Has everyone forgotten what the Minneapolis Police Department first reported?
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo’s testimony at the trial of Derek Chauvin has been said to be “unprecedented” and as “piercing the blue wall of silence.” There has been all kinds of speculation as to whether or not Arradondo’s testimony will inspire others to hold officers accountable.
Will this be a new era of policing, where police departments refuse to cover-up for the deadly behavior of members of their force? Will police be held accountable for breaching their duty to serve and protect? Will Black men and women be safer now?
I’m not so sure.
Arradondo testified that on the night of George Floyd’s murder (May 25th, 2020) he was alerted that there was video footage of Floyd’s death. He recounted that shortly before midnight, someone asked him, “Chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man?” He said that he remembered the conversation “almost verbatim” (New York Times, April 5, 2021).
We’ve all seen the video taken by Darnella Frazier: The callous, cold stare of Derek Chauvin as he kneels on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and twenty-nine seconds. You can hear the crowd’s desperate pleas for mercy, the firefighter who asked that Mr. Floyd’s pulse be checked, Donald Williams’ comments that Mr. Floyd was being choked out.
Derek Chauvin’s hands were in his pockets as he leans forward, putting pressure on George Floyd’s body with the quiet ease of a man waiting in line at the bank. It was almost like he had done this before.
Derek Chauvin had been on the Minneapolis police force for nineteen years at the time of the murder. In that time, he had eighteen complaints filed against him, only two resulting in discipline. He was involved in three police shootings, one of which ended in death. “His numbers should have definitely raised alarm with the department and triggered a review,” said Dave Bicking, board member of Communities United Against Police Violence. He added that most…