“The autopsy revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation. Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”

charging document for former police officer Derek Chauvin

I see. Ah, yes. Suddenly, as if by magic, through no fault of anyone’s, these underlying health conditions(!) and potential intoxicants — intoxicants that had not even made up their minds whether to exist yet — decided to strike. And how convenient that they chose the moment when Derek Chauvin placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck.

A miracle! A true thermodynamic miracle for the police officer, if something so unfortunate can be called a miracle. Once again we see it proved, against all odds: Police officers do not kill black people. They just have the constant, perplexing ill luck to be “involved” at precisely the wrong moment. Through their singular misfortune, it is always at the moment that their knee is descending on a human neck, or their bullet is flying toward a man, or they have him in a chokehold, when this human being’s own system decides to turn against him. It is a horrible curse. It is a dire magic, the same thing that turns whatever this person is holding into a weapon, then turns it right back into a phone or a toy or a bag of candy the second afterward.

A wonder this does not appear on other autopsy reports (“It was not the robber who killed him; it was the combination of his underlying health conditions and the robber’s knife to the ribs.”). Or perhaps it is not so much a wonder, when you consider the ugly underlying condition of white supremacy that has been strangling this country for centuries. This miracle of obfuscation only occurs for certain acts: those of racial violence committed with impunity. Immediately, miraculously, culpability vanishes, and the officer “involved” is guilty only of terribly bad timing.

Someone who did not know any better might think that if no officer had been involved, these conditions would not have been sufficient to bring about death at all, and that “the combined effects of underlying health conditions and being restrained by the police” is doing a tremendous amount of work. Why, the combined effects of underlying health conditions and fatal force could kill almost anyone. Someone who did not know any better might think this was murder.

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