Chauvin was Taught to Defuse Crises, Police Trainer Testifies

Testimony in the U.S. trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged in the death of George Floyd, continues Wednesday with a Los Angeles police sergeant called upon to answer questions about the use of force. Jody Stiger told the court in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on Tuesday that after reviewing video of Floyd’s arrest last year, he believes “the force was excessive.” Stiger said officers were justified in using force initially as Floyd resisted their efforts to put him into a police car, but that once Floyd was on the ground and stopped resisting, the officers “should have slowed down or stopped their force as well.” In other testimony Tuesday, Minneapolis Police Sergeant Ker Yang said Chauvin took a 40-hour course on crisis intervention. Yang, who is in charge of training officers to handle crises, said Chauvin was trained in techniques to de-escalate such situations. Yang was the latest of several Minneapolis police officers to testify as prosecutors aim to prove that Chauvin failed to follow training when he pinned his knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.The trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, April 6, 2021.    Yang said the training Chauvin and other officers received helped them make decisions involving people in crisis, including those suffering from mental health issues and the effects of drug abuse.  “When we talk about fast-evolving situations…a lot of the time we have the time to slow things down and reevaluate and reassess and go through this model,” Yang said.     Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said Chauvin attended a course on how to defuse crises in 2016.    Chauvin, who is white, was a 19-year police veteran until he was fired. He has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges in the case being heard by a racially diverse 12-member jury. Chauvin’s lawyer contends that Floyd, an African American, died from underlying health issues and that Chauvin followed his police training in the way in which the 46-year-old Floyd was arrested.    Yang’s testimony came one day after Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testified that Chauvin did not follow his police department’s policy when he pinned Floyd to the street.    Kneeling on Floyd’s neck after he was handcuffed and subdued is not the department’s policy or training, Arradondo said, “and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”   The chief said officers are trained to try to de-escalate a situation and to minimize or avoid the use of force whenever possible. They also receive first-aid training, he said, adding, “And so, we absolutely have a duty to render that.”    Arradondo, the city’s first Black police chief, fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Floyd’s death. Arradondo later described Floyd’s death last May as “murder.”  The first week of the trial was dominated by emotional testimony from eyewitnesses who watched as Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground even as Floyd repeatedly gasped that he could not breathe.    The May 25 incident last year triggered widespread protests against police treatment of minorities in the United States and around the world.     The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office said that Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” A summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death.”   Shortly before the trial started, the city of Minneapolis paid $27 million in damages to Floyd’s relatives. 

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