I have recently had occasion in discussions with a few folks to be confronted with the topic of George Floyd’s “history”. As both a retired prosecuting attorney and retired defense lawyer I am familiar with the defense tactic of raising the conduct and reputation of the victim as a means of drawing attention away from the defendant’s conduct and the issues at trial.
George Floyd may have had a checkered past. It’s not relevant.
The United States Constitution guarantees all of us the presumption of innocence, the right to have our guilt decided by a jury of our peers, the right to an attorney, the right to due process of law, and most of all the right under the 8th Amendment not to suffer excessive, cruel and unusual punishment.
I have worked with scores of police, representing them in court in the prosecution of defendants that they arrested. Human and with faults as each of us are, all but a very few of those officers were dedicated to “serve and protect”. It is just as wrong to paint all of law enforcement with the broad brush of misconduct committed by a few bad cops, as it is to ascribe to an entire segment of our population the conduct of a few miscreants.
It is proper that George Floyd be honored and remembered, certainly by the family and friends who knew and loved him. It is also proper that the rest of us honor and remember him for the stark example that we witnessed of one human being suffering the ultimate price not for what he did but for the color of his skin… at the hands of another who acted as an agent of the people gone bad.
George Floyd was not presumed innocent. George Floyd was denied the right to have his guilt (for whatever he may have been accused of) determined by a jury of his peers. George Floyd did not have the benefit of an attorney. He was not provided with due process of law… and whatever he may have been accused of, the imposition of a summary execution certainly qualifies as both excessive and cruel.
The point that the voices in protest are rightly making is that what happened to George Floyd is not unusual… if one is black.
Peace. Pete Schloss