Other Minneapolis police officials testified Tuesday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the fired police officer charged with the death of George Floyd. Their testimony came a day after Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin’s actions violated department policy.
Chauvin, who has been seen in disturbing videos kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, is charged with second degree murder,and second degree manslaughter. He pleaded not guilty.
Tuesday’s first witness, Minneapolis Police Sgt. Ker Yang, explained how the department’s crisis response team responds to people with behavioral or mental health crises. He said officers are trained to defuse a situation whenever “it is safe and doable.” Next, Lieutenant Johnny Mercil, who trains officers in the use of force and defensive tactics, spoke. A martial arts practitioner, he said he incorporated Brazilian jiu-jitsu techniques into the department’s police training. He said officers are trained to use as little force as possible to get a person to comply.
At the time of Floyd’s death, Mercil testified that officers were allowed to use neck bands by applying pressure to the side of a person’s neck to gain compliance, but only for people who were actively resisting or were aggressive, and only if other techniques had not worked. Looking at a photo of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, Mercil said it was not a permitted neck restriction. He said that such restraint is not allowed to be used against a handcuffed and controlled person. All the neck bands in the department have.
Mercil later told defense attorney Eric Nelson that the department trains officers to place the knee on someone’s shoulder if they resist being handcuffed while lying down. Nelson pointed to several body camera images that appeared to show Chauvin’s knee between Floyd’s shoulder blades.
Prosecutors then called the department’s medical coordinator, Nicole Mackenzie, to the stand, who testified that officers are required to provide CPR to a person if they cannot find a pulse. Chauvin, she said, took his first aid courses and was trained in CPR. She told Nelson that it can be “incredibly difficult” to treat a patient in the midst of a loud and excited crowd, and that a scene must be safe for an officer to come to her aid. Nelson has repeatedly portrayed the crowd of spectators during Floyd’s fatal arrest as unruly.
On Tuesday afternoon, Sergeant Jody Stiger of the LAPD was called as an expert prosecution witness regarding his experience in de-escalation tactics and training.
Their testimony comes a day after Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin’s actions violated departmental policy.