The head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide division flatly denounced former officer Derek Chauvin’s use of force against George Floyd as “totally unnecessary.”
Lt. Richard Zimmerman testified on Friday about his over three decades of police training and the lethal dangers of the techniques used on Floyd on May 25, 2020.
Chauvin, a white former Minneapolis police officer, is currently facing trial for his role in the killing of Floyd, 46, a Black man, by pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes as he lay handcuffed on the ground.
“Once you handcuff a person you need to get them out of the prone position as quickly as possible, because it restricts their breathing,” Zimmerman said, adding that being handcuffed “stretches the muscles back through your chest and it makes it more difficult to breathe.”
“That would be the top tier, the deadly force,” he said, noting that escalating to such a degree goes against use-of-force training at MPD. “Because if your knee is on someone’s neck, that can kill them.”
When asked if such force was necessary, Zimmerman responded that it was “totally unnecessary” given that any potential threat from Floyd had been subdued.
“First of all, pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for,” Zimmerman said. “I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt. And that’s what they would have to feel to use that type of force.”
Continuing, Zimmerman noted that handcuffing a person quickly alters the permissible use of force that can be used in a situation.
“Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way to, they’re cuffed, how can they really hurt you?” he said. “That person is handcuffed, and the threat level is just not there.”
At that stage, the use of force quickly declines, he added.
“If they become less combative, you may just have them sit down on the curb,” Zimmerman said. “The idea is to calm the person down and if they are not a threat to you at that point, you try to, you know, to help them so that they’re not as upset as they may have been in the beginning.”
Derek Chauvin has faced at least eighteen complaints during his 19-year career with the Minneapolis police, including six times in which prosecutors claim the former officer used force against arrestees.
However, these incidents – like George Floyd’s own criminal record – won’t be introduced to jurors in the Chauvin trial so that the defendant isn’t punished for prior misconduct, and is instead evaluated on the charges he faces for the death of Floyd: third- and second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Derek Chauvin Found GUILTY of Murdering George Floyd
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin has been found guilty on all counts in the murder of George Floyd, the 46-year-old Black man whose death at Chauvin’s hands last May sparked a long period of unrest and major protests against policing and racism in America.
After deliberating for about 10 hours over two days, the jury found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter for the killing of Floyd on a street corner last year on Memorial Day.
The second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years. The third-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 25 years, and second-degree manslaughter can carry up to 10 years.
In harrowing video footage from the May 25, 2020, incident that has been seen billions of times across the globe, Chauvin could be seen kneeling on the neck of Floyd for over nine minutes while fellow Minneapolis officers Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane stood by. Meanwhile, a horrified crowd of bystanders filmed and pled with officers as the event transpired.
On Monday, the prosecution and defense presented their closing arguments to the jury.
Prosecutors argued that Chauvin’s actions directly led to Floyd dying from low oxygen, or asphyxia. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said that Chauvin “chose pride over policing,” calling his actions “unnecessary, gratuitous and disproportionate.” He also reminded the jury that Chauvin’s hundreds of hours of training over the course of 19 years with the Minneapolis Police Department should have led to a different outcome than Floyd’s death during a crisis.
The prosecution also focused on the fact that Chauvin knee was on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
The defense, however, argued that Floyd’s use of illegal drugs and a pre-existing heart condition were to blame and that “the totality of the circumstances,” including exposure to carbon monoxide, led to his death in police custody.
38 witnesses were called by prosecutors, including the teenager who recorded the widely seen video that has been played endlessly over the past year. She and other bystanders testified that they remain haunted by Floyd’s death. The defense called seven witnesses, including two experts.
Floyd’s death rekindled a long-seething anger over police brutality and racial oppression in the United States, with cities across the U.S. and the world rising up in protest over his killing and the killings of other victims of law enforcement.
President Joe Biden had expressed his wish for “the right verdict” without specifying explicitly whether the verdict would be guilty or not guilty. Biden had been careful not to comment on a potential outcome in Chauvin’s trial while urging calm.
Residents, activists and journalists descended on the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis when the announcement was made at 2:30 pm local time that the verdict has been reached. The crowd greeted the judge’s announcement of Chauvin’s guilty charges with applause and cheers.
US Cop Shares Tiktok Video Showing How It’s Impossible To Confuse Taser for a Gun
In recent years, policing in the United States has received a much-needed reexamination, with many demanding changes to law enforcement or even its defunding and dismantling in light of high-profile killings committed by police officers.
However, one U.S. police officer has shared a video where he points out that in at least some fatal police encounters, simple common sense can save lives.
In a video shared to TikTok by user @brianb1504, the officer points out the differences between a pistol and a Taser. The video is a seeming response to the recent slaying of 20-year-old Daunte Wright by Minnesota police officer Kim Potter.
In the video, Officer Brian can be seen loading his belt with the firearm and less-lethal weapon, noting that his pistol is “dominant” while the bright yellow plastic taser is “not so dominant.”
“Huge weight difference, guys – I don’t understand how we can mistake a taser for a gun or a gun for a taser,” Brian continues.
“If you’re in the heat of the moment and you do something like that, you shouldn’t be doing this job,” he adds.
Continuing, Brian notes that he is sick and tired of the lousy state of police-community relations resulting from the actions of killer cops.
“I’m not going to put my life on the line to try and fix your stupidity and deal with restoring the peace with my public that I serve just because of your stupid actions,” Brian said.
“It makes no sense. 99 percent of our job is communication. You don’t have to be quick to pull out a gun or a taser on somebody and think everybody’s a threat,” he said. “Not everybody’s a threat. Try talking to them, get to know these people.”
While the account seems to have disappeared, it received upwards of 6 million views along with over 1.5 million likes and thousands of comments across the platform.
The video comes as the United States braces itself for more protests following the police killing of Daunte Wright by Kim Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department. Police Chief Tim Gannon claims that Potter was trying to tase Wright but he died as a result of an “accidental discharge.”
Potter has since been charged with second-degree manslaughter. If convicted, she could face up to 10 years behind bars and/or a $20,000 fine.
Cop Who ‘Accidentally’ Killed Daunte Wright Arrested on 2nd-Degree Manslaughter Charges
The former Minnesota cop who shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old unarmed Black man, during a traffic stop will now face charges of second-degree manslaughter, a prosecutor announced on Wednesday.
The brutal killing of Wright, which comes amid the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for last May’s killing of George Floyd, threatens to spark a new round of nationwide protests against police brutality and discriminatory policing.
On Wednesday, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput confirmed that Potter, a 26-year veteran of the Brooklyn Center Police Department, would be charged.
On Wednesday morning, agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension arrested Potter, the bureau announced in a statement.
Potter was taken into custody in St. Paul and will be booked at Hennepin County jail.
On Tuesday, Potter resigned as demands for justice for Wright reverberated nationwide. Her resignation coincided with that of the city’s former police chief, who claims that Potter accidentally grabbed her Glock when she thought she was reaching for her Taser during the Sunday traffic stop.
Wright’s family and attorneys have rejected the claim that Wright’s death was merely the result of an “accident” and are demanding accountability and sweeping reforms of policing in Minnesota.
Potter could face up to 10 years in prison along with a $20,000 fine, per Minnesota law.
“While we appreciate that the district attorney is pursuing justice for Daunte, no conviction can give the Wright family their loved one back,” said Wright family attorney Ben Crump in a statement.
“This was no accident. This was an intentional, deliberate and unlawful use of force,” the statement added.
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