Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arraondo told jurors Monday that Derek Chauvin’s actions the night George Floyd died in police custody ran counter to the department’s de-escalation policies and “sanctity of life” values.
Chauvin is charged with third- and second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during an arrest on May 25. Floyd was face down and in handcuffs while in the restraint.
Arradondo also told the prosecution that Chauvin’s restraint was not an official MPD tactic. Neck restraints laid out in MPD policy should use “light or moderate” force, according to Arradondo.
“When I look at the facial expression of Mr. Floyd, that does not appear, in any shape or form, that that is light or moderate pressure,” Arradondo said.
Arradondo also testified that once Floyd had stopped resisting, the restraint should have stopped. Retired MPD Sgt. David Pleoger, who was the Third Precinct Supervisor at the time of the incident, echoed that statement in testimony last week.
“To continue to apply that level of force to a person who was proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that in no way, shape or form that is by policy, is not part of our training and is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” Arradondo said.
Arradondo also acknowledged that bystanders recording officer interactions, as was the case in this incident, while potentially irritating, does not merit obstruction or interference.
Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson pushed Arradondo on what conditions might make it harder for an officer to take someone into custody, including things the arrestee might say to get out of a situation, which Arradondo confirmed.
Nelson also showed Arradondo two clips from the same timeframe during Floyd’s arrest. One video came from bystander Darnella Fraizer, which appeared in media worldwide following the incident. In it, Chauvin’s knee appears to be on Floyd’s neck.
The other video Nelson showed came from body-worn camera footage, in which it appears Chauvin’s knee was more on Floyd’s shoulder blade, which Arradondo also acknowledged.
Other witnesses questioned Monday included Dr. Bradford Langenfeld, who was a medical resident at the Hennepin County Medical Center at the time when Floyd was brought there and pronounced dead following the arrest.
Langenfeld stated that he theorized asphyxia was more likely the cause of Floyd’s death, rather than a drug overdose or heart attack. The cause of Floyd’s death is expected to play a key role in the outcome of the trial.
The last witness questioned Monday was MPD Inspector Katie Blackwell, who has led training for the department. The prosecution questioned Blackwell on MPD’s neck restraint policies, including how it compares to Chauvin’s restraint.
“What we train is using one arm or two arms for a neck restraint,” Blackwell said. “I don’t know what kind of improvised position [Chauvin’s] is. That’s not what we train.”