Friday, 16 April, 2021

Seventh day of Chauvin murder trial begins — George Floyd death

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Ginger Lawrence | 07 April, 2021, 03:19

Minneapolis Police Officer Nicole Mackenzie testified on Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.

Sgt Jody Stiger, a use of force expert for the Los Angeles Police Department, testified that officers were initially justified in their actions because Mr Floyd was "actively resisting" arrest as he was being placed in the patrol vehicle.

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.

Yang testified that police are trained in crisis intervention incidents to use principles such as neutrality, respect and trust, and how to spot and interact with suspects who are going through crisis.

Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) training coordinator Mr Mercil told the court that officers are taught to use force in proportion to a suspect's level of resistance and it was "very important to be careful with the person".

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

Mercil said a knee on the neck is an authorized use of force but that officers are told to stay away from the neck if possible.

Nelson also questioned whether Chauvin's knee was on Floyd's neck, playing a few seconds of bystander video side-by-side with footage from an officer's body camera that Arradondo agreed appeared to show Chauvin's knee on Floyd's shoulder blade.

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Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, has argued that Chauvin "did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career" and that it was Floyd's use of illegal drugs and his underlying health conditions - not the officer's knee - that killed him. He said once Floyd stopped resisting, however, Chauvin should have backed off.

Footage of Mr Chauvin, who is white, kneeling on African-American Mr Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes previous year sparked global protests against racism. 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. But once he was on the ground and stopped resisting, "at that point the officers ... should have slowed down or stopped their force as well". Arradondo later described Floyd's death last May as "murder".

Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. But he was not told of any other efforts by police to resuscitate him after he was arrested on suspicion of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.

Floyd, who had taken drugs, frantically struggled with officers who tried to put him in their squad auto, saying he was claustrophobic.

Floyd's treatment by the white officer was captured on widely seen bystander video that sparked protests around the United States that descended into violence in some cases.

Instead of closing ranks to protect a fellow officer behind what has been dubbed the "blue wall of silence", some of the most experienced members of the Minneapolis force have taken the stand to openly condemn Chauvin's actions as excessive.

Mr. Nelson, who has repeatedly portrayed the crowd of onlookers as an obstacle to the treatment of Mr. Floyd, asked her if an unruly crowd might make it hard for an officer to assess whether a person was in medical distress and even make it unsafe to begin medical treatment.

When prosecutors questioned Johnny Mercil, one of several officers who have been called to the stand, on Tuesday, they asked about the way that officers are taught to use force on suspects during an arrest, and the practice of "neck restraints". He said someone having a rush of adrenaline or a higher breathing or heart rate can be affected even faster. He asked whether officers need to take the actions of a crowd into account, and Arradondo agreed.