Unintended Consequences Can Be Tragic
For every action there is a consequence, and sometimes that consequence takes an unfortunate turn. It can be as uncomplicated as carelessly running a red light and being ticketed by police, or as serious as being reckless enough to cause a death.
A late night shooting on Hwy. I-44 near Springfield, MO on Sept 29, 1970 was such an occasion. Truck drivers were on strike against Tri-State Motor Transit Company of Joplin but the company was still operating. Intent on stopping their trucks, striking union member Bobby Lee Schuler borrowed a 30-30 rifle and fired at a Tri-State truck carrying 20 tons of dynamite. The shot triggered a massive explosion that shook the ground for miles and opened a 50-foot crater in I-44. Fragments of the truck were found a quarter of a mile away, and twelve miles distant in downtown Springfield windows were shattered in Heer’s department store. The driver, 48-year-old John Galt, the father of four, was killed instantly.
The sniper and his accomplices fled in their blast-damaged car, then walked until dawn in open fields where they were arrested the next morning.
At his trial Schuler said that he hadn’t meant to do bodily harm to anybody, and hadn’t considered the possibility that the truck might be carrying dynamite. Although the explosion was an unintended consequence of his recklessness, Schuler was charged and convicted of second-degree murder and was sentenced to 99 years in prison.
On May 25, 2020 another irresponsible act produced unintended consequences when a Minneapolis man was being arrested on suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill.
Forty-six year old George Floyd was handcuffed and forced to the ground, where police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck as two other officers held his body and legs. A fourth prevented bystanders from interfering. As he was lying face down, Floyd expressed fear of dying, then fell silent and lay motionless. When a younger officer asked, “Shouldn’t we turn him on his side?” Chauvin, as senior officer, overruled this suggestion with a curt “No.”
Even though he was aware that he was being videoed by the cell phones of several onlookers, he continued kneeling on Floyd’s neck for over 9 minutes as witnesses cried out in horror and begged officers to check his pulse. An officer told Chauvin he could find no pulse, but he stubbornly refused to lift his knee. When an ambulance and EMT’s arrived they found 3 police officers holding down the lifeless body of George Floyd. Chauvin continued to press his knee into the dead man’s neck until the EMT told him to move away.
The Minneapolis Police Department fired Derek Chauvin the next day, and three days after that he was arrested and charged with second degree unintentional murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter. He was tried in April and found guilty on all counts.
In what has been called a moment of real accountability, Derek Chauvin received a 22 and 1/2 years prison sentence for the murder of George Floyd, one of the longest ever given for unlawful use of deadly force by a police officer.
A tragedy resulted when emotion overruled Derek Chauvin’s judgment, and now he’s facing the consequences.
‘Another Point of View’ is a column written by rotating authors dedicated to providing a variety of perspectives on life and politics.