Beyond that important point, the article demonstrates the way in which the police are placed in an impossible position precisely because the citizens who demands that they fulfill such a difficult function also fail to educate themselves regarding the realities of police work. This allows the police to become pawns in the hands of political radicals when a claim of brutality is made because the informed opinion and forthright defense that is required is lacking.
The portions that I have omitted largely have to do with police deparment policy. The author makes most of the points that I have previously tried to make here, but with greater detail. He unfortunately indulges in a bit of the usual attempts to placate the mob, with bows to PC opinion. For that reason I've done some editing.
The anecdotal remarks made at Reddit by EMS personnel are, IMO, particularly revealing.
A deeper look at the policies behind the death of George Floyd
by Gavrilo David
The world has united in protest after a graphic video emerged showing a Black man dying under the restraint of a White police officer. The victim, George Floyd, was in clear distress. He was pinned to the ground by three officers, with one officer — Derek Chauvin — placing a knee on his neck. For over five minutes, he tells the officers that he is unable to breathe. George Floyd died as horrified bystanders told the officers they were killing him.
The video is unquestionably horrific.
But in our rush to condemn an aggressive use of force and pursue justice for George Floyd, we have ignored crucial information which is necessary in judging the conduct of the officers. While nothing can absolve George Floyd’s death, these facts do cast doubt on the appropriateness of a murder charge for Chauvin, and paint a more nuanced picture of the events leading up to the tragic encounter.
There are six crucial pieces of information — six facts — that have been largely omitted from discussion on the Chauvin’s conduct. Taken together, they likely exonerate the officer of a murder charge. Rather than indicating illegal and excessive force, they instead show an officer who rigidly followed the procedures deemed appropriate by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD). The evidence points to the MPD and the local political establishment, rather than the individual officer, as ultimately responsible for George Floyd’s death.
These six facts are as follows:
1. George Floyd was experiencing cardiopulmonary and psychological distress minutes before he was placed on the ground, let alone had a knee to his neck.
2. The Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) allows the use of neck restraint on suspects who actively resist arrest, and George Floyd actively resisted arrest on two occasions, including immediately prior to neck restraint being used.
3. The officers were recorded on their body cams assessing George Floyd as suffering from “excited delirium syndrome” (ExDS), a condition which the MPD considers an extreme threat to both the officers and the suspect. A white paper used by the MPD acknowledges that ExDS suspects may die irrespective of force involved. The officers’ response to this situation was in line with MPD guidelines for ExDS.
4. Restraining the suspect on his or her abdomen (prone restraint) is a common tactic in ExDS situations, and the white paper used by the MPD instructs the officers to control the suspect until paramedics arrive.
5. Floyd’s autopsy revealed a potentially lethal concoction of drugs — not just a potentially lethal dose of fentanyl, but also methamphetamine. Together with his history of drug abuse and two serious heart conditions, Floyd’s condition was exceptionally and unusually fragile.
6. Chauvin’s neck restraint is unlikely to have exerted a dangerous amount of force to Floyd’s neck. Floyd is shown on video able to lift his head and neck, and a robust study on double-knee restraints showed a median force exertion of approximately approximately 105lbs.
Let’s be clear: the actions of Chauvin and the other officers were ... in line with MPD rules and procedures for the condition which they determined was George Floyd was suffering from. An act that would normally be considered a clear and heinous abuse of force, such as a knee-to-neck restraint on a suspect suffering from pulmonary distress, can be legitimatized if there are overriding concerns not known to bystanders but known to the officers. In the case of George Floyd, the overriding concern was that he was suffering from ExDS, given a number of relevant facts known to the officers. This was not known to the bystanders, who only saw a man with pulmonary distress pinned down with a knee on his neck. While the officers may still be found guilty of manslaughter, the probability of a guilty verdict for the murder charge is low, and the public should be aware of this well in advance of the verdict.
... This is why Attorney General Keith Ellison has expressed how difficult a conviction will be.
“Trying this case will not be an easy thing. Winning a conviction will be hard,” Ellison said.
There is still much to the case that remains unknown. As new information emerges, we should adjust our view accordingly. But a close inspection of all current information does not point to a murder charge being appropriate.
1. George Floyd’s symptoms started well before being restrained to the ground
From the original government complaint, we know that he was falling to the ground and claiming he couldn’t breathe while still standing up.
Mr. Floyd stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic […] Mr. Floyd did not voluntarily get in the car and struggled with the officers by intentionally falling down, saying he was not going in the car, and refusing to stand still […] While standing outside the car, Mr. Floyd began saying and repeating that he could not breathe.
“Um someone comes our store and give us fake bills and we realize it before he left the store, and we ran back outside, they was sitting on their car […], and he’s sitting on his car cause he is awfully drunk and he’s not in control of himself” […] He is not acting right […] and [he’s] not acting right so and [he] started to go, drive the car.”
2. The Minneapolis Police Department policy authorizes neck restraint for actively resisting suspects
a response to police efforts to bring a person into custody or control for detainment or arrest. A subject engages in active resistance when engaging in physical actions (or verbal behavior reflecting an intention) to make it more difficult for officers to achieve actual physical control.
a response to police efforts to bring a person into custody or control for detainment or arrest. This is behavior initiated by a subject, when the subject does not comply with verbal or physical control efforts, yet the subject does not attempt to defeat an officer’s control efforts.
There appears to be two cases of active resistance, including immediately prior to prone restraint. As such, neck restraint was permissible in order to control George Floyd. Remember that the MPD guideline is to use light to moderate force. An officer placing a knee on a suspect’s neck does not mean he is exerting full force, and there is evidence that light to moderate pressure was used on Floyd. Given that Floyd was saying he couldn’t breathe while resisting being placed in the police car, the officers could not reasonably believe that light to moderate pressure would cause his proclaimed symptoms.
3. The officers reasonably determined that George Floyd was suffering from Excited Delirium
Officer Lane said, “I am worried about excited delirium or whatever.” The defendant said, “That’s why we have him on his stomach.”
- Sweating [Y]
- Police Noncompliance [Y]
- Lack of Tiring [Y]
- Unusual Strength [?]
- Pain Tolerance [?]
- Tachypnea [?]
- Tactile Hyperthermia [?]
- Bizarre behavior generating calls to police [Y]
- Suspected or known psychostimulant drug or alcohol intoxication [Y]
- Erratic or violent behavior [?]
- Ongoing struggle despite futility [Y]
- Yelling/shouting/guttural sounds [?]
- Agitation [Y]
- Inappropriately Clothed [N]
- Mirror/Glass Attraction [?]
- Suspected or known psychiatric illness [N]
- Failure to recognize or respond to police presence at the scene [likely N]
“Given the irrational and potentially violent, dangerous, and lethal behavior of an ExDS subject, any LEO interaction with a person in this situation risks significant injury or death to either the LEO or the ExDS subject who has a potentially lethal medical syndrome. This already challenging situation has the potential for intense public scrutiny coupled with the expectation of a perfect outcome. Anything less creates a situation of potential public outrage. Unfortunately, this dangerous medical situation makes perfect outcomes difficult in many circumstances.”
- “LEOs must also be aware that remorse, normal fear and understanding of surroundings, and rational thoughts for safety are absent in such subjects.”
- “ExDS subjects are known to be irrational, often violent and relatively impervious to pain. Unfortunately, almost everything taught to LEOs about control of subjects relies on a suspect to either be rational, appropriate, or to comply with painful stimuli. Tools and tactics available to LEOs (such as pepper spray, impact batons, joint lock maneuvers, punches and kicks, and ECD’s, especially when used for pain compliance) that are traditionally effective in controlling resisting subjects, are likely to be less effective on ExDS subjects.”
- “The goals of LEOs in these situations should be to 1) recognize possible ExDS, contain the subject, and call for EMS; 2) take the subject into custody quickly, safely, and efficiently if necessary; and 3) then immediately turn the care of the subject over to EMS personnel when they arrive for treatment and transport to definitive medical care.”
- “In those cases where a death occurs while in custody, there is the additional difficulty of separating any potential contribution of control measures from the underlying pathology. For example, was death due to the police control tool, or to positional asphyxia, or from ExDS, or from interplay of all these factors? Even in the situation where all caregivers agree that a patient is in an active delirious state, there is no proof of the most safe and effective control measure or therapy for what is most likely an extremely agitated patient.”
- “There are well-documented cases of ExDS deaths with minimal restraint such as handcuffs without ECD use. This underscores that this is a potentially fatal syndrome in and of itself, sometimes reversible when expert medical treatment is immediately available”.
4. Neck restraint is common in ExDS, and ExDS suspects have died in all types of restraint
Lane asked, “should we roll him on his side?” and the defendant said, “No, staying put where we got him.” Officer Lane said, “I am worried about excited delirium or whatever.” The defendant said, “That’s why we have him on his stomach.”
As mentioned before, people experiencing EXD are highly agitated, violent, and show signs of unexpected strength so it is not surprising that most require physical restraint. The prone maximal restraint position (PMRP, also known as “hobble” or “hogtie”), where the person’s ankles and wrists are bound together behind their back, has been used extensively by field personnel. In far fewer cases, persons have been tied to a hospital gurney or manually held prone with knee pressure on the back or neck.
Officers determined that keeping Layton in a prone position was best given his continued resistance, and Baker pressed Layton’s shoulders to the ground while Groby held Layton’s thighs […] this court has not deemed prone restraint unconstitutional in and of itself the few times we have addressed the issue […] Under these cases, there is no clearly established right against the use of prone restraints for a suspect that has been resisting.
Informational Asymmetry: what the police and EMTs know, and what the public knows
4.1 ExDS Encounters Explored
“The usual response by subjects to restraints is to either accept that fighting is futile or continue to be verbally abusive. The patient with excited delirium, however, continues to fight the restraints until cardiac arrest occurs.”
More Cases of Note
- It takes four officers to restrain this man experiencing ExDS in prone restraint until the EMT arrives (likely with ketamine).
- In this case from 2011, the officers used a taser and knee-to-back prone-restraint.
- In this more recent video, it takes six officers, a taser, and multiple batons to restrain the suspect. Even with six officers restraining him, he is still able to get halfway up. At 6:14 in the video, a Black police officer kicks the suspect near the head and then applies force near the suspect’s neck — this is appropriate use of force, even though it appears unnecessary, because the suspect was an extreme threat. This particular ExDS suspect was able to cause facial injuries to the officers despite being overpowered 6-to-1. As the white paper notes, ExDS suspects often “show signs of unexpected strength”.
A Parallel Case: Donald Lewis
The 11th Circuit rejected the contention that hogtying was unreasonable once Lewis was already handcuffed and his legs shackled. “Even though most of the officers in this case testified that Lewis was not a danger to them and was merely resisting arrest, he was, as the district court described, ‘an agitated and uncooperative man with only a tenuous grasp on reality,’ ” the appeals-court panel said. […] The panel concluded: “Because of his refusal to sit upright and his inability to remain calm, Lewis remained a safety risk to himself and to others.”
A case of note in a scientific journal
This case study presents a 37-year-old male who was experiencing excited delirium (ExD) and died in a county jail 4 days after being taken into custody. The male died in a jail observation cell without having been restrained and was not under the influence of a drug stimulant. The subject had a documented psychiatric history of bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and was known to consume marijuana, cocaine, and methamphetamines. This case illustrates the pernicious effects of ExD and how its lethality can be delayed when many cases involve drug use and use of force where subjects die shortly thereafter. Implications of ExD for correctional agencies and efforts of responding to it in correctional and law enforcement contexts are discussed.
4.2 What do EMS personnel think about ExDS?
5. George Floyd had a potentially lethal amount of fentanyl in his system, a history of drug abuse, and two serious heart conditions — resulting in an unusually fragile condition
- Fentanyl 11 ng/mL 2.
- Norfentanyl 5.6 ng/mL 3. 4-ANPP 0.65 ng/mL 4.
- Methamphetamine 19 ng/mL
Despite the ubiquitous presence of multiple drugs in these decedents, the effects of fentanyl were evidently so strong that there were no statistical differences in the fentanyl level (mean and standard deviation) with or without the presence of these co-intoxicants. The range of fentanyl levels was wide, from 0.75 to 113.00 ng/mL, with an average of 9.96 ng/mL.
Many patients with excited delirium also have significant cardiovascular and psychiatric diseases. Autopsies often reveal severe atherosclerosis, cardiomyopathy and diabetes. Cardiomyopathy results from chronic cocaine and methamphetamine abuse. Atherosclerosis and diabetes can also be the result of smoking, obesity and a lack of overall health care. The combination of the metabolic arrest with severe cardiovascular disease makes a successful resuscitation highly unlikely.
6. There is reason to believe Chauvin’s knee-to-neck restraint did not exert a dangerous amount of force
A Minneapolis-based Study
- “Our data do not support the hypothesis of restraint asphyxia.”
- “When a cause of death cannot otherwise be determined, positional asphyxia is often suggested […] Proponents of this theory often hypothesize that subjects restrained prone, with applied downward weight force, hobbled, or in maximal restraint (restrained on their stomach with hands and wrists secured to the handcuffs) were unable to breathe because the position caused chest wall and abdominal restriction that prevented adequate expansion of the lungs. Subsequent rigorous scientific studies, however, using sophisticated measurements have debunked the positional or restraint asphyxia hypothesis because the prone position does not produce respiratory compromise.”
- “To date, none of the published human clinical studies, or epidemiological studies, support the hypothesis that the pronerestraint position causes or contributes to ventilatory compromise”
- “DiMaio and DiMaio observed that acceptance of the concept of positional asphyxia as the cause of death in restraint associated deaths often involves the suspension of common sense and logical thinking. Further, other researchers have commented that positional asphyxia is an interesting theory unsupported by the experimental data. Nor are significant changes in cardiovascular measures found.”
A note on the analysis made by the New York Times
- The NYT shows Floyd being cuffed behind his back, but then cut the footage so that you do not see the struggle that occurred while he was being cuffed.
- The NYT mentions complaints made against the officers. However, the NYT does not mention that only one of these complaints was found to have merit against Chauvin, when he asked a woman who was speeding 10 MPH over the limit to step out of her car. The NYT omits the average number of complaints against officers, which is approximately one every 3 years. The NYT also omits that Chauvin obtained two medals of valor, which was ironically reported by the NYT elsewhere.
- The NYT says “we don’t know why” they pulled Floyd out of the car. This is misleading, as we know they were unable to keep him detained in the squad car.
- The NYT omitted that Floyd was able to lift up his head and neck.
- The NYT omitted — completely — that the officers believed he was suffering from ExDS. (This is not a joke. The NYT omitted the linchpin of the case.)
- The NYT ignores his history of drug use, his two heart conditions, as well as the fentanyl found in his system.