Friday, 16 April, 2021

Key witness in Floyd murder trial seeks to avoid testifying

In this image from video Morries Hall appears via video as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court Tuesday George Floyd arrest breached Minneapolis police policy, chief says in Derek Chauvin murder trial
Deanna Wagner | 07 April, 2021, 11:36

While neck restraints are part of the approved use-of-force training for Minneapolis police officers, Derek Chauvin's knee press into George Floyd's neck was a violation of policy, a lieutenant who trains officers in such techniques testified on Tuesday.

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".

A sergeant has admitted officers could have ended their restraint against George Floyd earlier than they did.

"I think we can pretty, we have pretty much established or based on what Mr. Nelson has said, there's really a very small, narrow topic that might be permissible", Cahill stated.

What did the training experts say?

"We tell officers to stay away from the neck when possible".

Kneeling on people's necks is not what officers are taught, Derek Chauvin's former boss told the jury. Stiger said when Floyd was resisting efforts to get him into a squad auto, officers were justified in using force, but once he was on the ground and no longer resisting, officers "should have slowed down or stopped their force as well".

Arrondondo said continuing to kneel on Floyd's neck once he was handcuffed behind his back and lying on his belly 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".

On Tuesday, with the trial in its second week, Mercil also told Hennepin County District Court that police should try to put a suspect in the "recover" position, sit them up or stand them up, as soon as possible to decrease the risk of difficulty breathing while on their stomachs.

Sergeant Ker Yang, a crisis intervention training coordinator for the department, testified as the day's first witness that Chauvin completed 40 hours of training on dealing with suspects going through a crisis.

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

In this image from video Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court Tuesday
LIVE UPDATES: Derek Chauvin trial continues Tuesday

Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Floyd's death was due to asphyxiation, while Chauvin's defense claims it was due to illegal drugs in Floyd's system.

Mercil testified that a neck restraint created to render a suspect unconscious neck is authorized only when the suspect is actively and aggressively resisting.

The use of force, as it is known, lies at the heart of the prosecutors' strategy.

Mr Nelson has suggested that onlookers, many of whom were shouting at Chauvin, might have affected officers' response.

In this image from video, Morries Hall appeared via video as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discussed motions before the court Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. "This leaves Mr Hall potentially incriminating himself".

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.

Witness testimony and the presentation of evidence will resume shortly after.

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

Before testimony began, lawyers argued over whether a man who was with Mr Floyd at Cup Foods on the day of his death should be forced to speak during the trial.

Nelson told Cahill he planned to ask Hall whether he gave Floyd any controlled substances and why Hall left Minnesota immediately after the incident.

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