In Rare Testimony, Chief Says Chauvin ‘Should Have Stopped’ Pinning Floyd

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“Generally, you’re thinking that police departments are going to defend their police officers,” said David Schultz, a visiting professor of law at the University of Minnesota. “Getting the police chief to come in and say, ‘This is not what our practices were, these are not our protocols, these are not our standards’ — I have to think that’s got to weigh very heavily on a jury, in terms of them saying, ‘OK, I guess he wasn’t acting within that area of protected police activity.’”

The prosecution took Chief Arradondo through a painstaking recitation of his career, beginning with where he attended high school (Roosevelt High School, in Minneapolis), seeking to establish both his ties to the community and his law enforcement expertise.

They had him read copiously from the department’s manual, demonstrating that the policies within give officers specific factors to consider when deciding whether to use force. “Neck restraints,” for example, “shall not be used against subjects who are passively resisting,” the manual says.

Asked to recall his own involvement in the case, Chief Arradondo said he was at home on May 25 when he was informed that a man had been arrested who was not expected to survive. The chief notified the state agency that investigates police use of force, called the mayor and went to his office, where he watched footage of the arrest from a city-owned surveillance camera, which had no sound, was taken from a distance and showed the officers from the back.

Nothing from the video “jumped out at me,” he said.

But around midnight, he testified on Monday, he heard from a resident, who said, “Chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 38th and Chicago?”

It was video taken by a bystander, close up, painfully graphic and showing the nine and a half minutes that Mr. Chauvin had his knee on Mr. Floyd. It spread across the internet, setting off protests over racism and police abuse across Minneapolis and in cities across the country.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Shaila Dewan and John Eligon


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