimo Yanez was not charged for shooting motorist Philando Castile during a traffic stop in the St. Paul suburb of Falcon Heights, Minnesota after Castile told Yanez he was reaching in his glove compartment for his license. Yanez though Castile was going for a gun, and fatally shot him.
Last year, former Minneapolis police officer Mohammed Noor was sentenced to 12 1/2 years in prison for fatally shooting Justine Ruszczyk in 2017. Noor and his partner, officer Matthew Harrity, were dispatched to investigate a possible sexual assault in an alley behind Ruszczyk’s house. Noor feared for his life as Ruszczyk approached him in a threatening manner. Noor shot and killed Ruszczyk on the spot.
It can be noted that many of these high profile deaths involving law enforcement used the excuse of civil disobedience (“Comply and you’ll be okay) or “I feared for my life!” to justify the use of deadly force. Noor, a native of Somalia, didn’t get that benefit of the doubt in dealing with the Australian born Ruszczyk. He got 12 1/2 years. But I digress. It’ll be interesting to see if the four officers will be charged in the death of George Floyd. Or will his death lead America into the summer of discontent.