Minneapolis police chief testifies in George Floyd murder trial
Minneapolis, United States: The head of the Minneapolis Police Department discussed training and de-escalation techniques on the witness stand on Monday at the trial of the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd.
Police chief Medaria Arradondo, 54, fired Derek Chauvin and the three other officers involved in the May 25, 2020 arrest that led to Floyd's death, within days of the incident.
Chauvin, who is white, was seen in a video taken by a bystander kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, for nearly nine minutes.
The video touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.
Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to charges of murder and manslaughter.
The first five days of his trial featured emotional testimony from bystanders who witnessed Floyd's arrest and repeatedly urged Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd's neck.
Arradondo was questioned extensively on Monday by prosecutor Steve Schleicher about the training his officers receive in de-escalation techniques designed to prevent the use of force.
"We put a lot of time, energy, and resources into our training," he said. "Training is absolutely, vitally essential to us as a department."
He was also asked about the code of ethics followed by Minneapolis police officers and the department's "professional policing policy."
Arradondo, who joined the Minneapolis Police Department in 1989 and worked his way up through the ranks, described it as "treating people with dignity and respect."
The police chief described de-escalation as a set of skills needed to "stabilize a situation."
"The goal is having a safe and peaceful outcome," he said.
Schleicher did not ask the police chief specific questions about Floyd's arrest but was setting the stage to do so after a lunch break.
Arradondo has previously described Floyd's death as a "murder."
Also testifying on Monday was the doctor who treated Floyd when he was brought to the emergency room at the Hennepin County Medical Center.
Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld said Floyd was in cardiac arrest when he arrived and 30 minutes of efforts to revive him were unsuccessful.
He said a lack of oxygen was the most likely reason Floyd's heart had stopped beating.
"I felt that hypoxia was one of the more likely possibilities," Langenfeld said.
Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Floyd's death was due to asphyxiation while Chauvin's defense attorney claims it was due to illegal drugs in his system.
Langenfeld said the two paramedics who brought Floyd to the hospital did not mention any drug use or the possibility that he had overdosed.
The longest-serving officer in the Minneapolis Police Department testified last week that Chauvin's use of force against Floyd was "totally unnecessary."
Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman said he had reviewed bystander and police bodycam video of Floyd's arrest and Chauvin had violated department policies on the use of force.
"Pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time, it's just uncalled for," Zimmerman said.
Besides listening to the testimony of police officers and witnesses, the nine-woman, five-man jury hearing the case in a heavily guarded Minneapolis courtroom has been shown the graphic video of Floyd's arrest.
Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge -- second-degree murder.
The other three former police officers involved in the arrest -- Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng -- are to be tried separately later this year.
Dramatic week of testimony
Here are some of the emotional comments made by witnesses during the first week of the trial.
Frazier, an 18-year-old African-American woman, was walking to the convenience store, Cup Foods, with her eight-year-old cousin when she saw Floyd being arrested.
She began recording and it was her smartphone video that went viral and sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality across the United States and around the world.
"It wasn't right. He was suffering. He was in pain," Frazier told the nine-woman, five-man jury hearing the case. "I knew it was wrong.
"It's been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life," she said.
Martin, a 19-year-old cashier at Cup Foods, sold the pack of cigarettes that Floyd paid for with a fake $20 bill.
Martin said he knew at the time that the banknote was counterfeit. "If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided," he said.
Floyd appeared to be "high" while in the store but "he seemed to be having an average Memorial Day, just living his life," Martin said.
Martin said he felt "disbelief and guilt" after learning Floyd had died.
Ross, 45, was Floyd's girlfriend of nearly three years.
She said they met at a Minneapolis homeless shelter where Floyd worked as a security guard.
She had gone there to visit the father of one of her sons, Ross said, and Floyd saw her looking sad in the lobby and asked if he could "pray" with her.
"It was so sweet," she said. "I had lost a lot of faith in God."
Ross acknowledged that both she and Floyd had struggled with opioid addiction.
"We both suffered from chronic pain," she said. "Mine was in my neck and his was in his back."
"We got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction, many times."
Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman
Zimmerman, the longest-serving officer in the Minnesota Police Department, said Chauvin's use of force against Floyd was "totally unnecessary" and violated department policies.
"Pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time, it's just uncalled for," he said.
Zimmerman said he had reviewed bystander video and police bodycam footage and he "saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger."
"Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down, all the way," he said. "They're cuffed. How can they really hurt you?"
Williams, 33, was among the crowd of bystanders urging the officers holding Floyd down to get off of him.
"You could see that he was trying to gasp for air, trying to breathe," Williams said. "You could see his eyes slowly rolling back in his head."
Williams, a mixed martial arts instructor, said Floyd was being held by Chauvin in a "blood choke" and he saw him lose consciousness.
Williams made an emergency 911 call after Floyd was taken away by ambulance.
"Murderers, bro... they just killed that man in front of the store," he told the 911 operator.
Smith, a paramedic, said Chauvin still had his knee on Floyd's neck when he arrived but he believed Floyd was already dead.
He checked the carotid artery in Floyd's neck to see if he had a pulse. "I did not feel one," Smith said. "In lay terms, I thought he was dead."
Smith said he and his partner attempted to revive Floyd in the ambulance but their efforts were unsuccessful.
"He's a human being and I was trying to give him a second chance at life," he said.