Closing Range

Stupid Doesn’t Make Smart

Derek Chauvin deserved to be convicted of felony manslaughter, but he has been has been scapegoated beyond any rational justification

By Dave Skinner

Well, the verdict is finally in. Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty in a court of law and will be punished for his direct contribution to George Floyd’s death last summer. About time, right?

Most of us watched more than we wanted or needed to, given no chance to avoid nonstop “media coverage,” most of which was unbelievably preachy, narrative-driven gaslighting.

So, justice served? Not by a long shot.

I’m still in disbelief that a local police policy problem blew up into a blanket national indictment of law enforcement agencies operating under local control. I’m still stunned by that $27 million civil settlement, never mind the timing of the settlement’s announcement — during jury selection. And what about the verdicts themselves, on the three charges?

Tops was second-degree unintentional murder, defined as a result of felony third-degree assault, which in turn is intentionally inflicting “substantial bodily harm.” In plain English, I guess that would mean beating someone pulpy, only to have them die — which didn’t happen.

Next was third-degree murder, which is acting in a manner “eminently dangerous to others” and being of “depraved mind.” Again, like almost everyone else, I watched the videos, endlessly replayed on all media, all the time. Depraved is a stretch, period. 

Finally, there was second-degree manslaughter, involving “culpable negligence” and “unreasonable risk.” OK, I’ll go with that — culpable negligence and unreasonable risks both occur when those who should, or do know better, get stupid beyond a reasonable doubt.

So, here’s George Floyd: Tall, impressively built, but with major heart trouble and high blood pressure. Given that, what would you call doing meth, fentanyl and Floyd only knows what the heck else? Anyone watching that store video can’t help but think: “Whatever that guy’s dancing on, it’s gotta be good.” Then, after he slips that forged twenty, does he drive off? No, he stays parked across the street, even after the store clerks come after him, then call the cops. No reasonable doubt there.

There’s more, but we need to get to the other hand. Derek Chauvin was also stupid. To many armchair quarterbacks, the simplest thing to do would have been to put another set of cuffs around Floyd’s ankles once he was grounded, then let up until another transport, or ambulance, arrived. Instead, we witnessed even more stupidity beyond a reasonable doubt.

Did the stupidity stop at trial? I don’t know about you, but I saw a crude show aimed at manipulating and placating the peasant masses for political gain, little different from any other Soviet-style kangaroo court. Justice was not served, period, and now we’re going to see the consequences of getting this critical case wrong.

Consider the hundreds of thousands of promising young Americans who have watched, oh, literally everything in the years since the Ferguson riots, perhaps even the Trayvon Martin fiasco, the BLM protests and riots, and now, the Minneapolis tragedy. 

How many still aspire to serve and protect? I’d wager it’s much fewer now than 10 years ago. Might that matter to those of us lucky to live anywhere but Minneapolis? It will, soon.

See, employers, public and private, whatever the work may be, want to recruit and employ those truly worth the coin. And our kids all aspire to careers worth having, worth doing — at least the good ones do.

George Floyd didn’t deserve to die. I felt from the start that Derek Chauvin’s lapse of judgement was inexcusable given his experience and position of public trust. He absolutely deserved removal from police service, to be charged, tried, and now convicted of felony manslaughter. 

But Chauvin has been scapegoated beyond any rational justification. As a result, too many fellow officers, better officers, precisely those critically needed to train our future police protectors, are reading the “social justice” tea leaves and cashing out by the thousands nationwide, before they themselves become sacrificial goats. Who will replace all these great cops? I wonder, but I know this: America’s blue line is already too thin, and none of us are ready for the day our blue line disappears. 

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