Use of force against George Floyd was not justified, says Minneapolis police chief

George Floyd mural
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The Minneapolis police chief testified that Derek Chauvin’s use of force against George Floyd was “in no way, shape or form” in line with police policy.

As the trial for the police officer accused of killing Floyd continues, Medaria Arradondo is one of few police chiefs to testify against his own officer. The sixth day of the trial also heard the doctor who tried to save Floyd’s life testify that the cause of death was likely asphyxiation.

Amid a low prosecution rate for police officers accused of fatalities, Chauvin’s trial could set a precedent for how such officers are treated in future.

He “should have stopped”

Arradondo said Chauvin’s actions showed a disregard for the “sanctity of life”, and that he “vehemently” disagreed that there was a justification for his actions.

He added that while some force may have been reasonable at first, Chauvin’s ensuing actions did not count as “objectively reasonable force”.

Arradondo, Minneapolis’s first Black police chief, is unusual in testifying against his former officer, whom he fired after Floyd’s death.

This testimony builds on the prosecution’s argument that the length of time Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck was against police policy. In a pretrial filing, Chauvin’s lawyers said he was following policy and “did exactly as he was trained to do”.

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“Lack of oxygen”

The doctor who tried to save Floyd’s life after he was brought to the emergency room also gave testimony. Dr Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld said in court that he believed Floyd’s cardiac arrest to have been caused by asphyxiation.

He went on to say there was no evidence that a heart attack or drug overdose killed Floyd. He also said paramedics didn’t “report that the patient complained of chest pain”.

After the Minnesota medical examiner declared the cause of death as cardiopulmonary arrest, Chauvin’s lawyers argued Floyd died from a heart attack or a drug overdose. Langenfeld also added that being given CPR earlier could have increased Floyd’s chances of survival fractionally. This follows on from witness testimony that the police made no attempt to give Floyd medical treatment.

An important trial

Chauvin has been charged with both second-degree and third-degree murder, the former of which could see him spend up to 40 years in prison if he’s convicted.

To secure a conviction, the prosecution must convince the jury that Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck was a “substantial causal factor” in his death.

Around 1,000 fatal shootings by police are reported every year in the US. Since 2005, just 139 police officers have been arrested for manslaughter or murder by shooting. Only 44 have been convicted with 42 cases still pending.

There was a wave of outrage after Floyd died in May last year that led to protests around the world. Demonstrators called for an end to police brutality and racism.

Featured image via Flickr/Lorie Shaull

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