“He knew what he was doing”: while watching the video of George Floyd’s agony, martial arts teacher Andre Balian immediately recognized his former pupil Derek Chauvin when he saw him press his knee on the black man’s neck for almost nine minutes.
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“It is unthinkable that he did not know what type of damage he was causing or could cause in this situation”, assures AFP the instructor, about the white police officer whose fatal gesture caused a historic movement against racism and police brutality.
When calls to reform the police come from across the country, many experts argue for better psychological screening of officers before they are hired.
The memory of the one to whom he taught combat techniques twenty years ago reminds Andre Balian of a feeling of unease. He was “an asshole,” staring at everyone around him with arms crossed, remembers the professor from the Minnesota Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu Association.
Pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck, “He knew what he was doing and it was wrong, and they have no interest in letting him get away with it. “
In the 19 years he spent in the police force in Minneapolis, a city in the northern United States, Derek Chauvin was the subject of about 15 complaints of abuse. For example, the white policeman brutally pulled a woman out of her car for minor speeding.
James Butcher, an expert in psychological tests for police aspirants, said that anyone capable of such violence should never have been hired.
“It is very difficult to imagine that a person alleged to have been examined for mental health problems could commit similar physical violence against another person”, analysis for the AFP Professor Emeritus of the University of Minnesota.
“It is very clear that there was a problem in detecting the personality disorders which arose from his behavior. “
Tou Thao, one of three other police officers removed and charged after the death of George Floyd, was also the subject of complaints of abuse: six in seven years.
Among other charges, the officer was charged with the use of excessive force during an arrest, in which the suspect’s teeth were broken. The case, which was brought to justice, was finally settled out of court.
Minneapolis police have previously faced questions about their recruiting methods.
In 2017, one of his agents killed a woman, Justine Damond, who called the emergency number 911 to report a possible sexual assault in an alleyway near her home.
Constable Mohamed Noor, who was in a patrol car, shot her, injuring her in the abdomen. She died on the spot.
Pre-employment checks had portrayed a man impatient with minor offenses, who did not like to interact with people, and who could have difficulties with the stress of the job, prosecutors detailed during his trial .
He was found guilty of murder and sentenced to 12 and a half years in prison.
Deniz Ones, a professor at the University of Minnesota, believes that a better examination of police officers before they are hired “is probably the most important change to have to happen” during this historic movement for police reform.
For the psychology expert, these exams highlight stress intolerance or a lack of sensitivity, which should put aside some candidates. But many police services do not have access to the psychological resources necessary to interpret their results.
“If they are not well trained, or if they do not interpret the results well, there could be laxness in recruitment and more examples of what we have seen with this violence from the police, “predicts the expert.