Chauvin did not use deadly force on Floyd, retired Bay Area police officer Barry Brodd said; instead, Chauvin acted in accordance with his training and generally accepted law enforcement practices.
Brodd's testimony stood in contrast to what jurors have already heard from other public safety officials, several of whom said that Chauvin’s actions were unreasonable and excessive. Brodd was one of the first witnesses called by the defense, which began presenting its case Tuesdsay.
"I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with Mr. Floyd," Brodd said.
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Brodd, who said he has consulted on approximately 140 civil and criminal cases and testified in 10, spoke at length Tuesday afternoon following trial appearances by some of the last people to see Floyd alive.
Shawanda Hill, a friend of Floyd's who was in the car with him when city police officers first approached him on May 25, 2020, testified earlier that morning, as did a Minneapolis Park Police officer who provided backup at the scene of his arrest that night.
Hill said she ran into Floyd at the Cup Foods convenience store in south Minneapolis that night and took him up on an offer for a ride home. He appeared alert and talkative, she said, and not to be in poor health, but fell asleep shortly after they got into his car just outside.
Hill said Floyd waved off her attempts to wake him and as well as those of the store clerks who approached the car regarding the fake $20 bill they believed he had slipped them.
Hill said was able to wake Floyd as officers approached the car in response to a 911 call from the store. He was startled as one approached with his gun drawn, prompting Floyd to put his hands on the wheel and plead not to be shot.
She didn't say that Floyd had taken drugs, however. Defense attorney Eric Nelson has sought to cast drugs, along with Floyd's underlying health conditions, as responsible for his state of mind and death on May 25.
Retired Minneapolis Police Officer Scott Creighton and former paramedic Michelle Monseng tested Tuesday to Floyd's past drug use. Creighton and Monseng arrested and treated Floyd, respectively, in a separate incident that occurred in May 2019.
Despite having interacted with Floyd personally, their testimonies — like Hill's and park police officer Peter Chang's — were brief. Brodd's testimony, on the other hand, took up most of the afternoon. Brodd, who worked for more than 20 years as a police officer in Santa Rosa, Calif., and trained other officers in the past, retired in 2004. He notably testified in the trial of the Chicago police officer charged with the 2014 shooting death of Laquan McDonald.
Though at first he said pinning a suspect to the ground in a prone position does not constitute a use of force, Brodd on cross-examination told prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher that it could be considered one if it causes the suspect pain. He also said Chauvin could possibly have caused Floyd pain after being shown a still image from bystander video of the ex-officer kneeling on Floyd's neck.
According to Brodd, however, Chauvin had reason to keep Floyd in the prone position due to the "space limitations" posed by the squad car near which he and the other officers restrained him as well as the crowd of bystanders observing the arrest. The crowd itself would likely have become a focus of Chauvin's attention, according to Brodd said, an idea the defense has insinuated.
That Chauvin drew his pepper spray cannister at one point during Floyd's restraint in response to the crowd suggests that he viewed the it as a threat, according to Brodd.
Chauvin is accused of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd's death. Court is expected to resume for a motions hearing at 8:45 a.m. Wednesday, April 14.