Instead of closing ranks to protect a fellow officer behind the so-called “blue wall of silence,” some of the most experienced members of the Minneapolis force, including Chief Medaria Arradondo himself, have testified against Chauvin.
On Tuesday, Sgt. Ker Yang, the Minneapolis police official in charge of crisis-intervention training, and use-of-force instructor Lt. Johnny Mercil became the latest department members to testify as part of an effort by prosecutors to discredit Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson’s argument that Chauvin was doing what he was trained to do when he put his knee on Floyd’s neck.
- Chauvin, 45, is charged with second and third-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.
- Floyd, 46, was arrested outside a neighborhood market after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $ 20 bill.
- The defense argues the illegal drugs in Floyd’s system and his underlying health conditions are what killed him, not Chauvin’s knee.
Yang said officers are taught to make critical decisions in dealing with people in crisis, including those suffering mental problems or the effects of drug use, and then deescalate the situation. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said records show that Chauvin attended a 40-hour course on the method in 2016.
Records also show that Chauvin took in-service training in the use of force in October 2018. Mercil said those who attended were taught that the sanctity of life and protection of the public are the cornerstones of the department’s use-of-force policy.
Under cross-examination by Nelson, Mercil testified that officers are trained in some situations to use their knee across a suspect’s back or shoulder and employ their body weight to maintain control. Mercil added, “We tell officers to stay away from the neck when possible.”
Nelson sought to point out moments in the video footage when he said Chauvin’s knee did not appear to be on Floyd’s neck and showed Mercil several images taken from officers’ body-camera videos, asking after each one whether it showed Chauvin’s knee appearing to rest more on Floyd’s back, shoulder or shoulder blades than directly on Floyd’s neck. Mercil often agreed.
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