Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been formally charged with third degree murder in the death of 46 year old George Floyd. Chauvin was videotaped with his knee on a prone Floyd’s neck after Floyd was detained by police for allegedly forging a check at a local store. Chauvin had an apparent look of glee on his face as Floyd was practically begging for his life due to suffocation at the knee of the former officer. Floyd was subsequently taken to the hospital, where he died from lack of oxygen.
In theory, the news that Chauvin will be tried for third degree murder should send cheers of victory throughout the crowds of protestors that have filled the Minneapolis streets in outrage. It seems like finally a law enforcement official will be held accountable for his abuse of power. And make no mistake: this was an abuse of power. Even if Floyd was resisting arrest, Chauvin had him under control, along with three other officers. That was the time for Chauvin and his peers to place Floyd in the squad car and book him into the Hennepin County jail.
That never happened. Now the Floyd family is left to deal with the senseless loss of one of their own. Acquitting Chauvin would be devastating, another case of law enforcement given carte blanche to wantonly kill at will. If Chauvin is convicted and sentenced to prison, that wouldn’t be enough. Even if he was sentenced to a lengthy prison term, that still wouldn’t be enough.
The aftermath of the pending Chauvin case should produce one action: deterrent. Police officers are human, and mistakes do occur. However, they’re held to a higher standard, where negligence or wanton disregard for apprehension procedures result in accidental deaths. If these actions result in intentional deaths, that’s even worse.
There are times when police are placed in perilous situations, where suspects are trying to use deadly force against them. At that point, police have every right to defend themselves with deadly force. With Floyd prone on the ground surrounded by four officers, there’s no convincing any rational human being that he was any threat to the officers.
That’s why Chauvin needs to be made an example of. If law enforcement wantonly kills citizens like this, they’ll face the stiffest punishment that can be administered. And depending upon the state the offense occurs, that could mean either life in prison, or even the death penalty. That’ll surely deter law enforcement from creating another scene like the one that killed George Floyd.