Author: Jules Epstein

Law & Morality

Judging the immorality of the four police officers charged with the death of George Floyd is easy. Mr. Floyd was handcuffed and on the ground, with four armed officers over him. All the police had to do was listen and stop – he would still be handcuffed, he would still be unable to harm them; but he could be permitted to breathe anew. Ignoring that, or not intervening or at least protesting a fellow officer’s behavior, is indisputably inhumane. But the criminal law and morality lack a perfect overlap. What warrant examination are the charges that have been brought and whether and how they can justly apportion legal blame. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, after announcing charges against the four officers, cautioned that “[w]inning a conviction will be hard…because history shows that trying and winning a case like this one is hard.” General Ellison was referring to the historic reluctance of jurors to convict police acting in the line of duty in what are often fraught circumstances, especially where the deceased is a racial minority. …