State Watch

LAPD use-of-force expert says Chauvin used ‘deadly force’ on Floyd


Sergeant Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department, who on Wednesday continued his expert testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin, testified that the force officers used on George Floyd during his arrest was “deadly.”

Stiger, reading from the Minneapolis Police Departmental Policy, defined deadly force as “force which the actor uses with the purpose of causing, or which the actor should reasonably know creates a substantial risk of causing, death [or] great bodily harm.”

When asked by prosecutor Steve Schleicher if he had an “opinion to a degree of reasonable, professional certainty” if the force shown in exhibit photos from the restraint period constituted deadly force, Stiger answered “yes.”

When asked what his opinion was, Stiger noted that Floyd was handcuffed and not trying to break free or resist, adding that the pressure on him “could cause death.”

“At the time of the restraint period, Mr. Floyd was not resisting; he was in the prone position; he was handcuffed. He was not attempting to evade; he was not attempting to resist, and the pressure that was being caused by the body weight could cause positional asphyxia which could cause death,” Stiger said.

Stiger said that applying body weight pressure during restraint “increases the possibility of death” by positional asphyxia.

“Positional asphyxia can occur even if there is no pressure, no body weight on a subject. Just being in that position, and especially being handcuffed, creates a situation where the person has a difficult time breathing, which could cause death,” Stiger said. “When you add body weight to that, then it just increases the possibility of death.”

When asked what “additional weight” he saw in his analysis, Stiger pointed out Chauvin’s body weight, in addition to the two other officers.

Stiger also testified that Floyd did not pose an “immediate threat” to officers during the restraint period because “he was in the composition, he was handcuffed, he was not attempting to resist, he was not attempting to assault the officers, kick, punch, or anything of that nature.”

He added that in his opinion, “no force should have been used” once Floyd was handcuffed, placed in a prone position and not resisting.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson asked about the training techniques taught to officers. 

Stiger later testified that officers in training are told that they can place their knee between the shoulder blades at the base of the neck.

“The specific technique that you’re trained is for an officer to put his knee into what would be the, like the trapezius area, in between the shoulder blades at the base of the neck, right?” Nelson asked.

“Yes, the base of the neck,” Stiger answered.

“And that is standard protocol, standard police practice, basically in every single department that you’re familiar with,” Nelson said.

“That I’m familiar with? Yes,” Stiger responded, confirming that he was trained that way when asked by Nelson.

Stiger later added, however, that “officers are always cautioned to try to stay away from the neck as much as possible.”

When asked by the prosecution about Chauvin’s use of force during the restraint period, however, Stiger held that it was “excessive.”

Stiger’s comments come on the eighth day in the trial of Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with three criminal counts in connection with Floyd’s death.

In May 2020, Chauvin was captured on video footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck for approximately nine minutes.

Updated 1:48 p.m.

Tags deadly force Derek Chauvin trial

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