Floyd’s death calls for broader police reforms
Now that we’ve seen George Floyd’s full autopsy report, as well as the results of a private examination, there is no doubt that he died as a result of excessive force by the police.
While reports conflict about whether asphyxia directly caused Floyd’s death, what happened at the hands of police directly led to it.
This horrific and unnecessary death, along with all the others that have occurred around the country by law enforcement, should prompt a nationwide examination of protocols within police departments.
Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin pinned Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes with his knee. Another officer put weight on Floyd’s back and chest. The other officers on the scene stood by and watched while Floyd pleaded with them, saying he couldn’t breathe.
The Hennepin County medical examiner had previously determined Floyd’s death a homicide caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained” by law enforcement.
The medical examiner’s office released the full autopsy results last week, more than a week after Floyd’s death. The report also stated that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19 in April, but did not include the illness as a factor in his death.
The examiner’s office said Floyd died as a result of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” The office also reported “arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease,” and fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use as “other significant conditions.”
Chauvin is being charged with second-degree murder, and the three other officers involved have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder.
So they are being held to account. Yet it’s alarming that Chauvin had 18 prior complaints against him. This points to a much bigger accountability problem, in which bad actors are allowed to keep working.
Detroit Police Chief James Craig immediately condemned the actions of the Minneapolis officers, calling Floyd’s death a murder, and shortly after seeing the news of Floyd’s death, he issued a memo reminding his officers that such choke-holds are banned in Detroit.
Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has called on Michigan police departments “to strengthen their training and policies to save lives and keep people safe” and she says she is working with the Legislature on police reform bills.
We believe that most police officers are in this line of work to keep our communities safe. But proactive measures are necessary to protect citizens from excessive force and bad actors.