By AMY FORLITI, STEVE KARNOWSKI and TAMMY WEBBER
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Minneapolis police officers are trained that they have a duty to intervene to stop unreasonable force, the commander of the department’s training division testified Friday at the trial of three former officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights when he was killed under the knee of fellow Officer Derek Chauvin.
Inspector Katie Blackwell said officers are also trained on neck restraints and how they should be applied, and that they must provide follow-up care because there could be health issues involved.
Officers also must tell paramedics or others who take custody of the person that a neck restraint was used, she said. And they must call for medical assistance and render aid while EMS is on the way “to make sure that we do everything we can to save a person’s life.”
Federal prosecutors say former Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao failed to act to save Floyd’s life on May 25, 2020, as Chauvin knelt on the Black man’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes while Floyd was handcuffed, facedown and gasping for air. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs and Thao kept bystanders back.
Blackwell, on the stand for a second day, said Thao’s training record included refresher courses in 2018 and 2019 on use of force, including the duty to use the least amount of force necessary. On Thursday, she said officers must stop once the person is no longer resisting, then render any necessary medical aid they’re trained to provide until medical personnel arrive, and that Thao, with the department since 2012, was also certified in CPR.
Lane and Kueng were sworn in as officers on Dec. 10, 2019, after completing training at the academy.
Blackwell said Lane and Kueng would have received a 250-page manual at the academy that told them officers are responsible for their actions and the actions of their partners, as well as action they decide not to take in a situation. The manual also indicated the officers were taught about use of force, defensive tactics and the U.S. Constitution.
Whether the officers deprived Floyd of medical aid is a key element of the case, and prosecutors have sought to show jurors that responding paramedics were not given important information, and that Floyd should have been given medical attention immediately.
On Thursday, Blackwell testified that it is critical to move someone who is being restrained from a prone position onto their side, otherwise “the concern is that they would die in custody.” Body camera video shows that Lane twice asked if they should roll Floyd onto his side but was rebuffed.
On Friday, jurors saw a video about breathing difficulties that can occur if a struggling person is face down in the street, which Blackwell said Thao would have seen in 2012. The narrator says that in that position, breathing becomes more difficult if someone is applying weight and pressure, which could lead the person being restrained to struggle more, and lead the officer to apply even more pressure — something that was called a vicious cycle. The narrator says it’s incumbent to get a person into a side position as soon as safely possible.
Officers had responded to a 911 call that Floyd, 46, tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a corner store. The videotaped killing triggered worldwide protests and a reexamination of racism and policing.
A paramedic testified earlier in the week that he wasn’t told that Floyd wasn’t breathing and didn’t have a pulse when police upgraded the urgency of an ambulance call, and wasn’t told when he got there that Floyd had been restrained under Chauvin’s knee for 9 1/2 minutes.
An emergency room physician on duty at Hennepin County Medical Center when Floyd was brought in testified Thursday that it was too late to save him.
Dr. Bradford Langenfeld said paramedics told him that although they had tried to resuscitate Floyd for about 30 minutes, he never regained a pulse. He said further attempts to restart Floyd’s heart at the hospital failed, and he declared Floyd dead after about a half-hour.
Kueng, who is Black; Lane, who is white; and Thao, who is Hmong American, all are charged with willfully depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights while acting under color of law, or government authority. One count against all three officers says they saw Floyd needed medical care and failed to help. A count against Thao and Kueng says they did not intervene to stop Chauvin. Both counts allege the officers’ actions resulted in Floyd’s death.
Prosecutors have argued that the “willful” standard can be met by showing “blatantly wrongful conduct” that deprived Floyd of his rights.
During opening statements, Kueng’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, said that Chauvin called “all of the shots” as the senior officer at the scene. Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter in state court last year and also pleaded guilty in December to a federal civil rights charge.
Lane, Kueng and Thao also face a separate state trial in June on charges they aided and abetted murder and manslaughter.
Webber contributed from Fenton, Michigan.
Find AP’s full coverage of the killing of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
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