Neck restraints authorized, but Chauvin violated use-of-force policy, court hears


Inspector Katie Blackwell, who commands the Minneapolis Police Department's 5th Precinct and used to run the department's police training, methodically told the court on Monday that former officer Derek Chauvin went against authorized training when he used his knee on George Floyd's neck to pin him to the ground.

Continuing to kneel on Floyd's neck once he was handcuffed behind his back and lying on his stomach was "in no way, shape or form" part of department policy or training, "and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values", Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Monday on Day Six of Chauvin's murder trial.

"But what we train is using one arm or two arms, to do a neck restraint", she said.

Former officer Derek Chauvin underwent training in 2016 and 2018 on how to defuse tense situations with people in crisis and how police must use the least amount of force necessary to get someone to comply, the jury at Chauvin's murder trial was told today.

Medaria Arradondo told Mr Chauvin's murder trial that the "sanctity of life" was at the core of a police officer's use of force.

Chauvin, who is white, was a 19-year police veteran until he was sacked.

Mr Chauvin's defence attorneys have argued that Mr Floyd's efforts to resist arrest necessitated the restraint, and that the "hostile" crowd surrounding Mr Chauvin required "unique situational awareness".

Earlier, the jury also heard testimony from the Minneapolis hospital emergency room doctor who pronounced Floyd dead. Even so, the judge said Hall should be able to testify on Floyd's condition in the auto and whether he fell asleep suddenly after possibly taking opioid pills. The doctor said paramedics told him they had already tried for about 30 minutes to revive Floyd. The 46-year-old Black man was pinned to the pavement outside a neighbourhood market after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes.

Langenfeld said that based on the available information he was given, death by asphyxiation was "more likely than the other possibilities".

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

He said once Floyd stopped resisting, however, Chauvin should have backed off.

The May 25 incident a year ago triggered widespread protests against police treatment of minorities in the US and around the world.

In other testimony, Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant serving as a prosecution use-of-force expert, said officers were justified in using force while Floyd was resisting their efforts to put him in a squad auto.

Mr Nelson granted that, occasionally, an officer might "look bad" while restraining a suspect, but the officer could still be following the law, and the policies, on the use of force.

The county medical examiner ruled Floyd's death a homicide at the hands of the police, and noted Floyd had also taken the fentanyl and methamphetamine before his death.

According to testimony and records submitted Tuesday, Chauvin took a 40-hour course in 2016 on how to recognize people in crisis - including those suffering mental problems or the effects of drug use - and how to use de-escalation techniques to calm them down.

Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Mr Chauvin's actions violated his training and have focused their questions on police guidelines and strategies taught to help officers de-escalate situations.

He said that in his experience, a neck restraint can cause a suspect to lose consciousness in less than 10 seconds.

Shortly before the trial started, the city of Minneapolis paid $27 million in damages to Floyd's relatives.

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