(CNN) — Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo on Monday thoroughly rejected Derek Chauvin’s actions during the arrest of George Floyd last May as contrary to department policy.
“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” Arradondo testified during Chauvin’s criminal trial.
“There is an initial reasonableness in trying to get him under control in the first few seconds,” Arradondo testified. “But once there was no longer any resistance and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that in no way shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”
In particular, the chief said Chauvin’s kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds was a violation of the policies around de-escalation, objectively reasonable use of force and requirement to render aid.
“That action is not de-escalation, and when we talk about the framework of our sanctity of life and when we talk about the principles and values we have, that action goes contrary to what we’re talking about,” he said.
In his testimony, Arradondo described the department’s training programs and the core value of treating everyone with “dignity and respect.” He said that officers are required to be familiar with policies, including de-escalation and use of force.
“The goal is to resolve the situation as safety as possible, so you want to always have de-escalation layered into those actions of use of force,” the chief said.
Floyd’s suspected wrongdoing — he allegedly used a $20 counterfeit bill — would probably not rise to the level of severity to use force, Arradondo testified. This type of crime typically does not lead to an arrest because it is neither violent nor a felony, he said.
Last year, Arradondo fired Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s death, which he said was “murder.”
“Mr. George Floyd’s tragic death was not due to a lack of training — the training was there. Chauvin knew what he was doing,” Arradondo said in a June 2020 statement.
The testimony comes as prosecutors began to shift their focus from what happened to Floyd to a closer analysis of what it means legally.
The first week of the trial in Minneapolis centered on a blow-by-blow breakdown of Floyd’s last day, including video from a bevy of cellphones, surveillance cameras and police body cameras; harrowing testimony from bystanders who watched Chauvin kneel on Floyd; descriptions from paramedics and police supervisors who responded to the scene; and Chauvin’s own statements about what happened.
With that groundwork established, the prosecution is expected to focus on proving Chauvin’s actions that day should be considered murder and manslaughter. That will require analysis from medical experts who will explain Floyd’s cause of death as well as testimony from police experts who will say that Chauvin used excessive and unnecessary force.
Some of that use of force analysis has already entered the trial. On Thursday, Chauvin’s direct supervisor said his use of force should have ended earlier.
“When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint,” Sgt. David Pleoger said. “It would be reasonable to put a knee on someone’s neck until they were not resisting anymore, but it should stop when they are no longer combative.”
And on Friday, the Minneapolis Police Department’s top homicide detective testified that kneeling on Floyd’s neck after he had been handcuffed was “totally unnecessary,” saying that “if your knee is on someone’s neck — that could kill them.”
Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that Chauvin’s actions were within his police training. Nelson has not indicated whether Chauvin will testify in his own defense.
Testimony in the trial began last Monday and is expected to last about a month.
Doctor says Floyd likely died of asphyxia
The Hennepin County Medical Center doctor who treated Floyd and declared him dead last May testified Monday that he believed Floyd likely died of asphyxia.
Dr. Bradford Langenfeld, an emergency medicine physician, said he treated Floyd for about 30 minutes on May 25, 2020, as hospital staff unsuccessfully tried to restart his heart. Based on what paramedics reported and on Floyd’s medical condition, Langenfeld said the “more likely possibility” of Floyd’s cardiac arrest was hypoxia, or lack of oxygen.
“Doctor, is there another name for death by oxygen deficiency?” prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell asked.
“Asphyxia is a commonly understood term,” Langenfeld responded.
On cross-examination, Langenfeld said that hypoxia can be caused by many things, including drugs such as fentanyl, methamphetamine or a combination of both.
The doctor’s testimony goes to the prosecution’s argument that Chauvin’s kneeling was a substantial cause of Floyd’s death. Chauvin’s attorney, however, has argued that Floyd died due to his drug use and other health issues.
Earlier Monday, Judge Peter Cahill spoke to jurors outside of the view of cameras about an allegation of juror misconduct. He ruled there was not been any misconduct and the jurors were credible.
Feelings of guilt and horror in first week of trial
Pain, trauma and regret spilled out from the Minneapolis courtroom last week as a series of bystanders and first-responders spoke about watching Floyd’s last breaths.
In opening statements, jurors heard for the first time that Chauvin actually knelt on Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds — not the 8 minutes 46 seconds that had became a symbol and rallying cry of a worldwide protest movement against police brutality.
Blackwell said Chauvin knelt for 4 minutes and 45 seconds as Floyd cried out for help, 53 seconds as he flailed due to seizures, and 3 minutes and 51 seconds as Floyd was non-responsive. He only let up on Floyd’s neck when a paramedic motioned for him to get off.
The bystanders who watched the incident described feelings of horror and guilt on the stand. The teenager who took the widely known bystander video testified that she had lost sleep at night, wondering what she could have done differently.
“It’s been nights I’ve stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it’s not what I should have done, it’s what he should have done,” Darnella Frazier said, referring to Chauvin.
Frazier was walking with a 9-year-old girl to the Cup Foods convenience store at the time of the arrest.
“I was sad and kind of mad,” the girl testified. “Because it felt like he was stopping his breathing, and it was kind of like hurting him.”
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