Health Care

Use-of-Force Trainer Testifies in Chauvin Trial

Use-of-Force Trainer Testifies in Chauvin Trial”

Lt. Johnny Mercil, the Minneapolis Police Department's use-of-force instructor, testified on Tuesday at former Officer Derek Chauvin's trial that when officers are taught ways to restrain aggressive suspects, they are shown how to place their knee on a back or shoulder and told to "stay away from the neck when possible". Mercil said those who attended were taught that the sanctity of life is a cornerstone of departmental policy and that officers must use the least amount of force required to get a suspect to comply.

During the May 2020 arrest, the handcuffed 46-year-old Black man fell limp and stopped breathing, an incident caught on videos taken by bystanders that millions of people around the world viewed. The incident prompted protests in many cities around the United States and internationally against racism and police brutality.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with second and third-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Floyd.

Arradondo, the city's first Black police chief, fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Floyd's death.

It is rare for police chiefs to testify against their former officers and his testimony will be closely watched.

He said "if you could take your way out of a situation", that was always better than using force, adding that officers may seek the "community's help" when available.

"It's very important to be careful", Mercil told jurors.

Mackenzie, who trains officers in medical support, was asked by defense attorney Eric Nelson about "agonal breathing", which can occur in people in distress, such as a medical emergency.

Nelson also questioned Mercil about safety precautions officers need to take when using neck restraints and using body weight to restrain individuals.

In this image from video Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discusses motions before the court Tuesday

She said Chauvin, whom she's known for about 20 years, received annual training in defensive tactics and use of force, and would have been trained to use one or two arms, not his knee, in a neck restraint.

In other testimony, Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant serving as a prosecution use-of-force expert, said officers were justified in using force while Floyd was resisting their efforts to put him in a squad vehicle.

Stiger said use-of-force reviews and standards take into account the severity of the offense to which officers are responding and the threats and risks that they may perceive when apprehending a suspect.

Mr Arradondo testified not only that Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the force, should have let Floyd up sooner, but that the pressure on Floyd's neck did not appear to be light to moderate, as called for under the department's neck-restraint policy.

Sgt. Ker Yang, the Minneapolis police official in charge of crisis-intervention training, said officers are taught to "slow things down and re-evaluate and reassess". Yang testified that Chauvin completed 40 hours of training in how to deal with suspects who are going through crisis.

Before the jury was brought into the court, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill heard arguments on a request by a friend of Floyd to quash a subpoena by prosecutors for him to testify.

Body camera footage shows Hall sitting next to Floyd in the vehicle when police arrived. Hall has said that he would invoke his constitutional right against self-incrimination if he had to appear in the witness stand. Floyd's girlfriend testified last week that she and Floyd struggled with opioid addiction, and that she thought Hall sometimes illegally sold pills to Floyd. Even so, the judge said Hall should be able to testify on Floyd's condition in the auto and whether he fell asleep suddenly after possibly taking opioid pills. "So, what I'm going to do is I'm going to ask Mr. Nelson essentially to draft to in written question form, with the expected answer based on whatever statements were made, on what that would be".

But the county medical examiner's office ultimately classified Mr Floyd's death a homicide - a death caused by someone else.

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher noted that while some people may become more unsafe under the influence of drugs or alcohol, some may actually be "more vulnerable".

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