The force used on George Floyd on the day he died was “totally unnecessary”, a senior homicide officer told the murder trial of Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin, 45, is accused of murdering Mr Floyd in Minneapolis last year by kneeling on the 46-year-old’s neck for more than nine minutes, as he lay face-down in handcuffs.
Mr Floyd was being detained after he was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill at a local shop.
In a half-day session on Friday, the jury heard from Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, the head of the Minneapolis homicide department, who said: “If your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill him.”
Lieutenant Zimmerman, who told the court he was trained in the use of force every year, also revealed that kneeling on the neck of a suspect was not something police officers are trained to do.
He also told the jury that when a suspect is handcuffed and laying on their front, “that your muscles are pulling back… and if you’re laying on your chest, that’s constricting your breathing even more.”
Prosecutor Matthew Frank asked the witness: “So in your opinion, should that restraint have stopped once he was handcuffed and thrown on the ground?”
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“Absolutely,” Lieutenant Zimmerman replied.
The homicide chief also told the court that officers have a duty to provide care if the suspect is in distress, even if medical help is on the way.
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Under cross-examination, the lieutenant was asked a raft of questions about the decision making officers use to decide how much force to use, including location, surroundings and the state of the suspect.
Defence lawyer Eric Nelson also asked Lieutenant Zimmerman if a handcuffed suspect could still pose a threat – to which he agreed that they could.
It comes only a day after Chauvin’s supervisor said that restraint on Mr Floyd should have ended when he stopped resisting arrest.
The court earlier heard from Sergeant Jon Edwards, who attended the scene of the incident as he began his night shift with the Minneapolis Police Department.
Sergeant Edwards explained that when he arrived at 38th and Chicago, Officers Lane and Kueng, who are also due to stand trial over the death of George Floyd, were still at the scene.
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He added that he told the pair to get out of their squad car and leave their belongings, after they were identified as being “involved officers”.
Kueng and Lane were later taken to City Hall, as per procedure, and the squad car was seized.
Former police officer Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges, with his defence team arguing he was just doing what he was trained to do.
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