The word “extrajudicial killing” describes the execution of a person outside of the bounds of the law. Such murders are typically committed by lone gunmen or small groups operating independently or on behalf of a larger organization (Iacobucci, 2020). In many cases, governments and other organizations resort to extrajudicial executions when they want to dodge the scrutiny of the law and the judicial process. Summary executions, assassinations, and other forms of murder committed without following established legal procedures are all examples of what are known as “extrajudicial killings.” Because they violate both the right to life and the right to a fair trial, extrajudicial executions constitute a severe breach of international law. This paper will analyze the death of George Floyd and its implications in the United States.
The circumstances leading up to and including George Floyd’s death in police custody in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, are detailed in an article titled “The Killing of George Floyd,” which appeared in The New York Times. In the first part of the piece, the author gives readers some background on the cops involved in the incident and describes their history with police brutality incidents (Iacobucci, 2020). The events leading up to Floyd’s death are detailed, beginning with a 9-1-1 call about a guy passing counterfeit cash at a nearby store.
Floyd was recovered by police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane. Floyd fought when they tried to arrest him but was eventually restrained. Floyd begged for aid, and spectators begged Chauvin to let go of him, but he remained on the ground with Chauvin’s knee pushed against his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd lost consciousness and was pronounced dead shortly after arriving at the hospital.
The story continues with a discussion of the subsequent indignation and protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere across the country. It also details the reactions of prominent Minnesotans like Governor Tim Walz, Mayor Jacob Frey of Minneapolis, and the Minnesota Twins baseball franchise. It then details the criminal accusations and civil cases filed against Chauvin and the other three cops.
Death of Floyd: Consequences
The effects of George Floyd’s passing are being felt across the country. It has opened up a national conversation about the need for police reform and brought attention to the pervasive racism in law enforcement and the criminal justice system. After Floyd’s death, the Minneapolis City Council moved to prohibit police from using chokeholds and other neck restraints (Iacobucci, 2020). The Justice Department has also opened a civil rights investigation into the Minneapolis police department to see if its officers engage in discriminatory activities regularly.
Floyd’s untimely passing has significantly influenced the public’s perspective. A recent poll found that most Americans agree that police should be held accountable for their conduct following Floyd’s death and support the protests that have developed in response to his killing (The New York Times, 2021). Legislation to reform police forces around the country has been introduced in response to this shift in public perception. Chokehold and no-knock warrant bans, as well as reforms in police training, are just a few examples.
George Floyd’s death has also taken an emotional toll on individuals of color throughout the United States. It is a harrowing illustration of law enforcement’s systematic discrimination and unfair treatment of people of color. More people of color have been confident to speak up since Floyd’s death. Movements of this kind have taken the shape of protests, demands police reform, and efforts to deal with the institutional racism that permeates the criminal justice system.
Threat That Drove the Action
The suspected usage of a counterfeit $20 bill by George Floyd during a purchase at a neighborhood store prompted Derek Chauvin and the other cops to take action. To catch and confine Floyd, and to shield themselves from any possible harm he may cause, were likely the police’ intentions. The cops were performing their duties legally at the time of the event. If an officer reasonably suspects that a person “has committed or attempted to commit a crime, or is committing or attempting to commit a crime,” then he or she may use reasonable force to capture that person (Minnesota Statute 609.506). However, the level of the cops’ force, in this case, was disproportionate and much above what the law allowed.
Floyd was shackled and lying on the ground, making it difficult for him to resist arrest, contributing to the cops’ use of excessive force. Officers also likely contributed to Floyd’s death by not keeping a close enough eye on his health (The New York Times, 2021). Police negligence can also be seen in the officers’ delay in getting Floyd medical assistance.
The police officers’ conduct was illegal since the situation and the legislation did not permit them to use such extreme force. The officers’ continued illegality is highlighted by the fact that they did not keep an eye on Floyd’s health or get him medical help immediately. Accordingly, Derek Chauvin and the other cops have been arrested and charged with murder and manslaughter for their participation in Floyd’s death.
The measures and responses in light of the potential threat to national security
Outrage over what happened to George Floyd has prompted the United States to finally confront its long-standing problems with police brutality and systematic racism. Given the seriousness of the threat to national security, the proper steps must be taken to guarantee that justice is done and that future tragedies are avoided.
The best way to deal with Floyd’s death would be to bring the police personnel responsible to justice immediately. The officers involved were promptly terminated from the Minneapolis Police Department and charged with second-degree murder and other offenses by the state of Minnesota. It sends a clear message that wrongdoing by police will not be allowed and that those involved will be called to account (The New York Times, 2021). This will hopefully prevent such actions by other police officers in the future.
The United States must adopt further measures to address police violence and institutional racism beyond criminal prosecution. Change at the structural level can only come about if the underlying causes of police violence and racism are addressed. Among these reforms is making police departments more open and accountable. Officers in the police force should be mandated to take implicit bias and de-escalation training, and agencies should adopt policies that encourage officers to use such training.
The United States is also responsible for addressing the root causes of systematic racism, including economic disparity, social exclusion, and institutionalized bias. This involves funding initiatives that help people of color get ahead financially, academically, and professionally. Finally, the United States must remove the impunity culture that has allowed racism and police brutality to flourish for so long (The New York Times, 2021). Making sure police departments have the necessary resources and implementing legislation that holds officers accountable for misconduct are two steps in the right direction.
The legality of the Actions
The methods used by police to apprehend George Floyd are now considered illegal. Many states and localities have passed new laws and legislation to address police misbehavior and institutional racism in response to the killing of George Floyd and following nationwide protests against police brutality. Chokehold bans, de-escalation strategies, intervention requirements, civilian oversight boards for investigating police wrongdoing, and disclosure mandates are all examples. The federal government has also suggested laws that would mandate changes to the local police department’s use of force rules and the establishment of a central database to record instances of police brutality (The New York Times, 2021). These reforms aim to ensure that similar tragedies do not occur in the future by increasing police accountability, openness, and oversight.
Protests for police reform and racial justice were held throughout the country after George Floyd’s death triggered a national debate about police violence. Several federal, state, and local bills have been introduced due to the incident to combat police misconduct and racial profiling. Included in the new laws are prohibitions on choke holds, the creation of a national database to record police misbehavior, and the creation of impartial committees to look into such cases. There was also a ban on transferring military equipment to police forces and a civil rights inquiry of the Minneapolis Police Department by the Department of Justice.
Iacobucci, G. (2020). Doctors call for action on racism in the wake of covid-19 and the death of George Floyd. BMJ, m3607. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.m3607
The New York Times. (2021, November 1). What We Know About the Death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/article/george-floyd.html