The trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continued with a police expert testifying that excessive force was used when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck last May.
A use-of-force expert at the Los Angeles Police Department, Sgt. Jody Stiger, testified Tuesday on behalf of the prosecution that officers could have taken other action, such as talking to Floyd. “My opinion was that the force was excessive,” he told the jury, NPR reports.
Stiger was cross-examined by Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson on Wednesday, who noted that Stiger had never testified in court as an expert before this trial. Nelson also referenced the Graham v. Connor ruling cited in the Minneapolis police manuals for the reasonableness standard. The ruling states that “The ‘reasonableness’ of a particular use of force must be judged from the perspective of the reasonable officer on the scene, rather than with the 20/20 vision of hindsight.” Nelson said that officer’s decisions must be considered using the “totality of circumstances.”
According to MPD’s manual, the following three factors are considered to determine reasonableness: the severity of the crime; whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to officers or the public’s safety; and whether the suspect is actively resisting or trying to flee.
During follow-up questions from the prosecution, Stiger asserted that the force used on Floyd “was not objectively reasonable.”
As part of his appearance on behalf of the prosecution, he reviewed videos from the scene and the Minneapolis Police Department’s policy manual and training materials. Stiger appeared as a paid witness on behalf of the prosecution.
Stiger’s testimony follows that of the MPD’s own use-of-force instructor, Lt. Johnny Mercil, who said Chauvin’s use of force on Floyd was not a technique the department’s police officers are trained to use. According to Mercil, officers are not trained to use their legs or knees on somebody’s neck.
Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for a total of 9 minutes and 29 seconds. He is currently on trial for murder and manslaughter charges stemming from the incident last May. Floyd’s murder sparked months of nationwide protests against police brutality and racism.