George Floyd’s death due to the police technique known as knee-on-neck tragically rediscovers lacerations relat- ed to racism in the American history. At the same time, the high number of casualties in police custody, arrests and law enforcement operations reveals again the need to intervene on the usage of force by the police, an debated and studied issue in the US over decades. After a short reconstruction of the Minneapolis case and the protests thereof, the paper focuses on the main results of the research on police brutality in order to point out how the ‘bad apples’ tale is not capable of explaining the complexity of the limits to police actions. The aim is to demonstrate how the operative choices of the single policeman are made of a delicate equilibrium among several legitimation processes as well as the intersection of subjectivity, contingent situation, institutional knowledge and cultural system. From the said standpoint, in conclusion some reflections will be offered on the Italian and European framework.