A police chief has condemned the officer who killed George Floyd in a blistering court testimony.
Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said Derek Chauvin went against police policy – and ‘our principles and values’ by keeping his knee pressed into Mr Floyd’s neck after he had stopped resisting.
Mr Arradondo, the city’s first Black chief, sacked Chauvin and three other officers the day after Mr Floyd’s death last May. On day six of Chauvin’s landmark trial his former boss said that continuing to kneel on the victim’s neck once he his hands were cuffed behind his back and lying on his stomach was ‘in no way, shape or form’ part of department policy or training.
In the USA, police have long been accused of closing ranks to protect fellow members of the force in a ‘blue wall of silence’ – but some of the most experienced officers in the Minneapolis department have now openly condemned Chauvin’s conduct at the stand.
Mr Arradondo, who in June branded the incident a ‘murder’, testified that Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the force, should have let Mr Floyd up sooner and that the pressure on his neck did not appear to be light to moderate, as called for under the department’s neck-restraint policy.
He also said Chauvin failed in his duty to render first aid before the ambulance arrived and that he violated policy requiring officers to de-escalate tense situations with minimal or no force if they can.
The police chief said: ‘That action is not de-escalation.
‘And when we talk about the framework of our sanctity of life and when we talk about our principles and the values that we have, that action goes contrary to what we are talking about.’
Mr Arradondo’s intervention came after the medic who pronounced Mr Floyd dead said he believed at the time that his heart most likely stopped because of a lack of oxygen.
Dr Bradford Langenfeld, who was a senior resident on duty at Hennepin County Medical Center and tried to resuscitate Mr Floyd, confirmed his heart had stopped by the time he arrived at the hospital.
The doctor said paramedics told him they had tried for about 30 minutes to resuscitate him and that he tried for another 30 minutes.
Under questioning by prosecutors, he said that based on the information he had, it was ‘more likely than the other possibilities’ that Mr Floyd’s cardiac arrest was caused by asphyxia, or insufficient oxygen.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter after the incident on May 25.
The officer is accused of pressing his knee into the 46-year-old man’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, outside a shop where Mr Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes.
The defence has argued that Chauvin did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s use of illegal drugs and his underlying health conditions caused his death.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, asked Dr Langenfeld whether some drugs can cause hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen. The doctor said that fentanyl and methamphetamine – both of which were found in Floyd’s body – can do so.
The county medical examiner’s office has classified Floyd’s death as a homicide – a death caused by someone else.
A summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under ‘other significant conditions’ but not the ‘cause of death.’
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher claimed that while some people may become more dangerous under the influence of drugs or alcohol, some may actually be ‘more vulnerable.’
Chauvin was kneeling on Floyd’s neck, while another officer knelt on his back and a third held his feet until the ambulance arrived – even after he became unresponsive, testimony and video footage suggests.
The officers also rejected offers of help from an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter who wanted to administer aid or tell officers how to do it.
Mr Nelson has suggested that onlookers – many of whom were shouting at Chauvin – might have affected the officers’ response.
Minneapolis police Inspector Katie Blackwell, commander of the training division at the time of Floyd’s death, said Chauvin received annual training in defensive tactics and use of force, and would have been trained to use one or two arms – not his knee – in a neck restraint.
‘I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is,’ she said, adding that Chauvin was also a field-training officer, receiving additional training so he would know what prospective officers were learning in the academy.
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MORE : George Floyd died of suffocation instead of drug abuse, ER doctor says
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