Statement on Derek Chauvin
Prosecutors Must Use Their Power To Fight Police Misconduct
The convictions for second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, is the first step towards rebuilding trust in communities of color that disproportionately bear the consequences of police violence without a consistent or adequate legal response.
Chauvin is one of the officers charged with murdering George Floyd. Mr. Floyd’s murder last year sparked nationwide demands for police reform after video circulated of Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck in excess of nine minutes, long after Mr. Floyd’s visible death. News reports have since revealed that Chauvin had eighteen prior civilian complaints filed against him, but only two complaints ended in discipline in the form of letters of reprimand. The convictions on all three counts means the jury, composed of six people of color and six white people, understood that Derek Chauvin’s actions constituted a crime against Mr. Floyd and were the actions of a depraved mind. They found that a reasonable officer should not have done the same.
No one is above the law. Yet time and time again, officers engaging in unlawful misconduct are spared from legal consequences simply because they are part of law enforcement. At LCR, we are committed to bringing civil rights lawsuits on behalf of people of color affected by police misconduct. Today, we call on prosecutors to similarly do their part by holding police officers responsible for misconduct. Prosecutors across the nation, including here in Massachusetts, must stop shielding officers who act beyond the bounds of their authority and rain violence upon communities of color. Prosecutors must track, expose, and prosecute officers and police departments that engage in brutality, racial profiling, and other civil rights violations.
During the Chauvin trial, we heard from multiple witnesses who called 911, to report the crime officers were committing in front of them. As a special prosecutor explained, “even after seeing [officers kill Mr. Floyd], even after witnessing this, our expectation is that the police are going to help.” Yet too often people who call for help do not get it. In Boston, Terrence Coleman’s mother called for help for her son, a Black man with a mental health disability, expecting help. Instead, she watched her son be shot and killed by police. As Chauvin was, the police officers involved in the fatal shooting of Terrence Coleman and those involved in all other incidents of police violence, must be held accountable from all angles in order to deserve the public trust placed in them.
Chauvin’s jury was told, “there can be no excuse for police abuse.” This mantra has long guided LCR’s commitment to supporting the rights of people of color through courageous legal action. We will continue to challenge law enforcement agencies in court to demand transparency, accountability and justice on behalf of victims of police violence and discrimination.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of police violence, racial profiling, or hate crimes, please contact Lawyers for Civil Rights at 617-482-1145.