Wait...That's How Many Times The Fired Cop Who Set off Minneapolis Riots Was Flagged For Misconduct

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Posted: Jun 01, 2020 3:05 AM
Wait...That's How Many Times The Fired Cop Who Set off Minneapolis Riots Was Flagged For Misconduct

Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Folks, this case seems pretty explicit. It seems pretty clear that now-ex-Officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd; it’s all on video. The footage is disturbing. It’s why he was rightfully fired and slapped with third-degree murder and manslaughter charges. The three other officers with him also were fired. Chauvin knelt on the back of Floyd’s neck after the latter was already apprehended. Floyd was arrested on a nonviolent false document charge and as he lay on the ground handcuffed, he could be heard crying out that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin kept his knee on his neck for nearly ten minutes. He passed out and later died. The police said that Floyd was intoxicated when first approached by police, but he was subdued. He was handcuffed. Four officers weren’t going to let him go. There was no way the security situation was going to become unstable. Floyd died anyway. It’s outrageous.

Across the political spectrum, there’s rightful condemnation. There should be protests. There should be anger. But all of that support goes right out the window when you loot, burn, and vandalize. How does setting black-owned businesses on fire get justice for Floyd? It’s outrageous. With every passing day, the window to bring about real change to this police department in Mill City closes—and there are issues. Floyd’s death at the hands of the police isn’t the only one in the area either. 

And as Minneapolis and other cities burn, we have this interesting piece by The New York Times that placed a microscope over the Minneapolis Police Department, one that appears to have let a bad cop slide through the crack on multiple occasions. Ex-Officer Derek Chauvin was cited 17 times for misconduct ranging from abusive language to being named in a brutality lawsuit (via NYT):

In nearly two decades with the Minneapolis Police Department, Derek Chauvin faced at least 17 misconduct complaints, none of which derailed his career.

Over the years, civilian review boards came and went, and a federal review recommended that the troubled department improve its system for flagging problematic officers.

All the while, Mr. Chauvin tussled with a man before firing two shots, critically wounding him. He was admonished for using derogatory language and a demeaning tone with the public. He was named in a brutality lawsuit. But he received no discipline other than two letters of reprimand.

It was not until Mr. Chauvin, 44, was seen in a video with his left knee pinned to the neck of a black man, prone for nearly nine minutes and pleading for relief, that the officer, who is white, was suspended, fired and then, on Friday, charged with murder.

His case is not unusual. Critics say the department, despite its long history of accusations of abuse, never fully put in place federal recommendations to overhaul the way in which it tracks complaints and punishes officers — with just a handful over the years facing termination or severe punishment.

[…]

In a case similar to the death of Mr. Floyd, David Cornelius Smith, a black man with mental illness, died in 2010 after two officers trying to subdue him held him prone for nearly four minutes. The chief at the time defended the officers, and they were never disciplined, said Robert Bennett, a lawyer who represented Mr. Smith’s family.

In 2013, the police chief at the time, Janeé Harteau, asked the Department of Justice to review the department’s warning system. A federal report found that it had “systemic challenges” and questioned its ability to “create sustainable behavior change.”

Early warning systems are considered a key part of righting troubled departments, criminologists say. Most cities that have been found to have a pattern of civil rights violations and placed under a federal consent decree, or improvement plan, are required to have one.

Ms. Harteau, who left the top post in the wake of a 2017 fatal police shooting, said she took many steps to reform the department, including training officers on implicit bias and mandating the use of body cameras. But the police union, she said, fought her at every turn.

In 2016, the department updated its use-of-force policy to hold officers accountable for intervening if they see their fellow officers using excessive force, Ms. Nelson said.

The new policy, made in the wake of previous fatal shootings, was part of an effort to reform police culture in the city.

“It’s why you saw four officers fired” in Mr. Floyd’s case, she said.

Yet, the piece still detailed we’ve known for years, which is that even rooting out bad cops with reform-minded police chiefs is still a herculean task. It’s going to take time—a long time. And that clock gets pushed back when rioting breaks out. Also, as writer Mark Hemingway noted, this could get messy within the Democratic Party as well. Police unions are aggressive when it comes to defending their members. The public sector union angle could make things complicated for sure. Hemingway was commenting on a liberal’s tweet about the hard discussion Democrats and liberals are going to have to have with law enforcement unions in the future about these types of incidents.  

Yet, 17 times this guy was flagged for misconduct and nothing happened until he did something that set off the riots in Minneapolis and elsewhere when he killed a man. Yikes.