George Floyd death: Seventh day of Chauvin murder trial begins

Tanya Simon
April 7, 2021

In this image from video, Minneapolis Police Lt. Johnny Mercil, a use of force trainer, testifies on Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.

Yang's testimony came one day after Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified that Chauvin did not follow his police department's policy when he pinned Floyd to the street. Officer Tou Thao took on the roll of crowd enforcer, prosecutors said, blowing off resident complaints.

Witnesses say Mr Chauvin and his colleagues repeatedly ignored pleas for help and mercy from Mr Floyd and bystanders.

Nelson also questioned Mercil about safety precautions officers need to take when using neck restraints and using body weight to restrain individuals.

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

Prosecutors have suggested that asphyxiation was the cause of Mr Floyd's death - contrasting with the ruling of the medical examiner who said Mr Floyd died of "cardiopulmonary arrest", which means a person's heart and lungs have stopped.

Mercil said officers who attended that training were told they needed to use the least amount of force required to get a suspect to cooperate.

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.

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Sergeant Ker Yang, a crisis intervention training coordinator, testified that Chauvin completed 40 hours of training on dealing with suspects going through a crisis.

Questioned by the defence, Mackenzie testified that officers must take into account the impact drugs may have on a subject's behaviour and that they should also consider the safety of their surroundings when deciding whether to administer first aid. He said once Floyd was handcuffed, he saw "no reason for why the officers felt they were in danger, if that's what they felt, and that's what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force". They are trying to show that Mr Chauvin broke rules, and was a rogue officer.

Officers kept restraining Mr Floyd - with Mr Chauvin kneeling on his neck, another kneeling on Mr Floyd's back and a third holding his feet - until the paramedics arrived, even after he became unresponsive, according to testimony and video footage.

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". Hall was also a passenger in the SUV that Floyd was driving.

Judge Cahill said that any questions about potential wrongdoing would not be allowed, yet he said he would be open to allowing specific questions about Floyd's behavior in the vehicle that day.

Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020, death of George Floyd.

"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.

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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