WASHINGTON – Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified Monday that former police officer Derek Chauvin did not follow his police department’s policy when he pinned George Floyd to the street by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes.
Kneeling on Floyd’s neck after he was handcuffed and subdued is not the department’s policy or training, Arradondo said, “and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”
The chief said officers are trained to try to deescalate a situation and to minimize or avoid the use of force whenever possible. They also receive first-aid training, he said, adding, “And so, we absolutely have a duty to render that.”
Arradondo, the city’s first Black police chief, fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Floyd’s death. Arradondo later described Floyd’s death last May as “murder.”
Chauvin, who is white, was a 19-year police veteran until he was fired. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges in the case being heard by a racially diverse 12-member jury. Chauvin’s lawyer contends that Floyd died from underlying health issues and that Chauvin followed his police training in the way in which Floyd was arrested.
Earlier, the jury also heard testimony from the Minneapolis hospital emergency room doctor who pronounced Floyd dead.
Dr. Bradford Langenfeld testified Monday that Floyd most likely died from oxygen deprivation, supporting the prosecution’s murder case.
Langenfeld, who tried to revive Floyd before pronouncing him dead, said he surmised that Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, most likely died of suffocation.
Langenfeld, testifying at the start of the second week of the trial, said Floyd’s heart had stopped by the time he was brought to the hospital. The doctor said paramedics told him they had already tried for about 30 minutes to revive Floyd. But he was not told of any other efforts by police to resuscitate him after he was arrested on suspicion of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store.
Langenfeld said that based on the available information he was given, death by asphyxiation was “more likely than the other possibilities.”
The first week of the trial was dominated by emotional testimony from eyewitnesses who watched as Chauvin pinned Floyd to the street with his knee on Floyd’s neck even as Floyd repeatedly gasped that he could not breathe.
The May 25 incident last year triggered widespread protests against police treatment of minorities in the U.S. and around the world.
On cross-examination, Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, asked Langenfeld whether some drugs can cause oxygen deprivation. The doctor acknowledged that fentanyl and methamphetamine, both of which were found in Floyd’s body, can do so.
In testimony later that day, Arradondo agreed when prosecutor Steve Schleicher said that some people become more vulnerable when under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“It’s recognizing that when we get the call from our communities, it may not often be their best day, and they may be experiencing something that’s very traumatic,” the chief said.
The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office said that Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” A summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death.”
Shortly before the trial started, the city of Minneapolis paid $27 million in damages to Floyd’s relatives.