Derek Chauvin trial: Use of force expert to testify on former officer’s knee on George Floyd’s neck

A use-of-force expert told Derek Chauvin’s murder trial that the former officer used “excessive” force when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.

Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant, has been called by the prosecution to outline to the jury what type of force would have been appropriate for Mr Chauvin to use during Mr Floyd’s fatal arrest.

The trial has moved on from the emotional testimony of eye witnesses to a forensic examination of police training and tactics.

Sgt Stiger is due to return to the witness stand when testimony resumes in Minneapolis on Wednesday.

Eric Nelson, left, and Derek Chauvin, right, listen as Judge Peter Cahill presides in the murder trial 

Eric Nelson, left, and Derek Chauvin, right, listen as Judge Peter Cahill presides in the murder trial 

Credit:  Court TV

The prosecution have argued that Mr Chavin violated police protocol and used excessive force when he continued to pin Mr Floyd to the ground while he was handcuffed and not resisting arrest.

On Tuesday afternoon, Sgt Stiger said Mr Chauvin and the three other officers were justified in using force while Mr Floyd was resisting their efforts to put him in a police squad car.

But he said once the 46-year-old was on the ground and stopped resisting, “at that point the officers should have slowed down or stopped their force as well,” he told the jury.

Sgt Stiger said that after reviewing video of the arrest, “my opinion was that the force was excessive.”

Mr Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Mr Floyd’s death in south Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.

Mr Floyd was arrested outside a convenience store after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.

Bystander footage of the unarmed black man pleading for air as he was pinned to the ground sparked a global outcry and a national reckoning over US policing.

No ‘blue wall’

Instead of closing ranks to protect a fellow officer behind what has been dubbed the “blue wall of silence,” some of the most experienced members of the Minneapolis force have taken the stand during the last few days to openly condemn Mr Chauvin’s actions.

Jurors in the trial learned that Mr Chauvin had been certified to perform CPR and was required to administer first aid to a suspect in distress under Minneapolis Police Department policy.

The defence contends that Mr Chauvin was doing “exactly” what he was trained to do in his 19-year career. 

Mr Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, has argued the officers were distracted by a hostile group of bystanders and were using appropriate restraint on Mr Floyd.

‘We’ll breathe after conviction’

Gwen Carr, Eric Garner's mother, stands with Philonise Floyd outside the courthouse

Gwen Carr, Eric Garner’s mother, stands with Philonise Floyd outside the courthouse

Credit: Reuters

Outside court on Tuesday the Floyd’s family said they “will be able to breathe” when Mr Chauvin is convicted.

Speaking outside the Minneapolis courthouse where Mr Chauvin is on trial, the Floyd family on Tuesday described their anguish at having to “relive” Mr Floyd’s final moments during the proceedings.

“It causes them and many people to suffer PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” said Ben Crump, a lawyer representing the family.

Mr Crump said the trial, which entered its seventh day of testimony, has had a “psychological” toll on not just the family, but the global audience following the televised trial remotely.

Bystander footage of Mr Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck as the 46-year-old pleaded for air has been played repeatedly during the proceedings.

The Floyd family have sat through each day of testimony and said they had decided to hold a prayer session after a “tumultuous week” of watching Mr Floyd’s final moments on repeat.

George Floyd's brother Philonise Floyd

George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd

Credit: Reuters

They held a group prayer outside the courthouse alongside Gwen Carr, the mother of Eric Garner, another black man killed during a police restraint, and former New York Governor David Paterson.

Mr Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, told the group: “We’re going through hard times right now and we need people on our side to help us get through this.”

In a reference to his brother’s final words, he added: “But one thing I can tell: Me and Ms Gwen Carr, after we get the verdict and we get this conviction, we’ll be able to breathe.”

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