Witness: 3 officers at Floyd killing had duty to intervene

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Testimony is underway Thursday on the fourth day of the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.

Members of the city’s fire department, including an off-duty firefighter, took the stand Wednesday. The prosecution is aiming to show how little Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao did for Floyd.

In addition, the jury also watched from the perspective of Lane’s body camera as the ex-officer got into the ambulance, trying to explain what happened and at one point, started chest compressions.

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Court reconvened at 9:30 a.m. Thursday. Prosecutors called Minneapolis Police Department Inspector Katie Blackwell to the stand.

KSTP Reporter Eric Chaloux reports Blackwell previously served as commander of the department’s Training Division, which included overseeing the Police Academy, in-service training for officers, medical, crisis intervention, vehicle stops, gun range, and field training officer program.

Chaloux reports Blackwell told the jury that Minneapolis officers go through yearly training on weapons, defensive tactics, medical component, and crisis training “to make sure they are staying up to date and using properly.”

Blackwell regularly addresses the jury as she answers questioning.

Blackwell explained what a typical day in the academy looks like. Blackwell talked about training, defensive tactics that recruits learn in the academy, as well as the different types of force.

Blackwell said recruits have to exhibit good behavior, professionalism and respect to get through the academy. She noted how recruits are taught to refer to people when in the field as “sir” and “ma’am,” regardless of whether the individual is a victim, witness or suspect.

“They have to show they have the ability to go from one call to the next … they have to show the ability that they can follow MPD protocols and rules” before they are allowed to respond to calls, Blackwell said.

“Whatever training we do, we want it to be equal,” Blackwell said about however many hours are spent on defensive tactics, the same is spent on de-escalation tactics.

Blackwell went over the department’s core values of “Trust, Accountability and Professional Service” as outlined in the Field Training Officer manual.

“We want the community to trust us more, so every interaction with them has to be respectful,” says Blackwell.

Assistant United States Attorney LeeAnn Bell and Blackwell go over the four phases of field training: First, assigned to a precinct; second, transferred to another precinct and different shift; third, assigned to the same precinct with a different field training officer and different shift; and fourth, remain in the same precinct with a different field training officer and same shift.

Blackwell continues with an explanation of the 10-day evaluation, and two-day extensions afforded to some new officers if they don’t pass in the first 10-day evaluation. She says about 3 to 5 on average get extensions. She says in the 2020 class, 20 new officers received extensions, primarly due to COVID and limited field time because of social distancing.

Blackwell also explained that officers in training are required to write and submit 100 report logs. She also talked about the 40-hour training course that field training officers receive.

The judge then called for a break.