Day 5 of Derek Chauvin's murder trial for the death of George Floyd began with testimony from two Minneapolis police officers. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo
April 2 (UPI) -- The Minneapolis Police Department's most senior officer testified Friday that it was "totally unnecessary" for former officer Derek Chauvin to kneel on George Floyd's neck as long as he did.
Lt. Richard Zimmerman was among the witnesses called by prosecutors on the fifth day of Chauvin's murder trial for the death of Floyd on May 25. Chauvin faces charges of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd's neck for several minutes during an arrest, killing the man.
Officers arrested Floyd after an employee at a convenience store said he tried to pay with a counterfeit bill. The MPD said Floyd resisted arrest, prompting Chauvin to force him into a prone position on the ground and kneel on his neck.
Zimmerman said officers should have stopped restraining Floyd after they had him handcuffed.
"First of all, pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for," he said.
"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 have felt to have to use that kind of force."
Zimmerman was the second senior officer to question Chauvin's use of force during testimony. On Thursday, retired MPD Sgt. David Pleoger, Chauvin's supervisor at the time of Floyd's death, said the restraint should have ended when Floyd was "no longer offering up any resistance."
"It would be reasonable to put a knee on someone's neck until they were not resisting anymore, but it should stop when they are no longer combative," Pleoger said.
During opening arguments, defense attorney Eric Nelson said that Chauvin "did exactly what he had been trained to do during the course of his 19-year career."
Pleoger testified that police department policy requires officers to call an ambulance and render aid while waiting for an ambulance in addition to positioning the subject on their side so they can breathe better.
On Friday, Nelson argued that officers are allowed to improvise during arrests to use "whatever force is reasonable and necessary."
Zimmerman testified that kneeling on a suspect's neck is considered "deadly force."
"Because of the fact that if your knee is on a person's neck, that can kill him," he said.
Zimmerman said officers are expected to be responsible for maintaining a suspect's safety.
"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 said.
Floyd's arrest was captured on witness cellphone cameras, area surveillance footage and officers' body-worn cameras. He could be heard multiple times telling Chauvin he couldn't breathe while the officer's knee was on his neck.
Multiple witnesses, including an off-duty firefighter who happened upon the scene and testified earlier in the week, were heard entreating Chauvin to let up off Floyd because of his struggles breathing.
Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo