Lieutenant Calls Knee on Floyd's Neck 'Totally Unnecessary'

Witness agrees under questioning that police officers might have to deviate from training
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2021 3:38 PM CDT
Lieutenant Sees 'No Reason' for Force Used on George Floyd
In this image from video, Minneapolis Police Lt. Richard Zimmerman testifies in court Friday.   (Court TV via AP, Pool)

(Newser) – "Putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for," a Minneapolis police lieutenant testified Friday in the trial of Derek Chauvin for the death of George Floyd. Lt. Richard Zimmerman, a 36-year veteran who runs the department's homicide unit, told the court that putting a knee on George Floyd's neck, as the former officer did, once the suspect had been handcuffed was "totally unnecessary," the Star Tribune reports. Asked by a prosecutor if he'd ever been trained to put a knee on the neck of a handcuffed suspect, Zimmerman said, "No, I haven't." Under questioning by the defense, Zimmerman acknowledged that police policy permits officers to use any means necessary in a life-or-death struggle and that, despite their training, officers might need to improvise.

A prosecutor later asked Zimmerman whether he saw anything on the video of the arrest that would have required Chauvin "to improvise by putting his knee on Mr. Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds?" Zimmerman answered, "No, I did not." Zimmerman said he didn't see Floyd kicking the officers on the video, so the use of what he called the top level of force—deadly force—should have stopped, per USA Today. Once a person is in handcuffs, "the threat level goes down all the way," he said. Three other officers, charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin, are scheduled to go on trial in August. Chauvin's trial was adjourned until Monday, ending a week in which the court heard from 19 witnesses. (Read more Derek Chauvin stories.)

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