Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified on Monday in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial that the former officer did not act within the police department’s policies and ethics when he placed his knee on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
“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 in no way shape or form is anything that is by [the] policy,” Arradondo told the court.
It “is not part of our training and it is certainly not part of our ethics or values”, Arradondo said.
Arradondo’s testimony came on the sixth day of testimony in the trial of Chauvin, who has been charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd, an unarmed Black man, in May of last year.
Video footage of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck sparked a nationwide movement for racial justice and an end to police violence against Black people and other people of colour.
Prosecutors on Monday continued to present testimony that the likely cause of Floyd’s death was asphyxiation, or choking, as a result of Chauvin placing his knee on his neck.
In the first week of the trial, prosecutors called 19 people to testify, including 10 who were witnesses at the scene, as well as Floyd’s girlfriend, and paramedics and firefighters who tried unsuccessfully to revive him.
Minneapolis Police lieutenant Richard Zimmerman told jurors last week Chauvin’s actions were “totally unnecessary”.
On Monday, Chauvin’s defence attorney Eric Nelson questioned Arradondo on the policies and training Minneapolis officers received, seeking to position Chauvin’s actions for the jurors as reasonable within the parameters of department policies.
“The objectively reasonable standard applies to the facts and circumstances that are known by the officer at the time the force is being used, correct?” Nelson asked.
“Yes,” Arradondo said.
Al Jazeera’s John Hendren, reporting from Minneapolis, said Monday that Arradondo essentially broke “the blue wall of silence” among police, who typically do not testify against each other.
“He said that that hold was not approved, that it was absolutely not part of police training,” Hendren said. “This police chief was very clear in saying in every step, Derek Chauvin violated police policy, committed excessive force.”
Earlier in the day, an emergency room doctor who pronounced Floyd dead after trying to resuscitate him testified that he believed at the time that Floyd most likely had died of suffocation, the Associated Press news agency reported.
Dr Bradford Langenfeld, who was on duty at the Hennepin County Medical Center the day Floyd died, said Floyd’s heart had stopped by the time he arrived at the hospital.
He said paramedics told him they had already tried to revive him for about 30 minutes.
Asphyxiation was “more likely than the other possibilities” as to Floyd’s cause of death, Langenfeld said under questioning by the prosecution.
A Minneapolis coroner and an independent medical examiner had ruled in June 2020 that Floyd’s death had been a homicide. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner had said Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest”.
Forensic doctors who performed the independent autopsy had said the evidence pointed to homicide by “mechanical asphyxia”, meaning from some physical force that interfered with oxygen supply.
Chauvin’s defence has argued that Floyd’s death likely was caused by drug use and health conditions. Under questioning by Chauvin’s attorney, Langenfeld acknowledged that fentanyl and methamphetamine – both of which were found in Floyd’s system – can cause hypoxia, or oxygen deprivation.
The Hennepin County coroners report, however, had listed fentanyl and methamphetamine use as “significant conditions” but not as a “cause of death”.