Derek Chauvin Pleads For Mercy

Photo by Markus Spiske on

A friend of mine texted me that Derek Chauvin had asked his judge to shorten his prison term. I wasn’t expecting the former officer would do so but here’s my take on it.

Mercy has to be earned. 

Mr Chauvin was reckless as he abused George Floyd in plain sight, with others filming him, even warning him that the man might not survive the oppressive knee. And yet Mr Chauvin thought he was doing his job.  

Never mind that George Floyd was not a threat, for he was lying prone on the ground, handcuffed behind his back, begging for relief.

Mr Chauvin still kept the knee on.

That he persisted, undeterred by the cries for him to cease, sparked turmoil in the nation and took the former officer to court where he was found guilty of 2nd degree unintentional murder, 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter.

Mr Chauvin has a right to ask for mercy, but mercy has to be earned.

His request can be seen as a first step in the long journey ahead in search of his humanity. The humanity he had been running away from all of his life and the absence of which was most glaring the day he took George Floyd’s life. 

How he became the man he became only Mr Chauvin knows. 

We hope he will tell us one day. 

Throughout his career, he appears to have done little to try and overcome his flaws. And if they were noticed by his superiors, little of consequence was done to urge him to check them.

And so, in a way, the tragedy of May 25th 2020, was inevitable. 

It could have happened any other day or to any other person, but that was the day he arrested George Floyd.

Seeing Mr Chauvin in his suit, seated next to his lawyers in the court room, evoked a certain sadness. There he was, without his uniform to protect him, without his badge to insulate him from life.

It is very sad to see a grown man not challenge himself to learn the plight of those whom he dealt with in the course of his work.

Only now, after repeatedly viewing the clip of his killing George Floyd, has Mr Chauvin begun to realize what he did. 

Only now, then, is he starting on his journey to become a human being.

Mercy has to be earned and Mr Chauvin should begin immediately on his task.

If you are reading this, here are some suggestions to you:

Start a journal where you write down all your feelings and thoughts. It is an exercise in listening to yourself. As you learn to do so, you also learn to listen to others.

Read stories about people’s sufferings. All people’s sufferings, no matter what their race, to learn how they came to understand their pain and overcome it.

As you do you will begin to put together your own story. The story of how you grew so insensitive to the suffering of others and how you came to devalue them. 

Just like you were blind and deaf to the suffering of others, there are other police officers out there who are just as blind and deaf as you were.

Reach out to them. Try to educate them. Encourage them to connect with their higher selves.

As you do, you will be helping them exercise better judgment in the field and in their lives. And they will be grateful.

Write to them and let them write to you.

Your journey to find your sense of compassion will then assist other officers in finding theirs.

And you will be saving lives. 

Save the letters of appreciation you receive and one day you may wish to share them with the family of George Floyd. And perhaps one day they will choose to advocate for your release.

Whether they do or not, you must start to rebuild your life by repairing your mistakes.

And you must do it for you. For your sanity. For your wisdom.

You are a young man. Build yourself up as a compassionate human being. 

Work hard, Mr Chauvin, and never give up.

If not too damaged and if circumstances are not overwhelming, we can choose our fates.

Dare to do so.  

And maybe your efforts to earn mercy will become an inspiration for the rest of us.

Dare to transform yourself.

Good luck and best wishes. 

Oscar Valdes.

Also available in Apple and Google podcasts,, Spotify, and others.

The Shooting of Jacob Blake. Kenosha,Wisconsin. Sunday 8/23/2020

Why didn’t you stop?

I watched the video recorded by a neighbor from across the street.

At first you’re behind the parked vehicle. Can’t see what is happening but you’re interacting with the police. Don’t know what was said but the police draw their guns.

Then you pull away, even as the policemen, their guns pointed at you, follow.

Why didn’t you stop?

Most of us would. Most of us would say to ourselves, ‘they’re pointing a gun at me, they can fire at any moment, they’re asking me to stop. So I stop.’

But you didn’t.


When the video recorder widens the angle I get to see there were neighbors standing by, looking on.  

You pull away from the police, go around the front of the vehicle, the police close behind pressing you to stop. Why didn’t you?

Where the officers scared of you? Did you think that? Scared of taking you on in a physical fight?

I thought they were scared but you’re a big fellow. And they have the weapons. You don’t.

Why didn’t you stop?

Did you not value your life?

One policeman pulls at your undershirt but you keep on moving away.

And then you open the door to your vehicle, your back to them, who knows what you were looking for, and they shoot you in the back.

Why didn’t you stop!?

Could they have tackled you, physically, as you moved away from them defiantly?

Yes, but maybe they were just too scared that you might overcome them, the whole lot of them, and hurt and embarrass them.

Don’t know yet what role you played in the original dispute that prompted the call to the police. But when a gun is pointed at you, you have to stop.

Did you not value your life?

I do not agree with the police shooting you in the back.

But it would’ve taken a courageous and enlightened officer to say to himself or herself,, ‘I will restrain this man who’s not heeding my command, I will restrain him physically with all my might, at the risk of me suffering an injury, and I will do that because these are not normal times and because we, the police, are on the spotlight for having used excessive force with African Americans in particular.’

I do not agree with the police shooting you in the back.

But it would’ve taken a courageous and imaginative officer to say to himself, ‘this person I’m dealing with, who’s walking away from me even as I point my gun at him and command him to stop, does not seem to value his life, so I will tackle him physically, even at the risk of my suffering an injury since he is a big and strong fellow, but I will tackle him physically anyway, because these are not normal times and we, the police force of this country, have abused our power too often with African Americans in particular.

But that kind of policeman didn’t show up on that call on Sunday.

And you got shot instead.

It is very sad.

Why did they have to shoot? Seven times!

Why didn’t you stop?

Madness. Madness. Madness.

It has got to stop.

Leaders from all sectors have been stepping up in the wake of ongoing police brutality. Leaders of the African American community in particular, must now step out to say, ‘we are working together to remedy long standing grievances and we will overcome but, please, when a gun is pointed at you and you’re asked to stop, please stop. Value your life.’

Oscar Valdes is the author of Psychiatrist for A Nation. Available on Amazon.