Use-of-Force Trainer Testifies in Chauvin Trial

Remigio Civitarese
Апреля 7, 2021

Minneapolis police are taught to restrain combative suspects with a knee on their back or shoulders if necessary but are told to "stay away from the neck when possible", a department use-of-force instructor testified Tuesday at former Officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial.

Schleicher showed a still image taken from bystander video of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck - one that jurors have seen several times - and asked Mercil: "Is this a use of force?"

Minneapolis police Inspector Katie Blackwell, commander of the training division at the time of Mr Floyd's death, agreed with the chief's assessment.

When asked about the prone position of a suspect, Mercil admitted there are circumstances when a subject may need to be held in a prone position until aid arrives and that he has trained officers to use their body weight to control a subject until emergency medical services arrives. Schleicher asked if an officer is to employ such a technique, how long it should be used. Mercil said those who attended were taught that the sanctity of life and protection of the public are the cornerstone of the department's use-of-force policy. He specifically said that if the subject was handcuffed and not resisting, it is not authorized.

"I would say no", Mercil said.

Officers kept restraining Mr Floyd - with Mr Chauvin kneeling on his neck, another kneeling on Mr Floyd's back and a third holding his feet - until the paramedics arrived, even after he became unresponsive, according to testimony and video footage.

Stiger said that after reviewing video of the arrest, "my opinion was that the force was excessive".

He stands accused of pressing his knee into the deceased's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, outside a corner market where Mr Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of trying to pass a counterfeit $US20 bill ($26) for a pack of cigarettes. All four officers were later fired. The incident prompted protests in many cities around the United States and internationally against racism and police brutality.

On the sixth day of the trial into Mr Chauvin, the chief said his officer was responsible for multiple breaches of duty, namely: that he should have let Mr Floyd up sooner; that the pressure on Mr Floyd's neck did not appear to be light to moderate; that Mr Chauvin failed in his duty to render first aid before the ambulance arrived; and that he violated policy requiring officers to de-escalate tense situations with no or minimal force if they can.

Records show that Chauvin took in-service training in the use of force in October 2018.

He testified that, based on the training that officers receive, Mr Chauvin should only have used the neck restraint that rendered Mr Floyd unconscious if there was "active aggression" involved.

Defence attorney Eric Nelson left and Chauvin are seen in Hennepin County District Court on Tuesday
Defence attorney Eric Nelson left and Chauvin are seen in Hennepin County District Court on Tuesday

Chauvin's defense attorney, Eric Nelson, has argued in court that Chauvin was doing "exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career".

Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant, also testified on Tuesday as a prosecution use-of-force expert.

Bradford Langenfeld, who was a senior resident on duty that night at Hennepin County Medical Centre and tried to resuscitate Mr Floyd, said Mr Floyd's heart had stopped by the time he arrived at the hospital.

Mercil testified that officers are trained to use a proportional amount of force and on how to properly use neck restraints, handcuffs and straps.

"Just because they're speaking doesn't mean they're breathing adequately", Mackenzie testified when a prosecutor asked if a person can speak if they cannot breath.

"And get off of them", Schleicher said.

Under questioning from Nelson, Yang testified that people watching an arrest may also be in crisis and that officers have to take in the situation around them as well.

"Not that I'm aware of", he said.

Nelson has further argued that police at the scene were distracted by what they perceived as a growing and increasingly hostile crowd of onlookers.

Mr Arradondo agreed and acknowledged that this must be taken into consideration when officers made a decision to use force.

Bystander video of Floyd crying that he couldn't breathe as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off him sparked protests around the US that descended into violence in some cases.

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