MINNEAPOLIS – An expert witness told jurors in the murder trial of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin on Wednesday that Chauvin used “lethal” force on George Floyd and kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Sgt. Jody Stiger, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department who conducted around 2,500 use of force reviews during his career, said the initial force used on Floyd was appropriate because Floyd resisted arrest as officers attempted to get him into their patrol car.
However, after the officers forced Floyd to the ground, “they should have defused the situation,” Stiger said. Instead, the officers continued to escalate the situation, he said.
Meanwhile, Rodney Floyd said on Tuesday that his brother’s last words from the videos shown time and again in the courtroom replaced his memory of their last conversation, in which they remembered their late mother. “When someone dies you cherish their last words, but my brother’s last words, oh those words are stuck in my head. Dying,” he told reporters.
Chauvin, who is white, is charged with second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd, a black man who died in police custody on May 25, 2020.
Where is the trial taking place: Prosecutors moved from eyewitness testimony to focusing on Chauvin’s use of force, trying to show that Chauvin’s restraint was excessive and led to Floyd’s death. The defense drew testimony suggesting that the officers were threatened and distracted by an unruly crowd, faced initial resistance from Floyd, and decided not to use a “hobbled” restraint that would have tied his legs to his arms. The defense argued that Floyd died from the drugs in his system and from underlying medical issues.
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- Special Agent James Reyerson of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the agency’s lead investigator in the George Floyd case, took the witness stand on Wednesday afternoon.
- Fourteen jurors – 12 to deliberate and two to sit as substitutes – have heard from 26 prosecution witnesses over the past week and a half.
- The EMT, which runs the Minneapolis Police Department’s emergency medical response training, said Tuesday officers are trained to call an ambulance and provide medical assistance if a situation is “critical.” The agents who responded to Floyd did not render medical attention.
- Minneapolis Police Lt. Johnny Mercil, a use of force expert, received an image of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck on Tuesday and told jurors the move was not a trained neck restraint. by the department.
Special Agent James Reyerson Describes Chain of Custody of Evidence
Special Agent James Reyerson of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the agency’s lead investigator in the George Floyd case, took the witness stand on Wednesday afternoon and shared his recollection of what happened May 25, 2020.
He told jurors he received a call from his supervisor that evening about “some form of critical incident” and went with other officers to a room in town hall. , where he learned that Chauvin and three other officers were involved.
He arrived at the scene around 2:30 a.m. on May 26. Reyerson, establishing chain of custody for prosecutor Matthew Frank, said he seized the $ 20 bills in a kraft paper envelope, plus a pipe, cigarettes and a map of the interior of the SUV. One of the bills was torn in half.
Reyerson received a copy of Floyd’s autopsy on June 4 and a toxicology report which showed Floyd was under the influence of a substance.
The cars were towed and then processed on May 27. The defense examined Officers Lane and Keung’s squad car, finding a pill in the back seat. The pill was donated to BCA headquarters for processing in the crime scene garage.
The prosecution called for the reprocessing of Floyd’s Mercedes SUV in December.
Frank’s questioning also focused on the weight disparity between Floyd, who weighed over 200 pounds, and Chauvin, who weighed 140 pounds. Frank asked Reyerson for the extra weight Chauvin had on his belt. Reyerson testified that the equipment Chauvin wore during wrestling added 30 to 40 pounds.
Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department returned to the witness stand Wednesday morning. Stiger estimates he trained around 6,000 officers on de-escalation, basic patrol tactics and other topics
Stiger told jurors on Tuesday that after reviewing the case, he determined that Chauvin’s use of force was “excessive.”
Regarding the seriousness of Floyd’s crime, Stiger said that, given the alleged offense – trying to pass a fake $ 20 bill – “you wouldn’t even expect to use force of any kind. ” In assessing whether Floyd posed a threat to the safety of others, he stated that a subject’s size and stature may be relevant, but that it is not appropriate to use force against someone simply. due to its larger size.
On Wednesday, Stiger testified that, based on the time stamps from the police corps cameras, the pressure Chauvin put on Floyd lasted nine minutes and 29 seconds and that Chauvin kept the knee pressure on Floyd’s neck for this whole period.
Stiger said the number of officers at the scene outweighed any threat posed by Floyd, who was not actively resisting while in the prone position. He said “that no force should have been used after being in this position.” But the pressure continually exerted by Chauvin “raised the possibility of death,” he said.
“You can hear Mr. Floyd show his discomfort and pain, and you can hear the accused respond to him,” Stiger said. He added that Chauvin had had 866 hours of paid training during his 19 years in the force, which should have been enough for him to cope with a crowd distraction.
During the first cross-examination by lead defense lawyer Eric Nelson, Stiger admitted that he had never before testified in court as an expert on the use of force by police.
Using references to Minneapolis Police radio transmissions, Nelson convinced Stiger that Chauvin had reason to believe by going to the scene that Floyd was 6 to 6 1/2 feet tall and apparently impaired by drugs or l ‘alcohol.
Nelson concluded the line of questioning by showing side-by-side views of two videos – one, bystander video, the other, of a police camera. Stiger agreed that viewer video showed Chauvin’s knee to be on Floyd’s neck. Stiger also agreed that the body camera video showed the knee to be more “at the base of the neck,” between the shoulder blades.
EMT Nicole Mackenzie: Officers should call an ambulance and provide assistance if the situation is ‘critical’
Minneapolis Police Department officer Nicole Mackenzie, a paramedic and the department’s medical support coordinator, told jurors officers are required to provide medical assistance and call an ambulance if the situation is “critical”.
Mackenzie said officers receive CPR training every two years. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher displayed the CPR cards issued to Chauvin to show he had the necessary training.
Mackenzie said ministry policy requires officers to check the pulse and give and continue CPR until an older person is on the scene with advanced training, there are obvious signs death or until the officer is completely exhausted.
Asked by District Attorney Steve Schleicher whether someone who speaks is still able to breathe, Mackenzie said, “Just because they talk doesn’t mean they breathe properly.”
In cross-examination by defense attorney Eric Nelson, MacKenzie acknowledged that certain situations can prevent an officer from calling EMS. Her testimony was cut short as the defense said it planned to call her back, as early as next Tuesday, in their case.
Sgt. Johnny Mercil, use of force instructor: officers failed to learn to put their knees on their necks
Minneapolis Police Lt. Johnny Mercil, who leads the use of force training division classes and taught at a class Derek Chauvin attended in October 2018, told jurors on Tuesday that a still image of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck is not a restraint taught to Minneapolis Police Department officers.
Mercil said using a knee on the neck or back may be a permitted use of force, but is generally transient and depends on the time frame and type of resistance. If the subject is handcuffed and does not resist, it is not allowed, Mercil said.
“There is the possibility and the risk that some people will have trouble breathing when they are handcuffed (on the back) and on their stomach,” Mercil said. One person is rolled onto their side to avoid positional asphyxiation, Mercil said. The officer should refer the person to this position “the sooner the better”, although he noted that this depends on the situation and the environment.
Asked by Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson, Mercil admitted that use of force techniques do not have a strict application in all cases and that officers learn to be fluid and react to the circumstances they face. . Mercil also agreed under questioning that some people are making excuses to avoid being arrested, and that he had suspects say “I can’t breathe” as he tried to stop them. Read more.