A day after the Minneapolis police chief appeared on the witness stand, jurors in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murder in the deadly arrest of George Floyd, on Tuesday heard from another police witness about training to deal with crisis situations.
In this image from video, Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld, the doctor who pronounced George Floyd dead, testifies, April 5, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
As police officers are rarely convicted or charged at all for deaths that occur in custody, the verdict in this trial is being seen as an indication of how the U.S. legal system will treat such cases in future.
Mr Chauvin's defence attorneys have argued that Mr Floyd's efforts to resist arrest necessitated the restraint, and that the "hostile" crowd surrounding Mr Chauvin required "unique situational awareness".
"The ultimate goal in action for someone in crisis is to see if that person needs help", Yang testified.
"We may show the younger officers in the academy what that looks like but we don't train leg neck restraints with the officers in-service", he said.
Nelson also questioned Mercil about safety precautions officers need to take when using neck restraints and using body weight to restrain individuals. Video captured by a bystander showed the handcuffed Floyd repeatedly say he couldn't breathe.
Mr Mercil told the court that Mr Chauvin should have recognised that it was "time to de-escalate the [level of] force" once Mr Floyd fell unconscious, and that Mr Floyd should have been moved into a different position to avoid asphyxiation.
Sergeant Ker Yang, a crisis intervention training coordinator for the department, testified as the day's first witness that Chauvin completed 40 hours of training on dealing with suspects going through a crisis.
However, the emergency room doctor who treated Floyd said his death could have come from several factors. Chauvin's lawyers argue that Floyd's death was really a drug overdose. "So, at that point, officers were justified to use force to try to have him comply with their commands", Stiger said.
Eric Nelson left and Derek Chauvin right listen as Judge Peter Cahill presides in the murder trial
Credit Court TV
Mercil testified that a neck restraint created to render a suspect unconscious neck is authorized only when the suspect is actively and aggressively resisting.
Mr. Nelson, who has repeatedly portrayed the crowd of onlookers as an obstacle to the treatment of Mr. Floyd, asked her if an unruly crowd might make it hard for an officer to assess whether a person was in medical distress and even make it unsafe to begin medical treatment.
Prosecutors and fellow officers have criticised Mr Chauvin and the other arresting officers for not providing Mr Floyd with medical assistance before ambulances arrived.
The use of force, as it is known, lies at the heart of the prosecutors' strategy.
Earlier Tuesday, a lawyer for a man who may have provided the drugs that Mr. Floyd took on the day he was arrested and died invoked his fifth-amendment right not to incriminate himself because he could face a potential charge of third-degree murder.
One of their key witnesses, police chief Medaria Arradondo, testified on Monday that Mr Chauvin violated policies regarding the use of force.
Morries Hall, who was with Floyd in his auto shortly before his death, is in custody and appeared by video camera at the hearing after he was subpoenaed to testify.
The county medical examiner ruled Floyd's death a homicide at the hands of the police, and noted Floyd had also taken the fentanyl and methamphetamine before his death.
Nelson told Cahill he planned to ask Hall whether he gave Floyd any controlled substances and why Hall left Minnesota immediately after the incident.
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