A police trainer testified that ex-constable Derek Chauvin was not trained to use his knee in a neck band like he did during George Floyd’s arrest.
Minneapolis use of force expert Lt Johnny Mercil said Mr. Chauvin should also later have moved the prone Floyd to a different position.
Mr. Chauvin, 45, was filmed kneeling on top of Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes during Mr. Floyd’s arrest last May.
Mr. Chauvin is on trial for murder and has denied the charges against him.
The images of Mr. Chauvin, who is white, with his knee on the neck of African American Mr. Floyd, have sparked global protests against racism.
With the trial in its second week, jurors have now heard from more than 20 witnesses, including four police training experts on Tuesday. The trial should last at least a month.
As police officers are rarely convicted or charged at all for deaths in custody, the verdict of this trial is seen as an indication of how the U.S. legal system will handle such cases in the future.
Prosecutors seek to prove that Mr. Chauvin’s actions violated his training and focused their questions on the police guidelines and strategies taught to help officers defuse situations.
Defense attorneys for Mr. Chauvin argued that Mr. Floyd’s efforts to resist arrest required restraint, and that the “hostile” crowd surrounding Mr. Chauvin required “unique situational awareness”.
No witnesses at the scene were arrested and several said they urged officers to check Mr Floyd’s pulse and provide him with medical attention.
Speaking in a group prayer session outside the heavily fortified courthouse on Tuesday, Mr Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd said: “Once we have the verdict and we have this conviction, we we will be able to breathe “.
What did the training experts say?
Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) training coordinator Mr. Mercil told the court that officers learn to use force in proportion to a suspect’s level of resistance and that it is “very important to pay attention to the person “.
“We tell officers to stay away from the neck when possible,” he said, adding that officers should place body weight on a suspect’s shoulders when reasonable.
Mr. Mercil testified that based on the training officers receive, Mr. Chauvin should only have used this type of neck restraint if there was an “active assault”.
He said Mr. Floyd had no ability to resist or show aggression once he was face down.
Mr. Mercil told the court that Mr. Chauvin should have recognized that it was “time to defuse the [level of] force “after Mr. Floyd fell unconscious, and Mr. Floyd should have been moved to a different position to avoid suffocation.
Earlier today, Sgt Ker Yang, a crisis response training coordinator, confirmed that Mr. Chauvin had completed the department’s 40-hour hands-on training course and that his “ultimate goal” should have been to ‘assess Mr. Floyd’s state of health upon his arrest.
Prosecutors have suggested asphyxiation was the cause of Mr Floyd’s death – contrary to the medical examiner’s ruling who said Mr Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest”, meaning the a person’s heart and lungs have stopped.
Mr Chauvin’s defense team argued that the suspected drug use and underlying heart disease contributed to Mr Floyd’s death.
Sgt Jody Stiger, a use of force expert for the Los Angeles Police Department, said officers were initially justified in their actions because Mr. Floyd was “actively resisting” arrest while he was on duty. placed in the patrol car.
“However, once he was placed in a prone position on the ground, he slowly ceased his resistance and at that point the officers – ex-officers I should say – they should have slowed down or stopped their force as well. “, did he declare.
Nicole Mackenzie, a Minneapolis police officer who trains officers in medical first aid, agreed with Mr. Chauvin’s defense, saying that “if the environment was found to be dangerous, you couldn’t start. [CPR] right now”.
Prosecutors and fellow officers criticized Mr. Chauvin and the other arresting officers for failing to provide Mr. Floyd with medical assistance before the ambulances arrived.
Strategy and rebuttal
Analysis by Tara McKelvey, BBC News, Minneapolis
When prosecutors interviewed Johnny Mercil, one of the many officers called to the stand, on Tuesday, they asked about how officers learn to use force on suspects during arrest and the practice of “Neck restrictions”.
The use of force, as it is called, is at the heart of prosecutors’ strategy. They are trying to show that Mr. Chauvin broke the rules and was a rogue officer.
One of their main witnesses, Police Chief Medaria Arradondo, said Monday that Mr. Chauvin violated policies on the use of force.
Mr Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, fought this notion by stressing that officers need to consider different factors when using force, such as potential threats from a nearby crowd.
Mr. Nelson admitted that on occasion an officer could “look bad” while immobilizing a suspect, but the officer could still follow use of force law and policies.
Mr. Nelson’s main argument – that Mr. Floyd died in large part due to suspected drug use and a weak heart, and not because of the way Mr. Chauvin treated him – will be stepped up in the coming days, as medical evidence of his death is presented.
Before testimony began, lawyers questioned 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.
Morries Hall and his attorney appeared in court via a video link to say he would decline to testify, in order to avoid possibly incriminating himself in Mr Floyd’s death with details of illegal drug use.
The judge said he would push the decision until next week and asked Mr. Chauvin’s defense attorney to prepare a list of possible questions for Mr. Hall.