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Chauvin's Restraint On Floyd's Neck Isn't Taught By Police, Use-Of-Force Trainer Says

Chauvin trial: MPD Inspector Katie Blackwell of the 5th Precinct testifies

Sgt. Ker Yang, the crisis intervention training coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, is testifying Tuesday in former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial on murder charges.

Yang is the latest in a string of police officials who are testifying about the department's training, and Chauvin's use of force against George Floyd, who died in police custody last May.

Describing the Minneapolis police force's critical decision-making model, Yang said officers must assess situations and respond to evolving events. The model works in the field, he said.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson asked Yang about public perceptions of police activity and the possibility that onlookers can create or add to a crisis. Yang agreed that crowds can create a crisis, in addition to what officers may already be dealing with.

Nelson also asked about potential signs of aggression, either in a subject or a bystander. Citing police guidelines, Yang says the signs include "standing tall, red in the face, raised voice, rapid breathing," along with muscle tension, pacing, and other behaviors.

On Monday, Inspector Katie Blackwell, who used to run the Minneapolis Police Department's police training unit, told jurors that Chauvin was not following the training he received when he held his knee on George Floyd's neck for about nine minutes.

"I don't know what kind of improvised position that is," Blackwell said of the way Chauvin restrained Floyd. "That's not what we train."

Citing police policy, Blackwell said "a neck restraint is compressing one or both sides of the neck, using an arm or a leg. But what we train is using one arm or two arms to do a neck restraint."

Blackwell now commands the 5th Precinct. She started testifying shortly after Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told jurors that Chauvin's actions ran against his department's values.

"There is an initial reasonableness in trying to get him under control in the first few seconds," Arradondo told the jury on Monday.

The chief continued: "But once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, 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, is not part of our training and is certainly not part of our ethics or our values."

Tuesday's court session began with a Zoom appearance by Morries Lester Hall, as member station Minnesota Public Radio reports. Hall was with Floyd in his SUV and the Cup Foods store before the police were called last Memorial Day over an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill.

Hall has sought to avoid testifying in Chauvin's trial, with his lawyer recently saying he would invoke his 5th Amendment rights against self-incrimination. Previous testimony in the case has depicted Hall as the man who first tried to pass an allegedly fake $20 bill to store clerks, and also as a person whom Floyd's girlfriend said had sold drugs to the couple.

Chauvin, 45, is facing three criminal charges, as listed in court documents:

  1. second-degree murder — unintentional — while committing a felony;

  1. third-degree murder — perpetrating eminently dangerous act and evincing depraved mind;

  1. second-degree manslaughter — culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Bill Chappell is a writer and editor on the News Desk in the heart of NPR's newsroom in Washington, D.C.