Tuesday, June 30, 2020

"Why Derek Chauvin May Get Off His Murder Charge"

Here are six reasons why Derek Chauvin and the other three police officers involved in George Floyd's death may get off a murder charge:

  1. George Floyd was experiencing cardiopulmonary and psychological distress minutes before he was placed on the ground, let alone had a knee to his neck.
  2. The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) allows the use of neck restraint on suspects who actively resist arrest, and George Floyd actively resisted arrest on two occasions, including immediately prior to neck restraint being used.
  3. The officers were recorded on their body cams assessing George Floyd as suffering from “excited delirium syndrome” (ExDS), a condition which the MPD considers an extreme threat to both the officers and the suspect. A white paper used by the MPD acknowledges that ExDS suspects may die irrespective of force involved. The officers’ response to this situation was in line with MPD guidelines for ExDS.
  4. Restraining the suspect on his or her abdomen (prone restraint) is a common tactic in ExDS situations, and the white paper used by the MPD instructs the officers to control the suspect until paramedics arrive.
  5. Floyd’s autopsy revealed a potentially lethal concoction of drugs — not just a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl, but also methamphetamine. Together with his history of drug abuse and two serious heart conditions, Floyd’s condition was exceptionally and unusually fragile.
  6. Chauvin’s neck restraint is unlikely to have exerted a dangerous amount of force to Floyd’s neck. Floyd is shown on video able to lift his head and neck, and a robust study on double-knee restraints showed a median force exertion of approximately approximately 105lbs.

Let’s be clear: the actions of Chauvin and the other officers were absolutely wrong. But they were also in line with MPD rules and procedures for the condition which they determined was George Floyd was suffering from. An act that would normally be considered a clear and heinous abuse of force, such as a knee-to-neck restraint on a suspect suffering from pulmonary distress, can be legitimatized if there are overriding concerns not known to bystanders but known to the officers. In the case of George Floyd, the overriding concern was that he was suffering from ExDS, given a number of relevant facts known to the officers. This was not known to the bystanders, who only saw a man with pulmonary distress pinned down with a knee on his neck. While the officers may still be found guilty of manslaughter, the probability of a guilty verdict for the murder charge is low, and the public should be aware of this well in advance of the verdict.

I don't know how reliable these statements are. However, if these statements are true, and Chauvin et al aren't found guilty of murder for one or more of these reasons (though they may be found guilty of manslaughter), then this makes me wonder about something the left often argues. The left often argues it's better for ten guilty persons to go free than it is for one innocent person to be convicted. Will the left argue the same to keep the lynch mobs at bay?

Of course, legally sophisticated leftists may be able to argue against the relevance of Blackstone's ratio in this case, but I'm referring to popular sentiments from the left about Blackstone's ratio. That's primarily because it's typically the sentiments that are used to incite mobs and the like. Yet if leftists incite mobs to protest and even riot (like they already are doing well before a trial has even occurred) if Chauvin et al aren't found guilty of murder, then whatever leftists may think about the theoretical arguments pertaining to Blackstone's ratio, the theoretical evidently doesn't trump the pragmatic.

NB. I myself am not agreeing or disagreeing with Blackstone's ratio. However, in case anyone is interested, Alexander Volokh's piece offers some helpful background information.


  1. Thanks for posting the article, Hawk. Those points could give jurors much to consider.

    As an FYI (in case you didn't see it in the news), Sen. Kamala Harris publicly stated last month that it would not be easy to convict Derek Chauvin for the charge of murder. Her stated reasoning was that juries historically tend to believe police officers in such cases. Murder convictions against police officers are reportedly rare.

    1. Thanks, John! I hadn't heard Kamala Harris' statement. Pretty interesting, to say the least. Thanks for letting me know!

  2. “The left often argues it's better for ten guilty persons to go free than it is for one innocent person to be convicted.”

    Actually, this is based on English common law, and the foundation of our whole legal system. Every conservative should agree with it.

    1. Like I said, I'm not disagreeing (nor agreeing) in this post. And more to the point, like I said, I'm referring to the popular sentiments more than the legalities.

      Also, liberals - whom I distinguish from the left - and conservatives could argue along the same lines, but if liberals and conservatives do argue along the same lines, they'd be more consistent with their beliefs and values. That's why I focused on the left.

      That said, sure, I did include the link to Volokh's piece at the very end.

  3. But hold on, Chauvin's actions were racially motivated, surely. That's what the media, Cultural Marxism Matters, and my latest e-mail from Fitbit (I kid you not - I'll paste it over if you wish) tell me. Forget holding a trial. Forget any examination of the events. Narrative Matters

    1. Thanks, Danny.

      I agree the media is complicit in all the riots, etc.

      I don't know if Chauvin's actions were necessarily racist (if that's what you mean by racially motivated), though they could have been. Or he might just be a terrible specimen of a human being. Neither are exactly very flattering. (I don't think he was an idiot or incompetent as a police officer.)

    2. I've heard that he is indeed a "terrible specimen of a human being" who has also treated whites thuggishly. Of course, he could be both a misanthrope AND a racist!

      I hope and pray that you are not right about his getting off on the charges...even if he should. I know that's horrible of me to say, but it would just play into the hands of the Leftist powers that be, Nothing they would like better. It would launch a whole new round of riots and rhetoric. They're probably rubbing their hands in anticipative glee at the very possibility.