We are over a week into the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer of the Minneapolis Police Department who was caught almost a year ago on camera on May 26, 2020 with his knee on the neck of George Floyd for almost nine minutes straight. Floyd’s death was a tragedy that shook the entirety of the United States in one way or another, and Chauvin is currently being tried for the murder of Floyd. This case has had many twists and turns that kept it from being as straightforward as many thought and wished it would be. One of the new pieces of information that is of great interest in the case has been toxicology reports that indicate drug use on the part of Mr. Floyd.
The defense focuses heavily on a previous arrest related to drug use, and according to reports Floyd had fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, a synthetic opioid. This drug is prescribed as a treatment for severe pain, and is usually focused upon pain caused by advanced cancer. It is important to know that fentanyl is usually only associated with overdose in cases of being illegally made, which are slightly variant in their synthesis, having a heroin-like effect on the body. It is also important to keep in mind that Floyd did have underlying health issues, as the defense claims, including the sickle cell trait, hypertension and heart disease.
However, the defense’s argument based on this seems to be flawed in its logic overall. Yes, George Floyd had underlying health conditions that made him more susceptible to illness, perhaps of a respiratory nature, than the average individual. Yes, he did have an opioid in his system and a history of drug use, so was more likely to overdose than those without these factors, perhaps.
All this aside, the physician Dr. Martin Tobin, a man with 40 years worth of experience in the study of the physiology of respiration, has stated after careful review that the more likely form of death is hypoxia, deficiency of oxygen reaching the individual’s tissues, leading to asphyxia (also known as suffocation) as a result of the extended amount of time in which Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck, as well as the position he was laying and handcuffed in.
Let’s be clear for a minute about two things. First, opium abuse in the U.S. is indeed a problem that we need to find resolution to (this does not seem to be a case of this), and, second, not all police officers are violent, aggressive bad people. Derek Chauvin, clearly from the video, used aggressive force that was not necessary in this situation, which is even more suspicious considering the history between him and George Floyd.
The simple fact of the matter is, at least on this level, whether he intended to kill Floyd or not, he abused his position of power. If we ever want resolution to these kinds of issues and reconciliation for victims on both sides, civilians and police, then his actions cannot and should not be tolerated in our Court of Law. He needs to face the consequences of his actions and be punished accordingly.