While the complaint presents a solid case, it also raises questions about the tactical approach and prosecutors’ commitment to seeking a full measure of justice for Floyd’s tragic death.
A complaint is essentially a preliminary summary of evidence that prosecutors use to file a criminal charge and make an arrest. It is a crucial legal document but it is neither final nor final. The complaint does not necessarily state everything that prosecutors know now or will learn as the investigation progresses.
I have written and approved thousands of complaints as a prosecutor, and I have learned to grasp the open and subtle indicators contained in them. Every word in a complaint is important, particularly here, where the probable cause statement has fewer than two narrative pages, and where prosecutors know very well that the entire nation is watching.
But prosecutors could have accused (and could still charge) Chauvin of being more serious. second degree murder
, which carries a possible sentence of 40 years and requires evidence that the accused intentionally killed the victim, without premeditation. The evidence seems sufficient to back up such an accusation, particularly given the astonishing amount of time that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck (more on this below). But prosecutors sometimes tend to be conservative on initial charges; watch if they add the more serious second degree charge as the case progresses.
Overall, the complaint presents a devastating case against Chauvin, though it adds little to the cell video
Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. The most compelling part of the complaint is the timeline. He notes that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Even more damning, the complaint states that Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for a full three minutes after Floyd stopped moving and almost two minutes after he apparently “stopped.”[ed] breathe or talk. “Another officer even checked Floyd’s wrist pulse and said he couldn’t find one, and still Chauvin still didn’t move immediately. Those facts alone could establish the intentional conduct necessary for a charge of second degree murder.
But the complaint also contains several warning signs that raise questions about the prosecutors’ tactics and commitment to achieving full justice.
The complaint doesn’t take into account that Floyd said “Don’t kill me” and “I’m about to die”.
The complaint states that when Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck, Floyd said “I can’t breathe,” “Mom,” and “Please.” However, prosecutors inexplicably omit some of the most important lines that Floyd made in the video: “Do not kill me”
and “I’m about to die.”
Floyd’s statements are particularly crucial because they unequivocally alerted Chauvin that Floyd was in mortal danger, but Chauvin continued to kneel on his neck. Why would prosecutors ignore Floyd’s clearer and more legally fundamental statements?
The complaint states that Floyd “actively resisted being handcuffed.”
Prosecutors have a obligation
to reveal evidence that is potentially useful to the accused. But details about Floyd “actively resist[ing]”It is irrelevant. What matters is not what Floyd did before he was handcuffed; what matters is what Chauvin did to Floyd after he was handcuffed (with the rear handcuffs, no less) and weakened. The inclusion of this detail raises questions about prosecutors. ” Why include this? Are they trying to harm Floyd’s public perception? Are they doing a subtle (and free) favor for Chauvin’s defense?
The complaint specifies that Floyd “is over six feet tall and weighs over 200 pounds.” Again, the inclusion of this strange detail is curious. Why are prosecutors doing their best to specify Floyd’s body measures? What is the relevance? The implication seems to be that Floyd was a big man and was therefore somehow terrifying or difficult to contain. And that? He was unarmed, with his rear handcuffs lying on the street, and the police officers outnumbered him four to one.
The complaint claims that the autopsy “did not reveal physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic suffocation or strangulation.”
This notation seems puzzling at first glance, given Chauvin’s crystalline video kneeling on Floyd’s neck. But the lack of “physical findings” by does not mean discard
The possibility that the victim died of traumatic suffocation or strangulation. In other words, a person can die of suffocation with or without “physical findings.” The complaint is based on “preliminary findings” from the autopsy, so we await the full report, which should follow soon.
The complaint states that “the combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restricted by the police, his underlying health conditions, and any potential intoxicant in his system likely contributed to his death.”
“Restricted” is a charitable way of describing what Chauvin did to Floyd on video; most would call it something closer to “crushed” or at least “pinned down.” And in my 14 years as a prosecutor (or my 45 years of life), I have never heard of a “potential intoxicant”. Did Floyd have intoxicants in his system or not? A basic toxicology test should answer that question conclusively, and there is no excuse for prosecutors not to know the answer, or to declare it ambiguously, four days after Floyd’s death. In any case, even if the toxins and health conditions somehow contributed to Floyd’s death, it doesn’t matter legally. As long as Chauvin’s actions were even a contributory cause
for Floyd’s death, then Chauvin is legally responsible. If Floyd would be alive if it weren’t for Chauvin’s actions, then Chauvin can be convicted.
This remains a generally strong case, particularly for the conservative third-degree murder charge that prosecutors have filed. The video remains a devastating Attachment A, and the complaint presents a compelling timeline. But it is difficult to ignore the inclusion of many irrelevant and ambiguous deviations in the criminal complaint by prosecutors that could detract from the charges brought against Chauvin.
Now, your questions:
Yari (Texas): How does the President’s executive order change the law on social media companies and if they can be sued for defamation?
President “Executive order
on preventing online censorship “- issued days after he She complained
that Twitter put a fact check tag on one of their tweets, it’s mostly barking and very little bite.
After an angry introduction that, among other things, lashes out at Representative Adam Schiff and the “Russian collusion hoax,” the order states that the scope of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 “must be clarified.” That act allowed the Internet to flourish by granting immunity to social media and similar companies from defamation lawsuits on the grounds that they are platforms (allowing others to post content) and not the substantive content publishers themselves. Immunity covers any company that operates in good faith to remove inherently dangerous or illegal content. The executive order appears to contemplate an expansion of potential liability, although it is unclear how such an expansion would be warranted. And, in any case, an executive order cannot undo or modify a duly approved law
Beyond that, the order contains window dressing at best, and asks several government officials to examine and consider rather marginal issues, such as banning federal agencies from advertising on platforms that have allegedly violated good faith principles. of Section 230.
In any case, the executive order seems conflict
with the First Amendment, which essentially prohibits the government from harming or limiting private speech.
Scott (Pennsylvania): How are the new coronavirus-related warnings and waivers different from any other situation where companies already use waivers, such as when you agree to certain conditions for entering a concert or festival?
Companies increasingly use resignations
of liability or requiring customers to sign liability waivers related to coronavirus. These legal mechanisms are not functionally different from the many types of waivers and exemptions that companies have commonly used for years. Coronavirus waivers and exemptions, like any other, seek to shift legal responsibility to the client if the client becomes ill on business premises. The effectiveness of such waivers and exemptions varies state by state
, and depends on the specific warning language
What’s new is how the courts will apply the key concept of negligence
– which means lack of reasonable attention – to companies in the context of the coronavirus. Is it enough to warn customers? Is it enough to require masks? To record distances of 6 feet? To do temperature detection? Practitioners across the country are beginning to deal with these novel questions
right now, and eventually there should be some legal consensus in court on how much caution is needed.
Three questions to look at:
1.) Will federal prosecutors file additional criminal charges against the police officers who killed George Floyd?
2.) Will Twitter be influenced by Trump’s executive order to stop marking his tweets with fact check tags or other qualifiers?
3.) ¿Courts in vote by mail statuses
across the country decide that coronavirus susceptibility is sufficient cause to vote by mail?