George Floyd: Police use of force instructor says Derek Chauvin’s kneeling is not a trained move


“We do not train leg and neck restraints with officers on duty, and as far as I know, we never have,” Lt. Johnny Mercil said.

While neck restraints may be allowed on suspects who are actively resisting, they should not be done on the knee and will not be allowed on a suspect who is handcuffed and under control, he said. Officers are taught to use only force that is commensurate with the threat.

“You want to use the least amount of force necessary to achieve your goals,” Mercil said. “If you can use a lower level of force to achieve your goals, it is safer and better for everyone involved.”

The testimony comes as a number of police supervisors and high-level officials have taken the stand to say that Chauvin violated department policies by restraining Floyd on May 25, 2020. Chief among them was Chief Medaria Arradondo, who on Monday he completely rejected Chauvin’s decision to kneel on Floyd’s neck, who was handcuffed and in a prone position, for more than 9 minutes.
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“That in no way shape or form is something that is political. It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” Arradondo said.

Combined, his testimony cuts to the heart of the defense argument that Chauvin “did exactly what he had been trained to do” when he contained Floyd last May. More testimony from law enforcement experts is expected Tuesday as prosecutors seek to show he used excessive and unreasonable force against Floyd.

Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to murder in the second degree, murder in the third degree and murder in the third degree. Defense attorney Eric Nelson has not indicated whether Chauvin will testify in his own defense.

Testimony at the trial began last Monday and is expected to last about a month.

The focus on police policy is a change from the first week of the trial, which focused on what happened to Floyd on his last day. The testimony included video from a group of cell phones, surveillance cameras, and police body cameras; testimony of anguished passersby; descriptions of paramedics and police supervisors who came to the scene; and Chauvin’s own statements about what happened.

Training coordinator emphasizes de-escalation

Minneapolis Police Department Sgt.  Ker Yang

The Minneapolis Police Department’s crisis intervention program training coordinator testified Tuesday about the importance of recognizing when someone is in crisis and alleviating the situation.

“The policy requires that when it is safe and feasible, we must reduce escalation,” said Sgt. Ker Yang, who has been with the department for 24 years.

Officers are trained in a critical decision-making model for addressing people in crisis that asks them to continually assess and reevaluate what is needed in the situation, he said. Chauvin took a 40-hour crisis intervention training course in 2016 in which actors portrayed people in crisis and officers had to alleviate the situation, Yang testified.

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In cross-examination, Yang said that the crisis intervention model can potentially apply to both the suspect and close observers. The training advises officers to appear safe, stay calm, maintain space, speak slowly and softly and avoid staring or eye contact, he said.

Yang’s testimony comes after Arradondo and other officials criticized Chauvin’s actions. Arradondo said Monday that kneeling violated policies around de-escalation, the reasonable use of force and the requirement to provide assistance.

“This action is not de-escalated, and when we speak of the framework of our sanctity of life and when we speak of the principles and values ​​that we have, that action goes against what we are talking about,” said Arradondo.

Use-of-force training in Minneapolis consisted of wearing one- or two-arm neck restraints, according to Police Inspector Katie Blackwell, who was in charge of the department’s training program last year.

“I don’t know what kind of makeshift position this is,” he testified of Chauvin’s kneeling. “That is not what we train.”

Last week, Chauvin’s direct supervisor said his use of force should have ended sooner, and the department’s chief homicide detective testified that kneeling on Floyd’s neck after being handcuffed was “totally unnecessary.”

Passenger in Floyd’s vehicle plans to plead fifth

Morries Hall, who was in the car with Floyd when police first confronted them last May, appeared in court via Zoom on Tuesday before the jury arrived to discuss his intention to testify to the Fifth if he is called to testify at trial.

Both the prosecution and the defense have called Hall as a witness. Nelson said he planned to ask Hall about his interactions with Floyd that day, his alleged use of a counterfeit bill, whether he gave Floyd drugs, and his statements to police about Floyd’s behavior in the vehicle.

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Hall’s attorney, Adrienne Cousins, argued that she planned to use the Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, and asked Judge Peter Cahill to vacate her subpoena to testify. Cousins ​​said he was concerned that Hall’s testimony could be used in a third-degree murder or drug charge against him.

“This leaves Mr. Hall potentially incriminating himself in a future third degree murder prosecution,” Cousins ​​told Cahill, noting that the murder statute allows for the prosecution of someone who provided drugs that led to an overdose.

Judge Cahill said no questions would be allowed about possible wrongdoing, but said he would be open to allowing specific questions about Floyd’s behavior in the vehicle that day. He asked Nelson to draft specific questions on that point, which will be passed on to Hall and his attorneys and discussed at a future hearing.

Hall’s testimony could be key to the defense, which has argued that Floyd’s cause of death was a combination of drug use and pre-existing health problems.

Hall is currently in custody on unrelated charges of domestic abuse, domestic strangulation assault and violation of a protection order.

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