Derek Chauvin’s Belief That George Floyd Was Intoxicated Does Not Help His Case
After paramedics removed George Floyd’s body from the scene of his fatal arrest on May 25, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin defended his use of force in a conversation with a bystander. “We got to control this guy, because he’s a sizable guy, and it looks like he’s probably on something,” Chauvin told Charles McMillian in a body camera video that was played for jurors in Chauvin’s murder trial yesterday.
McMillian testified that Chauvin was responding to his criticism of the way the officer had treated Floyd, who was handcuffed and lying face down on the pavement as Chauvin knelt on his neck. According to prosecutors, Chauvin maintained that position for more than nine minutes, despite Floyd’s repeated complaints that he was having trouble breathing. Chauvin kept his knee there even after concerned bystanders repeatedly warned that Floyd’s life was in danger, even after another officer repeatedly suggested that Floyd should be rolled onto his side in light of his “excited delirium,” even after Floyd was no longer responsive, even after Chauvin was repeatedly told that Floyd had no detectable pulse, and even after the ambulance arrived.
Chauvin said that use of force was justified because he and his colleagues were dealing with “a sizable guy” who seemed to be intoxicated. Former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao, who is charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin’s assault on Floyd and will be tried separately, shared that impression. “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids,” he jocularly told bystanders as Chauvin knelt on Floyd.
After Officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng arrested him for buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, Floyd panicked and struggled with them as they tried to place him in their squad car, saying he was claustrophobic, complaining that he could not breathe, and asking if he could ride in the front seat. Chauvin apparently thought Floyd was behaving that way because he was on drugs. But that consideration should have underlined the danger of the prone restraint he used.
The evidence indicates that Floyd had ingested black-market “Percocet” tablets that contained fentanyl and methamphetamine, and an autopsy report from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said bot
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