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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Chauvin trial opens floor for discussion

Derek Chauvin was found guilty of mur- dering George Floyd April 20. Photo courtesy of Chris Henry/ Unsplash.

Lydia Regalado
campus editor

Thoughts on the trial of Derek Chauvin — a former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd — opened conversation between students and professors during a NW Criminal Justice Club event.

On April 20 the jury verdict was handed down, which found Chauvin guilty of all charges including second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

When the verdict was read, NE student Jaden Carothers said he was not surprised. It is almost always an indication in favor of the prosecution when a decision is reached so quickly.

“I’m skeptical of the highest charge, murder in the 2nd degree,” Carothers said.

Photo courtesy by News 18
Derek Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison on the most serious charge, second-degree murder.

During the Chauvin trial Carothers said that the media highlighted the prosecution and negated the defense. However, all aspects of a trial should be considered.

“We’ll just have to see where it goes in the coming months,” Carothers said.

Chauvin was a 19-year police verteran. Other officers involved in Floyd’s death included Tou Thao, a nine-year veteran, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, who had been on the force for three and four days at the time of the incident.

Thao, Kueng and Lane are scheduled to be tried Aug. 23 with charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

The thought process of officers when following their superiors is changing, Ferrin McMillan, NW associate professor of criminal justice and former Florida Corporal said during the event.

Tracy Hearn, NW associate professor of criminal justice, said rookies rely on direction from senior officers. She described her first experience as a Dallas rookie officer involving a drug deal in progress. After she caught and handcuffed one of the suspects, her peers evaluated whether she was confident, brave and strong enough to do the job.

“There was no question of, ‘Did she use appropriate force,’ there was just, ‘Did she do what she needed to do,’” Hearn said. “There is that peer pressure and evaluation from the senior officers that plays into the minds of those younger officers in situations like that.”

Officers need to step up and take responsibility for their actions said Hearn. She used  former Buffalo police officer Cariol Horne as an example. Horne was fired for intervening with a colleague who she said was choking a handcuffed suspect in 2006. Her pension was reinstated just over a week ago.

“Before, it was you have each other’s back no matter what,” McMillan said. “Now, we’re starting to see a shift in thinking.” 

Hearn said the shift has been a long time coming.

“Rodney King was kind of our first peek into this filming of this incident involving police use of force,” Hearn said. “Thirty years ago the courts told officers, ‘You’re responsible for what happens.’”

Police agencies have incorporated Duty to Intervene policies which were put in place to prevent the use of excessive force.

“Peace erupts from tragedy, and may we all take a good, hard look at ourselves when we ask what kind of society we all want to share with each other,” Carothers said.

Photo courtesy by Tingey Law firm/Unsplash
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