VDare stalwart and Old China Hand John Derbyshire had a reader write in on my endorsement of hero police officer Derek Chauvin and the knee-on-the-neck technique used to restrain thug George Floyd. I, of course, endorse the technique and it was particularly apt in the situation that Chauvin was in; he and three other officers were required to subdue, twice, a 6’7′ tall and powerfully built professional criminal who was readily apparent to even the Arab shopkeeper whom Floyd attempted to defraud a store keeper while on illegal drugs, and who eventually died as a result of the fentanyl and methamphetamine he ingested.
The Publius Horatius Cocles Of Our Day
Regarding the comments by Federale about kneeling on a criminal suspect’s neck, as referenced in your podcast. If I understand Federale, he said that this is an accepted practice, at least where he worked. It was not an accepted practice anywhere I worked, and in fact was strongly discouraged, with certain exceptions not met in the Floyd case.
I don’t know Federale’s CV; perhaps it is extensive and impressive. As for me, I served as a police officer from 1992 to 2015, with over 20 of those years in the high crime, majority-minority city of [name of northeastern city]. I also did two years with the US Customs Service uniformed division (now CBP); and my last year, a “retirement job,” was at a sleepy university police department in [name of midwestern state].
I made thousands of arrests, many, many of them against resistant subjects. I was taught at all three agencies not to do what ex-Officer Chauvin did, precisely because of the results in the Chauvin/Floyd case: you can kill someone. To kneel on someone’s neck is potential deadly force, and you’d better be able to articulate why you were in fear of your life if you do it: e.g. a powerful, violently resistant suspect who could grab my gun and shoot me with it if he won the fight. Like Federale, I did kneel on suspect’s heads, but again only against very violent suspects. I was careful as I could be, given adrenaline and often anger, to modulate the amount of weight I put on a suspect’s head, and I got off the guy once the cuffs were on.
[From Derb’s Email Bag: Math, Kneeling On Suspects, Looting And Dinas Vawr, And White People’s Fear Of Blacks, John Derbyshire, VDare, June 11, 2020]
The reader challenged my approval of the technique, which some have claimed was the result of training given to law enforcement officers by Israeli counter-terrorism specialists caused Floyd’s death. Now, the growth in Israeli training is mostly for intelligence collection and counter suicide-bomber techniques. Kneeling on a suspects back, neck, or head is nothing new to American law enforcement, or at least not new since the Israeli training fad that started after the end of the Second Intifada, in the 2000s, when the Palestinians began to use suicide bombing en masse. It was not until after the end of the Second Intifada that American police began to train in Israel, and that training was mostly based on countering suicide bombing. American police had plenty of experience in making arrests and no fancy Israeli training is needed to take down a fighting subject. Prior to then, the only major contribution Israeli law enforcement had was an interview technique based on written statement analysis called Scientific Content Analysis (SCAN), which was decidedly inferior to the Reid Technique, developed by a highly experienced Chicago detective, and now used almost universally in American law enforcement, and serves as the basis for interview training at most Federal agencies.
Now, the above correspondent asks about my curriculum vitae, which I shall give; 28 years in four different Federal law enforcement agencies, one uniform and three plain clothes investigative, which may or may not be impressive to Derb’s correspondent or the VDare reader. I was also a firearms and use-of-force instructor. During my initial and in-service training the knee technique was never the subject of instruction, nor was it prohibited. It was a non-issue. With regards to arrests when dealing with a combative subject, once handcuffed but still combative, any common sense action was allowed. In fact, during my initial training I had a scenario to make an arrest of a combative subject. Once handcuffed, the role-player in the part of the arrestee became combative and almost was able to come to his feet after being proned out face down on the floor and handcuffed. My fellow trainee and I did not perform some fancy technique to take him back down to the floor, but just jumped on him, then used both our full body weight with knees on his back and neck. The role-player then called out-of-role and the practical test ended. This particular role-player was a tough young man with natural athletic ability and martial arts training, as well as an aggressive nature. If he had been able to stand, we would have failed the practical test. At the end of the testing our instructor told us this: We did the right thing. He said there was no magic martial arts technique to take him down and that was what happened in the real world. Since then real world practice and fancy techniques in the mat room during training have always been two different worlds, and ne’r the twain shall meet.
The knee-on-the-neck was an untaught technique that came naturally to holding down a person in my case, but it is current training for many agencies. What was an issue was that any use-of-force was controlled by the Constitution, law, precedent decision, and agency policy, usually in that order. The general rule was that any level of force, or any technique was legal if either trained on it or it was policy. But in the real world, most fancy techniques go out the window in a arrest where the subject is not cooperative. When the fight is on, most training goes if either useless, impractical, or never designed for use in the real world. Now some would adjure that they have some magic technique or school of techniques that are fool proof. And those always are in the dojo or the training mat. Or only useful if the officer is a 10 degree black belt in the latest Gracie jujitsu fad or in the super secret Krav Maga. Sometimes those guys are great, but they generally only spar with guys not on drugs or slippery, or biting, or whatever. Most cops don’t have time to become a 12th Level Dan in Aikido. Just saying.
An example of this is Dan Bongino, Fox commentator and former U.S. Secret Service Special Agent and New York Police Department Police Officer. During the initial panic over the riots, Bongino quickly disavowed Chauvin like a RINO confronted by the Lying Press. And Bongino made his decision by merely looking at how Chauvin was holding one of his feet. According to Bongino, who for the record is generally quite good on law enforcement issues and superb on the Spygate coup d’etat, he could tell Chauvin was killing Floyd by constricting his breathing with the knee on the neck because, based on his jujitsu training, Bongino could tell that Chauvin had most of his body weight on the leg that was on the Floyd’s neck, not on his supporting foot. That may or may not be true, but what Bongino and the Derb’s correspondent do not acknowledge is that Floyd did not die from asphyxiation caused by a knee on the neck. He died from a heart attack cause by a mass amount of fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, likely caused by previous use of drugs and swallowing of part of a drug stash that Floyd did not want to be arrested with. Also not seriously considered by the Derb’s correspondent was the important fact that Chauvin was seriously concerned with the crowd of black thugs threatening the arresting officers. That is why we get such a clear view of Chauvin in the famous photograph, he was looking at the threat to him, his fellow officers, and the arrestee.
Another virtue signalling wet on the right is Ray Kelly, former Commissioner of the New York Police Department (NYPD). He is on a high horse, claiming that Chauvin acted intentionally to kill Floyd. This despite the fact that since the arrest, it has been confirmed that Floyd was also dealing drugs that day. A video of the arrest clearly shows Floyd drop a dime bag of white powdery substance, likely heroin, cocaine, or fentanyl. (Full video here, dime bag drops at the 2:58 mark.) Kelly is the penultimate example of the easily manipulable person. He above all should have stepped back and let any investigation come to a conclusion rather than rush to pander to the rioters.
Mr. Kelly, 78, is the longest-serving commissioner in the history of the New York City Police Department. He retired at the end of 2013, having run the NYPD for 12 years under Mayor Michael Bloomberg and 16 months, starting in 1992, under Mayor David Dinkins. There’s little he hasn’t witnessed in his decades as a policeman, yet the killing of Floyd sickens him.
“This is the worst act of police brutality that I’ve seen,” Mr. Kelly says in a phone interview from his Manhattan apartment. “The reason I say that,” he continues, “is because of its deliberate nature.” Holding his knee on Floyd’s neck, Officer Derek Chauvin “was casual. It looks like he has his hand in his pocket. I’ve never seen anything that bad. Many times, it’s a rash act, a mistake in judgment, that sort of thing. Not here.”
Mr. Chauvin “must have been deranged. Because it makes no sense to have him do what he’s doing, to be witnessed by the other police officers, and to have the woman film him.” The bystander with a phone was “right there, and she’s telling him to get off of Mr. Floyd, who’s saying, ‘I can’t breathe.’ Why in God’s name would he continue to do that?”
[A Veteran’s View of American Policing, By Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, June 12, 2020]
The only deranged person is Ray Kelly. The knee-on-the-neck technique and for that matter the length of time Chauvin had to hold Floyd down is not based on intent to kill but in dealing with a violent and drugged up thug resisting arrest as well as the hostile crowd of thugs seeking to interfere with the arrest and spring Floyd from custody. Much less a supposed law enforcement veteran stating that police officers should follow the instructions on what to do by some random person filming what he’s doing. One would call this absurd, but in these times it is itself deranged. The new Black supremacy is black women bystanders should be instructing White police officers on how to keep Black criminals under control.
Unknown to most Americans, but each and every law enforcement agency makes its own decisions on use-of-force and arrest techniques. There is no central authority for what is allowed or not, except case law from the courts, which is not as clear as some think. In this case, the knee-on-the-neck is official Minneapolis Police Department policy. Knee-on-the-Neck is official policy in may agencies though.
And importantly, some techniques go against policy and training, but are used anyway. Just ask Jack Dunphy, NRO’s law enforcement correspondent and former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer. He once described using a sap during a deadly force encounter. Saps are not allowed by LAPD policy and generally are prohibited in most law enforcement agencies. Saps are a leather device with lead shot used as an impact weapon. Saps can be deadly if used on the head, but that is why saps were invented, because a sap quickly puts down a suspect. It quickly ends a fight that can end with a police officer’s death or serious injury; moreover is highly effective and better than Mace or pepper spray, especially on a drugged up suspect.
The fight was on. The man immediately dove to the ground and tried to retrieve the gun, and my partner and I dove on top of him to keep him from doing so. The man was on his hands and knees, with one hand only inches from the gun. We would have had every justification in shooting him, but that would have required us to release our grip on him, perhaps allowing him to grab his gun before we could unholster our own. We were at last able to put just a bit more distance between him and his gun, giving me the split second I needed to pull my sap from my back pocket and hit him in the head with it.
It was effective. The guy collapsed in a heap, blood trickling from the wound I had opened on his scalp. For a moment I thought I had killed him, and for more than a moment I wished I had. He had made his decision that he would shoot me and my partner, and if we had not acted decisively and, yes, violently, he most surely would have. Recalling the incident to record it here is indeed chilling.
[Why Bother?, by Jack Dunphy, National Review, November 16, 2006]
Police work isn’t pretty, especially in the ghetto. And since the coroner in the George Floyd case could not directly attribute the death to anything other than a heart attack caused by the stress of being arrested, no connection was found to asphyxiation due to the knee-to-the-neck technique, there is no need to persecute Derek Chauvin, or virtue signal. Kelly is a sad case of the press creating a panic where cooler and wiser heads should take a step back and look at the facts. Remember, facts don’t care about your feelings about Derek Chauvin intent or anyone else. Obviously, holding a violent and obviously drugged up suspect down with one’s knee is not in any manner indicative of an intent to murder him.
One of the few remaining intelligent writers at NRO, Andrew McCarthy, has clearly stated that there is no legal basis for a murder charge, i.e. there is no evidence of any intent that Ray Kelly seems to think he sees.
There was confusion about second-degree murder in the media speculation leading up to Ellison’s announcement of charges late Wednesday afternoon. When word first leaked that Chauvin would be charged with second-degree murder, it was widely assumed that this meant intentional murder. This seemed a reach. There is immense evidence that the police were reckless in their handling of Mr. Floyd, but scant evidence that they intended to cause his death — as in, specifically formulated that purpose and acted to bring it about.
Most of the coverage did not note that Minnesota’s second-degree murder statute prescribes alternative theories of murder: intentional murder and felony murder. The new charges in the case reflect the latter theory. The complaints filed against all four officers concede that Floyd’s death was unintentional. Instead, they charge that Chauvin, with the other cops as accomplices, committed the felony of third-degree assault by physically restraining Floyd when he refused to cooperate in being taken into custody. Death is said to have resulted from this purportedly criminal act of assault.
Defense lawyers will certainly note that the new theory may have led to some sleight-of-hand by Ellison in drafting the charges. In the original complaint, prosecutors more forthrightly acknowledged that Floyd, while he did not threaten the cops, was uncooperative. For example, the original complaint states, “Mr. Floyd actively resisted being handcuffed”; in the amended complaint, that allegation has mysteriously vanished — we are now told simply that “Officer Lane handcuffed Mr. Floyd.”
Why the change? Because Ellison has changed the direction of the prosecution since taking it over.
[New Floyd Murder Charges Will Be Tough to Prove and May Imperil Good Cops, By Andrew McCarthy, NRO, June 4, 2020]
Left unsaid was that Ellison is a radical anti-White and anti-American racist. He hates whites and especially white cops, though he has no problem with sacrificing some cops of color in the process.
But back to Derb’s correspondent, who stated that all three of his agencies specifically prohibit the technique. That may be true, many agencies have different policies. It is not particularly relevant. The correspondent mentions that he was with U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) for two short years. Then he should be aware of the CBP and Federal government wide policy on warning shots. Warning shots are generally prohibited by Federal agencies, though three agencies have warning shot authority; CBP, U.S. Coast Guard, and the Bureau of Prisons. Most other law enforcement agencies prohibit warning shots. All fine and dandy, warning shots can be dangerous, but warning shots were quite common years ago and were considered an acceptable alternative to the direct use of deadly force, that of shooting armed suspects or riotous mobs.
Similarly, some law enforcement agencies prohibit pursuits either as a general policy or related to the crime that initiated an attempted law enforcement contact because of reasons, ostensibly related to danger to the public. The Atlanta Police Department recently established a “no pursuit” policy. That is not the only agency to have that policy, but most agencies continue to pursue those who flee. Some agencies have a policy of never ending a pursuit. Ostensibly, a “no pursuit” policy exists to save lives, as may a prohibition on the knew-on-the-neck policy. It is a matter of judgement, or more likely, one of politics. Lady police chiefs and black politicians don’t like arresting too many black men and especially don’t like any policy that might result in a black criminal dying. Usually a “no pursuit” policy is to save lives of the public and the pursuing officers, but in reality it is to save black criminals’ lives. A “no knee on the neck” policy is similarly designed to be mostly about a remotely possible liability if an injury occurs, but at the expense of making successful arrests with less likelihood of injury to arresting officers, who are mostly white and whom most black lady police chiefs and politicos don’t care about.
Policies and techniques vary. The Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department has a “No-PIT” policy, pursuit intervention technique, a widely used technique to end pursuits by disabling a fleeing vehicle. The Los Angeles Police Department on the other hand, and most other police agencies in the United States, uses PIT, commonly and sometimes quite spectacularly. It is not without risks to life and limb, but that is a policy decision by individual agencies. In my career, two agencies had no policy on pursuits but unofficially said no pursuits, one agency aggressively used PIT, and one had a “no-pursuit” policy, though we were instructed on on pursuits and PIT in training. The U.S. Border Patrol (USBP) had a policy of never ending pursuits, then had a bad incident, officially ended pursuits, then quietly brought pursuits back and adopted PIT. The change to “no pursuit” was not based on rigorous analysis by law enforcement professionals, but in response to political pressure, the same pressure that has ended choke holds, carotid artery holds, and in some agencies, “no knee on the neck.”
Note that “seat belt technique” that was at the center of the Eric Garner arrest was developed to replace the choke hold and lateral vascular restraint, also known as the carotid artery hold. The choke hold can be dangerous, the carotid artery hold not so much. But the “seat belt technique” was one of those fine in theory techniques developed not on non-compliant persons actively resisting, but in a mat-room with compliant test subjects. One of those things that works in theory, but not on the streets.
The point here being that even if one particular technique was prohibited by three of Derb’s correspondent’s employing agencies, that does not make the technique unconstitutional, illegal, immoral, or not used in the wider law enforcement community. It only means that a few agencies had a policy against a particular technique. Likely policies developed not by objective law enforcement professionals, but by politically motivated appointed chiefs and their politician superiors.
In any arrest, death is likely. We give police the authority to enforce the laws. In any pursuit or arrest, the likelihood of death of the suspect is a real possibility. That death is not a punishment for whatever particular crime that caused a pursuit or arrest, but by the decisions of the person failing to immediately submit to lawful detention and arrest. George Floyd died because of his decisions, as did Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Freddie Gray. The only common denominator in all these cases was not arrest techniques or shooting policies, but the violent and dangerous behavior of the decedents likely caused by low IQ, poor future time orientation, and violent psychopathology.
One may not like the “knee on the neck” policy. Even a knee on the head is dangerous and can cause severe injury in a split second. Every officer knows the basis of control techniques, where the head goes the body goes, but that neck connecting the two is a fragile thing and bad things happen during a take-down.
All civic nationalists must support Derek Chauvin. He dindu nuffin’. He is a political prisoner because he is a white heterosexual male. That is the truth in the end. Virtue signaling, even in honestly motivated, is dead wrong in this case and will come back to haunt one. You may offer up hero Derek Chauvin to the crocodile, but the crocodile is coming for you in the end, including soon enough Ray Kelly.
And remember, if George Floyd had been White, there would have been no controversy, in fact he would have gotten two knees on the neck. Or cops can shoot you with no consequences, just ask Daniel Shaver, he was unarmed and had his hands up, but you can’t he’s dead and no one rioted.