Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified Monday that fired officer Derek Chauvin, 44, did not follow policy when kneeling on the neck of local man George Floyd, 46, during a fateful arrest on May 25, 2020.
Arradondo says the use of force was not reasonable. He talked about #DerekChauvin‘s facial expressions. (Arradondo won’t be allowed to say that he fired Chauvin just what his last day of work was) @LawCrimeNetwork #GeorgeFloyd
— Angenette Levy (@Angenette5) April 5, 2021
Arradondo’s testimony was more reserved in diction than his public statements on Floyd’s death.
“The officers knew what was happening — one intentionally caused it and the others failed to prevent it,” he said on CNN last year, referring to Chauvin’s co-defendants Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane. “This was murder — it wasn’t a lack of training.”
Arradondo may not have used the word murder on the stand Monday, but the bottom line remained the same: the prosecution is using his testimony to show that Chauvin acted against department policy in kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Floyd was not a danger to officers; though he had health problems and recent drug use, he would have lived were it not for the manner in which he was restrained, the prosecution argues.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson is trying to show that Floyd did die from health problems and from fentanyl and meth use, not from Chauvin’s actions. Nelson asserted in opening statements that angry bystanders diverted officers’ attention away from Floyd. Those bystanders maintained during testimony that they were trying to save the dying man’s life, and that Chauvin’s actions were outrageous.
Arradondo testified Monday that the defendant’s actions were not de-escalation, and violated policy.
“A conscious neck restraint, by policy, mentions light to moderate pressure,” he said. “When I look a exhibit 17 [a picture of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck], and when I look at the facial expression of Mr. Floyd, that does not appear in any way shape or form that that is light to moderate pressure.”
As part of the broader case, Nelson tried to show that Floyd remained a potential threat to police.
#DerekChauvinTrial – Nelson: Someone who is handcuffed can be equally a threat to an officer than someone who is not handcuffed?
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) April 5, 2021
Julie Rendelman, a Law&Crime Network analyst and defense lawyer unaffiliated with the case, said she was neither a fan of the cross-examination nor of the defense’s strategy of shifting blame onto bystanders.
— Julie Rendelman (@jrendelmanlaw) April 5, 2021
Rendelman said, however, that she thought the state was making an effective case.
“I think the prosecution is doing an incredibly effective job thus far in presenting evidence that depicts the defendant as an individual who ignored policy and disregarded the serious risk of death when he continued to press his knee into George Floyd’s neck,” she wrote in an email. Nonetheless, prosecutors still have a challenge ahead of them, said Rendelman. “It remains to be seen, however, whether they are able to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin was a cause of George Floyd’s death and whether there is enough evidence to establish the intentional assault needed to establish the Murder 2 charge.”
Rendelman argued that the problem with Nelson’s approach was brevity.
“The defense, thus far, seems ineffective in scoring any points with the various witnesses called to testify,” she wrote. “Keep in mind, any attorney in Nelson’s position is going to have a difficult job ahead of him. However, a defense attorney needs to take control of a cross-examination, ask pointed questions and get to the point quickly. Understandably, some witnesses are hard to control. I get it. But then you need to ask your question, get your answer and move on. Nelson seems to be almost unsure of where he wants to go in his questioning. I believe he is losing the jury with his approach and in the process, helping the prosecution better their chances of securing a conviction.”
Thao, Kueng, and Lane are set to be tried together on aiding and abetting charges starting in August.
[Screengrab via Law&Crime Network]
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