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Lieutenant calls Chauvin's actions 'totally unnecessary' in Day 5 testimony

Lieutenant calls Chauvin's actions 'totally unnecessary' in Day 5 testimony
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A Minneapolis police lieutenant testifying Friday in the trial of Derek Chauvin said the former officer took action that was "totally unnecessary" when he knelt on George Floyd's neck for almost nine minutes.

“If your knee is on a person's neck, that can kill them,” said Lt. Richard Zimmerman, a veteran member of the Minneapolis Police Department. “When a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way. ... They're cuffed, how can they really hurt you?”

He called that level of force for that duration “totally unnecessary.”

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“Pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on his neck for that amount of time, it's just uncalled for,” said Zimmerman, who leads the homicide unit for Minneapolis police. “I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that's what they felt, and that's what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force.”

The remarks came on the fifth day of Chauvin's trial, which included testimony from another police force veteran, Sgt. Jon Edwards, the supervising sergeant for the city’s 3rd Precinct where Floyd was killed. Chauvin faces three criminal counts in Floyd's death including murder.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank questioned Zimmerman about use-of-force standards at the department, a critical aspect of the case.

“Have you ever, in all the years you've been working for the Minneapolis Police Department, been trained to kneel on the neck of someone who is handcuffed behind their back in a prone position?” Frank asked.

“No, I haven't,” said Zimmerman, who has been with the police department since 1985, making him the most senior officer on the force.

In subsequent questions by Frank, Zimmerman added that what Chauvin did rose to the level of deadly force but did not meet the level of threat Floyd was presenting to him or the other officers.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill adjourned proceedings before noon local time after hearing testimony from the two witnesses. The trial will resume next week.