Derek Chauvin trial continues Tuesday

Morries Hall

The Minneapolis Police Department's coordinator on the use of force has told jurors the neck restraint applied by former policeman Derek Chauvin in the deadly arrest of George Floyd was unauthorised and that officers are trained to use the least amount of force necessary.

Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Floyd's death was due to asphyxiation, while Chauvin's defense claims it was due to illegal drugs in Floyd's system.

Lieutenant Johnny Mercil, who teaches the proper use of force for the department, was shown by one of the prosecutors a photograph of Chauvin using his knee to pin Floyd's neck to the ground and was asked if the officer was using an authorised neck restraint under the circumstances.

The police chief said officers in his department receive extensive annual training, including in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and crisis intervention tactics, regardless of how long they have been in the job.

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. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges in the case being heard by a racially diverse 12-member jury.

In this image from video, Morries Hall appeared via video as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill discussed motions before the court Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn.

"Not that I'm aware of, sir", Mercil replied.

The white officer is accused of pressing his knee into the 46-year-old man's neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, outside a corner market where Floyd had been arrested on suspicion of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes.

Eric Nelson left and Derek Chauvin right listen as Judge Peter Cahill presides in the murder trial
Eric Nelson left and Derek Chauvin right listen as Judge Peter Cahill presides in the murder trial Credit Court TV

The harrowing footage of Floyd's 25 May 2020 arrest touched off protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world. At that point, Mercil said that Chauvin's use of force was not a neck restraint and appeared to be a body weight hold.

"We tell officers to stay away from the neck when possible".

The officers also rebuffed offers of help from an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter who wanted to administer aid or tell officers how to do it.

Nelson asked Mercil if he had ever trained or said that "if someone can talk they can breath?"

Yang, who is in charge of training officers to handle crises, said Chauvin was trained in techniques to de-escalate such situations.

The friend, Morries Hall, was in the vehicle with Floyd when police arrived.

The judge said he would rule later on Hall's request not to testify.

The county medical examiner has ruled Floyd's death a homicide at the hands of the police, and noted Floyd had also taken fentanyl and methamphetamine before his death.

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