Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified in court Monday that former police officer Derek Chauvin “absolutely” violated the department’s use of force policy when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck in May 2020.
Chauvin has been charged with second- and third-degree murder as well as manslaughter in Floyd’s death. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
Arradondo took the stand during the sixth day of witness testimony in Chauvin’s trial. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked Arradondo whether he believed Chauvin followed the Minneapolis Police Department’s policy on deescalation tactics.
“I absolutely do not,” Arradondo said. He added that Chauvin’s actions did not constitute a “defense tactics technique” police officers are trained to use.
Schleicher then asked Arradondo if Chauvin violated the department’s use of force policy regarding “non-deadly” neck restraints.
“I absolutely agree that it violates our policy,” Arradondo said.
Warning: The video below contains graphic images.
Bystander video showed Chauvin and two other officers pinning a handcuffed Floyd facedown on the pavement for nearly 10 minutes as Floyd repeatedly stated that he couldn’t breathe. Chauvin could be seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck the entire time, even after Floyd ceased moving and breathing.
Asked when Chauvin should have stopped restraining Floyd so severely, Arradondo said once Floyd had “stopped resisting” and “certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that.”
“There’s an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds,” Arradondo said. “To continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back ― that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy, is not part of our training and is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”
He testified later that officers are trained to evaluate a situation and reassess the circumstances during an arrest, including the threat level to an officer or others, the severity of the alleged crime and a person’s medical condition.
“It is contrary to our training to indefinitely place your knee on a proned, handcuffed individual for an indefinite period of time,”Arradondo stated, adding that he “vehemently” disagrees that Chauvin demonstrated the “appropriate use of force for that situation.”
Arradondo has been an outspoken critic of Chauvin’s actions. He fired Chauvin and three other officers involved in Floyd’s arrest the following day and has called Floyd’s death a “murder.”
Arradondo said Monday that Chauvin also violated the police department’s policy on rendering aid to a person in medical distress. None of the officers moved off of Floyd until paramedics arrived on the scene the day of Floyd’s arrest. And though all police officers are trained in first aid, including chest compressions, none of the officers attempted to provide any medical assistance to Floyd until after the ambulance arrived.
Minneapolis Police Inspector Katie Blackwell, who was in charge of the department’s training programs at the time of Floyd’s death, testified Monday that all officers are trained in the risks of positional asphyxia, which occurs when someone’s position prevents them from breathing adequately.
Being handcuffed while lying facedown on the ground, as Floyd was for nearly 10 minutes, could inhibit a person’s breathing and cause positional asphyxia, Blackwell said.
“I don’t know what kind of improvised position this is,” she said when prosecutors showed her a still image of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. “That’s not what we train.”
The doctor who treated Floyd the night of his arrest testified Monday that he believed Floyd’s cause of death was “likely” asphyxia.