A few days ago, The Daily Mail obtained two leaked bodycam videos of George Floyd’s arrest on May 25, and posted them for public viewing. The bodycams appear to belong to former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane and J Alexander Keung.
Prior to the leak, the videos had only been available at the Hennepin County District Court by appointment. It looks as though someone viewed the arrest footage at the court, surreptitiously recorded the playback, then took it home to sell.
Nice work, if you can get it.
The bodycam videos demonstrate what skeptics of the “Saint George Floyd” legend have predicted for months: Floyd appears intoxicated, uncooperative, and struggles with the officers. Floyd fails to follow dozens of standard police requests and commands. Floyd finally winds up on the ground at his own request, after refusing to stay in the police vehicle.
Floyd’s words “I Can’t Breathe!” have been chanted and scrawled on buildings in burning cities across America, as a shorthand for police brutality. But the bodycam footage shows Floyd began saying “I can’t breathe” while standing around on his feet, as officers tried to cajole Floyd into the back of the police vehicle for holding and transport.
Floyd’s breathlessness was consistent with methamphetamine and fentanyl intoxication, both of which were found in his bloodstream post mortem in copious amounts. The level of fentanyl in Floyd’s system (11 ng/mL) was 2-3 times the minimum level known to cause respiratory failure and death–and that’s without the meth, which also can cause respiratory failure and death.
Much has been made of the police being called for the minor (and perhaps unwitting) crime of Floyd’s passing a fake $20 bill. What activists and conservative commentators alike have studiously ignored is that Floyd was driving a car while blasted out of his mind. As soon as the police witnessed his condition, the incident transformed from a forgery call into removing Floyd from the road, so that he didn’t wind up accidentally killing other drivers, pedestrians, or himself.
Last, the bodycam videos suggest the infamous “knee on the neck” had little or nothing to do with Floyd’s death. Had Derek Chauvin’s knee cut off Floyd’s blood flow, Floyd would have passed out in 10-20 seconds (I can state this from personal experience). Instead, Floyd lay on the ground twisting and babbling for roughly 8 minutes before he became unresponsive. Similarly, had Chauvin’s knee compressed Floyd’s airway, he would not have been able to speak a word.
Who killed George Floyd? It wasn’t George Floyd, nor was it a police officer. It was something else. Call it fate, or “life,” or the inscrutable will of God.
But of course none of this matters.
George Floyd’s death has been mythologized beyond the reach of any evidence or reasoning. Now, the police officers who tried to save Floyd’s life and the lives Floyd was threatening with his intoxicated behavior must be scapegoated to bolster a political narrative of abusive policing and systemic racism in America.
The officers must be crypto-lynched by the system in front of the whole country to gin up confidence in our crumbling justice establishment and assuage widespread anger, guilt, and fear.
In the light of the new bodycam footage, Minnesota AG Keith Ellison’s charges against the four officers at Floyd’s arrest appear delusional and unlikely to result in conviction. Ellison has seen the footage, so he must know his case probably will fall short under the rigors of judicial scrutiny.
One has to wonder whether that’s the plan: put on a show trial, wind up emotions nationwide, and–when the jury sets the officers free–it’s Rodney King all over again.
Only this time, it’s not just Los Angeles that burns but a dozen cities across the United States.
Or perhaps Ellison is counting on the miasma of threats to fill holes in his case. That is, the judge and jury will be so afraid of sparking civil unrest with an acquittal that they will sacrifice the four officers to purchase peace from the mob. Let’s face it: Chauvin and company hardly come across as sympathetic. Why not throw a few cheap cuts of meat to the wolves to sate the punishment lust of Americans?
If you can’t get at the Bad Orange Man, select a surrogate and strap him to the stake. That will cool things off–at least for a while.
Americans are asking their police to manage and contain the collapse of countless broken lives like George Floyd’s, an impossible task. Police are expected not only to risk death on the job daily but also to submit themselves to the bonfire of public outrage when everything goes to hell. Pretty soon, only a crazy person will want to take the job; and then we will have a new debacle–a crazy police force.
Watch the videos and ask yourself: what were the officers supposed to do? Ignore a store owner who received a phony bill? Walk away when Floyd refused to get out of his car, and let an obviously intoxicated man drive away? Or were they supposed to let a flailing suspect who squirmed out of their cruiser roll around unrestrained in the road with cars going by?
It’s easy to judge from a distance, and it’s tempting to offshore blame onto the unlikeable. That said, a pivot to state-sanctioned crypto-lynching of cops isn’t going to fix anything. On the contrary, it only feeds the sacrificial cycle and makes it worse.