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Knee on Floyd’s Neck Was Excessive Force, Police Chief Says (1)

April 5, 2021, 6:01 PMUpdated: April 5, 2021, 8:17 PM

Kneeling on George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes “absolutely” violated Minneapolis police policy on using force, department Chief Medaria Arradondo testified.

“That action is not deescalation,” he said. “When we talk about the framework of our sanctity of life, when we talk about the principles and values we have that action goes contrary to what we’re talking about.”

Derek Chauvin and other police officers who subdued Floyd used excessive force and failed to provide medical assistance as required by department policies, Arradondo said in testimony at Chauvin’s trial.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson used cross examination to ask whether the threat and use of physical force could be necessary to de-escalate a situation. Arradondo said that the threat of force could be used to take control of a situation. He couldn’t think of an example of using force to de-escalate.

“Of all the things we do as police officers for the MPD, it is my firm belief the one singular incident we’ll be judged on is use of force,” Arradondo said during the state’s questioning. “While we want to make sure our officers go home at the end of the day, we want to make sure and ensure our community members go home too.”

Arradondo testified after Chauvin’s former shift supervisor and head of the homicide unit also said kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes on May 25, 2020, violated agency policies on use of force. Arradondo’s testimony is the latest signal that the city, which reached a $27 million civil settlement with Floyd’s family on the eve of the trial, won’t defend Chauvin’s conduct.

Arradondo, who fired Chauvin, previously called Floyd’s death a “murder” in response to questions from the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Chauvin faces a second-degree murder charge, which carries a maximum penalty of 40 years. Chauvin was also charged with third-degree murder, which carries a penalty of up to 25 years, and manslaughter, with a maximum sentence of 10 years.

“We have a duty of care, so when somebody is in our custody—regardless of whether they’re a suspect—we have an obligation to make sure we provide for their care,” Arradondo testified. “They’re still in our custody. They have rights. The humanity of our profession, we must take care of them.”

Minneapolis officers must consider factors like drug use and emotional distress when defusing situations with uncooperative subjects, said Arradondo, who highlighted procedures that bar using neck restraints against those who are “passively resisting.” They can be used in cases of active resistance against officers. Prosecutors showed Chauvin’s signature acknowledging he had received the department policies.

“We don’t have the luxury of going up to a community member and saying those previous 99 calls went really well,” Arradondo said in his testimony, emphasizing officers must treat each community member with respect.

(Updates with defense cross examination in the fourth paragraph.)

To contact the reporters on this story: Adam M. Taylor in Washington at ataylor@bgov.com; Ayanna Alexander in Washington at aalexander@bloomberglaw.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew Childers at achilders@bloomberglaw.com

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