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EXPLAINER: Questioning blurs meaning of ‘lawful but awful’ – Washington, District of Columbia

Washington, District of Columbia 2021-04-07 18:38:39 –

Chicago (AP) — Spent by a jury in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with the death of George Floyd …

Chicago (AP) — A jury in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with the death of George Floyd spent a week listening to testimony from city department leaders and national experts on the use of force. I did.

On Wednesday, the testimony briefly touched on a phrase that briefly explained the type of police interaction that spurred protests and demands for changes in cities across the United States: “legal but terrible.”

How did you appear in the trial?

Los Angeles Police Department sergeant Jody Steiger served as a witness to the prosecution for the police’s use of force. Steiger testified on Wednesday that the force Chauvin used against Floyd was excessive based on his review of video evidence.

Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, later asked Steiger about the use of police force, which is sometimes described as “legal but terrible,” including a training presentation used by Steiger. Nelson once reversed the phrase to “terrible but legal,” as one of the prosecutors did.

“The law can create situations that look scary to the general public, but it’s legal under state law,” Stiger admits.

However, legal observers said the meaning of the phrase was more accurate than the exchange suggested.

Where did it come from?

The phrase doesn’t seem to have a long history.

Chuck Wechsler, secretary-general of the Police Execution Research Forum, said he couldn’t trust the idea and heard that other experts were using it.

However, Washington, DC-based police think tanks used the term in their widely read 2016 report to provide more training and deescalation strategies to prevent police officers from using force. Recommended and popularized this term.

According to Wechsler, the phrase refers to a shooting that meets the conditions set by the 1989 Supreme Court ruling, allowing police to use what it considers reasonable. Therefore, shooting can be considered legal and still objectively terrible for everyone involved.

Wechsler and his organization consider the Supreme Court’s parameter to be “floor, not ceiling,” and seek police policy and further training, especially in encounters with people with mental illness who are not armed with guns. ..

What do you mean?

“Legal but terrible,” Wechsler said, refers to the situation and consequences of an officer’s decision to use force, not what the officer’s actions look like to the general public.

“These are situations where the police are going to someone’s house and someone is at stake,” he said. “The result is a tragedy for everyone, both for the family and for the police officers who don’t want to kill someone.”

Peter Moskos, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and a former Baltimore police officer, said the “legal but terrible” distinction is unlikely to enter into police negotiations. Police are more likely to use terms such as “good” and “bad” to mean whether a colleague is justified after firing at someone.

“Is the legitimate part based on seeing an imminent threat when a rational police officer pulls the trigger?” Moschus said. “The legal but terrible thing is a little more contextual.”

This concept also applies to non-police topics such as drone warfare and the legal industry, which can cause widespread damage such as gambling and tobacco.

Will it help Chauvin’s defense?

Nelson claimed that Chauvin followed his training, and he suggested that the illegal drug in Floyd’s system and his underlying health were what killed him, not Chauvin’s knee. His broad proposal that police officers’ actions can be considered legal but “terrible” fits that argument.

However, prosecutors rely on some of the most experienced members of the Minneapolis department, including the police chief, to testify that Chauvin’s actions are excessive and contrary to his training and department policies. I’ve been doing it.

The jury has historically believed in the explanation of police officers’ actions during violent or deadly explanations, but legal experts question whether Chauvin can make that argument. doing. Prosecutors have repeatedly emphasized that Chauvin used his knees to secure Floyd’s neck to the ground for more than nine minutes.

Wechsler said that was the reason why the “legal but terrible” concept was “not at all” in the case of Chauvin.

“When there are certain situations in which police officers are afraid of their lives, legal but terrible things happen,” he said. “That didn’t happen here … that’s why this case is different. This is a man standing on the ground, handcuffed face down and someone kneeling and handcuffed for 9 minutes. I will. “

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Find the Associated Press’s full coverage of George Floyd’s death: https: //apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd

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