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University of Pennsylvania Journal of Constitutional Law


A White police officer pins his knee against a Black man’s neck. The Black man lies prone. He says he can’t move. He says he can’t breathe. He says he’s through. He pleads for his mama. He moans, gasps, and writhes. Blood runs out of his nose and mouth. After eight minutes and forty-six seconds, George Floyd is dead.

Videos of the killing went viral. All four of the Minneapolis Police Department officers who arrested Floyd for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store were fired. Derek Chauvin—who held his knee to Floyd’s neck—was initially charged by the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter with culpable negligence. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison then announced that Chauvin was being charged with second-degree murder and that Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J.A. Keung—the cops who stood by while Chauvin killed Floyd—were being charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. On April 21, 2021, Chauvin was convicted on all counts.

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College of Law



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