Derek Chauvin could have reassessed his actions when angry passers-by shouted at him that he should get off George Floyd because he was “killing” him, a lieutenant who trains police in recognized use of force techniques on Tuesday.
Lt. Johnny Mercil, a Minneapolis police officer, was one of the officers who trained Chauvin in proper use of force techniques. He was also the latest in a series of senior force officers, including Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, who testified that Chauvin, with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck during their confrontation on the 25th. May 2020, used excessive force and raped the police. procedure.
Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges – unintentional second degree murder and third degree murder – in Floyd’s death. The 46-year-old black man died after Chauvin pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes while other officers held him down. Chauvin’s trial is now in its second week.
Use of force trainer testifies
During cross-examination, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson, who argued that police at the scene were distracted by what they perceived to be a growing and increasingly hostile crowd of spectators, asked if Mercil agreed that a crowd mocking the police would sound the alarm bells among the police. Mercil agreed.
However, prosecutor Steve Schleicher was quick to answer his own question about onlookers, asking, “If they say ‘Let go, you kill him’, should the officer also take that into account and determine if their actions need to be reassessed? “
“Potentially, yes,” Mercil said.
Previously, Mercil was asked more specifically about the use of force procedures and how they relate to this specific case.
Knee to neck is not part of the training
He was shown a picture of Chauvin with his knee pressed against Floyd’s neck. Schleicher asked Mercil if this restraint was part of the training at the Minneapolis Police Department.
“No sir,” he said.
Mercil said a knee on the neck is a permitted use of force, but officers should stay away from the neck if possible. Schleicher asked Mercil how long such a technique was to be used if an officer used it.
Mercil said it would depend on the resistance offered.
“Say, for example, the subject was under control and handcuffed – would that be allowed?” Schleicher asked.
“I would say no,” Mercil said.
Video captured by a spectator showed Floyd, in handcuffs, repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd had been detained outside a convenience store after being suspected of paying with a fake bill. The four officers were subsequently dismissed. Images of the arrest sparked widespread outrage, sparking protests in the United States and around the world.
The prosecution said Chauvin pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed on the sidewalk was the cause of his death. But the defense contends that Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use, and the adrenaline circulating in his system that ultimately got him. kill.
Records show that Chauvin was trained in the use of force by the police department in October 2018.
On Tuesday, Mercil also told the Hennepin County District Court that police should try to put a suspect in a “recovery” position, or have him sit or stand up, as soon as possible to reduce the risk that he may. have difficulty breathing during their stay. stomachs.
‘I would say it’s time to defuse the force’
Cross-examined by Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, Mercil conceded that in his experience there were times when suspects he was detaining were lying about a medical emergency.
Mercil also testified that circumstances can change from minute to minute; that a suspect can move from complacency and peace to violence, and all of these considerations should play a role in the use of force.
He also said there were times when an unconscious suspect regained consciousness.
Mercil also admitted that just because someone is handcuffed doesn’t mean the suspect is in control and has trained officers to hold suspects for as long as they need to hold them.
But Schleicher then asked Mercil if it was inappropriate to hold a suspect in a position where the officer’s knee is across the back or neck once the person is under control and is no longer resistant.
“I would say it’s time to defuse the force.”
“And let them go,” Schleicher said.
“Yes sir,” Mercil said.
Mercil agreed that if an officer placed the body weight with the knee on a person’s neck and back, it would reduce the person’s ability to breathe. He also agreed that it would not be appropriate to restrain someone in this way after losing their pulse.
Mercil was asked if there was a time when an individual lost their pulse, suddenly came back to life, and became more resilient.
“Not that I know of,” he said.
Use of force was ‘excessive’: expert
In another testimony, Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant acting as a use of force expert, said officers were justified in using force as Floyd resisted their efforts to put him in a squad car.
But once Floyd was on the ground and stopped resisting, Stiger said the officers “should have slowed down or stopped their force as well.”
Stiger said that after viewing the video of the arrest, “my opinion was that the force was excessive.”