Police Officer Derek Chauvin Undercharged. Today, after four days of outrage and protest, the chief prosecutor of Hennepin County (where Minneapolis is located) finally announced charges against Derek Chauvin, one of the officers filmed in the death of George Floyd. The Police Officer Chauvin, was charged with 3rd Degree Murder and Manslaughter. Using the term “charged” in this case really should read “undercharged,” since this reads like a watered-down complaint that is less about Justice, and more about staging a theater of justice.
I am a leading defense attorney in California and not expert on the laws of Minnesota. However, I do have over two decades' worth of dealing with collusion between police, prosecutors, and judges to subvert Justice. I have written extensively and lectured about this collusion in my book, “California: State of Collusion” and at public-speaking events.
Simply put, as a general rule, police and prosecutors protect one another. Just as a prosecutor would have over-charged a suspect like George Floyd and worked with law enforcement and judges to imprison him for as long as they could, this same team, composed of cops and prosecutors are now working together to protect the men that oversaw Mr. Floyd's demise. Thus, we now find Chauvin undercharged. You or I would be facing First Degree Murder.
The Charges (more like Chauvin Undercharged!)
The charges against police officer Derek Chauvin (none yet filed for his accomplices) are 3rd-Degree Murder, and Manslaughter. The charges demonstrate that the prosecutor concluded that the killing of George Floyd was unintentional. Let's look at the truth behind those charges.
- Third-degree Murder: In Minnesota, this is “depraved heart murder,” “without intent to effect the death of any person, caus[ing] the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life.”
- Third-Degree Murder is something that exists only in three states: Minnesota, Florida, and Pennsylvania. While it is technically “murder,” it gives wide leeway for circumstances and “heat of the moment” considerations.
- Manslaughter: this is a “safety-charge,” along the lines of a lesser-included. One can't help but wonder if this is the prosecutor giving the jury ‘bait' for them to jump at a less serious backup offense.
For anyone else, this could have resulted in First Degree Murder charges.
First-degree murder requires premeditation and deliberation, that the perpetrator planned to kill and to “reflect” on their actions before the killing. Second-degree murder requires intent to kill but without the premeditation. In the seven minutes that Officer Derek Chauvin kneeled on the neck of George Floyd, he had time to consider his actions and their ramifications. In the final minutes of his life, George Floyd pleaded as his life was squeezed out of him. Officer Chauvin was warned by bystanders that what he was doing was dangerous and that George Floyd was in distress.
This was not a murder in the heat of the moment, or an accident of inflamed circumstances. Officer Derek Chauvin had seven full minutes to contemplate his murder of George Floyd. That would easily qualify as premeditation. That would be easily be charged as first-degree murder by most prosecutors in this country all day long, every day, so long as you removed the badge of the perpetrator here.
CONCLUSION: Police Officer Derek Chauvin undercharged in the death of George Floyd.
However, as I remind people about every case in the news; keep an open mind. We must always adhere to our American values of innocent until proven guilty and due process (a fair trial). We have only seen some of the evidence in the killing of George Floyd. The prosecutors have seen much more, including body cams, radio transcripts, and possibly other footage. There may be mitigating circumstances that justify the lesser charges of third-degree murder, there may be more damning evidence that the public is being blocked from seeing. The news may be sensationalizing a case for viewership or the chief prosecutor of Hennepin County could be going by the playbook of trying to help out a bad cop.
Only us coming together with our shared values of justice for all will get us through these trying times.
Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph Tully
Author and Lawyer Joseph Tully has a passion for law practice rarely seen among criminal defense lawyers, and it drives his extraordinary record of positive outcomes. The Tully & Weiss firm's criminal law office is in Northern California and serve the entire state.
Mr. Tully and team outwork and out-prepare prosecutors to combat the California's massive law enforcement and judicial advantages over an individual. This imbalance of power against the innocent is the topic of Mr. Tully's book California: State of Collusion. Joseph Tully is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist, an elite certification awarded to less than 1% of California lawyers by the California Board of Legal Specialization.
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