Another Day, More Evidence That Derek Chauvin Brutally Killed George Floyd Just Like We Saw With Our Eyeballs
The sixth day of Derek Chauvin's trial for killing George Floyd featured more negative performance reviews from the former Minneapolis officer's colleagues. Friday, Lt. Richard Zimmerman, head of the Minneapolis homicide unit, testified that it was “totally unnecessary" for Chauvin to press his knee into Floyd's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. This was neither defensive nor deescalating. Monday, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo confirmed that Chauvin's grotesque actions “absolutely" violated department policy, which is encouraging for those of us who feared that standard police procedure included occasional torture.
"Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped," Chief Arradondo said.
That's a damning statement from an acting police chief. Arradondo is still a cop, so he claimed Chauvin's use of force might've been “reasonable" for a “few seconds" to get Floyd “under control." However, nine minutes and 29 seconds is significantly longer than a few seconds, as anyone knows who's been trapped in a conversation with a talkative cashier at the supermarket. Also, Floyd is dead, and that wasn't an ideal outcome. Yes, the police are really shocking us lately.
Police Chief Arradondo testifies: "It is my firm belief that the one singular incident we will be judged forever on… https://t.co/JZZTVLrBxe— CBS News (@CBS News)1617649638.0
Arradondo dropped the mic:
To continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not part of our training. And it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.
Yes, Arradondo confirmed that cops — in Minneapolis at least — have ethics and values that are incompatible with killing Black people. Chauvin's defense attorney, Eric J. Nelson, tried to present this position as outside the mainstream. After all, when was the last time Arradondo walked the mean streets of Minneapolis? Has he even arrested anyone?
NELSON: Now, as the chief police chief, I assume that you're not out on the street day to day arresting people?
ARRADONDO: That is correct.
NELSON: Can you just give me a general sense, when is the last time that you actually — I don't mean to be dismissive, but actually arrested a suspect?
ARRADONDO: It's been many years, sir.
Although it's true Arradondo no longer mixes it up on the streets like Jim Gordon in Christopher Nolan's Batman movies, he did manage to avoid choking the life out of civilians before his promotion to police chief. Arradondo swatted away Nelson's irrelevant questions and effectively dismantled his entire defense, specifically the tired trope that police must prioritize their own personal safety over that of a suspect in their custody.
Chauvin's defense has argued that Minneapolis's use of force policy is vague and subjective. It might not even specifically state, in all caps, that you shouldn't press your knee into someone's neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Arradondo reduced that pathetic argument to shreds and explained to the jury that “sanctify of life" is the cornerstone of the department's use of force policy. That might seem very “war is peace" but Arradondo sold the sentiment.
It is my firm belief that the one singular incident we will be judged forever on will be our use of force. While it is absolutely imperative our officers go home at the end of their shift, we want to ensure that community members go home too.
The prosecution has established through their expert witnesses that Chauvin had a duty to keep Floyd safe. Arradondo testified Monday that Chauvin violated department policy when he didn't offer Floyd medical aid after the officers couldn't find a pulse. Dr. Bradford T. Wankhede Langenfeld, who was a senior resident at the Hennepin County Medical Center, said Floyd's chances of survival decreased significantly with every minute that passed without anyone administering CPR. You'll recall that firefighter and licensed EMT Genevieve Hansen offered to provide medical assistance but officers told her not to get involved.
Langenfeld said he believed Floyd died from a lack of oxygen, which happens when you're being choked to death. The defense wants to raise reasonable doubt that Floyd died from a drug overdose, but it's become less reasonable each day to believe George Floyd would have died if he hadn't encountered Derek Chauvin.
Arradondo also confirmed that Floyd's alleged counterfeit heist was not a capital offense.
The original call to Minneapolis police department on the 911 call for someone using a counterfeit money did not rise to the level of severity of force used.
When discussing proper deescalation protocols, Arradondo said an officer could seek the community's help. However, Chauvin and his fellow officers ignored the desperate, horrified bystanders while they weren't actively antagonizing them. The defense has tried to blame the crowd for Chauvin killing Floyd because he apparently was never trained to arrest anyone in public spaces. Nelson will probably try to blame the rain next. He's that close to a Milli Vanilli defense. That won't work, either. Chauvin might face actual justice.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).