In an exceptional event in the process against a police officer in the United States, the chief of the Minneapolis law enforcement authorities testifies this Monday against agent Derek Chauvin, tried for the death of African-American George Floyd.
In uniform, Medaria Arradondo, a 54-year-old man who has been in charge of the police for three years in this great city in the north of the country, has spoken of the importance of treating the population “with compassion” and “with dignity”.
He was summoned by the prosecution to this extraordinary trial, after a first week of testimony, mostly moving, that captivated the United States public.
In June, Arradondo had brought a virulent indictment against Chauvin and his colleagues. “George Floyd’s tragic death was not due to a training problem (…). The officers knew what was happening, one of them intentionally caused it, the others failed to prevent, it was murder, “he wrote in a statement.
In the country, police officers who use excessive force are rarely fired by their superiors and, on the contrary, benefit from collective agreements, negotiated by their union, which are very protective.
Furthermore, they are very rarely prosecuted and less frequently found guilty.
On May 25, in Minneapolis, the four police officers who wanted to arrest Floyd, suspected of trying to pay with a fake $ 20 bill, handcuffed him and pinned him to the ground.
Chauvin then knelt on his neck for almost nine minutes.
This 45-year-old white man, released on bail, has been on trial for a week for murder. The trial of his three former colleagues, accused of complicity in the death, is scheduled for August.
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty and claims, on the one hand, to have followed a procedure in accordance with his training to control a recalcitrant suspect; on the other, he says it did not cause the death of Floyd, who, according to him, died of an overdose.
His first line of defense was already weakened last week by two former superiors, one of whom considered “absolutely unnecessary” or “unjustified” the “deadly” force used to control Floyd.
Arradondo’s testimony could deal another blow.
– Choking –
The other argument rests on the presence of fentanyl, a powerful opioid, and methamphetamine, discovered during Floyd’s autopsy, which nevertheless identifies “neck compression” as the cause of death.
In anticipation of the debate between experts, the prosecution called the emergency doctor on Monday morning who, after half an hour of unsuccessful efforts to revive Floyd, declared him dead.
Bradford Langenfeld estimated that, based on the evidence available to him, he had thought that “lack of oxygen” or “suffocation” was “the most likely cause of death” for the 40-year-old man.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, asked him if drug use could cause oxygen deprivation. “Yes,” replied the doctor.
Nelson then turned to technical questions about the effects of fentanyl, which makes breathing difficult.
Last Monday, Courteney Ross, a 45-year-old white woman who was intimate with Floyd from 2017 until his death, spoke of their shared addiction to opiates and was also subjected to intense questioning.
The trial will last two or three more weeks.
The members of the jury will deliver their verdict in late April or early May. If it is not unanimous, the trial will be declared null and void and the process must start from the beginning.
Such a hypothesis raises strong fears in Minneapolis, where intense protests erupted after Floyd’s death.
With information from AFP