Police Brutality, Derek Chauvin, and the Death of George Floyd Part 1

The various forms of modern civilization and primitive behavior are all natural states of man. Both have claims on the human psyche; both are alternate poles of attraction. Enlightened reason and primitive instinct and have always been at war in the battleground of the mind. Readers of this blog are probably on the side of reason.

Some of the job-slots of our civilized world insulate from the tug of instinct. An accountant doesn’t feel much from numbers. If he decides on crime,  blood-and-guts don’t follow.  If the mind of a cop slips the bounds of civilized behavior, the path tends to run into blood-and-guts, unless lucky enough to be on the take.

(NY Times) What Happened in the Chaotic Moments Before George Floyd Died includes a revealing two-sentence character sketch. Quoting (brackets mine),

It was another club, El Nuevo Rodeo, where both Mr. Floyd and Mr. Chauvin worked. Maya Santamaria, who sold the club in January, said she doubted that the two men interacted…”  [Quoting Santamaria] “I did have words with him on various occasions, when I thought he was not reacting appropriately based on the situation at hand,” she said. “It was like, zero strikes and you’re out.”

In another job, Chauvin might be one of the 5 – 10% (Australian survey) of  males in business who are (Wikipedia) workplace psychopaths. The article has a long list of fancy social behaviors that might not show in a bad beat cop. Other opportunities await the psycho with a  badge and a gun.  And the percentage of psychos is double for men over women.

In another job, that psycho would likely have a nonviolent life, perhaps marked by exceptional achievement. With a gun and a badge, that psycho has the opportunity, and encouragement of circumstances, to  act out those defects of character that pertain to force.

The encouragement of circumstance includes fear for personal safety,  promoting preemptive force. This does not apply in the death George Floyd, who was restrained when he died. Yet  behavioral psychology informs that fear promotes preemptive force where the fear does not exist. Unless countered by strong moral character, preemptive force becomes ingrained behavior.

A recent example comes, ironically, in the shooting of Justine Diamond, by Mohamed Noor, a Somali-American in the Minneapolis Police Department. Quoting,

In September 2018, it was reported that in 2015 two psychiatrists and other training officers had raised concerns about Noor’s fitness for police duty.[24] Two months before the shooting, Noor pointed a gun at the head of a driver he had pulled over for a minor traffic violation.[24]

Would Noor do this out of pure fear?  Noor’s partner at the fatal shooting explained:

Harrity later told a supervisor, “We both got spooked.”[27] At Noor’s trial, Harrity testified of hearing “something hit the car and I also hear some sort of murmur,” and that he feared an “ambush,” but deemed it “premature” to use deadly force.

If George Floyd had been arrested in Tokyo, could we draw the scene? Check out (YouTube) Unruly Foreigner Ar‌re‌st‌e‌d in Starbucks By Tokyo P‌ol‌i‌ce.

Unlike George Floyd, who was already cuffed, this is a real take down. Watch for these points:

  • Most of the policemen are smaller than the suspect, yet are unfazed by the task.
  • They act with wordless coordination, teamwork at its best.
  • The policemen make small, almost inconspicuous moves. Their actions require repetition for success, but they do not lose patience or restraint.
  • What little force is applied  counteracts specific postures and actions of the suspect.
  • The suspect is completely restrained in a few minutes of move-countermove.
  • At no time is force applied to the suspect in order to demonstrate authority. When the suspect is restrained, the action is complete.

What happens to the suspect in Japan’s criminal justice system is unappetizing, but not relevant. Of relevance: The element of danger, to both the policemen and the suspect, is absent. The policemen are contained by the social system of Japan. They are not required or encouraged to chance the edge.

To be continued shortly.