The murder of George Floyd by that neck-kneeling policeman is no mystery though the tragic saga contains some puzzles. I am not a lawyer or a member of any security body and so know precious little about legal reasoning or security protocols in the USA. I am just applying critical thinking to elements of the saga made available in the media.
There is no mystery in the fact that a subdued man, saying “I can’t breathe”, while a policeman is kneeling on his neck for several minutes, dies shortly after. While I have not measured the angle of forward incline of the murderous officer.it seems clear from the video that said policeman was leaning forward thereby allowing his weight to be directed through his knees onto Mr. Floyd’s neck.
There is no need for a medical examiner and an engineer to calculate the exact pounds per square inch that was brought to bear on Mr. Floyd’s neck by the officer’s pressing knee. It should be enough to know that the policeman is neither a feather nor a cork and so Floyd’s death was caused by the pressure applied by the policeman’s knees to Floyd’s neck.
In philosophy we talk about an efficient cause – that which makes things happen. No medical cause of Floyd’s death can fail to factor in the pressure applied to his neck by the officer’s knee as the efficient cause of his death. Whatever secondary internal factors may be in the medical examiner’s findings as cause of death the primary efficient cause of death is the officer’s prolonged applied pressure to Floyd’s neck.
Which brings me to the initial delay and later failure to charge the officers, with the ostensible excuse of needing to do a thorough examination, but the policemen were fired the day after the sad incident and cause for their dismissal must have been documented. So enough was known to fire them so why the delay in arresting them at least on charges implied by the cause for dismissal? An initial indictment can be modified later, I think.
Now I hear talk about charges of 3rd degree murder and manslaughter? Crazy. The guilty criminal act (actus reus) is kneeing Floyd thus causing his death! What kind of mind (mens rea) could that officer have had but a murderous one? You are presumed to know and intend the natural/logical result of your action!
The protests that have been triggered by the saga are quite understandable though some are excessive and regrettable.
The media nicety or necessity of describing Floyd’s demise as “killed” is also understandable though, for me, too euphemistic. Floyd’s death was a murder, most foul!
Rev. Clinton Chisholm is a retired Jamaica Baptist Union Pastor and author of A Controversial Clergyman. He now resides in Florida with his family.