In a significant development in the George Floyd murder case, in the ongoing trial of main accused Derek Chauvin, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified on Monday, that Chauvin’s actions of continuing to use force and applying pressure even after Floyd stopped resisting, were contrary to department policy.
“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly when he was in distress and tried to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” said Chief Arradondo referring to Chauvin’s use of force by pressing his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck. “Once there was no longer any resistance 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 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,” added Chief Arradondo.
George Floyd, a 46-year-old African-American man was killed by Chauvin, a white police officer in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Chauvin was seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck in the viral video of the last few agonizing minutes of the 46-year-old African American man’s life, whose last words were, “I can’t breathe.” Nationwide protests followed, during which several other instances of police brutality such as those in case of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and Daniel Prude, were also highlighted.
Chauvin had been fired from the police force a day after killing, and arrested on May 29 charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. But the charges were later bumped up to second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He was released on bail in October 2020. Chauvin was the fourth and last accused to be released on bail in the murder case. Other accused, Chauvin’s fellow police officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who had been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, had been released on bail earlier on June 10 (Lane), June 19 (Kueng) and July 4 (Thao).
Jury selection for Chauvin’s trial began on March 8, 2021 and a Hennepin County judge reinstated a count of third-degree murder on March 11, 2021. Judge Peter Cahill had dropped the charge in October 2020, saying it did not apply in the case. But in February this year, an appeals court ruling in connection with a case involving former Minneapolis Police officer Mohammed Noor, paved the way for reinstatement of the charge against Chauvin. On Thursday, March 11, Judge Cahill accepted that the appeals court ruling set a precedent, and went on to reinstate the charge. On March 12, the City Council of Minneapolis unanimously approved a settlement amount of $ 27 million to the family of George Floyd in matter of the police custody death lawsuit. Not only were cameras allowed in court to carry a live feed of the trial, the judge also dismissed an appeal to move the trial out of Minneapolis.
Trial commenced on Monday, March 29, 2021. In his opening statement Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson had told jurors that the use of force was “a necessary component of policing” and Chauvin repeatedly insisted that he did what he “was trained to do”. But at least one more senior police officer has also testified previously that this was not the case. Last week, veteran Minneapolis police lieutenant Richard Zimmerman had testified that it was “totally unnecessary” for Derek Chauvin to put his knee on a handcuffed George Floyd’s neck during his arrest. “Pulling him down to the ground, face down, and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for,” said Lt. Zimmerman who is the department’s top homicide detective.