While the Minneapolis Police Department eventually turned on chauvinism and the police chief and others testified that he violated the department's guidelines, the department's initial allegations regarding the murder reveal, "The officers were able to handcuff the suspect and found that he was apparently medically suffering. Officers called for an ambulance. He was taken by ambulance to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died a short time later. "
Whether the police department simply considered Chauvin's account of the murder at face value or actively covered it up, the extent of the falsehood here is a powerful reminder that we cannot trust what the police say. And remember, three other officers were there (and expected to be tried this summer) and haven't publicly questioned the lies about Floyd's death. The police cover up their own crimes, and their word should never be considered more reliable than anyone else's.
Even police unions welcomed the ruling, but again this may be less a sign of an intention to change than a sign that this case is deviating from the norm. And some unnamed cops gave NBC News a different message. "It's disheartening to hear prosecutors throw cops under the bus and leave the defense to build it up, which is the opposite of what normally happens, ”said a member of the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, Florida.
First, this is a sign that some law enforcement officers view what Chauvin did as something that the whole system should have defended. Second, has "what normally happens" changed or has a high profile case provided a plausible denial of future abuse?
"It undoubtedly affects law enforcement officers, and for some officers it may even affect the way they approach certain situations," a white sergeant from the New York Police Department told NBC News. “You may be more reluctant to use force. I would hate it if officers were killed or injured because they were reluctant to use force. "
It is common to hear allegations that policing is a singularly dangerous task and that the use of force endangers the police, but evidence of this is sparse. Law enforcement isn't one of the top 10 dangerous jobs in the U.S. – lots of construction jobs, farm work, and garbage disposal are far more dangerous. Police are taught that they are exposed to a constant threat to which they simply are not exposed and the public suffers as US police kill more often than police in other countries and disproportionately kill black people.
So will the chauvinist ruling change anything? The murder of George Floyd and the protests that followed resulted in the passage of police oversight and reform laws in more than 30 states. More recently, Republicans have passed anti-protest laws in several states which, in practice, could mean tougher penalties for people who protest police killings than for the police who commit those killings. After all, Chauvin's guilty verdict is an outlier – most cops who kill civilians don't even get charged.
And even politicians who called for accountability and welcomed the guilty verdict have focused on possible violence by demonstrators, to the exclusion of a full discussion of the problem of widespread police violence.
"Before blacks even get a chance to process their feelings of trauma and grief, they are told by people they elected to the White House that they will come to power. "Don't do that, don't do that." University of California Irvine political scientist Davin Phoenix told the New York Times. "I would love it if more politicians, at least those who claim to be allies, turn to the police and say," Don't do this, don't do that. "
This is one of the reasons why activists and scholars, while many people rightly celebrate the verdict, warn that it is not a permanent change. "People will say we exterminated that one bad actor and that was all – one bad actor, "Philadelphia organizer Stephanie Keene told the Washington Post. "It's not a systemic problem. It's not policing that works the way it was designed. Derek Chauvin is a bad example of America's best. My bigger concern, however, is that the general public will say," We're leaving the system with that bypass and the system will handle it, and now we can go to brunch. "