Force used by police on George Floyd was ‘totally unnecessary’

Force used by police on George Floyd was totally unnecessary homicide chief tells court
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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.”

a man wearing a suit and tie sitting at a table: Richard Zimmerman was critical of the force used during George Floyd's death
© Getty Richard Zimmerman was critical of the force used during George Floyd’s death

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.”

a man wearing a suit and tie: Sergeant Jon Edwards was despatched to the scene as he began his night shift on 25 May
© Associated Press Sergeant Jon Edwards was despatched to the scene as he began his night shift on 25 May

Prosecutor Matthew Frank asked the witness: “So in your opinion, should that restraint have stopped once he was handcuffed and thrown on the ground?”

“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.

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.

George Floyd
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.

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”.


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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.

Analysis: Derek Chauvin’s defence now face a real challenge

By Sally Lockwood, US correspondent, in Minneapolis, Minnesota

The trial’s first week was bookended with explosive testimony from Derek Chauvin’s own peers.

From Monday’s first witness – a 911 responder – who described calling the police on the police after monitoring a surveillance camera of Derek Chauvin on top of George Floyd.

To the last witness of the week, one of Minneapolis Police Department’s most respected veteran officers – who testified Derek Chauvin used deadly force that was “totally unnecessary” and “uncalled for”.

Head of homicide Lt Zimmerman’s evidence perhaps packed the biggest punch for the prosecution, testifying he’d never been trained to kneel on the neck of someone handcuffed and in the prone position – and that a suspect should be moved from lying on their front as soon as possible because it restricts their breathing.

Yet video evidence shows Derek Chauvin kept George Floyd in that position for nearly 9.5 minutes. Two senior officers have now testified his actions were against police protocol – this presents a real challenge for Derek Chauvin’s defence who are expected to argue he was simply doing what he’d been trained to do.

George Floyd Killing: The Trial – We will bring you live continuous coverage of court proceedings in the trial of Derek Chauvin on Live Tv: CNN, Sky News, BBC, Yahoo news, MSN News