…and I’ll leave plenty of room for those of you who are.
But as re Keith Ellison taking over the prosecution of the officers involved in the George Floyd case, I can’t help but think the following:
Hot Potato: Mike Freeman just got the most controversial case in his misbegotten career off his plate. He can’t help but be relieved to get this “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” monstrosity off his docket.
Priorities For starters, Ellison’s not trying the case personally – the head of his trials division is.
On the other hand, the MN Attorney General’s office, under a fifty-year-long series of DFL occupants (Ellison, Lori Swanson, Mike Hatch, Skip Humphrey and Warren Spannaus), has basically turned into a Better Business Bureau with guns, and a 1-800-ASK-GARY for political non-profits looking to harass businesses into compliance with their pet policies. I’m not gonna say the MNAGO doesnt have the expertise to prosecute a shoplifter caught on camera – but it’s not exactly been their front foot for the last, oh, couple generations or so.
I’m gonna guess the state’ll be paying a lot for “consultants” on this case.
A Charge Or Two Too Far: So let’s take a look – via my admittedly non-lawyer perspective – at the three charges. I’ll add emphasis to what I – again, a non-lawyer – think the “beef” is.
Murder in the Second Degree:
Whoever does either of the following is guilty of murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years:
(1) causes the death of a human being with intent to effect the death of that person or another, but without premeditation
[(2) relates to drive-by shootings – clearly not applicable]
Subd. 2. Unintentional Murders. Whoever does either of the following is guilty of unintentional murder in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 40 years:
(1) causes the death of a human being, without intent to effect the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense other than criminal sexual conduct in the first or second degree with force or violence or a drive-by shooting; or
[(2) relates to killing people who’ve taken out restraining orders]
Now, let’s look at Murder in the Third Degree
(a) Whoever, without intent to effect the death of any person, causes the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, is guilty of murder in the third degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than 25 years.
[(b) relates to selling drugs to someone who dies of an overdose – not applicable here – Ed]
A person who causes the death of another by any of the following means is guilty of manslaughter in the second degree and may be sentenced to imprisonment for not more than ten years or to payment of a fine of not more than $20,000, or both:
(1) by the person’s culpable negligence whereby the person creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another; or [several sections related to actions that don’t apply – the statute is linked, holler if you disagree – Ed]
So – knowing what we know now, what do you think is going to fly beyond a reasonable doubt?
- The officers intended to kill Floyd while committing a felony offense – which would involve proving that “doing their jobs” was a felony? Or
- Unintentionally killed Floyd while committing an eminently dangerous act? You could say kneeling on someone’s neck might be eminently dangerous, and I might agree 100%, but qualified immunity – the doctrine that if one government employee gets away with something, they all get away with it – and the tactic is not completely outlandish, if discouraged, in police circles, might be a problem, here.
- The officers were culpably negligent and created an unreasonable (i.e., would fail to convince a jiury) risk.
The usual caveats apply: case law colors how statues are applied, and I’m not a lawyer.
But given that it appears to this non-lawyer that charging Chauvin with Second Degree murder was a) done to placate the crowd and b) find charges for the other three officers and c) looks like a very long shot, I have to wonder if they aren’t banking on, in effect, making a political statement and not bothering with justice.
Politics First: Being entirely a puppet of “progressives” with deep pockets, you knew Ellison was going to have to bump up the charges to…well, whatever he could get away with. The party he answers to needs to have a ritual stoning, or some other red meat to throw its constituents and, ideally, beat Republicans over the head with in the fall…
…without actually having negative consequences for the November elections.
Ellison, himself as graceful and fluid in his deflections as a German jazz band, telegraphed this during his initial presser, saying a trial would take “months”. Meaning – it’ll stay in the realm of political mud-throwing until after November, giving the DFL PR machine plenty of time to repair damage from the inevitable disturbances that erupt after Chauvin is acquitted for Second Degree murder (and, I can’t help but think, delaying that verdict until the depth of a Minnesota winter, deterring a lot of rioting).