As I lay in the hospital bed, my head swirling from the cocktail of pain medications, I tried to grasp the entirety of what had just occurred.

When I woke up that Saturday in May of 2016, I gave no thought to how my day would unfold. I assumed it would be the same as any other. I would go to work, do my job faithfully, and go about my life. Unfortunately, I was wrong.

That night I was ambushed, attacked and shot during a traffic stop. I was able to return fire and land a couple rounds, but the suspect escaped. He was later found in a farmhouse where he shot an FBI agent and they ended this man’s ability to hurt another person.

In the profession of policing, each officer goes to work every day not knowing exactly what to expect. Will this be the day I face my own death, will I be required to make a split second decision that may end someone’s life or will the toughest decision be where to eat lunch?

To say the job is unpredictable would be a tremendous understatement.

The death of George Floyd at the hands of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin has caused widespread anger, frustration and calls for change. Some argue this an example of systemic racism within the legal system, while others argue this was an individual’s action and in no way represents the culture of policing, as a whole.

 

GETTING THE BIG PICTURE

So, let us look at the totality of the circumstances.

On the day in question, officers were called to a restaurant to investigate a criminal act. They responded, investigated, and found probable cause existed to effect an arrest of Mr. Floyd.

Upon arresting Mr. Floyd, one video shows him clenching his arms and mildly resisting the officer’s attempts to place him in handcuffs.

After a very brief back and forth, the officer placed Mr. Floyd in handcuffs and continued to investigate. After some time, the officer decided to move Mr. Floyd to a different location. A second altercation occured between the officer and Mr. Floyd, and then we see the two go to the ground.

A second video shows the officer with his knee in Mr. Floyd’s neck for several minutes before Mr. Floyd loses consciousness and eventually dies. Multiple other officers can be seen standing around while Floyd pleads for his life and goes on to his death.



 

WHAT DO WE SEE

I am retired from policing with thirteen years’ experience. I was a Field Training Officer (FTO), a member of our SWAT Unit and I have an advanced degree in legal studies. I have spent most of my adult life studying law enforcement and its application.

Originally, I intended to keep my opinions to myself about the horrific incident, until I watched the videos.

Based on my viewing of the video, I did not see anything similar to the correct application of law enforcement ethics, practices and procedures.

Instead, we saw an individual choose to disregard humanity and engage in a criminal act. Sadly, those actions were taken by an individual who happened to be a police officer. The officer’s actions did not comply with any standard or policy that I have been taught. The disdain for these actions were echoed in the police department’s firing of the officers for policy violations.

I have not heard a single professional, professor, educator or any other person of credibility condone the action by this individual, systemically or otherwise.

 

CAN ANY CONCLUSIONS BE DRAWN?

Based on the totality of the circumstances, I believe we see an officer who (either because of poor training, complacency or apathy) forgot his responsibility to the public and engaged in criminal activity.

We also see a culture within the Minneapolis Police Department (as evidenced by the other officers not intervening) which stopped other officers from action and standing by and allow a man to die.

Neither of these situations is acceptable and we must fix this. It seems that everyone agrees!

What we do not see is race being a factor, at all. There is no sign that the officer picked a black man and decided to kill him.

I’m willing to bet this officer thought he would just have another day at work – just as I did on the day I was shot. He went to work that morning (just like you and me) hoping nothing significant would happen. Unfortunately, the officer found himself in situation he was obviously ill-equipped to handle.

 

KILLING A COP IN ORDER TO MAKE A BUCK

This entire situation has been spun (by the media) to try and paint the entirety of law enforcement with a single racist brush.

If one were to generalize all homosexual persons based on the actions of a few, they would be labeled homophobic.

If one were to generalize all black men and women by the actions of a few, they would be labeled racist.

If one were to generalize those of Jewish or Islamic faith by the actions of a few, they would be labeled their appropriate “phobic” term.

Here, we have a clear case of an injustice occurring and the legal system stepping in to correct the injustice. This is exactly how the legal is supposed to work. We hold the individual responsible for their own actions.

The entirety of law enforcement is decrying the actions of these officers and demanding they be judged by a jury of their peers and held responsible for their behavior.

To claim this is a racial act because the victim is black and the officer white is an insult to everyone who is decrying this INDIVIDUAL officer’s behavior.

All lives matter!

“Above all, it’s about going home at the end of the shift … “

We couldn’t agree more.

 


 

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