“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” Medaria Arradondo testified.
Last June, nearly a month after the death of George Floyd, the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department issued a blistering statement about the officers involved in Floyd’s arrest.
Chief Medaria Arradondo, the first Black person to hold the position, described Floyd’s death as “tragic” and said it “was not due to a lack of training.”
“This was murder — it wasn’t a lack of training,” Arradondo said, adding that that was why he “took swift action” and fired the four officers involved in the incident a day after Floyd’s death.
“The officers knew what was happening — one intentionally caused it, and the others failed to prevent it,” Arradondo said in June.
On Monday — this time from the witness stand — Arradondo again rebuked Derek Chauvin, the former officer who prosecutors said knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds. It marked a rare instance of a police chief’s testifying against a police officer. (Arradondo also testified in the trial of Mohamed Noor, a former police officer who was convicted of killing Justine Damond in 2017.)
Chauvin is on trial on charges of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The three other officers who responded to the scene and were fired — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter. They are scheduled to stand trial in August.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked Arradondo whether he had a belief about when Chauvin’s restraint of Floyd, including kneeling on his neck, should have ended.
“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” Arradondo responded.
“There’s an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds,” Arradondo said. “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. It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or values.”
The prosecution has said Floyd died from Chauvin’s kneeling on his neck. The defense has said Floyd’s death was caused by an overdose, underlying health conditions and adrenaline.
During his testimony, Arradondo explained departmental policy on when force and de-escalation tactics are necessary. He said Chauvin failed to follow policies on de-escalation, use of force and the duty to render aid to people who need it when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than 9 minutes. Floyd, who was Black, was recorded in a widely seen bystander video repeatedly telling Chauvin, who is white, that he could not breathe.
“We have a duty of care, and so when someone’s in our custody, regardless of if they are a suspect, we have an obligation to make sure that we provide for their care,” Arradondo said.