A sergeant who supervised Derek Chauvin testified on Thursday that Mr. Chauvin and other police officers should have stopped holding George Floyd down once he became unresponsive.
“When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint,” said Sgt. David Pleoger, who is now retired. In response to a question from a prosecutor, he agreed that police officers should not restrain someone who is handcuffed and no longer resisting.
Sergeant Pleoger said that he had spoken with Mr. Chauvin moments after Mr. Floyd was taken away in an ambulance, and that Mr. Chauvin had not mentioned the pressure to Mr. Floyd’s neck in that conversation.
They spoke by phone after the sergeant received a call from a 911 dispatcher who was concerned by live surveillance footage of officers restraining Mr. Floyd. Part of the conversation, which took place minutes after Mr. Floyd was taken to a hospital, was captured by Mr. Chauvin’s body camera.
“We just had to hold the guy down,” Mr. Chauvin can be heard saying, adding that Mr. Floyd would not stay in the back of a police car. “He was going crazy.”
Mr. Chauvin turned his body camera off shortly after the call began. Sergeant Pleoger said that doing so was standard. He recalled Mr. Chauvin saying that Mr. Floyd had injured his nose or mouth after being combative and had then suffered a medical emergency.
Body camera footage has shown that a police officer approached Mr. Floyd with a gun raised and pulled him from the driver’s seat of a car after a convenience store clerk called 911 and said that Mr. Floyd had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes. As officers tried to get him into the back of a police car, he struggled with them and seemingly tried to push himself out of the back seat. He ended up on the pavement outside the car, where officers pinned him down for more than nine minutes.
Sergeant Pleoger drove to the scene of the arrest shortly after, and then met Mr. Chauvin at Hennepin County Medical Center, where Mr. Floyd had been taken. Once there, the police officers learned that Mr. Floyd was not doing well, and Mr. Pleoger asked Mr. Chauvin if he had used any additional force.
“He said he knelt on Floyd or knelt on his neck, something of that nature,” Sergeant Pleoger said on Thursday. In response to a question from a prosecutor, he said that was the first time he had learned that Mr. Chauvin might have applied force to Mr. Floyd’s neck.
Sergeant Pleoger was the last witness to be called on Thursday, the fourth day of the murder trial of Mr. Chauvin. Testimony will begin again on Friday morning.