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As defense starts, expert argues Chauvin's use of force was reasonable

Use-of-force expert Barry Brodd testified on behalf of the defense.
Brodd defense witness

The defense of Derek Chauvin began on Tuesday, with a use-of-force expert arguing that what the former Minneapolis police officer did to George Floyd was reasonable and in line with department policies.

"I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified and acting with objective reasonableness following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with Mr. Floyd," said Barry Brodd, a former police instructor turned private consultant, who is an expert in police use-of-force.

Chauvin is charged with the 2nd- and 3rd-degree murder and 2nd-degree manslaughter of George Floyd on May 25, 2020. Tuesday marked the start of the defense's case following 11 days of prosecution testimony.

Brodd, who has taught use of force for 35 years, revealed he had been paid $11,400 to examine the case and testify for the defense. He is the first paid witness of the trial, and has previously given evidence in the trial of Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald in 2014.

During the course of his questioning, Brodd contended that the restraint used on Floyd – placing him face down on the ground – was the safest option for officers, and said that holding them in that position is a "control technique" rather than "a use of deadly force."

"It doesn't hurt, you've put the suspect in a position where it's safe for you the officer, safe for them – the suspect – and you're using minimal effort to keep them on the ground" added Brodd. 

Floyd was held down by Chauvin, who was kneeling on his neck, and three other Minneapolis police officers for more than nine minutes, including for 3 minutes and 27 seconds after he stopped breathing.  The prosecution had earlier in the trial presented multiple experts who argued that the pressure placed on Floyd's neck and body had caused his death.

During cross-examination, the prosecution was able to get Brodd to confirm that Chauvin's knee was placed on Floyd's neck – having earlier described it as "upper back – and that Chauvin's knee on the neck could have caused pain, with the prosecution referring to the bruises on Floyd's face and shoulders from the autopsy report, as well as Floyd saying "my neck hurts" in video from the scene.

"If the pain was inflicted through the prone control, then yes I would say that's a use of force," Brodd said.

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Brodd argued that Floyd was resisting the officers after he was placed on the floor, saying that someone placed in a prone position on pavement pavement and who was complying with police "would have both their hands in the small of their back and just be resting comfortably," Brodd said.

He argued that the officers arresting Floyd were presented with a number of challenges, such as the fact Floyd was being detained on the road and there was traffic driving by, there was a crowd of people watching and interacting with the officers who "posed an unknown threat," and Floyd was "still somewhat resisting."

Prosecutors played some video when Chauvin says "No, keep him here" when Officer Thomas Lane proposed rolling Floyd on his side, with Brodd conceding he couldn't see any non-compliance in that clip.

He also acknowledged that Minneapolis PD trains officers to shift individuals from the prone position to a side recovery position to avoid possible breathing problems.

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