The trial is now in recess until Monday morning.

An emotional week of testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin concluded Friday with Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the most senior officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, rejecting the former officer’s use of force against George Floyd, calling it “uncalled for” and “totally unnecessary.” Zimmerman testified that once someone is handcuffed, “they are not a threat to you at that point” and the amount of force should be immediately reduced. “If your knee is on a person’s neck, that could kill him,” he testified.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, argued Friday that police can use “improvisation” for “whatever force is reasonable and necessary.”

Here’s what to know:
  • Minneapolis Police Sgt. Jon Edwards testified Friday that he responded to Cup Foods, described as a “critical incident” scene, not knowing that Chauvin was involved in the fatal encounter.
  • In an interview Friday with “Good Morning America,” Chris Martin, a 19-year-old Cup Foods clerk, said through tears that he felt like a “contributing factor” in Floyd’s death outside the store.
  • Zimmerman’s testimony came after former police supervisor David Pleoger said that Chauvin should have stopped kneeling on Floyd’s neck when he stopped resisting.
  • When Chauvin first called Pleoger after the deadly arrest of Floyd, the former supervisor testified that Chauvin did not mention that he held his knee on the 46-year-old’s neck.
4:56 p.m.
Link copied
link

Zimmerman: Chauvin should not have kept knee on Floyd’s neck until paramedics arrived

Toward the end of his testimony Friday, Zimmerman said Chauvin should not have held his position on Floyd’s neck until paramedics arrived.

During cross-examination, Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, mentioned that his client kneeling on Floyd’s neck was a practice he called “holding for EMS” because “they are more capable to deal with whatever the situation is.”

Nelson argued that sometimes people are held in a restrained position until paramedics arrive on the scene to administer medical treatment.

When prosecutors had their turn to question Zimmerman, the lieutenant confirmed that just because police are “holding for EMS,” it does not excuse an officer from providing medical attention to someone in custody.

4:44 p.m.
Link copied
link

Defense: Police can use ‘improvisation’ in use of force when lives are at stake

Chauvin’s lead defense attorney Eric Nelson on Thursday pushed back against Zimmerman’s statement that police have never been trained to use a knee on a suspect’s neck to restrain them.

Even if he was “never” trained “to use a knee on the neck of a suspect,” Nelson asked if Zimmerman would agree that “in a fight for your life,” an officer is “allowed to use whatever force is reasonable and necessary. … And that can even involve improvisation.”

“Agreed,” Zimmerman responded.

Minneapolis Police Department policy allows a police officer to use whatever means are available to him to protect himself and others,” Nelson continued. “So if there’s a paint can sitting on the table and someone is attacked, you can use that paint can as a weapon.”

Zimmerman agreed to that, but rejected some of Nelson’s other characterizations of the situation.

Nelson later asked him if he saw any need for Zimmerman to improvise.

“I did not,” Zimmerman said.

4:17 p.m.
Link copied
link

Zimmerman rejects Chauvin’s use of force against Floyd: ‘Totally unnecessary’

Zimmerman, a Minneapolis police lieutenant, on Friday rejected Chauvin’s use of force against Floyd, saying the former officer’s actions against the 46-year-old Black man were not needed once he was handcuffed.

“Totally unnecessary,” Zimmerman told prosecutors. “Pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting a knee on the 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 would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force.”

When asked by prosecutors whether Chauvin should have stopped his use of force once Floyd was restrained to the ground, Zimmerman replied, “Absolutely.”

Zimmerman, the most senior police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department, emphasized throughout his testimony that the threat level drops significantly once someone is handcuffed.

4:05 p.m.
Link copied
link

Minneapolis Police Lt. Zimmerman: A knee on the neck is ‘deadly force’

Zimmerman, the most senior officer in the Minneapolis police department, on Thursday testified that the kind of actions taken by Chauvin go far beyond accepted police protocols.

A knee on the neck would be considered the top tier” of force — “deadly force,” he said from the witness stand. “Because of the fact that if your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill him.”

The threat that a suspect poses to an officer’s safety also drops significantly once they are handcuffed, Zimmerman said. The suspect’s safety at that point also becomes the officer’s responsibility, he said. “His well-being is your responsibility.”

“If they become less combative, you may just have him sit down on the curb. The idea is to calm the person down, and if they are not a threat to you at that point, you try to help them so that they’re not as upset as they may have been in the beginning,” he added.

One thing that officers learn about the effect of handcuffs, Zimmerman said, is that once an individual has had their hands cuffed behind their back,it stretches the muscles back through your chest, and it makes it more difficult to breathe.”

“Once a person is cuffed, you need to turn them on their side or have them sit up. You need to get them off their chest,” he said. “Because of, as I mentioned earlier, your muscles are pulling back when you’re handcuffed, and when you’re laying on your chest, that’s restricting your breathing even more.”

Video evidence played during the trial has shown Chauvin and the three other officers holding Floyd facedown on the pavement as he cries out, his hands cuffed behind his back. Chauvin kneels on his neck, and another officer presses a knee into his back.

3:40 p.m.
Link copied
link

Morries Hall, man who was with Floyd and refuses to testify, reportedly in police custody

A man who was with Floyd in the moments before his death and has invoked the Fifth Amendment to avoid testifying in Chauvin’s trial is in police custody, according to a probable cause statement.

Morries Hall, 42, was reportedly arrested March 20 for an outstanding warrant after he violated a protective order in a domestic violence case, according to court records.

As first reported by the Law and Crime Network, Hall also had a second outstanding warrant for a separate case in Redwood County, Minn.

Hall was in Floyd’s car when police approached the 46-year-old about using an allegedly fake $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes.

Hall, who was looked at as a potential witness for Chauvin’s defense team, plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment if he is asked to testify in court, according to a court notice filed Wednesday.

3:30 p.m.
Link copied
link

Minneapolis Police Dept. senior officer: ‘We don’t want people to get hurt’

Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the most senior officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, took the stand Friday, testifying that he routinely instructs and reminds subordinate officers that “we don’t want people to get hurt — either the officers or the subjects” when executing search warrants.

Zimmerman, who supervises the department’s homicide unit, presides over responses to “critical incidents” — police-involved encounters in which an officer or member of the public either dies or is severely injured. He said he responded to the intersection in Minneapolis that night around 9 p.m., after receiving a call from his superior.

3:07 p.m.
Link copied
link

Officer testifies he responded to Cup Foods not knowing Chauvin was involved

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Jon Edwards testified Friday that he was asked by authorities to respond to Cup Foods not yet knowing that Chauvin was involved in what he described as a "critical incident.”

Edwards told prosecutors he was instructed by Pleoger, then his police supervisor, to secure the area on May 25 because it "had the potential to be a possible critical incident.” The sergeant explained that a “critical incident” is usually an officer-involved incident where the officer or another person has died, or “has suffered great bodily harm that later led to death.”

When asked by prosecutors if he knew whether Chauvin was involved in the case at the time, Edwards said he did not know.

Edwards, who has been with Minneapolis police for 14 years, testified that he did not know Chauvin personally, but that he recognized him from working in the same precinct.

2:21 p.m.
Link copied
link

Floyd’s sister volunteers at Salvation Army to keep mind off trial

In a week in which witness after witness has taken the stand to recount the last moments of Floyd’s life, Bridgett Floyd volunteered at the Salvation Army on Thursday, helping others to get her mind off a trial that has gripped the nation.

Several miles away from the courtroom, Floyd’s sister told the Star Tribune that giving away food and smiling and joking with volunteers at the East Branch Distribution Center of the Salvation Army has been a needed distraction for her as witness testimony has intensified.

“This has already taken my mind off of what is going on [in the courtroom,] and I needed that a little bit,” she told the outlet. “It’s been a trying, trying week. And we will get through it. We will get through it.”

George Floyd was previously a security guard at a homeless shelter run by the Salvation Army.

Bridgett Floyd shared some of the photos on Instagram and offered a response to Chauvin’s defense team, which has repeatedly brought up the 46-year-old’s opioid addiction and substance abuse leading up to the fatal encounter at Cup Foods.

“The defense will say ANYTHING to make my brother look bad,” she wrote Thursday. “That’s why on today, I decided to do the work that my brother LOVED TO DO!”

2:00 p.m.
Link copied
link

Opinion: Kneeling on George Floyd’s neck sent a message to everyone who saw it

Evidence presented this week in Derek Chauvin’s trial on charges that he murdered George Floyd showed a national audience how the former Minneapolis police officer saw his alleged victim: as a dangerous, “sizable” Black man who had to be controlled, subdued and forced to submit. The message Chauvin sent with his actions wasn’t intended for Floyd alone, and it’s one Black Americans have heard for centuries.

Chauvin didn’t see Floyd as a citizen suspected of a minor, nonviolent crime or as the gentle “mama’s boy” Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, described. To Chauvin and the other officers, Floyd was guilty from the start — guilty of inhabiting an imposing Black male body, a circumstance that has always been a punishable offense in this country.

As witness Charles McMillian tried to tell Floyd when the officers first put their hands on him: “You can’t win.”

1:51 p.m.
Link copied
link

Bernice King on Chauvin trial: ‘We have a long way to go in terms of respecting Black people’

When asked what Chauvin’s trial has meant to her this week, Bernice King offered a simple answer Friday morning: The nation has “a long way to go” in respecting Black people.

“We have a long way to go in terms of respecting Black people, Black bodies, Black lives in this country,” King, the daughter of Martin Luther King Jr., said on CNN.

The chief executive of the King Center tweeted Thursday that Floyd’s death, stemming from an allegedly fake $20 bill, was “an evil inhumanity that’s traumatic to witness” over and over again during the trial.

On Friday, King said she hoped that Chauvin’s potential conviction would be a message that Black people should be treated with the dignity that Floyd did not receive at Cup Foods.

“It’s my hope and prayer in this trial that there will be a conviction to send a loud message that we, as Black people, are not just worthy, we should be treated with the respect and dignity at the hands of everyone including law enforcement,” she said.

1:30 p.m.
Link copied
link

Opinion: Don’t read too much into the outcome of Chauvin’s trial

High-profile trials tend to teach us all the wrong lessons about the criminal justice system, and the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is no exception. The trial is so atypical of the day-to-day goings-on in our courts, it might as well be happening in another country.

Start with the fact that there’s a trial in the first place. Depending on the jurisdiction, up to 95 percent of criminal cases are resolved with a plea bargain before they ever reach a jury.

Then there’s the fact that Chauvin has a highly regarded private defense attorney leading a well-funded, union-backed team of lawyers and investigators. Nationally, about 80 percent of criminal defendants can’t afford to hire a defense attorney and turn to public defenders. Most public defenders are dedicated public servants, and in some places can provide better representation than private counsel. But in much of the country, they’re overworked, underpaid and have inadequate resources to hire private investigators and expert witnesses.

1:04 p.m.
Link copied
link

Cup Foods clerk says he feels like a ‘contributing factor’ in Floyd’s death

Days after he expressed guilt in his testimony for not doing more to help save Floyd’s life, a Cup Foods clerk said Friday that he felt like a “contributing factor” in the 46-year-old’s death outside the store last May.

In an interview with “Good Morning America,” Chris Martin, 19, echoed his testimony in Chauvin’s trial, saying through tears that there was “so much pain and hurt that followed that was unneeded.”

“After this whole trial, whether or not he’s locked up, George Floyd is not here,” Martin said to ABC.

Martin reflected on how he approached Floyd after the 46-year-old paid for cigarettes with a $20 bill that the clerk figured was counterfeit.

“Not only am I like the contributing factor, I’m kind of like the big domino that fell,” he said, “and then now all of the small dominoes are just scattered.”

In his testimony Wednesday, Martin told prosecutors the actions of police that led to Floyd’s death could have been avoided if he had just refused to take the bill. Since he took the stand, the 19-year-old said that while he has received “extremely encouraging” feedback on his testimony, he still thinks about Floyd’s children and what all this has meant to them.

“I know what it’s like to grow up in an African American household without a father,” Martin said Friday. “I just hope and pray that George’s daughters know that they can do it and it’s possible to do it, to make it and to be successful — even if your father is no longer with you.”

1:00 p.m.
Link copied
link

Derek Chauvin should not have knelt on George Floyd’s neck after he stopped resisting, former sergeant testifies

MINNEAPOLIS — Derek Chauvin should not have knelt on George Floyd’s neck after he stopped resisting, a former supervisor testified Thursday.

Chauvin also did not immediately tell the supervisor that he had knelt on Floyd’s neck while restraining him during a police investigation — waiting more than 30 minutes until he stood outside the hospital emergency room where Floyd remained unresponsive to disclose the information.

David Pleoger, who was a supervisor in the city’s 3rd Precinct on May 25, 2020, testified that he called Chauvin after getting a call from a concerned 911 dispatcher who was watching a city security camera and saw police holding Floyd on the ground.

“She called to say she didn’t mean to be a snitch, but she’d seen something while viewing a camera that she thought was concerning,” said Pleoger, a retired sergeant.

12:55 p.m.
Link copied
link

Former sergeant says Chauvin did not initially say he had his knee on Floyd’s neck

In his first call with his supervisor after the deadly arrest of Floyd, Chauvin did not mention that he held his knee on Floyd’s neck, former Minneapolis police sergeant David Pleoger testified.

Pleoger, the precinct’s supervisor before he retired, said in court Thursday that he called Chauvin after a 911 dispatcher reached out with worries.

“She called to say she didn’t mean to be a snitch, but she’d seen something while viewing a camera that she thought was concerning,” Pleoger said.

In a body-camera video taken by Chauvin, he can be heard answering Pleoger’s call, telling his supervisor that the officers “had” to hold Floyd down because he was not going into the police car.

“He was going crazy,” Chauvin claimed to his supervisor.

Pleoger testified that he told Chauvin to turn off his camera for the conversation and that the call continued, with Chauvin saying Floyd was “combative.” Pleoger then went to the scene to investigate.

Pleoger said that putting pressure on a suspect’s neck is not necessarily a use of force if an officer briefly takes that position when arresting someone. But he said that once the suspect is under control — in handcuffs or not fighting — the restraint is not necessary. Witness video captured Chauvin’s restraint of Floyd’s neck while Floyd was motionless.

The 911 dispatcher called Pleoger, telling him that the officers got something out of a patrol car “and all of them sat on this man,” according to audio of the call played in court.

The dispatcher asked whether officers alerted him to the use of force.

“I’ll find out,” he responded.

Pleoger said he was not aware of the force placed on Floyd’s neck until a later conversation with Chauvin, after Floyd was taken to the hospital. Pleoger testified that Chauvin said “he knelt on Floyd or knelt on his neck, something of that nature.” Chauvin did not say how long he had applied that pressure, Pleoger said.

After learning that Floyd had died, Pleoger said, he told Chauvin to “get down to 108,” a room in city hall where officers would gather after a “critical incident.”