Goodbye Klobuchar, Hello Abrams
Did you realize that Derek Chauvin, the cop who killed George Floyd, had 18 complaints made against him over the course of his career? From CNN:
Only two of the 18 complaints against Chauvin were “closed with discipline,” according to a MPD internal affairs public summary. In both cases, the “discipline issued” column indicated that a letter of reprimand had been issued in response.Chauvin was not the only officer on the scene that day with a history of complaints against him.Former officer Tou Thao had six complaints filed with internal affairs, one of which was still open, according to the public summary released Thursday. The other five complaints had been closed without discipline.The two other officers involved had no complaints filed against them, per MPD internal affairs.
The Floyd case has put the national spotlight back on Klobuchar’s days as a prosecutor, particularly as it became clear Derek Chauvin, the officer involved in Floyd’s death, was involved in the death of another citizen while Klobuchar was prosecutor. Chauvin was one of six officers who fired on and killed Wayne Reyes in 2006 after Reyes reportedly aimed a shotgun at police after stabbing his friend and girlfriend. While the death happened during Klobuchar’s tenure at the helm of the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office, the case did not go to a grand jury until after she left the office and became a senator.
Klobuchar did not criminally charge other police involved in the more than two dozen officer-involved fatalities that occurred during her time as prosecutor. She left those decisions to a grand jury, a practice that was common at the time.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who was a lawyer and state legislator when Klobuchar held the prosecutor’s post, also defended Klobuchar’s record.
“The general and overall tone was that the office dealt fairly with criminal defendants within the law,” he said. “Now were there larger social movements that were of a concern? Yes. But they weren’t her fault.”
I’m not sure how you can blame her for grand juries choosing not to file charges. Fair or not, though, there is no way that she is going to be Joe Biden’s No. 2 after the Floyd killing. As a legal matter, her hands may be clean, but politically, she’s a goner. As a friend put it to me, thinking of Biden’s No. 2, “Stacey Abrams, here we come.”
You will recall that Abrams wrote last year, “Identity politics is exactly who we are and exactly how we won.”
In her much-discussed Foreign Affairs essay on identity politics, Abrams wrote:
My campaign championed reforms to eliminate police shootings of African Americans, protect the LGBTQ community against ersatz religious freedom legislation, expand Medicaid to save rural hospitals, and reaffirm that undocumented immigrants deserve legal protections.
The marginalized did not create identity politics: their identities have been forced on them by dominant groups, and politics is the most effective method of revolt.
Revolt. In the wake of George Floyd, and the riots, it’s going to be very, very hard for Biden not to choose Abrams. Trump is one lucky guy. If Abrams is on the Democratic ticket this fall, the campaign will be all about race and identity politics. God help us.
Politics aside, the Minneapolis police department has to find some way to release the details of the complaints made against Chauvin and the other cop (but especially Chauvin, who killed Floyd). If it turns out there is a history of this guy repeatedly being brutal to suspects, that would be a pretty clear indication that there is a deep problem with that police force.
UPDATE: A crime reporter for the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets:
And just like that, the MPD has surrendered its 3rd Precinct police station to protesters: “Airing information citywide, the 3rd Precinct has been compromised.”
— Libor Jany (@StribJany) May 29, 2020
Protesters are burning the building. The Third Precinct police headquarters. The governor called in the National Guard earlier today, but it has apparently done no good.
UPDATE.2: Reader Dukeboy, a retired police officer, comments:
One other thing that was actually reported earlier but lost in the subsequent noise is that neck restraints are allowed by Minneapolis PD policy. From the Minneapolis Star- Tribune:
“In Minneapolis, kneeling on a suspect’s neck is allowed under the department’s use-of-force policy for officers who have received training in how to compress a neck without applying direct pressure to the airway. It is considered a “non-deadly force option,” according to the department’s policy handbook.
A chokehold is considered a deadly force option and involves someone obstructing the airway. According to the department’s use-of-force policy, officers are to use only an amount of force necessary that would be objectively reasonable.”
I will interject here that for probably 18 out of the 23 years I was a cop, the dangers of positional asphyxia and the dangers of using neck restraints or chokeholds was a focus of defensive tactics training during yearly in- service training. When I first saw the video, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing because placing your knee directly on a suspect’s neck would have not been tolerated at my old department and it certainly wouldn’t have been taught as an approved technique.
However, policy and procedure at Minneapolis PD appears to be quite different from the way that my old department and most departments do business. A quick scan of articles published by various police defensive tactics experts in the last couple of days shows that the majority viewpoint is that the use of the knee on the neck is a bad idea.
But it appears that it was an approved technique by the Minneapolis PD. One more link, this one to a copy of the MPD policy manual from the city’s official website.
If that neck restraint was an officially approved tactic, then the liability and culpability rationalizations change. Instead of talking about Murder or an upper level of Manslaughter charge, we’re down at the lower end of the homicide scale, talking about negligent or reckless homicide at most.
The mob is not going to be happy with that.