Opinion: It Wasn’t One Cop Who Killed George Floyd

Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin as he knelt on George Floyd's neck. Screen shot via Minnesota Reformer

I have spent 30 years investigating acts of police misconduct, including everything from false arrest to murder. There are bad cops who commit these acts.

But it’s rarely ever just one cop.

It’s the cops who want to get a kick in themselves. It’s the cops who watch and do nothing.

It’s the cops who falsify reports to cover for the wrongdoing. It’s the cops who huddle together to make sure they get their story straight. It’s the cops who falsely arrest people after they brutalize them.

It’s the cops who threaten and intimidate people who witness their misconduct. It’s the cops who lie to internal affairs investigators and in court. It’s the internal affairs investigators who do shoddy investigations and treat victims of misconduct like they’re the suspects.

It’s the cops who impede lawyers from getting cruiser cam and body cam videos. It’s the cops who exonerate and put bad cops back on the street.

It’s the cops who lobby hard to fight attempts to repeal the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. It’s the cops who are members of the Fraternal Order of Police; the organization that raises money and provides legal representation for cops who have beaten or killed someone.

The cops are assisted by the prosecutors. It’s the prosecutors who keep seeing the same cops involved in resisting arrest cases and do nothing.

It’s the prosecutors who continue to allow cases to go forward that are predicated on racially motivated traffic stops. It’s the prosecutors who aren’t proactive in getting cruiser cam videos and body cam videos and make it difficult for defense lawyers to get them.

It’s the prosecutors who continue to allow officers to testify in court even when they know they have lied on arrest warrants. It’s the prosecutors who don’t want to ruin their relationships with the police department so they let things slide. It’s the prosecutors who are reluctant to prosecute cops for misconduct and rarely do so.

And it is our state legislators.

It’s the legislators who are so pressed to get the endorsement of police unions that they are afraid to pass legislation that the cops don’t like. It’s the legislators from years ago who passed the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights.

It’s our recent and current legislators who fail to repeal or modify the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights. It’s the legislators who provide the safe haven found in the Law Enforcement Officers’ Bill of Rights for the cops who are accused of misconduct.

Anyone who fits into any of these categories has helped to keep the culture of misconduct, brutality, murder and racism alive in police departments. It wasn’t one person who killed George Floyd. The list is long.

— SHARON WEIDENFELD

The writer has been a private investigator in Maryland for 35 years. Her work is primarily in the area of criminal defense and police misconduct cases. She lives in Annapolis.