Derek Chauvin’s police supervisor told him at his murder trial that there was no justification for the officer to keep his knee on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes.
Sergeant David Pleoger, who arrived at the scene shortly after Floyd was taken away by ambulance, said Chauvin and other officers holding the 46-year-old black man should have stopped using force once Floyd stopped resisting.
“When Mr. Floyd no longer offered any resistance to the officers, they could have ended his restraint,” he said.
Video recording showed that Chauvin kept pressing his knee against Floyd’s neck even after the detained man pleaded that he couldn’t breathe and then stopped moving. Two other officers were also holding Floyd.
Chauvin, 45, who is white, has denied charges of second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.
Ploeger is among several officers expected to be called as witnesses for the prosecution, including Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo, who, in a highly unusual move, will testify against his own former officer. Arradondo fired Chauvin shortly after Floyd’s death.
Pleoger was alerted to concerns about the arrest by a 911 emergency operator and called Chauvin on his cell phone.
In conversation, Chauvin can be heard saying, “We just had to hold a boy. He was freaking out. “
The supervisor then proceeded to the scene to determine if an appropriate level of force had been used. Pleoger said the first time he realized Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck was when one of the other officers suggested that he ask Chauvin about it. Even then, he said, Chauvin did not reveal its full extent.
Ploeger said all police officers are trained that if a suspect is handcuffed to the ground, he should turn aside as soon as possible due to the danger of “positional suffocation.”
“If they are left on the chest or stomach for too long, your breathing can be compromised,” he said.
Floyd remained in a prone position despite his obvious shortness of breath.
Earlier Thursday, Floyd’s girlfriend told the trial that the couple shared an addiction to opioid painkillers that they struggled to overcome in the weeks leading up to his death.
Courteney Ross said Floyd had been clean for a while after she took him to the hospital when he overdosed, but that he started using again about two weeks before his arrest by Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, in May. last.
Most of Ross’s often tearful testimony on the fourth day of the trial focused on the couple’s opioid use, as the prosecution sought to avoid defense claims that Floyd was murdered on drugs because he had opioids and methamphetamine. on your system.
Ross’s account helps establish that Floyd developed a tolerance to opioids and that the relatively small amount recorded in the official autopsy would not have been enough to kill him.
The prosecution also seeks to undermine defense claims that the level of force Chauvin used by kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes was justified because the detainee was using drugs.
Ross, who dated Floyd for about three years, said they both got hooked after they were prescribed opioids to treat chronic pain. “We got addicted and we both tried to break that addiction many times,” he said.
Ross said sports injuries led Floyd to addiction to legally obtained prescription pills before the couple started buying drugs on the black market, including from Maurice Hall, the man who was in the car with Floyd at the time. his death.
These included oxycodone pills, including the powerful prescription opioid OxyContin.
Chauvin’s defense has claimed that Floyd was overdosing at the time and that it contributed to his death from heart failure.
The state medical examiner’s report on Floyd’s death recorded that he had the powerful opioid fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system when he died, but did not list them as the cause of his death.
On Thursday, Derek Smith, the first paramedic on the scene, said that when he arrived he saw three officers on top of Floyd but no one was giving him medical treatment. “It was not moving. I didn’t see any chest rise or fall, ”he said.
The paramedic tried to find a pulse in Floyd’s neck, but could not find it.
The trial continues.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism