Thoughts on Derek Chauvin

I used to drive my parent’s cars, illegally. Other than starting a car, understanding the basics of an automatic gear box and adjusting the seat and mirrors, the extent of my driving experience was limited to video games. One night, after my parents had fallen asleep, I snuck downstairs, took my dad’s car keys to his Toyota Tercel, manually opened the garage door and rolled the car outside with the headlights off. Somehow, I was able to stop the car in the driveway to close the garage door before driving the car in neutral far enough away to safely start the engine and turn on the headlights. That whole process didn’t require much work since our house sat on a small hill.

Driving the car was easy thanks to my previous training but I rode the brake a lot. Automatic cars back then, alike those today, had two pedals, a brake and accelerator, and I had two feet. It took me two or three times to realize that my right foot was able to adequately control both pedals. I instantly became a better, much smoother driver. Mind you, home internet was made possible via dial-up, Google and YouTube didn’t exist and widespread self-learning on the net wasn’t really a thing.

My then-girlfriend’s house was a few miles away. I can’t remember whether those late-night excursions were first made by car or bicycle but the desire to spend more time with her gave me enough motivation to drive licenseless. That relationship had only lasted a few months though since we got into a lot of trouble. The repercussions, however, lasted a few years. A story for another day. Of my dad’s two cars, I opted to take his Tercel most of the time.

Sometime during the following school year, I started dating another girl. She went to a different high school and was a grade higher than me. A friend in one of my classes had set us up and our first date was at a mall located midway between our homes. My dad drove me there since I still didn’t have a license and it was during a normal time of day, but it wasn’t long before I started taking my his Tercel again late at night to see her. She lived faraway, comparatively. It took about 30 solid minutes to go from home-to-home. No small feat for a 16-year-old but also not the least bit discouraging.

As a young, naive teen, I soon became overconfident with driving since highways were no longer something to fear. Not only would I take one of my dad’s cars late at night to see my then-girlfriends, but eventually I would also take the car he wasn’t driving when he and my mother went out. They’d routinely go food shopping for hours every two weeks and had also went on vacation without me at least one time. I would run stupid errands or hang out with one of my friends rather than visiting my girlfriend.

One day after my parents had left to go food shopping, I took his 1996 Subaru Legacy wagon and drove about 20 miles to the closest Best Buy for, I think, a CD. It’s hard for me to remember but I might have gone to the nearby mall too. Knowing I had been gone for at least 90 minutes, I needed to hurry home just in case my parents were faster than usual. As I bobbed and weaved through traffic on the highway, I allegedly cut-off an unmarked police car. A moment later he caught up with me and turned on his police strobes.

Just as I started moving to the right shoulder lane, I had remembered recently hearing that police won’t always chase cars when other lives are at risk on a TV show, maybe Cops. Right after coming to a stop in the shoulder, I decided to take my chances. I hit the gas, got back on the highway and tried to evade the cop. Having foresaw that staying on the highway would likely result in injuries, I took the next exit, which was a sharp turn. The station wagon couldn’t handle its angle at 70+ mph, unsurprisingly, and understeered. Much of the car’s left side scraped the guardrail and, unbeknownst to me, the left tires went flat but the car still worked and I was unharmed.

On reaching the intersection seconds later, I went left. It was at that time I knew at least one tire was flat because the car had terrible traction. So, I drove cautiously fast on the one lane road as I determined an exit plan. About a quarter mile later, I saw a somewhat hidden side road but passed it in hesitation not knowing if the cop could see me. I quickly determined that my best option since the cop wasn’t in sight and tried to make a U-turn at the four-way intersection about 100 feet past it, but it was too late by that time. The car had spun out of control in the intersection and I could see the cop’s car approaching. Trying to get away one more time, I quickly put the car into reverse and stepped on the gas. As I looked through the back windshield, everything moved in slow motion. When I saw the scared middle-aged white woman looking right at me in her car as she was trying to drive across the road, I slammed on the brakes. The next thing that I saw was the cop getting out of his car and then pointing his gun at me.

My hands went up immediately as the cop yelled, “Put your hands up and get out of the car”. But before I got out of the car, I stupidly lowered my hands to turn off the engine and then quickly raised them again. Another me is probably be dead in a multiverse. Clearly on my knees in front of the car with my hands up as his gun was still pointed at me, the white 40-something year old cop shoved his right knee into my mid-back so that my entire body was pinned facedown on the gravel, cuffed my hands behind me and then slammed my face into the ground about 10 times. He kept me facedown until another cop car showed up to bring me to the police station. Blood was gushing from my forehead, non-stop. No one cared though. They only cared about the blood when I was forced to clean it from my face in the jail cell right before they released me into my parent’s custody. I couldn’t write straight for the next three days in school.

Regardless of the full situation, Derek Chauvin should not have used his knee combined with his body’s weight to pin George Floyd facedown by his neck. He was a police officer. Was that the direct cause of Floyd’s death? Probably. Are there other things to consider? Sure, but likely inconsequential. I don’t specifically know the exact series of events that led to his arrest, but I do know that more than enough cops wrongly take matters into their own hands. The police officer who slammed my face into the ground multiple times while my body was pinned facedown and my hands were cuffed behind me was out of control. He took advantage of a powerless person.

Police aren’t responsible for issuing punishment however wrong someone might have been. It’s not their job. They’re just a conduit.

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