APTOPIX George Floyd Officer Trial

George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd wipes his eyes during a news conference, Tuesday in Minneapolis, after the verdict was read in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd.

Government leaders and civil rights advocates in New Mexico say they are looking to the future with cautious optimism following the conviction Tuesday of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin in the high-profile death of George Floyd.

Floyd’s death almost a year ago sparked nationwide protests, including in New Mexico, after video emerged of Chauvin, a white officer, kneeling on the Black man’s neck for over nine minutes during an arrest.

State and local leaders weighed in on the precedent set by the jury’s verdict, finding Chauvin guilty of three counts.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said in a news release issued Tuesday the state will continue to work to ensure justice for people who “have been wronged by those in positions of power.”

“New Mexico has grieved alongside the rest of the nation and the world over the unconscionable killing of George Floyd as he begged for breath in the street last year,” Lujan Grisham said. She added the jury’s decision “does give us all hope that our system is capable of achieving some measure of accountability.”

Kyra Ochoa, director of the city of Santa Fe’s Community Health and Safety Department, issued a similar statement:

“Today’s verdict is an important affirmation that despite the experience of communities of color historically, our justice system is in fact capable of delivering justice,” she said.

Santa Fe Mayor Alan Webber emphasized the importance of Chauvin’s trial nationwide and its impact on local communities.

“The verdict does send a message that no one is above the law — especially those who are entrusted with providing public safety to the community,” he said.

Webber also cited the Santa Fe Police Department’s recent reform efforts, stating in a news release the city has “some of the most progressive [policies] in the nation.”

Chief Andrew Padilla noted the department’s directives regarding use of force, less lethal options and bias profiling.

“Many of these directives are only now being adopted by communities across the country,” he said in a news release. “We hold our police officers to the highest levels of professionalism, and we have long-held policies that ensure the safety and security of those the police come into contact with.”

Local activists say there is still more work to be done.

New Mexico has ranked at or near the top in the nation in recent years when it comes to fatal police shootings.

Leon Howard, a legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico, said he reacted to the Chauvin verdict with mixed feelings. Real justice, he said, would mean preventing police brutality.

“I’m trying to process right now in grappling with kind of the tension between feeling relief around the verdict, but also knowing that police violence is still happening in our country,” he said.

Howard said the disproportionate numbers of Black and Native American people in New Mexico’s justice system, along with a high rate of police violence, highlight a need for continued reform.

For many who were pleased by the outcome of Chauvin’s criminal case, the verdict offered a limited sense of celebration.

Santa Fe activist Loveless Johnson III said he thought he would never see a white police officer in the U.S. convicted of killing a Black person.

While he was filled with joy over the conviction Tuesday, Johnson said, he also was thinking of Floyd’s death and the pain his family has endured.

Johnson said he also felt for Chauvin’s family and the difficulties they may endure.

Still, he said, there is reason for hope.

“I’m not celebrating someone going to jail. I’d rather have George Floyd be alive and have been justly treated at the moment of his confrontation,” Johnson said. “But I’m relieved that the hope of justice is still alive in America — a real justice.”

(10) comments

Augustin de la Sierra

I think a national dialogue, with the participation of Black leaders, Members of Congress, the President and VP, and Police leadership needs to happen, with the goal being an "agreement," based in law, on how people stopped by the police, and the police themselves, are supposed to comport themselves. Because I think something has gotten lost in translation.

Jurors in the Chauvin trial, thank you for your service. Prosecution, well done. Defense counsel, as required by the law, I expect you did all you could to ensure that Mr. Chauvin received the best defense possible.

Khal Spencer

I'm not convinced that uncritically pointing the finger at police in New Mexico is entirely warranted. I get the Albuquerque Journal and it seems not a day goes by without a story about a revolving door felon, gang member, or violent spouse opening fire with a gun; the police have to run to danger often enough. As long as we have armed, violence-prone people acting out, the cops will have to deal with the world as it really exists rather than what some would like to imagine it could be.

Egregious cases such as the James Boyd shooting and those that Mr. Mechels mentions need to be dealt with and they are the cases we know about; I'm sure there are others. That said, solving the violence problem in New Mexico is far bigger a job than reforming the police. We need to reform society.

Jim Klukkert

Khal Spencer- I share your concerns regarding the young folks who seem to relish crime, seem irrecoverable, do damage to the innocents, and are generally creating fear up and down the Rio Grande.

I also salute your call to reform, i.e. remake, society. All other efforts need to be seen under that rubric.

One of the oldest cultures still resident in New Mexico is the Dine nation, long known as the Navajo. That culture traditionally view crime as a sickness. That culture treats that illness, like all the illnesses that must be addressed, with prayer, chants, sand painting rituals, sweats, and all manner of practices developed over the millennia. The intent, as I understand it, is to restore the Balance of that person,.

The Mental illness among today's inmates is pervasive. A 2014 report by the American Psychological Association found that mental health issues 64 percent of jail inmates, 54 percent of state prisoners and 45 percent of federal prisoners reporting mental health concerns. Want to take a guess if being incarcerated is generally a healing experience? That's Bob's uncle.

I was very happy to see that Santa Fe is going to launch Alternative Response Unit for low-threat 911 calls." [see https://www.santafenewmexican.com/news/local_news/santa-fe-to-launch-alternative-response-unit-for-low-threat-911-calls/article_e265bddc-a120-11eb-b88d-0f24e42a0143.html] We need a response to events that is tailored to the nature of particular event. I have been struck by the empathetic care offered by Santa Fe Police officers to our homeless, but I wonder if this is highest best use of PD resources. The ARU program will upgrade that sort of response, and perhaps improve PD efficiency as well.

I am been close, as a teacher, a friend and also as a family member, to good folks who have been severely afflicted with mental health issues. I well know that as much as I care for each of these folks, on the wrong day at the wrong place, any of them could be quite difficult and even darn scary! These folks I know are not criminals, they are ill. Locking them up, or shooting them, is not the answer.

It is time to get off this stupid hamster wheel, where we repeat a grim cycle: chase after the folks who have lost their way, throw them in the pressure cooker, drop them on the street with little support, and expect results different from what has always proceeded: dysfunction and disaster.

I know it will be a large lift to build a Justice system that heals the afflicted, but what choice to we have? Our present system only limps along. Alternative Response Unit programs sound like a good start, and with memory of George Floyd fresh, what better time to start?

Khal Spencer

Spot on, Jim. Jail time or arresting people is trying to put out the fire after it is started. Its not fire prevention. Parts of the house have already burned.

I grew up in a pretty dysfunctional home. But I had resources out of the home like teachers (hat off to you), ministers, friends, neighbors, and a cop or two. But it took a good deal of couch time with a great shrink in Honolulu for me to truly exorcise those built in demons. We can't have a society where most folks don't have access to those resources and somehow expect to be OK.

Jim Klukkert

[thumbup]Thanks K.

Tim Dabbs

It seems after a police killing, the authorities always feed the media any negative information about their victim, any past charges or offenses, obviously to make the killing seem more justified. Interestingly, the news media willingly repeats what it's fed, facilitating the process of disparaging the victim to justify their actions.

Chris Mechels

And, what did our state do in "response" to BLM. Nothing of course...

As for our "enlightened" Use of Force policies, more lies from Webber and the Chief. Our UOF policy is adequate, due to former Chief Gallagher who put it in place. But, under Padilla and Webber, the policy is not followed. The last two SFPD killings, in Eldorado and Sfe, show the killers turning off their body cams before shooting, and violating the UOF policy. In both cases the officer should have been prosecuted, and weren't.

Statewide, our problems are very clearly shown in the Jeanette Anaya killing, where an NMSP officer killed Anaya in a traffic stop, and violated both the UOF policy and Pursuit policy, perjured before a Grand Jury, aided by DA Pacheco, in a complete cover up, which the AG has failed to prosecute;

https://nmindepth.com/2016/03/23/puff-of-smoke-justice-system-designed-to-clear-cop-who-killed-jeanette-anaya/

No mystery in this case, it is murder and cover up, by the top law enforcement officials in the state. Our media is not interested of course.

New Mexico is totally incapable of doing what Minnesota just did, convicting the cop and initiating reforms. Webber and Padilla should be removed, for not responding to the two SFPD killings.

Did anybody really think we would actually respond to BLM??? That was just PR of course. An attempt at response, SB227, was quickly killed.

Michael Kiley

Chauvin managed two more crimes, failing to prot4ect a handcuffed person (duty of parens patriae) officers must meet, to protect a person they have disabled, and inversion of duty to care, officers must render aid to any person with life-threatening circumstances like a blocked airway, which all officers are taught (CPR), and which Chauvin violated and inverted by knowingly blocking the airway of a handcuffed person. We have seen these crimes (failure of parens patriae and duty to aid) frequently in cop shooting videos, which rarely are charged but sometimes are aggravating escalations of charges. Protect and serve, officers.

reta saffo

We have cameras to thank for this very just verdict. Only wish the jury had come back with their GUILTY verdict after only 9 minutes and 29 seconds of deliberation. Now, THAT would have sent a very clear message. Accountability; a beautiful, beautiful thing.

Angel Ortiz

Justice served.[thumbup][thumbup]

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