Prosecutors in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial presented a series of witnesses on Tuesday in a bid to show that the former Minneapolis police officer disregarded his training when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, Reuters reports.
Lieutenant Johnny Mercil, who teaches the proper use of force for the department, told jurors the neck restraint applied by Chauvin during the deadly arrest of Floyd was unauthorized. Officers are trained to use the least amount of force necessary to subdue a suspect, he said.
During the May 2020 arrest, the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man fell limp and stopped breathing, an incident caught on videos taken by bystanders that millions of people around the world viewed.
The incident prompted protests in cities across the United States and around the world against racism and police brutality.
Chauvin, who is white, has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges, arguing that he was following the training he had received in his 19 years on the force.
During Tuesday’s testimony, one of the prosecutors showed Mercil a photograph of Chauvin using his knee to pin Floyd’s neck to the ground and was asked if the officer was using an authorized neck restraint under the circumstances.
“I would say no,” Mercil testified.
Chauvin and three other officers were attempting to arrest Floyd on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a food store. They were fired the day after the incident.
Mercil testified that officers like Chauvin are trained to use a proportional amount of force and on how to properly use neck restraints, handcuffs and straps.
“If you can use the least amount of force to meet your objectives, it is safer and better,” Mercil testified. “It’s very important to be careful.”
On cross-examination, Mercil agreed with Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, when asked whether officers must protect themselves when arresting unruly subjects during evolving situations.
Nelson also questioned Mercil about safety precautions officers need to take when using neck restraints and body weight to restrain individuals.
“We tell them to stay away from the neck when possible,” Mercil told jurors.
Mercil’s testimony came a day after the Minneapolis police chief testified that Chauvin violated department rules and its ethics code while arresting Floyd.
Prosecutors also called to the stand Jody Stiger, a sergeant in the Los Angeles Police Department who is a use-of-force expert.
Stiger said use-of-force reviews and standards take into account the severity of the offense to which officers are responding and the threats and risks that they may perceive when apprehending a suspect.
Stiger testified he had reviewed the use of force Chauvin employed on Floyd and found it to be “excessive.”
Earlier in the day, two department trainers in crisis intervention and first aid took the stand to describe what they characterized as extensive and continuing training that Minneapolis police officers receive.
Sergeant Ker Yang, a crisis intervention training coordinator, testified that Chauvin completed 40 hours of training on dealing with suspects going through a crisis. He added that police are trained to use neutrality, respect and trust in crisis intervention situations.
“The ultimate goal in action for someone in crisis is to see if that person needs help,” Yang testified.