Derek Chauvin Trial Live Updates: Witnesses Scrutinize Officer’s Use of Force

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The defense has indicated it will recall Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, during Derek Chauvin’s portion of the trial, suggesting that Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, believes her testimony was helpful to his case.

Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, ended his cross examination of Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the police department’s medical trainer, with some strong points for the defense. She told him that it’s very difficult to focus on the patient when you have loud things happening around you, that it’s more difficult to assess a patient, and it makes it possible that you might miss signs of problems. This could all be used to argue that George Floyd’s death was manslaughter — more of a mistake on Chauvin’s part than a depraved crime.

The prosecution took a risk by calling so many use-of-force witnesses; now some of them are coming very close to bolstering key aspects of the defense’s case.

In his questioning of Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the Minneapolis Police Department’s medical response trainer, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer returns to a line of questioning that he has raised with several other expert witnesses, suggesting that the shouting bystanders at the scene last May were a factor in Chauvin’s decision to continue restraining George Floyd.

As police officers were arresting George Floyd and he was telling them he couldn’t breathe, video captured one officer telling him it takes “a lot of oxygen” to talk. But medical experts have said people can be struggling to breathe and still speak. Officer Nicole Mackenzie, who trains Minneapolis police officers in medical treatment, backed that up from the stand, testifying, “Just because they’re speaking doesn’t mean they’re breathing adequately.”

Now testifying after the court’s lunch break is Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, who is expected to testify about officers providing medical treatment to people who are having a crisis. She is the eighth member of the department to testify for the prosecution in this trial.

The Rev. Al Sharpton, center, prayed with relatives of George Floyd on Tuesday outside of the courthouse where Derek Chauvin is on trial.
Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Relatives of George Floyd prayed outside the courthouse with the Rev. Al Sharpton on Tuesday, asking God for “justice” from the jury and for strength to continue closely watching the trial taking place on the 18th floor of the building behind them.

“Give this family strength that they can bear the recurring sight of seeing their brother with a knee on his neck,” Mr. Sharpton said. “A knee that represents the perpetual knee on the necks of all Black Americans.”

As he spoke, testimony continued inside the courtroom in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with murder in George Floyd’s death. Ben Crump, a lawyer for the Floyd family, said the family had been told that autopsy photographs may be shown in court on Tuesday.

Prosecutors have already shown several graphic videos of the police confronting Mr. Floyd and Mr. Chauvin kneeling on him for more than nine minutes. Mr. Sharpton said he was praying for everyone watching the trial who was “suffering with” the Floyd family.

In addition to Mr. Crump and Mr. Sharpton, several high-profile Black politicians and activists accompanied the Floyd family. Among them were David A. Paterson, the former governor of New York; Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, who died in 2014 when a New York police officer put him in a chokehold; and Ray McGuire, who is running for mayor in New York and has secured Ms. Carr’s endorsement.

As two law enforcement officials in camouflage watched from a roof of the courthouse, several relatives of Mr. Floyd bowed their heads in prayer.

Afterward, Philonise Floyd, a brother of George’s, put his arm around Ms. Carr.

“We and Ms. Gwen Carr, after we get the verdict and we get this conviction, we’ll be able to breathe,” he said.

Lt. Johnny Mercil testifying on Tuesday.
Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Lt. Johnny Mercil, the second witness of the day, is a veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, a practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu and a use-of-force instructor who has trained hundreds of police officers.

His testimony focused on a crucial argument for the prosecution: that Derek Chauvin’s actions last May were not consistent with how officers have been taught to restrain people who are resisting arrest.

Steve Schleicher, a prosecutor, displayed a picture of Mr. Chauvin pinning George Floyd to the ground and asked, “Is this an M.P.D.-trained neck restraint?”

“No, sir,” Lieutenant Mercil responded.

The lieutenant, who is currently on medical leave from the Minneapolis Police Department, is the seventh member of the department to testify for the prosecution in Mr. Chauvin’s trial.

But Eric J. Nelson, a lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, countered with a line of questioning emphasizing the unpredictability of people who are being taken into custody, the possibility that they could stop resisting arrest and then suddenly become violent, and the challenge for police officers in assessing a situation as circumstances shift.

He suggested that Mr. Chauvin’s knee was not the cause of Mr. Floyd’s unconsciousness, and asked Lieutenant Mercil whether a restraint requires pressure on both sides of the neck for the person to go unconscious. “That is what we teach, yes,” he said.

Mr. Nelson repeatedly invoked the chaotic scene around Mr. Chauvin last May, asking Lieutenant Mercil whether bystanders yelling insults at an officer would “reasonably tend to rise alarm in an officer.” He agreed that they would.

Mr. Schleicher, the prosecutor, then asked: “And if they’re saying, ‘Get off him, you’re killing him,’ should the officer also take that into account and consider whether their actions need to be reassessed?”

“Potentially, sir, yes,” Lieutenant Mercil said.

The testimony from Lt. Johnny Mercil, a use-of-force trainer with the Minneapolis Police Department, has wrapped up, and the court is taking a break for lunch.

Questions from the defense to Lt. Johnny Mercil, a use-of-force trainer with the Minneapolis Police Department, about whether unconscious people can suddenly regain consciousness and fight back are laying the groundwork to argue that Derek Chauvin was behaving reasonably when he continued to restrain George Floyd for more than nine minutes, even after he lost consciousness.

The fact that Lt. Mercil keeps agreeing with the defense lawyer on this line of questioning could present a problem for the prosecution.

Defense lawyer Eric Nelson seems to be laying the foundation to argue that Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck was not a neck restraint and did not cause Floyd to go unconscious. He asked use-of-force trainer Lt. Johnny Mercil whether a restraint requires pressure on both sides of the neck for the person to go unconscious. “That is what we teach, yes,” Mercil said.

Mercil also said that generally it takes less than 10 seconds for someone to go unconscious because of a neck restraint. That’s likely a point that Nelson will use to say that it took Floyd longer than 10 seconds to go unconscious.

Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, has just asked Johnny Mercil, a lieutenant and use-of-force trainer with the Minneapolis Police Department, if people on drugs can display “more strength than they would have otherwise.” Superhuman strength is associated with excited delirium, a controversial diagnosis that is often cited in autopsies after deaths in police custody.

Prosecutors presenting police guidance on the use of neck restraints during the trial of the former officer Derek Chauvin.
Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Even as several members of the Minneapolis Police Department have criticized Derek Chauvin’s use of force against George Floyd, they have acknowledged that using force is a necessary part of policing. And data shows that reports of force are extremely rare, although the outcome can sometimes be significant.

Since 2018, there have been 14 reported incidents of officers’ using neck restraints in which the person it was used on became unconscious, according to data from the department. The most recent incident was in February 2020 in which a 20-year-old Black male was restrained during a traffic stop for “verbal noncompliance,” the data said. Since 2012, there had been 310 instances in which neck restraints were used and the subject did not lose consciousness.

A central question for jurors in this trial will be whether it was appropriate for Mr. Chauvin to kneel on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Johnny Mercil, a Minneapolis police lieutenant who provided use-of-force training to Mr. Chauvin, testified that officers were trained to “use the lowest level of force possible in order to meet those objectives.”

In many ways, this phase of the trial is putting police tactics on trial. Minneapolis residents, particularly African-Americans, have been highly critical of the Police Department, which they say has brutalized their communities. Since 2015, the Police Department has used force against Black residents at seven times the rate that it did against white residents, according to a New York Times analysis of police data last year.

About 20 percent of Minneapolis’s 430,000 residents are Black, but nearly 62 percent of the time that officers used force, it was against Black residents, according to the data.

Police officials argue that although the use of force may get a lot of attention, it is exceedingly rare. The data shows that there have been 4.3 million calls for service since 2008, but force was reported in just 13,472 of those instances, or just .31 percent of the time.

For residents who live in heavily policed areas, however, constant harassment by the police, even when force is not used, has left a bad impression. And shocking cases like Mr. Floyd’s can tend to overshadow the fact that force might be rarely used.

Johnny Mercil, a lieutenant with the Minneapolis Police Department, is explaining the use-of-force strategies that he teaches to police officers. His testimony here repeats a similar theme from earlier expert witnesses: When trying to control a subject, officers are trained to “use the lowest level of force possible in order to meet those objectives,” he says.

The prosecution is focusing its questions to Mercil on when it is appropriate for a police oficer to use a neck restraint on a suspect, as Derek Chauvin did on George Floyd. When shown a picture of Chauvin pinning Floyd to the ground and asked, “Is this an M.P.D.-trained neck restraint?” the lieutenant responds, “No, sir.”




Police Sergeant Testifies on De-Escalation Process During Arrests

Sgt. Ker Yang, a crisis intervention coordinator with the Minneapolis Police Department, testified on Tuesday that officers have time to slow down, re-evaluate and reassess while arresting someone.

“Really, the ultimate goal in action — of somebody in a crisis — is to see if that person needs help and what kind of help. Does that person need to go to the hospital or does that person — can be turned over to somebody that has the authority to watch over that person?” “The crisis intervention policy actually defines crisis as having a trajectory, correct?” “Yes, sir.” “And that that trajectory can increase in its severity over time?” “Yes, sir.” “And that’s why it becomes important for an officer to create time and distance, right?” “Yes, sir.” “And creating time and distance for an officer is an important part of the de-escalation process, is it not?” “Yes, sir.” “And would you agree that you train police officers that as that intensity of crisis increases, the risk or threat to the officer grows greater?” “I don’t believe I train a specific like that, because as the intensity — my training is that as the intensity increases, and you have the distance and you, like you said, the time, you try to bring it down, not increase the intensity of it.”

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Sgt. Ker Yang, a crisis intervention coordinator with the Minneapolis Police Department, testified on Tuesday that officers have time to slow down, re-evaluate and reassess while arresting someone.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

Lawyers for both the prosecution and the defense continued to argue on Tuesday over whether Derek Chauvin violated police policy when he knelt on George Floyd, asking a range of questions to the day’s first witness, a crisis intervention coordinator with the Minneapolis Police Department.

Prosecutors called the coordinator, Sgt. Ker Yang, 49, to the stand and walked through the various decisions that officers are expected to make while on the job. Steve Schleicher, a prosecutor, emphasized in his questions that the police are supposed to constantly re-evaluate a situation and act accordingly, to which Sergeant Yang agreed.

“When we talk about fast-evolving situations, I know that they do exist, they do happen,” Sergeant Yang testified. But in many situations, he added, “We have the time to slow things down and re-evaluate and reassess.”

His comments echoed those of Chief Medaria Arradondo, who on Monday testified that while Mr. Chauvin’s initial efforts to restrain Mr. Floyd may have been reasonable, he had violated policy by continuing to kneel on Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes.

Mr. Schleicher noted on Tuesday that Mr. Chauvin had participated in a 40-hour crisis intervention training course in 2016.

Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, pressed his argument that bystanders at the scene of an arrest can have a large effect on how an officer acts, and that an officer can “look bad” even while using force that is lawful. He also emphasized that officers are not supposed to remain solely focused on someone they are arresting, but are also supposed to consider other parts of their surroundings.

“It’s not just one small thing that you’re focused only on the subject that you’re arresting,” Mr. Nelson said. “You’re taking in a lot of information and processing it all kind of simultaneously through this critical decision-making model.” Sergeant Yang agreed.

The next witness is Johnny Mercil, a police lieutenant who is currently on medical leave from the Minneapolis Police Department. He is a use-of-force trainer, and early in his career was assigned to the Third Precinct, whose station house burned down early in the protests following George Floyd’s death last year. His testimony will continue the focus on the training given to Minneapolis police officers.

He teaches officers Brazilian jiu jitsu and other hands-on tactics for subduing suspects.

It’s interesting to see Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyer focus on how, as the intensity of a situation grows, the risk to an officer increases. I spoke with a former high-level Minneapolis police commander last year, and he told me that the constant focus among police officers on their safety could sometimes lead to actions that put them at odds with the communities they serve. His main point was that it’s a fine line between keeping oneself safe as an officer, but also not seeing everything and everyone around you as a threat or an enemy.

The defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, is now questioning Sgt. Ker Yang, the Minneapolis Police Department’s crisis intervention training coordinator, and he is trying to establish that police tactics can sometimes get messy, but they’re still allowed. “They still may be lawful even if they look bad?” Nelson asked. “Yes sir,” Yang responded. Of course, jurors will have to determine whether kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes was something that just “looked bad” or whether it was unlawful.

The first witness called by prosecutors today is Sgt. Ker Yang, 49, a crisis intervention training coordinator with the Minneapolis Police Department. Prosecutors will likely use his testimony to try to show that Derek Chauvin had been trained in how to safely respond to people who were having various kinds of crises.

Prosecutors seem to be trying to establish with Sgt. Yang that the officers arresting George Floyd were trained to assess the situation and should have gone from using force against Floyd to trying to provide him with medical attention.

The judge is not going to rule today on whether Morries Hall, the friend of George Floyd’s who was with him in the moments before his death in May, can be forced to testify. The judge will likely rule later this week. Derek Chauvin’s lawyer has many questions for Mr. Hall, but almost all of them have the potential to incriminate him, and Mr. Hall has said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Before the jury is brought in this morning, court starts with an appearance from Morries Lester Hall, a friend of George Floyd’s who was in the car with him on May 25, the day Floyd died, in the moments before the police arrived. His lawyer says he does not want to testify and would invoke his Fifth Amendment right to not incriminate himself. This hearing is over whether he can be forced to testify against his will. He is currently being held in jail on charges unrelated to Floyd’s death and is appearing on video.

Derek Chauvin’s defense lawyer has outlined a long list of questions that he wants to ask Hall. Among them are questions about his interactions with Floyd in Cup Foods, about Floyd’s use of drugs, about Hall’s decision to leave the state after Floyd’s death, and much more. Almost all of those things have the potential to incriminate Hall.




Morries Hall, George Floyd’s Friend, Hopes to Avoid Chauvin Trial Testimony

Morries Hall, a friend of George Floyd who was with him when he was arrested, is hoping to avoid testifying. On Tuesday, Mr. Hall’s legal team stated he planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

“At this point in time, Mr. Hall has no immunity. He has been provided no immunity, no protection for his testimony whatsoever. And because of that, Mr. Hall is invoking his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination in several key areas of questioning that we believe he would face were he to be called to testify.” “The defense intend to inquire of Mr. Hall as to the following. Certainly any events leading up to their — Mr. Hall and Mr Floyd’s arrival at Cup Foods earlier in the day, where they were, what they were doing, Mr. Hall’s interactions with Mr. Floyd in the Cup Foods.” “We need to tread carefully, obviously, Fifth Amendment right is a broad one. And I agree the link — you have to worry about links to possible prosecution. But at the same time, if everything’s linked, then it’s a blanket prohibition, and that is not the case law. So what I’m going to do is I’m going to ask Mr. Nelson essentially to draft in written question form with the expected answer based on whatever statements were made on what that would be.”

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Morries Hall, a friend of George Floyd who was with him when he was arrested, is hoping to avoid testifying. On Tuesday, Mr. Hall’s legal team stated he planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

Morries Lester Hall, a friend of George Floyd’s who was in a car with him on May 25, moments before the police pulled Mr. Floyd out of the car and pinned him to the ground, is hoping to avoid testifying in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin.

At a hearing on Tuesday morning over whether Mr. Hall must testify, his lawyer said that testifying about any of his actions on May 25 had the potential to incriminate him, and that Mr. Hall planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Mr. Hall, who is currently in jail on charges unrelated to Mr. Floyd’s death, appeared in court by video conference, though he spoke only to spell his name and confirm that he had conferred with his lawyer.

Judge Peter A. Cahill, who is overseeing the trial of Mr. Chauvin, did not rule on whether Mr. Hall must testify, but he ordered Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer to draft a list of questions by Thursday that Mr. Hall might be able to answer without incriminating himself. Videos from the scene show that Mr. Hall was sitting in the passenger seat of a car when the police initially confronted Mr. Floyd, shortly before he was pinned to the ground and died.

Adrienne Cousins, Mr. Hall’s lawyer, said that both prosecutors and Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, had subpoenaed Mr. Hall, though Mr. Nelson seemed more interested in calling him to the stand. Mr. Nelson said in court that he wanted to ask Mr. Hall a range of questions, including about whether he had given Mr. Floyd drugs, about the fake $20 bill that a convenience store clerk said Mr. Floyd used, and about why Mr. Hall left Minnesota after Mr. Floyd had died.

Ms. Cousins said that all of those questions could incriminate her client, and Judge Cahill largely seemed to agree. But the judge said there may be a narrow range of questions — possibly on how Mr. Floyd appeared to be acting in the car before the police arrived — that Mr. Hall might be able to answer without incriminating himself. Ms. Cousins strenuously disagreed, saying that even acknowledging that Mr. Hall was in the car with Mr. Floyd on May 25 could be used against him if he were to be charged with a crime based on his actions that day.

For their part, prosecutors seemed most worried about the prospect that Mr. Hall would take the stand and invoke his Fifth Amendment right in front of the jury, perhaps making them further question Mr. Floyd’s actions that day or making them concerned about what is being withheld.

The Hennepin County Government Center, where on Monday the prosecution began laying out the evidence that Derek Chauvin’s kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes violated department policy.
Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

The first week of the former police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial was emotional, marked by gut-wrenching eyewitness accounts, combative exchanges and vivid videos. But according to Justin Hansford, a law professor at Howard University, Monday marked the start of a more critical part of the trial.

The prosecution began laying out the evidence that Mr. Chauvin’s decision to kneel on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes violated department policy and that his actions led directly to Mr. Floyd’s death on May 25. That’s the “meat” of the prosecution’s case and is the only evidence that the jury can use to reach a verdict, said Mr. Hansford, who has been watching the trial daily.

Prosecutors should have started with “a more substantive argument early on, rather than an emotional one” because that is what the jurors are asked to consider in their decision, Mr. Hansford said. “We should be watching the expert testimony closely because that will be grounds” for the verdict, he said.

On Monday, the jurors heard none of the harrowing accounts of Mr. Floyd’s arrest. Instead, the prosecution guided the Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arrodondo, through more than two hours of questions about the law, police training and standards. Prosecutors followed that with questions to the Police Department’s former training director about how often Mr. Chauvin would have received guidance on tactics such as restraining suspects, use of force and medical aid.

Chief Arrodondo testified that Mr. Chauvin violated the department’s policy when he pinned Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes and failed to render aid.




Minneapolis Police Chief Says Chauvin Violated Policy

Chief Medaria Arradondo testified Monday that the former officer Derek Chauvin should have halted his use of force to restrain George Floyd after Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting.

“Is what you see in Exhibit 17, in your opinion, within the Minneapolis Police departmental policy 5-300, authorizing the use of reasonable force?” “It is not.” “Do you have a belief as to when this restraint, the restraint on the ground that you viewed should have stopped?” “Once Mr. Floyd, and this is based on my viewing of the videos, once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that — that should have stopped. And clearly, when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive, and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that, that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy, it is not part of our training and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.” “And based these observations, do you have an opinion as to whether the defendant violated M.P.D. departmental policy 7-350 by failing to render aid to Mr. Floyd?” “I agree that the defendant violated our policy in terms of rendering aid.”

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Chief Medaria Arradondo testified Monday that the former officer Derek Chauvin should have halted his use of force to restrain George Floyd after Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

Unequivocal condemnation from the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department has pushed the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former officer charged in the death of George Floyd, into new territory.

Questions about whether Mr. Chauvin violated department policy by keeping his knee on Mr. Floyd for nine and a half minutes will remain important as the trial moves forward on Tuesday. The judge, Peter A. Cahill, said he would limit the number of police officers who could testify about use of force, though one more officer is expected to answer questions on the crucial topic.

On Monday, Chief Medaria Arradondo rebuked Mr. Chauvin — saying he pinned Mr. Floyd for too long and failed to render aid — in a rare example of a police chief testifying against a police officer. Though Mr. Chauvin’s restraints may have been justified at first, “Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” the chief said.

Other witnesses included an emergency room doctor and veteran officer.

Dr. Bradford T. Wankhede Langenfeld, who attempted to save Mr. Floyd’s life at a hospital for about 30 minutes before declaring his death, said he believed that asphyxia, or the deprivation of oxygen, was one of the more likely causes of death. The prosecution has sought to validate that claim, while the defense has pointed to complications from drug use and a heart condition.

Inspector Katie Blackwell, a veteran police officer in Minneapolis, told jurors that officers should move suspects who are facedown and handcuffed “as soon as possible” because the position can make it difficult to breathe. Mr. Floyd was kept on his stomach even after he lost consciousness.

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, argued that officers sometimes have to juggle multiple things when applying force, such as possible threats from bystanders. Regarding Mr. Floyd’s cause of death, Mr. Nelson got Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld to confirm that drug use could cause asphyxia.

Ultimately, Monday’s testimony may prove problematic for the defense. The criticism by Chief Arradondo, in particular, could encourage the jury to break from the norm of giving police officers the benefit of the doubt when it comes to split-second decisions on when, and how, to apply force.

Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights lawyer, speaking at a rally in Minneapolis in November.
Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

During his testimony on Monday, Medaria Arradondo, the Minneapolis police chief, said that he learned about the widely seen bystander video when a community member called him close to midnight after George Floyd’s death and said, “Chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 38th and Chicago?”

Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights lawyer, said in an interview on Monday that she was the community member who had that conversation with the chief about 10 months ago. She watched his testimony in the case of Derek Chauvin, the former officer accused of murder in Mr. Floyd’s death, and said she was pleased.

“He set a powerful example that police chiefs across the nation should follow when they know that their officers have violated people’s human rights and constitutional rights,” Ms. Armstrong said.

Residents and political leaders have been intensely debating the future of the city’s police department, with some activists and City Council members advocating the dismantling of the department and creating a new public safety agency that would oversee law enforcement. Some have said that the head of the new agency should not be a police officer, but Ms. Armstrong said that Chief Arradondo’s testimony instilled confidence in her that he should continue to lead law enforcement in Minneapolis.

“I think the fact that Chief Arradondo — not once, but twice — has been willing to break that blue wall of silence is incredibly important,” she said.

Other activists were not as impressed with the chief. D.A. Bullock is a local activist and filmmaker who said he favored defunding and dismantling the Police Department, and eventually abolishing it all together. He said he was disturbed that Chief Arradondo suggested that there were times when it was appropriate for officers to place their knees on the necks of suspects to get them under control.

That, Mr. Bullock said, “means to me that they are going to continue the practice of putting their knees on Black men’s necks.”

Like other supporters of efforts to defund the police, Mr. Bullock said he thought that Chief Arradondo was well intentioned. But he argued that the problems within the department were so systemic that there was little the police chief could do to make policing better.

“I encourage people again to look at the policy and not look at his performance,” Mr. Bullock said. “I don’t feel very confident in that testimony about actual changes in the Police Department.”

Prosecutors quizzed Medaria Arradondo, the Minneapolis police chief, on Monday about his department’s standards and training during the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin.
Credit…Still image, via Court TV

In testimony that often seemed more like he was teaching a criminal law class, the Minneapolis police chief, Medaria Arradondo, spent more than two hours on Monday detailing the training his officers must complete and the standards they must comply with. Navigating jargon and statutes, his testimony in former officer Derek Chauvin’s trial is crucial in determining whether Mr. Chauvin is criminally responsible for George Floyd’s death.

The prosecution must show that Mr. Chauvin “acted unreasonably and out of the bounds” of his training and the standards set by Minnesota, said David Schultz, a law professor at the University of Minnesota. Prosecutors need to show he “went rogue.” If the defense can prove that Mr. Chauvin followed all protocols, then “the case is all over” for the prosecution, Mr. Schulz said.

Mr. Arradondo fired Mr. Chauvin and backed an F.B.I. investigation shortly after Mr. Floyd’s death, calling it a “murder.” His prior comments will very likely face scrutiny when Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, cross-examines him.

Proving that Mr. Chauvin broke policy is one of the two most important tasks for prosecutors, Mr. Schultz said. The other is proving that Mr. Floyd died as a direct result of Mr. Chauvin kneeling on his neck and restraining him. The defense has argued instead that Mr. Floyd died of a combination of factors, including an overdose, and that Mr. Chauvin was following Minnesota policing standards.

Minnesota has fairly clear and high standards for police officers, and unlike other states, it licenses and regulates its police officers, Mr. Schultz said. The defense will remind the jury that police officers across the country have statutory authorization to use force by way of a Supreme Court decision on qualified immunity, Mr. Schultz said.

“What Arradondo and the other police officers last week are doing is saying that Chauvin wasn’t a responsible police officer” based on the standards and training he had received, Mr. Schultz said. “This is what they have to do to show he engaged in criminal activity” and therefore lost his qualified immunity, he said.

A mural honoring George Floyd in the Third Ward, the neighborhood where Mr. Floyd grew up, in Houston, Texas. 
Credit…Callaghan O’Hare for The New York Times

Body camera footage of George Floyd’s death captured one of the officers saying that he was “concerned about excited delirium or whatever,” invoking a longstanding controversy over a term that is often cited in police custody deaths. Some experts insist that excited delirium syndrome is a genuine medical condition, while others say it is simply an excuse for police brutality.

In opening statements, the defense mentioned excited delirium only in passing but did say that a contributing factor to Floyd’s death wasthe adrenaline flowing through his body.”

There is no generally accepted definition of excited delirium, according to a 2018 review of the scientific literature, but the term is used to describe someone who becomes distressed or aggressive from a mental illness or the use of psychoactive drugs.

It is not included in the International Classification of Diseases or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders but has been recognized by the National Association of Medical Examiners and the American College of Emergency Physicians.

According to a report by the Brookings Institution, the term is disproportionately applied to Black people and was first used in 1985 to explain a series of sudden deaths in cocaine users, occurring primarily while in police custody, and again to explain the deaths of 32 Black women in Miami in the 1980s, who were later determined to have been asphyxiated by a serial killer.

On the stand on Monday, Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld, who tried to resuscitate Mr. Floyd in the emergency room and pronounced him dead, said he had considered but ultimately rejected excited delirium as a contributing factor in his death, conceding that it was a “controversial diagnosis.”

There was no report that Mr. Floyd had ever been “very sweaty” or “extremely agitated,” he said. “I’ve seen a lot of cases of mental health crises or drug use leading to severe agitated states,” he said. “That is almost always reported by paramedics, and so the absence of that information was telling.”




How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody

The Times has reconstructed the death of George Floyd on May 25. Security footage, witness videos and official documents show how a series of actions by officers turned fatal. (This video contains scenes of graphic violence.)

It’s a Monday evening in Minneapolis. Police respond to a call about a man who allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. Seventeen minutes later, the man they are there to investigate lies motionless on the ground, and is pronounced dead shortly after. The man was 46-year-old George Floyd, a bouncer originally from Houston who had lost his job at a restaurant when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Crowd: “No justice, no peace.” Floyd’s death triggered major protests in Minneapolis, and sparked rage across the country. One of the officers involved, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The other three officers have been charged with aiding and abetting murder. The Times analyzed bystander videos, security camera footage and police scanner audio, spoke to witnesses and experts, and reviewed documents released by the authorities to build as comprehensive a picture as possible and better understand how George Floyd died in police custody. The events of May 25 begin here. Floyd is sitting in the driver’s seat of this blue S.U.V. Across the street is a convenience store called Cup Foods. Footage from this restaurant security camera helps us understand what happens next. Note that the timestamp on the camera is 24 minutes fast. At 7:57 p.m., two employees from Cup Foods confront Floyd and his companions about an alleged counterfeit bill he just used in their store to buy cigarettes. They demand the cigarettes back but walk away empty-handed. Four minutes later, they call the police. According to the 911 transcript, an employee says that Floyd used fake bills to buy cigarettes, and that he is “awfully drunk” and “not in control of himself.” Soon, the first police vehicle arrives on the scene. Officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng step out of the car and approach the blue S.U.V. Seconds later, Lane pulls his gun. We don’t know exactly why. He orders Floyd to put his hands on the wheel. Lane reholsters the gun, and after about 90 seconds of back and forth, yanks Floyd out of the S.U.V. A man is filming the confrontation from a car parked behind them. The officers cuff Floyd’s hands behind his back. And Kueng walks him to the restaurant wall. “All right, what’s your name?” From the 911 transcript and the footage, we now know three important facts: First, that the police believed they were responding to a man who was drunk and out of control. But second, even though the police were expecting this situation, we can see that Floyd has not acted violently. And third, that he seems to already be in distress. Six minutes into the arrest, the two officers move Floyd back to their vehicle. As the officers approach their car, we can see Floyd fall to the ground. According to the criminal complaints filed against the officers, Floyd says he is claustrophobic and refuses to enter the police car. During the struggle, Floyd appears to turn his head to address the officers multiple times. According to the complaints, he tells them he can’t breathe. Nine minutes into the arrest, the third and final police car arrives on the scene. It’s carrying officers Tou Thao and Derek Chauvin. Both have previous records of complaints brought against them. Thao was once sued for throwing a man to the ground and hitting him. Chauvin has been involved in three police shootings, one of them fatal. Chauvin becomes involved in the struggle to get Floyd into the car. Security camera footage from Cup Foods shows Kueng struggling with Floyd in the backseat while Thao watches. Chauvin pulls him through the back seat and onto the street. We don’t know why. Floyd is now lying on the pavement, face down. That’s when two witnesses begin filming, almost simultaneously. The footage from the first witness shows us that all four officers are now gathered around Floyd. It’s the first moment when we can clearly see that Floyd is face down on the ground, with three officers applying pressure to his neck, torso and legs. At 8:20 p.m., we hear Floyd’s voice for the first time. The video stops when Lane appears to tell the person filming to walk away. “Get off to the sidewalk, please. One side or the other, please.” The officers radio a Code 2, a call for non-emergency medical assistance, reporting an injury to Floyd’s mouth. In the background, we can hear Floyd struggling. The call is quickly upgraded to a Code 3, a call for emergency medical assistance. By now another bystander, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, is filming from a different angle. Her footage shows that despite calls for medical help, Chauvin keeps Floyd pinned down for another seven minutes. We can’t see whether Kueng and Lane are still applying pressure. Floyd: [gasping] Officer: “What do you want?” Bystander: “I’ve been —” Floyd: [gasping] In the two videos, Floyd can be heard telling officers that he can’t breathe at least 16 times in less than five minutes. Bystander: “You having fun?” But Chauvin never takes his knee off of Floyd, even as his eyes close and he appears to go unconscious. Bystander: “Bro.” According to medical and policing experts, these four police officers are committing a series of actions that violate policies, and in this case, turn fatal. They’ve kept Floyd lying face down, applying pressure for at least five minutes. This combined action is likely compressing his chest and making it impossible to breathe. Chauvin is pushing his knee into Floyd’s neck, a move banned by most police departments. Minneapolis Police Department policy states an officer can only do this if someone is, quote, “actively resisting.” And even though the officers call for medical assistance, they take no action to treat Floyd on their own while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Officer: “Get back on the sidewalk.” According to the complaints against the officers, Lane asks him twice if they should roll Floyd onto his side. Chauvin says no. Twenty minutes into the arrest, an ambulance arrives on the scene. Bystander: “Get off of his neck!” Bystander: “He’s still on him?” The E.M.T.s check Floyd’s pulse. Bystander: “Are you serious?” Chauvin keeps his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost another whole minute, even though Floyd appears completely unresponsive. He only gets off once the E.M.T.s tell him to. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, according to our review of the video evidence. Floyd is loaded into the ambulance. The ambulance leaves the scene, possibly because a crowd is forming. But the E.M.T.s call for additional medical help from the fire department. But when the engine arrives, the officers give them, quote, “no clear info on Floyd or his whereabouts,” according to a fire department incident report. This delays their ability to help the paramedics. Meanwhile, Floyd is going into cardiac arrest. It takes the engine five minutes to reach Floyd in the ambulance. He’s pronounced dead at a nearby hospital around 9:25 p.m. Preliminary autopsies conducted by the state and Floyd’s family both ruled his death a homicide. The widely circulated arrest videos don’t paint the entire picture of what happened to George Floyd. Crowd: “Floyd! Floyd!” Additional video and audio from the body cameras of the key officers would reveal more about why the struggle began and how it escalated. The city quickly fired all four officers. And Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder. Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting murder. But outrage over George Floyd’s death has only spread further and further across the United States.

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The Times has reconstructed the death of George Floyd on May 25. Security footage, witness videos and official documents show how a series of actions by officers turned fatal. (This video contains scenes of graphic violence.)

On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life.

By combining videos from bystanders and security cameras, reviewing official documents and consulting experts, The New York Times reconstructed in detail the minutes leading to Mr. Floyd’s death. Our video shows officers taking a series of actions that violated the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department and turned fatal, leaving Mr. Floyd unable to breathe, even as he and onlookers called out for help.

The Derek Chauvin trial plays on a television at a gym in Georgia.
Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

The trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is unusual for many reasons: It is being livestreamed from Minneapolis, attendance is severely limited because of the coronavirus and the public’s interest in the case may make this one of the highest-profile trials in recent memory.

The trial can be watched on, via a livestream provided by Court TV, which is also airing the trial in full. Witness testimony and lawyers’ presentations of evidence should last several weeks before the jury begins to deliberate over the verdict.

Among the people allowed in the courtroom, on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center, are: the judge, jurors, witnesses, court staff, lawyers, Mr. Chauvin and only a handful of spectators.

The judge, Peter A. Cahill, wrote in an order on March 1 that only one member of Mr. Floyd’s family and one member of Mr. Chauvin’s family would be allowed in the room at any time. Two seats are reserved for reporters, and various journalists, including from The New York Times, are rotating throughout the trial.

The lawyers, spectators, jurors and witnesses are required to wear masks when they are not speaking. Spectators are prohibited from having any visible images, logos, letters or numbers on their masks or clothing, according to Judge Cahill’s order.

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