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Minneapolis police instructor testifies Chauvin’s knee restraint not part of training

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A Minneapolis police officer who trains in use of force testified during the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin on Tuesday that the restraint he applied when kneeling on the neck of George Floyd during an arrest that led to his death last year was not part of the department’s training.

Lt. Johnny Mercil was shown a picture of Chauvin applying the neck restraint on Floyd during the May arrest then was asked by a prosecutor whether the restraint was a department-trained restraint.

“No, sir,” Mercil testified.

“Has it ever been?” the prosecutor then asked Mercil. 

“Not to my knowledge, no sir,” Mercil responded.

The prosecutor then pressed Mercil about whether the technique is authorized by the police department. Mercil answered that the knee-on-neck restraint would be “something that happens in use of force that isn’t unauthorized.”

“And what under what circumstances would that be authorized? How long can you do that?” the prosecutor followed.

Mercil said it would depend on the circumstances at the time of use, such as the “the type of resistance you’re getting from the subject that you’re putting your knee on.”

“Say for example, the subject was under control and handcuffed, would this be authorized?” the prosecutor asked Mercil.

“I would say no,” Mercil responded.

In viral footage of Floyd’s arrest that prompted international protests against police brutality and racial injustice last summer, Chauvin was seen kneeling on his neck for more than eight minutes.

Floyd’s death was ruled a homicide by the Hennepin County medical examiner in Minnesota days after he died. The report released by the county at the time said he experienced cardiopulmonary arrest while under law enforcement’s restraint.

During the trial, which entered its seventh day on Sunday, prosecutors and Chauvin’s defense team battled over whether the former officer’s actions during the arrest was improper police conduct and if it was a substantial causal factor in Floyd’s death.

Chauvin currently faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

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