The cop who killed George Floyd has a long record of police brutality

Originally published at:


This long Twitter thread recommending ways that American cities can start reining in police violence and clearing out bad cops like Chauvin is relevant.

A summary of the items on the list. None of these should impact the ability of the police to do their jobs in a liberal democracy; taken together they’ll make a career in policing in the U.S. very unattractive to white supremacists and sociopathic thugs…

  1. Abolish qualified immunity [An informal judicial doctrine that prevents a police officer from being sued civilly for violating your rights unless that right was “clearly established” – in the opinion of the judge – at the time of the alleged violation.]
  2. Require police to carry malpractice insurance
  3. Use pay incentives to get a better breed of police officer
  4. Incentivize community policing [i.e. cops should live in the neighbourhoods they patrol]
  5. Make “Brady lists” [D.A. lists of cops who are known liars and therefore unreliable prosecution witnesses] public record
  6. Abolish cities’ sweetheart deals with police unions
  7. Require de-escalation in Use of Force policies alongside public, transparent training on de-escalation [no more “warrior training”, APCs, etc.]
  8. End “tail-light policing” [traffic stops existing as pretexts for searches, harassment, etc.] entirely
  9. Mandate a separation between the crime response units and investigative units in a department
  10. Automatic special prosecutors for all police brutality incidents
  11. More frequent USDOJ intervention
  12. Expand data collection and mandatory reporting on use-of-force incidents (and other police activity generally)
  13. Enact statutory protections to restore the 4th / 5th / 6th / 8th Amendments [after centuries of court decisions have weakened them]
  14. Scale back, or eliminate entirely, “contempt of cop” statutes
  15. Stronger sentencing for police misconduct offenses

This thread gets right to qualified immunity, as I hoped it would. QI is an example of an issue where activists both on the left and right agree on what needs to change, but the judicial system, made up of judges appointed by both parties, basically says “fuck off”.


That sounds like a great template for starting over.

I can’t picture any of their power being scaled back by the government that uses them as a tool to keep the commoners in their place. I’d like to be wrong, but nobody who has power lets go of power.


Meanwhile …


read this yesterday and is relevant, its from someone who this police officer assaulted and almost killed 12 years ago:


Last year Minneapolis mayor (whose comments have consistently been in contradiction to his cops and prosecutor on this issue) banned warrior training for cops and the union through a hissy fit


This is not a very accurate portrayal of QI. It isn’t any more or less informal than any other judicial precident set by the supreme court, say Roe v Wade, Miranda rights, or brown vs board of education. Appellate court rulings have force of law in their jurisdiction.

QI sets a two part test to bypass: first the conduct must be wrong. Second it must be clearly established. While that is the opinion of the judge it is based on the law including previous cases, and there is relatively clear precedent on how close the circumstances have to be to apply.

You can and should blame the judiciary for this state of affairs but the vast majority of judges cannot simply decide to ignore this. One area they do have some freedom is that relatively recently the supreme court rules that judges don’t have to apply both parts. That is they can say that since particular conduct is not clearly established as violating someone’s rights they don’t have to rule on whether it did or not. This prevents setting precedent for future cases. Judges like this because they only have to answer enough to settle the matter at hand but it has the effect of making it almost impossible to set boundaries through the judicial system. Even if judges decided to apply both parts consistently I doubt it would make a difference as prosecutors don’t want to try cases they know they are going to lose.

Despite the judiciarys role in creating this situation they are not what we need to change it. This can be reformed by the legislature or executive orders establishing rules for appropriate conduct by LEOs. That would then set the grounds for judges to base their decisions on. The thing to remember about judicial rulings is that they are binding interpretation of the meaning of the laws at the time. Changing the laws automatically means judges have to consider new cases in terms of those laws.

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The “informal” bit refers not to the judicial precedent but to the manner that the doctrine is almost uniformly applied in practise by judges – a manner that makes it effectively impossible to bring a civil suit against all but the most stupid cops.

Here’s the full discussion from the original Twitter thread. The Reuters article he links to is really damning of QI:

QI is a doctrine created from scratch by judges. It was never enacted into law by a legislature or signed by an executive; judges created it on their own

And it protects police from being held accountable for their bad judgment

Qualified immunity means a policeman cannot be sued civilly for violating your rights – killing you, brutalizing you, etc – unless that right was “clearly established” at the time of the violation

What does “clearly established” mean? Whatever a judge wants

For example, police in California were sued b/c they stole $100K+ in rare coins while executing a search warrant

They received QI – the case was dismissed – because “stealing during a search” was not “clearly established” as illegal


In practice, almost nothing at all is ever “clearly established”

If a police officer chokes someone to death for sport, you’d say “killing for sport is illegal!”

Then a judge’d say “just killing them with his shin, not with his knee”

[T. Greg Doucette comments: Qualified immunity applies in nearly every circumstance, because the Supreme Court has progressively expanded it].

And because qualified immunity is what’s called an immunity “from suit,” it means those cases get dismissed early and never make it to discovery or trial

Meaning facts almost never come out to define what will be “clearly established” in the future

Reuters had an exceptionally thorough deep dive on qualified immunity just a couple weeks ago

Read this when your time permits; it’s very long, but highlights how pernicious the doctrine is

[Probably should have mentioned it earlier in the thread, but the vast majority of what you’re going to see on this list requires legislative action at some level and a willing executive to implement it. So none of this will happen soon without voting.]


well, generally people who end up in positions of power seek power. Leaders that find themselves leading but have never sought to lead are much more amenable to democratizing power, ie giving it away.

Choose your candidates well.




FWIW, I tired. But then the DNC shoved their preferred guy to the front, and now we’re all just Biden time.


What’s demoralizing about that this is how many of the systems that have led us to our current situation are outside oversight or democratic influences. Even at best, it feels like it’s saying, “Here’s a bunch of things you could do - if the police unions didn’t block them - and if manage to implement them, all you have to do is wait for the current batch of white supremacists police officers to die or retire and you’ll be on your way to a solution…”


Amazing that these people don’t even slow down when confronted by public cameras. These are the people to which we entrust public safety.

I can only hope that someone involved in disciplining him finds a very snarky place in the record to remark that “he was no angel”.


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