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What We Learned on Day 5 of the Chauvin Trial

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Friday’s proceedings in the trial of Derek Chauvin ended with critical testimony from the longest-serving officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, who testified that Mr. Chauvin’s actions were “totally unnecessary.”

Police testimony against Mr. Chauvin, the former officer charged with killing George Floyd, could be crucial to the prosecution’s case as they move into next week. Friday’s proceedings ended early because the trial is ahead of schedule, the judge said. Here are the highlights.

  • Lt. Richard Zimmerman, who leads the department’s homicide unit, said Mr. Chauvin’s actions violated police policy. “Pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time, it’s just uncalled for,” said Lieutenant Zimmerman, who joined the department in 1985. He was one of a group of 14 veteran police officers who published a public letter last June condemning the actions of Mr. Chauvin. The officers said the letter was representative of the opinion of hundreds of police officers. “This is not who we are,” they wrote.

  • The first witness of the day, Sgt. Jon Edwards, was sent to the Cup Foods convenience store after the arrest to secure the crime scene. Mr. Edwards said he followed protocol by telling officers who were still on the scene to turn on their body cameras and identify the areas where they interacted with Mr. Floyd. He also asked them to try and find witnesses, though most people had already left. Sergeant Edwards did find at least one witness, Charles McMillian, who gave an emotional testimony earlier this week. At the scene that night, Mr. McMillian asked Sergeant Edwards if he was under arrest. When Sergeant Edwards said that he wasn’t, Mr. McMillian said he wanted to leave.

  • Additional testimony from police officers will be an important tool for prosecutors, who are seeking to show that Mr. Chauvin violated use of force policies and that his actions were unnecessary and unlawful. Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s defense attorney, used his cross-examination of Lieutenant Zimmerman to temper those ideas. Mr. Nelson asked the lieutenant whether people can become combative after waking up from being unconscious. Lieutenant Zimmerman also said police officers are trained to kneel on people’s shoulders, in some circumstances, when they handcuff a person. Throughout the trial, Mr. Nelson has suggested that Mr. Chauvin’s knee was on Mr. Floyd’s back or shoulder, not on his neck.

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