Floyd killing: Arradondo says cops knew how to keep suspects subdued, breathing

A man stands with his arm around his son in front of a mural.
Gage Lockhart puts his arm around his son Angelo while visiting the memorial for George Floyd in south Minneapolis in mid-June.
Evan Frost | MPR News

George Floyd’s killing in Minneapolis police custody didn’t happen because of a lack of training, the city’s police chief says.

Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao had completed Minneapolis Police Department training designed to teach officers to arrest and restrain suspects in ways where they could still breathe, Chief Medaria Arradondo said Monday.

Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes, including several minutes while Floyd was unresponsive, as other officers failed to intervene to move him to a position where he could breathe.

In bystander video of the Memorial Day confrontation, Floyd — handcuffed and prone on the street — can be heard pleading for air.

Chauvin and three other officers involved in the incident were fired. Chauvin is facing murder charges, while the other three face charges of aiding and abetting the killing.

Arradondo called Floyd’s death a “murder” on Monday as he released details confirming that the officers involved had been trained on positional asphyxia and how to avoid it.

The training requires moving an arrestee from a prone position into a recovery position, which means seated or on their side. The department added the instruction in 2014 as part of a $3 million settlement, when a police officer pressed his knee on 28-year-old David Smith’s back making it hard for him to breathe.

“The training was there,” Arradondo said in a statement Monday. “Chauvin knew what he was doing.”

“It is important to note that getting an arrestee into a position where he or she can breathe is something that is hammered into all of our officers,” Arradondo added. “And this began even before the Smith settlement’s required 2014 training.”

He said that all officers watch a video on positional asphyxiation as part of roll calls, and that they’ve received training on the dangers of in-custody deaths.

“Mr. Floyd shouted out that he couldn’t breathe; bystanders shouted out that Mr. Floyd had stopped talking; then they shouted out that Mr. Floyd had become non-responsive; and finally they shouted out that Mr. Floyd was dying,” Arradondo said in the statement. “The officers knew what was happening—one intentionally caused it and the others failed to prevent it.”

A Hennepin County medical examiner's report concluded Floyd went into cardiopulmonary arrest as Chauvin kept his knee on his neck while he was on the ground and handcuffed.

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