Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo has testified in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial that the former officer did not act within the police department’s policies and ethics when he placed his knee on black American man George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
“Clearly, when Mr Floyd was no longer responsive, and even motionless to continue to apply that level of force to a person, prone-out, handcuffed behind their back that in no way shape or form is anything that is by the policy,” Arradondo told the court on Monday, 5 April.
”It is not part of our training and it is certainly not part of our ethics or values”, he added.
Arradondo’s testimony came on the sixth day of testimony in the trial of Chauvin, who has been charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd, who was unarmed in May of last year.
Video footage of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck sparked a nationwide movement for racial justice and an end to police violence against black people and other people of colour.
Prosecutors on Monday continued to present testimony that the likely cause of Floyd’s death was asphyxiation, or choking, as a result of Chauvin placing his knee on his neck.
In the first week of the trial, prosecutors called 19 people to testify, including 10 who were witnesses at the scene, as well as Floyd’s girlfriend, and paramedics and firefighters who tried unsuccessfully to revive him.
He said officers are trained to treat people with dignity and are sworn to uphold the “sanctity of life”. They are trained in basic first aid and given annual refresher courses, be it in tying a tourniquet to a bleeding gunshot victim or using a naloxone inhaler to reverse an opioid overdose.
Chauvin failed to follow his training in several respects, Arradondo said. He could tell from Floyd’s grimaces that Chauvin was using more than the maximum “light-to-moderate” pressure an officer is allowed to use on someone’s neck.
The officer did not relent in using deadly force even as Floyd fell unconscious and he did not provide the mandated first aid to a dying Floyd, Arradondo said.
“It’s contrary to our training to indefinitely place your knee on a prone, handcuffed individual for an indefinite period of time,” he said.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death on May 25. The white officer, a 19-year-veteran of the police force is accused of pressing his knee into the 46-year-old man’s neck for nine minutes, 29 seconds, outside a corner store where Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes.
Before he was pinned to the ground, a frantic Floyd struggled with police who were trying to put him in a squad car, saying he was claustrophobic.
The defence has argued that Chauvin did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s use of illegal drugs and his underlying health conditions caused his death.
Minneapolis police Inspector Katie Blackwell, commander of the training division at the time of Floyd’s death, also took the stand on Monday.
She said Chauvin, whom she had known for about 20 years, received annual training in defensive tactics and use of force and would have been trained to use one or two arms not his knee in a neck restraint.
“I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is,” she said, after being shown a photo of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
She said Chauvin also was a field-training officer, receiving additional training so he would know what prospective officers were learning in the academy.
The city moved soon after Floyd’s death to ban police chokeholds and neck restraints. Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey also made several policy changes, including expanded reporting of use-of-force incidents and attempts to de-escalate situations.