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Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo is testifying in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing murder charges over the killing of George Floyd. The trial is now in its second week of testimony. In court, Arradondo, 54, described his long career with the Minneapolis police force, including his training in the agency’s first-ever police academy class. Arradondo spent portions of his career both working in and later commanding the department’s internal affairs unit, he told jurors on Monday. Discussing the department’s motto – “To protect with courage and to serve with compassion” — he noted that officers are “oftentimes the first face of government that our communities will see, and we will often meet them at their worst moments.” Arradondo said his department handles “a couple hundred thousand” service calls each year, not including officer-initiated police actions. But not all of those involve crimes, he noted. “The actual law enforcement part is probably pretty small,” he said. The chief repeatedly stressed the importance of good training, saying “it’s so important that we evolve, and meet our communities where they are.”
Under questioning from prosecutor Steve Schleicher, Arradondo described how officers are responsible for learning new procedures and standards when department policies change. A courtroom display showed an official document stating that officers are required to sign an acknowledgement that they have received any updates to the police policy and procedure manual. Schleicher also reviewed the department’s “professional policing” standards, which outlines seven expectations for officers. The prosecutor highlighted two items. “Be courteous, respectful, polite and professional,” the first line states. Another instructs officers to ensure no one is detained longer than necessary. Earlier in Monday morning’s session, Dr. Bradford W. Langenfeld, who pronounced Floyd dead last Memorial Day, testified about his medical condition – a key issue in the trial. Prosecutors say Chauvin killed Floyd by pressing his knee on his neck for about nine minutes. But Floyd’s defense attorney says that Floyd was experiencing a drug overdose and had an underlying heart condition. The Hennepin County medical examiner’s office ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, noting that his heart and lungs stopped functioning “while being restrained” by police. But the office also noted “other significant conditions,” including fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use as well as heart disease. The court appearances of several police officers in the state’s case against Chauvin prompted a legal discussion at the start of Monday’s proceedings over how much of the officers’ opinions should be allowed in their testimony.
After a lengthy discussion, Judge Peter Cahill said that officers who weren’t present at the scene of Floyd’s death would have less leeway to express their opinions than other officers who had been present on the night Floyd died last May. The prosecution has been calling a string of witnesses from the police department, including a senior officer who said Friday that Chauvin’s actions were “totally unnecessary.” On Friday, the officer with the most seniority in the Minneapolis Police Department said he’s never been trained to put his knee on someone’s neck, noting that doing so could kill someone. The officer, Lt. Richard Zimmerman of the department’s homicide unit, said that restraining Floyd in the way the officers did and for as long as they did was “uncalled for.” He added, “I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt.” Zimmerman testified that putting someone in handcuffs brings the threat level “way down,” and he said anyone who is cuffed while facedown on the ground should be moved immediately. Chauvin, 45, is facing three criminal charges, as listed in court documents: second-degree murder — unintentional — while committing a felony; third-degree murder — perpetrating eminently dangerous act and evincing depraved mind; second-degree manslaughter — culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk.