The entire nation has rushed to convict former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin of murdering George Floyd. This is not how our system works. Unless you agree with the transgender rights group, Black Lives Matter, that our system is racist and broken, you should be keeping an open mind about this case. Something that two of the officers in the George Floyd video said to dispatchers may change the entire narrative of this case.
I rushed to judgment in this case. President Trump has rushed to judgment in this case. I’ve lost count of the number of Republican Senators and Congressmen who ran to the cameras to declare that they were outraged by what they saw. I apologize to former officer Chauvin for my earlier rush to judgment. I wasn’t there. I don’t know what happened and he is innocent until proven guilty – and I sincerely hope that he and his fellow (former) officers get their day in court for the truth to come out.
One of the things that I learned during my years as a TV news bigshot (snort) was that any time you receive a piece of video from an incident, and you were not standing right there as an eyewitness – you can never really be certain of what you’re looking at. You never really know. That’s why these Twitter cell phone videos can be both a blessing and a curse.
A second video has emerged showing the Floyd incident from another angle. We finally know part of what happened when Floyd is out of sight with officers in the first video (the one everyone initially saw). We also have a few more details based on police reports and other official documents that have been released.
As George Floyd was being placed in handcuffs, he was talking incoherently, complaining that he couldn’t breathe (five minutes before he was placed on the ground), and he was sweating buckets. A pair of officers attempts to get Floyd into a police SUV, but they are unable to budge him. He appears to be as strong as an ox. The cops are using nerve pressure point techniques – but Floyd isn’t budging.
Finally, they force Floyd to the ground and put their knees on him in various places to restrain him… and then they call for an ambulance. Does anyone think that the cops held George Floyd on the ground just to torment him for almost ten minutes? In broad daylight? On a busy city street? With a million cell phone cameras aimed at them? Really?
None of the cops appear the least bit concerned that they are being filmed doing something that we all jumped in and declared to be “police brutality.” They’re bored. They’ve done this a million times before. It almost appears… procedural. They’re not tormenting George Floyd. They’re waiting for an ambulance, which will have a gurney with restraints in it.
During the incident, we now know that two of the four officers in that video reported the same thing to dispatch:
They said they’re dealing with an “excited delirium” case.
What in the world is that? It sounds like something that would send 19th-century Victorian ladies running for their fainting couches.
“Excited delirium,” it turns out, is a very precise medical condition. I had never heard the term before the George Floyd incident. When a person is suffering excited delirium, they begin hallucinating. Their body temperature shoots up and buckets of sweat pour out of them. They ramble incoherently. They sound nuts. They suddenly exhibit superhuman strength. They can no longer feel pain. Very frequently, a person who enters a state of excited delirium dies unless they receive medical attention.
You may never have heard of excited delirium before, but you’ve probably heard of the layman’s term for it, which is: “Snorting huge amounts of meth and/or cocaine and then freaking out.”
It’s incredibly difficult to restrain a person in this condition. The official policy of the Minneapolis Police Department, it turns out, is to jump on the person in a mob of cops and then hold them down with a knee on the back of their neck until the ambulance arrives. Which is what Derek Chauvin appears to have been doing. He may very well have been trying to save George Floyd’s life, after Floyd made the poor decision to snort huge amounts of meth (which was found in his system during the autopsy).
The knee-on-the-neck technique, according to the Minneapolis PD’s official procedural policies, is the most humane way possible to restrain a person in a state of excited delirium. They don’t feel pain and they are nearly impossible to stop. Cops in inner cities and even in rural America, where the meth epidemic is running rampant, deal with people in excited delirium every single day. They frequently die because they are overdosing on drugs.
Now President Trump and others are trying to even further limit the techniques and tools that police can use to restrain suspects, including suspects who are freaking out on drugs. These are people who do not respond when they are tasered, pepper-sprayed or struck with batons. And now, because we all rushed to judgment, we’re not going to allow police to use chokeholds and other restraining methods that have been developed over the years? What tools do they have left at their disposal?
Here’s a video from 2018 which shows a couple of examples of police trying to restrain suspects in a state of excited delirium. It’s a disturbing video, and just to warn you, there’s a bit of blood involved, quite a bit of cursing and more than a few N-words thrown around by the people filming the police. But ask yourself as you watch this, what technique could possibly be used to restrain someone like this, when none of the non-lethal methods work – and now we are outlawing more of the non-lethal methods cops are allowed to use?