It’s not clear why prosecutors needed four days to take Chauvin into custody, but this much is certain: His arrest was peaceful. He wasn’t thrown to the ground. No one put a knee in his neck. He didn’t say he couldn’t breathe.
Imagine if you killed somebody on your job, and all you got that day was fired.
You go into work the next day, return the keycard you swipe every morning when you get on the elevator, pack the things from your desk, toss out whatever food you have in the pantry refrigerator and say goodbye to your co-workers before two security guards escort you out of the building.
And let’s just say this was no accidental death. You knew you were likely killing the victim, but you kept on killing him anyway. And in response, your boss calls you into an office and says, “We have to let you go.”
So, you go, but you killed a person, tortured him, really. But you didn’t get arrested right away.
That’s why there has been violence in Minneapolis. That’s why angry demonstrators have hit the streets, setting fire to a police precinct.
No knee for Chauvin
Because a White cop killed a Black man in handcuffs, tortured him, really, and all he got that day was fired. Well, on Friday, four days after George Floyd was killed, and after several days of unrest in Minneapolis, ex-police officer Derek Chauvin was finally taken into custody, charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter.
It’s not clear why prosecutors needed four days to take Chauvin into custody, but this much is certain: His arrest was peaceful. He wasn’t thrown to the ground. No one put a knee in his neck.
He didn’t say he couldn’t breathe.
Are we satisfied? No. Will the protests stop? No. Because there are three other officers who committed a crime that day. Officers Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng were also fired because they did nothing to stop Floyd’s death.
They stood at the scene and watched as Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes, while Floyd, 46, who was accused of trying to pass a counterfeit bill in a deli, gasped for air, and told them, “I can’t breathe.”
Imagine it’s you
Now, let’s go back to your job. Imagine if you killed somebody there, and it took them five years to fire you.
You’re used to being out in the field, but you get put on desk duty, where you’re somehow able to collect another $23,000 in overtime.
Welcome to the world of Daniel Pantaleo. It took the NYPD five years to finally fire the cop responsible for the 2014 Staten Island choking death of Eric Garner after local prosecutors and the U.S. Justice Department turned their backs on the case.
Garner couldn’t breathe either and told Pantaleo as much when the plainclothes cop wrestled him to the ground, tortured him, really, while trying to arrest him for allegedly selling illegal cigarettes, a crime almost as heinous and dangerous as passing a counterfeit bill.
Pantaleo wasn’t the only officer involved in that arrest. But he was the only one fired. The others are still on the job, still drawing checks, still keeping our streets safe from fare beaters and cigarette salesmen.
Nice work if you can get it.
Leonard Greene is a reporter and columnist for the New York Daily News.