May 29, 2020

CNN legal analyst, Joey Jackson outlined in plain English why the arrest of Derek Chauvin is a good step in the direction of justice, but still a far cry from the treatment us regular folks would receive if we had done the same thing. The standards for police officers who allegedly commit murder in broad daylight in front of a crowd who films them are apparently much higher for arrest.

Brianna Keilar asked Jackson for his reaction to Chauvin's third-degree murder charge. It implies that George Floyd's death may not have been intentional, which is extremely hard to fathom, given that according to the charging documents, he had his knee on Floyd's neck for more than two-and-a-half minutes past when he'd become unresponsive.

JACKSON: I make of it that it's a very good first start, Brianna, good afternoon to you. The fact is that it's all about accountability. I have to say, when someone else in the community engages in what's deemed to be or seemed to be a criminal act, there's not a full scale wholehearted investigation, when you get all the evidence to prove someone guilty beyond a reasonable doubt before you move forward. The standard is, is there probable cause? In English, is there a reason to believe a crime occurred? And if you look at the video tape, don't have to go into all of that again, it's sickening for all of us to see, but clearly that is what we appear to see.

But in the event we can split hairs and say it wasn't intentional, or he didn't know what he was doing, even though George Floyd was saying he couldn't breathe, you had bystanders telling him, the man can't breathe, what are you doing, he's cavalierly there, you don't have to establish intent. You don't have to demonstrate that you did it on purpose, that you knew what you were doing and you tried to kill him.

Is there probable cause? Reason to believe a crime occurred? Jackson is telling us anyone viewed that video should be able to determine right away that there was, and (me talking, here) that it took four days to charge Chauvin is purely a function of the sick protection police officers enjoy when they feel like extinguishing the life of another Black person.

Then Jackson went further to discuss other charges not only Chauvin, but the other three officers can and should face.

JACKSON: Now you get into when you talk about other charges and state charges, other levels of criminality. Like what? Like you were careless? Didn't you or wouldn't a reasonable person know and believe that this is what the result would be when you obstruct someone's breathing? Like recklessness — aren't you consciously disregarding the risk that someone would die when you have your knee on their neck?

So at the end of the day what we're left with is this. In any one of the people that I've ever defended, Brianna, what ends up happening is they're arrested on that standard. The standard is, "Hey, Mr. Jackson, why am I being arrested?" Because the police believe you did something wrong. They don't have all the evidence. They're investigating. You can arrest, you can upgrade charges, you can modify charges, you can alter charges, you can supersede charges. What you don't do is leave it alone.

However, we're at the place now where there is the arrest. Now we move forward to determine whether the evidence establishes his proof beyond a reasonable doubt of guilt, and I think the videotape along with other types of testimony will be telling as to that.

Final point, Brianna, and that's this. It's a good first start, but anyone and everyone who was accountable for this death here, including the officers who attended and did nothing, I think that would be further accountability. Not just as to firing but as to criminal charges as well.

The truth is, prosecutors are reluctant to charge someone with a crime that they know they will have a harder time proving. But in this case, don't they think they can go the extra mile to try? Don't they owe this to the community? For anyone besides a police officer, the only standard is probable cause. Why should people with so much more power than the common man — lethal power — be given more leeway when they abuse it, rather than more consequences?

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