3rd Degree Murder, Manslaughter Charges Brought in Death of George Floyd

The first arrest of the former Minneapolis Police Officers involved in the George Floyd killing has come.


Officer Derek Chauvin was arrested Friday afternoon on charges of third degree murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, who Chauvin killed on Monday.

Floyd, who was arrested on suspicion of check forgery, died after Chauvin held his knee to the man’s neck for nearly eight minutes while Floyd begged for mercy, repeatedly saying “I can’t breathe.” The incident was captured on video.

Chauvin has since been fired, along with the three other officers on scene. The U.S. Department of Justice has announced it will initiate a civil rights investigation into the killing.

Floyd’s death has rightly prompted a lot of anger. That anger, in turn, has manifested itself both in peaceful protests and in rioting. Videos show a Target being looted, an Autozone set on fire, and several local businesses robbed and set ablaze. Rory Purnell rushed to his barber shop on Thursday night to let would-be looters know that it was run by an African American. He was too late, with one of his windows already smashed in.

A Minneapolis police building was also torched, with Mayor Jacob Frey eventually ordering officers to stand down from that precinct. “The symbolism of a building cannot outweigh the importance of life,” he said at a press conference.

Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire and his writing website Yonderandhome.com

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28 Responses

  1. Jaybird says:

    I linked to this before but I’ll link to it again:

    I admit to being suspicious that the medical examiner is lying.

    • Philip H says:

      The asphyxia likely exacerbated those underlying conditions such that it killed him. Restraint alone wouldn’t have done that.

      So the medical examiner may not be lying scientifically, but s/he may be lying in terms of cascading events.

      • Chip Daniels says:

        I seem to recall a case where robbers broke into a bank and tied up the elderly security guard and gagged his mouth.
        He had a deviated septum or something, and ended up suffocating because he couldn’t breathe through his nose.

        The robbers were convicted of murder based on the grounds that their actions directly led to his death, regardless of his underlying condition.

      • Jaybird says:

        True, but there is video of him saying that he can’t breathe and the knee staying on the guy anyway.

        Basing this on nothing more than my gut feel: I’m not sure that discussions of the nature of direct causation vs. indirect causation will do a whole lot to assuage the community when it comes to the death of George Floyd and whether his not breathing can be said to have happened at the agency of the cop kneeling on him.

        • Philip H says:

          That’s not my point. The officer is no doubt 100% guilty of causing this death.

          But accusing the ME of lying about cause (and thus of cover up) is a trickier thing in as much as scientifically the ME may be correct, and traumatic asphyxia probably has specific symptoms. As both a scientific and legal matter an ME can’t claim a cause of death not backed up by physical evidence.

          • Jaybird says:

            “As both a scientific and legal matter an ME can’t claim a cause of death not backed up by physical evidence.”

            I have a problem with this take as it relates to this particular case and I’ll tell you why:

            The ME speculated about intoxicants in Floyd’s system.

            Saying that we have to go with the physical evidence implies that we have to go with the physical evidence. The introduction of speculation about intoxicants opens the door to speculation about the cop’s knee.

        • Marchmaine says:

          “While *standing* outside the car, Mr. Floyd began saying and repeating that he could not breathe.”

          I assume the ME would have noted cause of death as Myocardial Infarction if the poor fellow was having a heart attack during the episode? The linked doc is the arresting doc, not the ME report… which the article suggests is still pending?

          Depending on what the police and DA know, might explain the 3rd degree charge.

          • Jaybird says:

            The 3rd degree charge is overdetermined (that is: there are many, many things that explain it and removing one explanation leaves the others).

            Remember when officer Mohamed Mohamed Noor shot Justine Damond (née Justine Ruszczyk)? He got charged with 3rd degree murder too.

            • Marchmaine says:

              could be… I’m not really staking a position… just noting a couple things:

              “Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Officers Thomas Lane and J.A. Kueng arrived with their body worn cameras (BWCs) activated and running. ”

              which appears to be the basis for the Arrest warrant and detailed timing. Plus he was having a “breathing event” while standing and prior to the cops piling on him. Presumably this will be evident from the body cams?

              Which isn’t to say there aren’t crimes committed here… but getting the facts correct will go a long way in making sure that justice is done and, hopefully, reforms articulated.

      • Stillwater says:

        The asphyxia likely exacerbated those underlying conditions such that it killed him. Restraint alone wouldn’t have done that.

        “The be sting didn’t kill the patient, it was the underlying condition of going into anaphylactic shock after the introduction of bee venom which killed him.”

        “The blunt force trauma of being hit by a car didn’t kill the victim. It was the underlying condition of having brittle bones and easily damaged soft-tissue organs which was exacerbated by the impact of the vehicle which killed him.”

    • Doctor Jay says:

      If I have my medical terminology correct “traumatic asphyxia” is something that would result from an obstruction of an airway. Likewise for “strangulation”. But that’s not what we discussed happening even yesterday.

      What it was presumed here by both me and veronica was that it was coratid obstruction – loosely known as the “sleeper hold”. Also possible is some sort of crazy response from the vaso-vagal system as critical organs that control blood pressure.

      Is this a dodge by the coroner? Maybe, but maybe not. Carotid obstruction is not well understood by many, many people. Let’s look for what they say the cause of death *is*.

    • Dark Matter says:

      That’s… a weird one. I just wiki’ed asphyxia and it’s basically just lack of air by any method.

      Also let’s continue that quote: The defendant had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds in total. Two minutes and 53 seconds of this was after Mr. Floyd was non-responsive. Police are trained that this type of restraint with a subject in a prone position is inherently dangerous.

    • Freeman says:

      Floyd did not die from asphyxiation. The technique used on him appeared to be a form of sleeper hold, sometimes called a “blood choke”, where the oxygen supply to the brain is impeded by suppressing the blood flow instead of choking off airflow (which leaves telltale bruising). Two points I’ve seen repeated a lot by MMA fighters: In training and competition it is extremely important to release immediately if the opponent loses conscousness, and it is extemely painful. That poor man was tortured to death while Chauvin taunted him and smirked at appalled bystanders, and three others aided and abetted, two holding Floyd’s back and legs and the other holding back bystanders who desperately wanted to intervene. I can’t think of a more shameful act I’ve ever witnessed on video in my 60 years.

      I’m also suspicious about the autopsy report. Deeply suspicious. I’ve read the criminal complaint and several things jumped out at me.

      On the autopsy: I’m not an expert in forensics, but I assume that death by oxygen deprivation to the brain can be determined. They only reported findings related specifically to strangulation. And a couple of common and often mild heart conditions. The phrase “any potential intoxicants in his system” is also very suspicious language – toxicology testing is standard autopsy practice, so why don’t they report the results? Instead of a cause of death statement we get speculative inferrence with a heavy dose of blame-the-victim. Very unprofessional. Yes, I know the autopsy report is “preliminary”, but I suspect they have a lot more answers than we’re being led to believe.

      On the criminal complaint: It is asserted that “Mr. Floyd actively resisted being handcuffed”, then “became compliant”. We’ve seen that video, and that’s no more resisting being handcuffed that the human body’s natural resistance to being placed in that position. Ever been handcuffed by the police? Trying not to resist is harder than you might think, and they do not make it easy on you, often yelling “stop resisiting” while they force your body to resist. They then assert that “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.” I would need to see that video to be convinced that he resisted to getting in the car any more than to being cuffed, since I’ve already seen how they exaggerated that event. (Not that his resistance matters – what they did to him cannot be justified by deflecting the attention to his behavior). They go on to assert “While standing outside the car, Mr. Floyd began saying and repeating that he could not breathe.” Again, I’m skeptical that this happened spontaneously as asserted until I see some video. They then infer a timeline that doesn’t match the cellphone video, asserting that Chauvin removed his knee from Floyd’s neck, then the ambulance arrived and the victim was placed on a gurney. What I saw was Chauvin keeping his knee on the neck while paramedics checked for a pulse (which was the second time he was informed that the victim did not have one) and holding it there until the paramedics returned with the gurney. I assumed Floyd was already dead at that point just by the lack of urgency on the paramedics’ part after checking for a pulse, and the way he was dumped and rolled into the gurney.

      One very damning piece from the criminal complaint that we haven’t seen on video yet: It asserts that Chauvin went around to the passenger side of the squad car and pulled while two others pushed, and managed to get Floyd in the back of the squad car where they wanted him. Next it says “The defendant pulled Mr. Floyd out of the passenger side of the squad car at 8:19:38 p.m. and Mr. Floyd went to the ground face down and still handcuffed.” So if that’s true it shows strong evidence of intention to cause harm for no reason other than malice, making the 3rd-degree murder charge seem even weaker in proportion to the crime, and shows even less reason to let his accomplices off the hook.

      It’s now come out that Chauvin worked for 17 years doing security for a latin-themed nightclub, whose former owner says he was nice to hispanic crowds but went “overkill” on predominantly black crowds, spraying mace indiscriminately into the crowd and calling in backup when fights broke out instead of breaking up the fight (which was his job). Guess who also worked there as a bouncer? Yep, George Floyd. The owner says she doesn’t know if they knew each other but I won’t be surprised if it comes out they had a history before Monday’s event.

      This whole thing stinks to high heaven.

  2. Truth says:

    Video now shows not one but THREE officers knelt on him simultaneously. One suspects the ME’s report is what is known in the business as “Testilying” and that the “Blue Shield of Silence” has been working overtime again.

  3. CJColucci says:

    Anybody out there who knows anything about Minnesota criminal law and the elements of the different degrees of murder?

  4. Jaybird says:

    The good news: They’re bringing in an independent medical examiner to perform an autopsy.

    The bad news: It’s the same guy who did the autopsy on Jeffrey Epstein.

    The even worse news: I am not kidding.

    • Jaybird says:

      The results are in:

      They got a second opinion:

      George Floyd died not just because of the knee lodged at his neck by a Minneapolis Police officer, but also because of the other officers who helped hold him down, a private autopsy found.

      Dr. Allecia M. Wilson of the University of Michigan and Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner, were hired by Mr. Floyd’s family to help determine his cause of death.

  5. Jaybird says:

    If you enjoy being confused, you’ll enjoy this thread:

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