One officer is facing charges after several officers allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old boy during an arrest. Essentially, one officer was caught punching the boy repeatedly while the boy was on the ground, and the other officers were caught standing nearby and watching. While the officer who threw the punch is facing charges of aggravated assault and official misconduct, the officers who stood by and watched are not. Nor are they facing disciplinary action.
It is not clear that the bystander police officers could be held responsible for a crime in this instance. Which then got me thinking, what happened to the other two officers in the George Floyd case? The answer: They went to prison. So, let’s analyze that case (which was filed under Wisconsin law), and maybe we can figure out if these officers could be charged with the same thing.
George Floyd Analysis
Derek Chauvin was charged with the murder, but the two other officers in George Floyd’s murder were also charged with aiding and abetting. In this case, one of the officers was charged specifically for holding Floyd down, while the other officer was charged for attempting to keep bystanders away from intervening. So, each officer did something specific that helped facilitate the murder. That is more than watching and bystanding.
Ultimately, a police officer would not have a duty to intervene if you were getting pummeled by a member of the public. The officer is allowed the discretion to intervene in a way that does not put them at risk. So, the officer would not have an active duty to do any specific thing in an assault scenario.
In George Floyd’s case, we are talking about a death. When someone dies unnecessarily, heads do roll. When someone is punched in the face unnecessarily, the consequences will not be as severe.
Is This Fair?
We can only punish an officer for something they did. We cannot punish the system. We cannot punish our values. We cannot punish any of these abstract principles that give rise to environments that cause law enforcement to become criminals. Law enforcement officers who are indicted on these charges feel like effigies for outrage at the system itself. Meanwhile, they are often doing what they were trained to do and what they see other officers doing. But instead of getting pensions, they are getting charged with crimes.
Ultimately, the role of camera phones has created a situation where the public is aware of how police perform police work. Departments and prosecutors are holding police officers accountable for these crimes. Meanwhile, police officers are fighting to get mental health services covered through workers’ compensation. This a request we might want to consider granting.
Talk to a Chicago Criminal Defense Attorney Today
David Freidberg represents the interests of Chicago residents who are facing criminal charges. Call today at (312) 560-7100 to schedule an appointment, and we can begin preparing your defense immediately.