Day six of Derek Chauvin’s trial largely focused on the testimony of the chief of the Minneapolis police and the various ways Chauvin’s actions may have violated the department’s use of force policy.
According to the New York Times, the day began with the testimony of Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld, the doctor who pronounced George Floyd’s death. Langenfeld was brought forth by the prosecution to determine Floyd’s cause of death. The doctor outlined the various techniques he used to try and resuscitate Floyd, and said he believed Floyd died as a result of asphyxia.
This is notable as a county medical examiner initially ruled that Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest,” a.k.a., a heart attack. Jerry Blackwell, the lawyer for the prosecution, asked Langenfeld if Floyd exhibited any signs that he had a heart attack, to which Langenfeld replied he did not.
Eric J. Nelson, the attorney for the defense, then questioned Langenfeld and tried to make the case that it was Floyd’s drug use that contributed to his death, and not the knee that was on his neck for over nine minutes. Nelson asked why Narcan, a treatment that reverses overdoses, wasn’t administered to Floyd. Dr. Langenfeld responded that he felt it would’ve been of “no benefit” as Floyd’s heart had already stopped by the time he arrived at the hospital.
From the New York Times:
Last week, jurors heard from two paramedics who arrived at the scene. One of them, Derek Smith, said he had tried to revive Mr. Floyd using several techniques, but that none were effective. Mr. Smith said Mr. Floyd appeared to be dead by the time he arrived at Cup Foods.
On Monday, Dr. Wankhede Langenfel said he had tried to save Mr. Floyd for about 30 minutes before pronouncing him dead. Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld said that, at the time, he viewed an overdose as a less likely cause of death because the paramedics who brought Mr. Floyd to the hospital made no mention of an overdose. In addition, the doctor said that patients experiencing cardiac arrest have a 10 to 15 percent decrease in their chance of survival for every minute that C.P.R. is not administered. Police officers did not administer C.P.R. at the scene, even after Mr. Floyd lost consciousness.
Following Langenfeld, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo took the stand. Arradondo was the person who fired Chauvin and the three other officers involved in Floyd’s death, and he has served for over 30 years with the Minneapolis Police Department in a variety of capacities.
The prosecution spent much of its time early on breaking down the policies that officers in the Minneapolis Police Department are expected to follow and the techniques officers are supposed to use. When asked by the prosecution if he felt that Chauvin violated the department’s use of force police, Arradondo responded “I absolutely agree that violates our policy.”
From the New York Times:
The chief said Mr. Chauvin’s actions may have been reasonable in the “first few seconds” to subdue Mr. Floyd, but that much of his actions had violated policies.
“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” Chief Arradondo said.
Chief Arradondo, who became the city’s first Black police chief when he took over in 2017, fired Mr. Chauvin and three other officers involved in the arrest within a day of Mr. Floyd’s death. He publicly called Mr. Floyd’s death a “murder” the following month.
From the witness stand on Monday, Chief Arradondo recounted that he had first learned about the bystander video of the officers’ arrest when a community member sent him a message just before midnight on the night of Mr. Floyd’s death.
Last week, the defense argued that Chauvin may have been distracted by the crowd who grew increasingly agitated as Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck, and the prosecution’s final question to Arradondo was a response to that argument.
“Would one way to de-escalate the crowd who’s experiencing something shocking be to stop doing the thing that’s shocking them?” Blackwell asked Chief Arradondo. “Absolutely,” Arradondo responded.
As the day drew to a close, Inspector Katie Blackwell was the last one brought to the stand to testify. According to CNN, Blackwell has served with the department for over 20 years, and it was she who appointed Chauvin to be a field training officer.
Blackwell testified Chauvin was regularly instructed in defensive tactics and the proper use of force. Since he trained other officers in the field, Chauvin had additional training himself.
He received training as it was given to new recruits in the academy in defensive training and patrol ops.
In 2016, Chauvin had a 40-hour Crisis Intervention Training and a seven-hour refresher course in 2018, including de-escalation training.
Blackwell testified officers are also trained in their medical unit about the dangers of positional asphyxia and the need to get someone on their side or sit up to recover. Officers are also taught to provide medical help to suspects.
Blackwell was shown a photo of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck and was asked if she recognized that as a technique officers were trained to use. “I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is,” she said. “It’s not what we train.”
The general theme of today, and quite frankly the trial so far, has been law enforcement officials and first responders arguing that what Chauvin did wasn’t just horrific, it went against what they were trained to do.