In Chauvin trial, lieutenant says use of force was “uncalled for”

FAN Editor

A high-ranking Minneapolis police lieutenant described officers’ use of force against George Floyd as “uncalled for” as he testified Friday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis police officer charged in Floyd’s death. Chauvin, who was seen in disturbing videos kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty.  

Lieutenant Rick Zimmerman, who heads the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide unit, testified Friday that a knee on someone’s neck should “absolutely” be considered deadly force. When asked why, he said, “Because of the fact that if your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill them.”

Zimmerman said he had never been trained to use such a tactic in his decades-long career. 

He described the officers’ use of force as “totally unnecessary.” He said he saw no reason for the officers to believe they were in danger from Floyd.

Zimmerman’s testimony finished a week of raw and emotional testimony in Chauvin’s trial. Judge Peter Cahill adjourned court at midday, instructing jurors to return at 9:15 am. local time Monday (10:15 a.m. ET). He had earlier indicated the proceedings were moving ahead of schedule.

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Defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in court during Chauvin’s murder trial for the death of George Floyd. Court TV via AP, Pool

Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd sat in the courtroom Friday in the lone seat reserved for members of Floyd’s family. He told a pool reporter that the trial has been incredibly emotional for the family, and that he’s been trying to stop crying.

On Thursday, Chauvin’s police supervisor, Sergeant David Pleoger, also testified the officers’ restraint against Floyd “could have ended” once the man stopped resisting. Prosecutors played a portion of the supervisor’s call in court, in which Chauvin is heard saying, “We had to hold a guy down. He was going crazy… wouldn’t go in the back of the squad.” Pleoger said Chauvin didn’t tell him on the call he had pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, only telling him later at the medical center where Floyd was pronounced dead.

The first three days of testimony included firsthand accounts of Floyd’s fatal arrest from a series of eyewitnesses, some of whom cried and described feeling helpless as the unarmed Black man struggled for air. On Wednesday, jurors watched a series of police body camera videos showing the fatal encounter.  

Philonise Floyd said the testimony of Charles McMillian, the bystander witness who sobbed on the stand Wednesday as he watched disturbing body camera video of the fatal encounter, was particularly emotional. George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross also gave tearful testimony on Thursday.

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