State vs. Chauvin: Second week of testimony got underway Monday

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testifies in the trial of Derek Chauvin. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo testifies in the trial of Derek Chauvin. |  Photo: KSTP

WDIO/KSTP
Updated: April 05, 2021 04:58 PM
Created: April 05, 2021 09:44 AM

MINNEAPOLIS - The criminal trial of Derek Chauvin continues in Hennepin County on Monday. The former Minneapolis police officer faces one count each of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the in-custody death of George Floyd on May 25, 2020.

The second week of testimony is expected to focus on the fired officer’s training after a first week dominated by emotional testimony from eyewitnesses and devastating video of his arrest. 

RELATED STORY: Witness testimony continues on Day Five

Chauvin, who is white, is accused of pinning his knee on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as Floyd lay face-down in handcuffs outside a corner market. 

Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is expected to testify as early as Monday. Arradondo, the city’s first Black chief, fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Floyd’s death, and in June called it “murder.”

-The Associated Press contributed to this report

Here are the happenings during court proceedings on Monday, April 5: 

Attorneys and Judge Peter Cahill met Monday morning to go over a few motions.

After that time, the jury was brought in and the court held a hearing on the record but off live video and audio. When video and audio resumed, Cahill said he didn't find any evidence of juror misconduct and he found them credible in their responses.

Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld was the first to take the stand on Monday. He testifies that he has worked with Derek Smith, who testified last week. Langenfeld is the emergency room doctor who pronounced George Floyd dead after trying to resuscitate him.

Dr. Bradford Langenfeld was a senior resident on duty that night at Hennepin County Medical Center. He said Floyd's heart had stopped by the time he got to the hospital, and he was not told of any efforts at the scene by bystanders or police to resuscitate Floyd, though paramedics told him they had tried for about 30 minutes.

He told the court that it is well known that any amount of time that a patient spends in cardiac arrest without immediate CPR markedly decreases the chance of a good outcome. Langenfeld said approximately 10 to 15% decrease in survival for every minute that CPR is not administered.

Dr. Langenfeld discussed excited delirium.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson took over questioning. 

Langenfeld stated if opiates are in one's system, administering Narcan could be a lifesaver. However, Langenfeld said it does not apply to Floyd's case, saying it wouldn't benefit someone who is in cardiac arrest. Dr. Langenfeld has been excused from the witness stand. 

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is the next person to take the witness stand. Arradondo says wearing the badge of MPD "means a lot" to him. State prosecutor Steve Schleicher asks Chief Arradondo about his time on the Minneapolis Police Department. Arradondo has been with the MPD since 1989. He was promoted to chief within the last few years. He was promoted to sergeant in 1997.

"We are oftentimes the first face of government that our communities will see. We will often times meet them at their worst moments. And so the badge that I wear, and that members of the MPD wear, means a lot," he said in court Monday. 

Schleicher asks Chief Arradondo about law enforcement training. He elaborated by saying the training has improved since he has been in the industry. He also went into detail about specific training. 

The state asks Arradondo an array of questions, relating to being in situations where he has had to conduct use of force, deescalate, and working in the internal affairs department. Arradondo says he has and adds he worked in the internal affairs department for about two years.

He also makes it known to the court that as chief, he is familiar with the day-to-day operations from the patrol level, to the level he is at now. Arradondo says there are about 700 members of the MPD.

He identified Chauvin in the courtroom.

Chief explains he was trained on laws of Minnesota, driving, defensive tactics, community relations, scenario-based training.

Arradondo was told to identify and distinguish the precincts in Minneapolis.
 

Schleicher also asked Arradondo about Inspector Katie Blackwell. She was the commander in charge of training for the department last year. Earlier, Nelson brought her name up as one of the witnesses that is expected to take the stand Monday or sometime this week. During opening statements, state prosecutor Jerry Blackwell stated he and Katie are not related, for discretion. 

The police chief called the training the officers go through "essential." He also explained the difference between recruit and cadet programs. Arradondo says recruits have been focused on a law enforcement career, and a cadet was created to "capture diversity of candidates." 

Arradondo calls the training practical and useful.

"We have to make each engagement with our community count and so the training is very important," he said, adding the community grades MPD officers on each and every interaction. 

Evidence such as Chauvin signing off an electronic version of the MPD policy and procedure manual was shown in court. 

Arradondo also explained de-escalation. 

"...In this case for officers to really focus on time options and resources, it's really primarily trying to provide an opportunity to stabilize a situation ... with the goal is having a safe and peaceful outcome," he said. 

According to KSTP reporter Callan Gray, Schleicher asks Chief Arradondo about de-escalation, and whether it is the opposite of using force, or part of using force.  The Chief responds, "We teach it is as both."

The court is in recess until 1:30 p.m. Arradondo will retake the witness stand with Schleicher still questioning when the court resumes.

The court has resumed for the afternoon session. Minneapolis Police Department Chief Medaria Arradondo resumes the witness stand with state prosecutor Steve Schleicher asking questions. 

Arradondo says he believes the department responded to about 4,500 emotionally disturbed person (EDP) calls. Arradondo then explained what those calls consisted of and how the department would go about their response. 

"We want to meet people where they are, we want to bring our values and our principles to those situations," he said. "We recognize that oftentimes people who are experiencing crisis, it is not something they brought on themselves."

The police chief also called training to provide medical care by an officer "vital," saying "every second" matters in that situation. Arradondo explains some of the basic types of first aid that police officers are trained on. This includes chest compressions, applying tourniquets, etc. "We absolutely have a duty to render that aid," he said.

According to KSTP, the state moves their questioning to use of force by the department. Arradondo stressed the importance of the "sanctity of life" piece of the policy. The police chief read the following as it reads of MPD's policy in court:

"The amount and type of force that would be considered rational and logical to an 'objective' officer on the circumstances known to an officer at the time force was used."

He also confirmed to the court that the use of force needs to be judged by a reasonable police officer at the scene. Arradondo adds that someone accused of using a counterfeit bill would not be taken into jail. He also stated that violence would be more important than serving someone who has a felony on their record. 

Arradondo was also asked to explain the critical decision-making model. 

"If police departments treat people with respect, give them voice, establish neutral engagements and build areas of trust, our communities are more likely to cooperate with us, we're likely to be seen more as legitimate," he stated. 

He added, "We have a duty to care so when someone is in our custody ... we have an obligation to provide further care."

When asked if neck restraints were authorized by MPD policy on May 25, 2020, Arradondo said yes. He also explained that the neck restraint is not allowed to use on someone who is passively resisting. 

The police chief was notified that Floyd would not make it, the night of the incident around 9 p.m. Arradondo said he requested the BCA at that point and viewed the milestone camera (city camera, positioned across the street from Cup Foods). He was made aware of bystander video around midnight after a community member contacted him.

"Almost verbatim, but [the community member] said 'chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 38th and Chicago?'"

He confirmed that Chauvin's tactic used on Floyd was not trained to use by the department and it was not a de-escalation tactic. 

"When I look at the facial expression of Mr. Floyd, that does not appear in any way, shape or form that that is light to moderate pressure," Arradondo said. He stated it "absolutely agrees" that it violated the department's policy of use of force. 

When asked when he believes the restraint should have stopped on Floyd, he stated once Floyd stopped resisting, and once he showed distress, then it should have stopped. 

"To continue to apply that level of force to a person, prone out, handcuffed behind their back, that in no way, shape, or form is anything is by policy is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or values," Arradondo testified. 

The defense cross-examines Arradondo. 

Nelson asks Arradondo about the difference between active aggression and active resistance. The police chief confirms to the defense that there are times where those getting arrested will attempt to lobby in not being arrested. 

Arradondo also said that there is a "heightened sense of awareness" when an officer walks up to a vehicle for the officer. 

Arradondo clarified when asked about policy differing from when he was being trained into what it is now.

"It's not a policy change, it's just the best practice change, and they can still use the old way they did it," the police chief testified.

Nelson had Arradondo confirm that sometimes an officer has to command a presence and take control of a situation. Arradondo believes that most officers do not want to perform any use of force on an individual, and acknowledges in court that it can garner a lot of attention. 

After a short recess, Nelson resumes questioning with Arradondo, moving on to neck restraints. Nelson asks, "I'm assuming you don't have a degree in physics... and in terms of the amount of pressure or force that was actually applied to Mr. Floyd, you would not be qualified to speak to that, agreed?"  Chief Arradondo said, "Agreed."

Using the side by side video to hone in on the position of Chauvin's knee, Nelson asks Arradondo whether in body camera footage it appears (Chauvin) "... he was more on Mr. Floyd's shoulder blade?"  The Chief answered "Yes."

After the defense conducts thorough questioning regarding Chauvin's actions during the incident, the state takes over to redirect.

No further questioning. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is dismissed. The next witness is called by the state, Katie Blackwell. She is an inspector with the Minneapolis Police Department for the Fifth Precinct.

Blackwell notes she has served on the Minnesota National Guard for 23 years. She has a decorated past with the Minneapolis Police Department. She has experience leading a SWAT crisis negotiator team, also serving as a lieutenant in the training unit before being promoted to commander in April 2019. 

"The time I was commander, it was my 18, 19-week police academy that they would go through that they had to pass before they could enter into their field training officer program," Blackwell said, in regards to the police training program. She adds it includes a de-escalation program. 

Blackwell says she selected Chauvin as a field training officer.

Blackwell stated that the position Chauvin held Floyd in was an "improvised position" and it's "not what we train."

On redirect, Schleicher asks about the critical decision making model that was shared earlier.  Blackwell says: We found it critical that recruits learned early on it was helping them connect the dots better with info they were receiving on the scene and working through that...

Blackwell has been excused from the witness stand. The court is in recess until 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.

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