ST. PAUL (AP) — Minneapolis police officers have been trained to recognize that they have a duty of intervention to stop unreasonable force. The commander of the department’s training division testified Friday in the trial of three former officers who were charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights after he was shot to death under the knee of Derek Chauvin.
Katie Blackwell, Inspector of Police, stated that officers have been trained in neck restraints and how to apply them. She also said that they need to provide follow-up care for any health concerns.
She also said that officers must inform paramedics and others taking custody of the person that a neck-restraint was used. They must also call for medical attention and render aid while EMS is being dispatched “to ensure that we do everything possible to save a person’s life.”
Federal prosecutors claim that former officers Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao failed in their duty to save Floyd’s lives on May 25, 2020. On this date, Chauvin knelt down on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 mins while Floyd was being handcuffed, facedown, and gasping for breath. Kueng placed his back on Floyd, Lane supported his legs and Thao kept the rest of the bystanders away.
Blackwell was on the stand again for the second day and stated that Thao’s training records included refresher courses in 2018-2019 on force use, as well as the duty to use the minimum force possible. She stated that officers must not resist a person and then provide any medical assistance they are trained to until the medical personnel arrives. Thao has been with the department since 2012.
After completing their training at the academy, Lane and Kueng were sworn into office on December 10, 2019.
Blackwell stated that Lane and Kueng received a 250-page handbook at the academy. It explained to them that officers are responsible for the actions of their partner and also the actions they take. The manual indicated that the officers were instructed about defensive tactics, force and the U.S. Constitution.
The case hinges on whether Floyd was denied medical assistance by the officers. Prosecutors have tried to prove that the responding paramedics did not have important information and that Floyd should have received medical attention immediately.
Blackwell, who testified on Thursday, said that it was crucial to move someone being held in a prone position onto one’s side. Otherwise, “the concern is they would die in custody.” Video from the body camera shows Lane twice asking if Floyd should be rolled onto his side.
Jurors were shown a video on Friday about breathing problems that can happen if someone is struggling and they are face down in the street. Blackwell stated Thao would have seen this video in 2012. According to the narrator, in this position, breathing becomes harder if pressure is applied to the chest. This could make the victim struggle even more and force the officer to use more pressure. According to the narrator, it is incumbent that a person be moved into a side position as quickly as possible.
Officers responded to a 911 call in which Floyd, 46, attempted to use a fake $20 bill at a corner shop. Protests across the globe erupted after Floyd tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a corner store.
An earlier testimony by a paramedic stated that Floyd was not breathing or having a pulse at the time police increased the urgency of an ambulance call. He also wasn’t informed when he arrived that Floyd had been held under Chauvin’s leg for 9 1/2 minutes.
Floyd was brought in Thursday by an emergency room doctor at Hennepin County Medical Center. He testified that it was too late for him to be saved.
Dr. Bradford Langenfeld stated that paramedics had told him that Floyd was not breathing after they tried to revive him for 30 minutes. He stated that further attempts at restarting Floyd’s heart at hospital were unsuccessful and declared Floyd dead within half an hour.
Kueng, who’s Black, Lane, who’s white, and Thao who is Hmong American are all charged with willfully denying Floyd his constitutional rights, while acting under the color of law or government authority. All three officers are charged with one count: they failed to assist Floyd when he needed medical attention. Thao and Kueng are charged with failing to intervene in order to stop Chauvin. Both charges allege that Floyd was killed by the officers.
Prosecutors argue that Floyd’s rights can be violated by proving that Floyd was “willful”.
Tom Plunkett, Kueng’s lawyer, stated that Chauvin was the senior officer on the scene and called “all the shots”. Chauvin was convicted in state court of murder and manslaughter last year. He also pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights offense in December.
In June, Lane, Kueng, and Thao will also be facing a separate state court on charges that they assisted and abetted murder.