Kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while he was handcuffed and lying face down was “totally unnecessary,” the chief of the homicide division of the Minneapolis Police Department testified Friday.
“If your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill him,” Lt. Richard Zimmerman said, adding that when a person is handcuffed behind his back, “his muscles are pulling back … and if he is lying chest , that restricts your breathing even more. “
Zimmerman, who said he is the highest ranking person in the police force, also testified in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial that once Floyd was handcuffed, he saw “no reason why officers felt they were in danger – if that’s what they felt – and that’s what they would have to feel in order to use that kind of force. “
“So in your opinion, should that restraint have been stopped once he was handcuffed and thrown to the ground?” Asked prosecutor Matthew Frank.
“Absolutely,” responded Zimmerman, who said he has received training on the use of force annually, as all officers do, since he joined the city force in 1985.
He said he has never been trained to kneel on someone’s neck if he is handcuffed behind his back and in a prone position.
“Once you restrain or handcuff a person, you should get them out of the prone position as soon as possible because it restricts their breathing,” Zimmerman said, adding that “you should put them on their side or make them sit up.”
He also testified that officers have a duty to care for a person in distress, even if an ambulance has been called.
Officers continued to hold Floyd, with Chauvin kneeling on his neck, another kneeling on Floyd’s back and a third holding his feet, until the ambulance arrived, even after he stopped responding.
An officer asked twice if they should roll Floyd onto his side to help him breathe and then calmly said that he thought Floyd was passing out. Another checked Floyd’s wrist pulse and said he couldn’t find one.
Officers also declined offers of help from an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter who wanted to administer help or tell officers how to do it.
Drugs and underlying health conditions
During cross-examination, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, peppered Zimmerman with questions about the use of force, noting that officers should consider the entire situation, including what is happening with a suspect, if the suspect is under surveillance. influence and other surrounding hazards. like a crowd.
The defense has argued that Chauvin did what he was trained to do when he encountered Floyd last May and that Floyd’s death was not caused by the knee in his neck, as prosecutors claim, but rather by drugs, his conditions of underlying health and adrenaline. An autopsy found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system.
Chauvin is also heard in body camera footage defending his decision to a bystander after paramedics took Floyd away, saying, “We have to control this guy because he’s a sizable guy … and it looks like he’s probably in something”.
Chauvin, 45, white, is accused of killing Floyd by immobilizing his knee on the 46-year-old black man’s neck for nine minutes, 29 seconds, while he lay face down in handcuffs.
Floyd had been accused of approving a counterfeit $ 20 bill (about 17 euros) at a grocery store.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism