Local: Chauvin verdict 'step in the right direction'
Last updated 4/24/2021 at 4:27pm
CLOVIS — The conviction last week of Derek Chauvin was a “step in the right direction,” for police accountability. But the struggle for racial justice isn’t over. That’s according to Clovis’ Shaundra Mahan, who helped organize local protests against racism and police violence last summer.
“Definitely not,” Mahan said. “Considering we are in 2021 and this is the same battle that my parents, who are well into their 60s, as well as their parents, have been fighting and seeing going on with police brutality within their community.”
Chauvin, the Minneapolis officer convicted of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of George Floyd last May, has been jailed and awaits sentencing.
Mahan said she believes Chauvin got what he deserved for killing Floyd, and she hopes the tragedy will help bring change to police-community relations.
“I think the message really across the board is hopefully that they understand that they are going to be held accountable for the things that they are doing, in using their position, and the power that they have.”
Mahan said. “So, hopefully with this happening they are going to be held accountable for their actions.”
Mahan said the verdict was something America as a nation needed.
“Thank God, that there were multiple people that came out with their phones and recorded the incident,” she said, “because if not, then there is a possibility that he (Chauvin) could still be on the street and still continue doing the same thing to other people.”
Clovis Police Chief Doug Ford said he believes officers across the nation are doing their best to uphold the oath they have sworn to their communities.
“All of them are trying to do the best job they can in the most contentious time I have ever seen in this country,” Ford said via email.
“They are doing their very best to protect and serve their citizens. Police officers are everyday men and women, who have the desire to help people and make sure we have law and order in our communities,” Ford added.
Ford expressed gratitude to Clovis for what he said is continuing support of local law enforcement.
“There is not a day which goes by that I do not get thanked by a citizen, for the job which law enforcement is doing,” Ford said.
Mahan said she believes police officers need better training, especially with an emphasis on de escalation tactics and the use of non-lethal force.
Mahan pointed to the incident of Ma’Khia Bryant, a young girl who was shot and killed by police in Columbus, Ohio, on the same day the verdict in the Chauvin case was announced.
“Police officers need to go through more training. You have a stun gun for a reason,” Mahan said.
Police body cam footage showed Bryant brandishing a knife at another person when she was shot and killed by a Columbus police officer, Nicholas Reardon, who was removed from street duty pending investigation.
Mahan said she absolutely understands that police officers are putting their lives on the line, “but just as at the end of the day, police officers want to get back home to their families, I want my family member to get home at the end of the day.”
“I think there is a lot more that they can do to make sure that everybody can get home safely to their family,” Mahan said.
Ford said in his email that police are held accountable for their actions.
“Our citizens need to understand,” he wrote, “we do deal with issues of misconduct by our officers and will prosecute them if they violate the law.”