By Nina Hall and William McCurry
MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The police chief of the Minneapolis Police Department told jurors Monday that ex-police officer Derek Chauvin’s restraint of George Floyd “absolutely” violates department policy and goes against “our ethics and our values.”
The first witness to testify Monday, Day 6 of Chauvin’s murder trial, was Dr. Bradford Langenfeld who told the jury that, based on the evidence that presented itself in the ER, Floyd died from a lack of oxygen, rather than a drug overdose or heart attack.
Dr. Langenfeld provided care to Floyd after he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center and was the physician who pronounced him dead on May 25, 2020, after attempts to resuscitate him.
According to Dr. Langenfeld, Floyd was in their care for approximately 30 minutes. He testified that Floyd didn’t have any symptoms that led to him dying from a heart attack. When he was transported to the hospital, there was no information given to him about Floyd using drugs, that he had possibly overdosed.
In medical terms, Dr. Langenfeld provides that Floyd was in a state of Pulseless Electrical Activity, PEA, which is when a person is in cardiac arrest with no pulse but some electrical activity on the monitor.
After being in a state of PEA, Floyd moved into an Asystole state, which is better known as flatlining or having no cardiac activity on the monitor. Dr. Langenfeld testified that the majority of the time Floyd was in their care, he was in a state of PEA until he reached Asystole.
Hypoxia is a condition in which the body is deprived of adequate oxygen supply. Dr. Langenfeld states that Hypoxia is “one of the most common causes of PEA and Asystole.”
Dr. Langenfeld also testified that the leading cause of his death was a lack of oxygen and it was “more likely than any other possibility.”
Following Dr. Langenfeld’s testimony, Chief of Police for the Minneapolis Police Department, Medaria Arradondo was the next to testify for the prosecution.
Arradondo testified that the motto of the Minneapolis Police Department is “to protect with courage and serve with compassion.”
He declared this means the badge that they wear means a lot because the interaction that they have with a member of their community may be the only one they have and that “has to count for something and so it’s very important for us to make sure we’re meeting our community in that space, treating them with dignity, being their guardians, and representing the men and women that came forth to serve in this department.”
“We have to make each engagement with our community count,” Arradondo told the jurors.
Arradondo then testified that the department’s code of ethics is to “law enforcement officers fundamental duty to serve mankind and safeguard lives and property and protect the innocent against assumption and the weak against oppression and intimidation.”
The Minneapolis Police Department also has a professional policy that is “about treating people with dignity and respect they deserve above all else.” Under their professional policing model, they are to “be courteous, respectful, polite, and professional.”
They also are to “ensure that length of any detention is no longer than necessary to take appropriate action for the known or suspected offense.”
Arradondo testified that the de-escalation policy for the MPD states that the officers are supposed to “attempt to slow down or stabilize a situation so that more time, options, and resources are available.”
It is MPD’s policy when responding to situations of crisis that, “The MPD shall handle encounters with individuals in crisis in a manner that reflects the values of protection, safety, and sanctity of life, while promoting the dignity of all people.”
According to the Minneapolis police department, de-escalation tactics include (but are not limited to), “Placing barriers between an uncooperative subject and an officer, containing a threat, moving from a position that exposes officers from potential threats…, Reducing exposure to threat…, Communication from a safe position intended to gain the subject’s compliance…, Verbal techniques…, and calling additional resources to assist.”
When a de-escalation situation occurs officers should, “Avoid physical confrontation unless immediately necessary (e.g. to protect someone or stop dangerous behavior).
Officers in the MPD, according to Arradondo, are permitted to use force only in terms of what is deemed as “objectively reasonable” during situations with the community where they deem it necessary.
“An officer is authorized to use force affecting a lawful arrest, executing a legal process, enforcing an order of the court, and any other duties imposed among an officer,” Arradondo explained about circumstances where officers were permitted to use force.
MPD policy defines objectively reasonable force as, “The amount and type of force that would be considered rational and logical to an “objective” officer on the scene, supported by facts and circumstances known to an officer at the time force was used.”
According to Arradondo, the criteria that an officer should consider when deciding whether to use force is the severity of the crime at hand, whether or not the suspect poses a threat, and whether or not that suspect is actively resisting arrest.
When asked by defense attorney Nelson if Arradondo had heard the phrase “sometimes you have to escalate a situation to de-escalate it,” in reference to Chauvin applying force, and Arradondo responded, “I have not heard that.”
“That action is not de-escalation,” Arradondo added.
“When we talk about the sanctity of life and our principles and values, that action is contrary. To continue to apply that level of force to a person prone out, hands behind their back, that is in no way shape or form anything that is part of our training, policy, or values,” he said.
When asked by the Chauvin’s defense team if the tactics used on Floyd were in correspondence with MPD policy, Arradondo was adamant that they were not.
The defense asked Arradondo whether police officers were sometimes required to make split second decisions while in the field, and while Arradondo’s answer was yes, he stressed the need to constantly reevaluate situations based on the critical thinking model that the MPD employs.
The critical thinking model works as a guideline for how officers should handle situations by voicing “neutrality, respect, and trust,” the chief said, adding that under the model, officers should gather as much initial information as possible before assessing the risk they are under when they respond.
Officers should then implore their authority to act based on what they have deemed safe and enact those decisions. All the while, officers should constantly be reassessing the situation at hand for what is deemed necessary, Arradondo said.
While the neck restraint that was used on Floyd was taught in the police academy at the time of the incident, Arradondo made it a point to mention that it was clear Chauvin was not reassessing the situation as much as he should have been.
Upon seeing the clip of Chauvin’s knee pressed firmly into Floyd’s neck Arradondo responded, “As a matter of fact, as I saw the video, I didn’t even know if Mr. Floyd was still alive at that time.”
Typically when officers administer what Arradondo deemed as an unconscious neck restraint, “The subject is placed in a neck restraint with the intention of rendering the person unconscious by applying adequate pressure,” he added, noting that afterwards, the subject should be placed in the recovery position as the risk of death is increasingly heightened when using this technique.
According to Arradondo, there were no medical efforts made by officers to attempt to save Floyd after they were unable to locate his pulse.
According to another witness brought by the prosecution, Katie Blackwell, commander of the Minnesota Training Department, certified Arradondo’s claims that Chauvin was not in line with policy at the time of the arrest.
She went on to testify that Chauvin had been present at all the mandatory training necessary for an officer to continue working up.
When asked about Chauvin’s methods she stated, “That’s not how we train.”
William McCurry is a fourth year at Sacramento State, majoring in Criminal Justice. He is from Brentwood, California.
Nina Hall is a sophomore from Colorado at Santa Clara University studying English and Sociology.
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