The jury in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin heard testimony on Monday from the doctor who pronounced George Floyd dead and the city’s police chief who said Chauvin broke department rules and its ethics code. Chauvin, who is white, had been pressing his knee into the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in handcuffs, for about nine minutes on May 25, 2020, a scene that ignited global protests against police brutality.
Langenfeld, an emergency physician, testified he took over Floyd’s care after two paramedics brought him to the Hennepin County Medical Center. Asked by prosecutor Jerry Blackwell if the paramedics indicated that they suspected a drug overdose or heart attack, Langenfeld said they did not, indicating only that Floyd’s heart had stopped beating and that there may have been a delay in starting resuscitation efforts.
“It’s well known that any amount of time that a patient spends in cardiac arrest without immediate CPR markedly decreases the chance of a good outcome,” he told the jury. Medical tests led Langenfeld to think it was unlikely that Floyd suffered a heart attack, he told the jury. The most likely explanation, the doctor said, was asphyxia. Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, asked Langenfeld whether fentanyl could also lead to the low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels in Floyd’s blood. Langenfeld agreed it could. Floyd’s girlfriend testified last week that Floyd was addicted to opioids. A medical examiner who ruled Floyd’s death a homicide at the hands of police noted there was fentanyl in Chauvin’s blood at autopsy.
MEDARIA ARRADONDO, CHIEF OF MINNEAPOLIS POLICE DEPARTMENT Arradondo testified that Chauvin broke Minneapolis Police Department rules and its ethics code during the incident.
“It’s not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics and our values,” Arradondo told the jury as prosecutors sought to undermine a central plank of Chauvin’s defense. Arradondo said it was unusual for police to take someone into custody where the alleged crime was as minor as in the case of Floyd, who was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes at the Cup Foods grocery store.
A prosecutor asked him to explain to the jury how police officers receive extensive training on how to use force and to reduce tensions. “We are oftentimes the first face of government our community will see, and we will often meet them at their worst moments,” he said.
Officers carry tourniquets and are trained how to use them to treat gunshot wounds, are taught how to do chest compressions and are given naloxone inhalers to be used to rapidly reverse an opioid overdose, Arradondo said. He was asked to read aloud parts of the department’s code of ethics.
“It’s really about treating people with dignity and respect above all else,” he told the jury. Chauvin used too much pressure on Floyd’s neck, Arradondo said, pointing to police training that he said emphasized the “sanctity of life.”
Arradondo said Chauvin also did not “de-escalate” the situation and did not provide mandated first aid. In cross-examination, Nelson got Arradondo to say it had been “many years” since he himself had made an arrest.
He also had Arradondo agree with him that a police officer’s use of force is often “not attractive.” KATIE BLACKWELL, FORMER COMMANDER OF DEPARTMENT’s TRAINING DIVISION
Blackwell, who is now inspector of the department’s 5th Precinct, was the commander of the department’s training division at the time of the incident. She told the jury that Chauvin went through extensive training on defensive tactics and was a field training officer himself. She also testified she has known him about 20 years.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher showed Blackwell a photograph of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd and asked her if that was a technique learned in Minneapolis Police Department training. “It is not,” Blackwell said. “I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is, so that’s not what we train.”
(Compiled by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago and Jonathan Allen in Minneapolis; Editing by Peter Cooney)