• Wed. Feb 1st, 2023

Impactful testimonies close out first week of the Chauvin trial

Lt Richard Zimmerman on the witness stand. Provided by Law & Crime/YouTube

By Paige Elliott

The prosecution closed the first week of the Derek Chauvin murder trial with more impactful testimony. While the week began with dramatic, and at times, heart-piercing testimony from bystanders who witnessed George Floyd’s last moments alive, the testimonies that concluded the week were less dramatic but equally, if not more, detrimental to the defense.

Minneapolis police Sgt. Jon Edwards, who helped secure the crime scene following Floyd’s fatal arrest on May 25, 2020, took the stand first and recounted details of that night. Compared to many of the other testimonies throughout the week, his was uneventful. But it did serve as a sharp contrast to Minneapolis Police Lt. Richard Zimmerman, who took the stand next.

Zimmerman, the highest-ranking officer on the Minneapolis police force, more than delivered for the prosecution. He, like Minneapolis police Sgt. David Ploeger the day before, condemned Chauvin’s use of force.

Matthew Frank, assistant Minnesota attorney general, laid the groundwork by asking Lt. Zimmerman about his 12-year experience as head of the homicide division and his knowledge and training about the use of force. He then asked, based on his years of experience, if he’d call Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck “a use of force.” Zimmerman said, “yes.”

“What is your view of that use of force during that time period?” Frank asked. Zimmerman replied, “It was totally unnecessary.”

Frank asked him to expound, and Zimmerman said: “Well, first of all, pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger—if that’s what they felt. And that’s what they’d have to feel to use that type of force.”

“So in your opinion, should that restraint have stopped when he was handcuffed and thrown on the ground?” asked Frank. “Absolutely,” answered Zimmerman.

Frank’s answers ran counter to the defense’s constant claim that Floyd and the “angry” bystanders posed a threat to the officers.

Zimmerman said that since 1985, the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) has taught that once a person is handcuffed, if they are in the prone position (on their stomach) it is difficult for them to breathe and so they should be turned over immediately.  “You need to turn them on their side or have them sit up,” he said.

Zimmerman also said police are not trained to kneel on a person’s neck and called it a “top-tier, deadly” use of force that shouldn’t occur. “If your knee is on a person’s neck, that could kill him,” he said. 

Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder, second-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Floyd.

While Zimmerman acknowledged that someone can still be combative while handcuffed, he said, “The threat level is just not there. The person is handcuffed, how can they really hurt you?” He also said from the moment an officer places someone in handcuffs, their “wellbeing is your responsibility.”

For to read more, go to: https://spokesman-recorder.com/2021/04/02/prosecution-ends-first-week-of-derek-chauvin-trial-on-powerful-note/

Reposted with permission from Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.