A Minneapolis police supervisor told jurors that the officers who subdued George Floyd – who died after an officer knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes – could have stopped restraining tactics once Floyd stopped resisting.
"When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint," said David Pleoger, a sergeant who had authority to review use of force complaints in the precinct where former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin worked.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Jurors will return to the courtroom Friday morning for more testimony in the murder trial.
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Jurors have heard from 17 witnesses, and several who witnessed the death of George Floyd have cried on the stand describing their attempts to intervene on his behalf.
On Thursday, Sgt. David Pleoger, a recently retired Minneapolis police officer and Chauvin's former supervisor, testified about the use of force against Floyd.
Seth Bravinder, a paramedic with Hennepin County EMS, and his partner paramedic Derek Smith testified about the medical aid they provided Floyd. Smith told jurors he thought Floyd "was dead" when he arrived on scene.
And Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, 45, gave jurors a first glimpse of his personal life, discussing how they met and acknowledging drug use was part of their relationship.
Also Thursday, the prosecution played police body-camera footage from inside the ambulance Floyd was taken to the hospital in and recordings of phone conversations between officers concerning use of force.
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David Pleoge, former police supervisor: Officers 'could have ended' restraint of George Floyd
David Pleoger, a recently retired Minneapolis police officer who was responsible for reviewing officers' use of force, testified for nearly an hour Thursday afternoon.
After receiving a call from 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry — who testified Monday and said she didn't mean to be a "snitch," but that she had seen what happened to Floyd —Pleoger said he called Chauvin on his cellphone.
Much of the conversation was not recorded because Chauvin turned off his body camera, as allowed per policy. Pleoger said Chauvin told him restraint was used, Floyd suffered a medical emergency and they had called an ambulance. Pleoger told the court he didn’t think Chauvin told him that it was him who had held Floyd down or that he had placed a knee on Floyd’s neck.
“Would you agree that a person may be restrained only to the degree necessary to keep them under control,” Schleicher asked.
"Yes and no more restraint,” Pleoger said.
Schleicher also asked when the restraint of Floyd should have ended.
Pleoger replied, "When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint."
Derek Smith, a paramedic with Hennepin County EMS, said he noticed that Floyd wasn't moving, was handcuffed and was being given no medical attention when he responded to the scene. He checked for a pulse and found none. He said Floyd's pupils were large and dilated.
"In lay terms, I thought he was dead. I told my partner, I think he's dead, and I want to move this out of here," he said.
Smith checked for a pulse again, found none and took off Floyd's handcuffs with his handcuff keys before removing him from the scene.
He told the officer riding in the ambulance to start compressions and he checked for pulse again. Smith said he was working the cardiac arrest "essentially alone," so he called for backup.
Smith administered a shock to Floyd and said he saw some pulseless electrical activity on the way to the hospital during a periodic check-in. Smith referred to Floyd as "deceased" when he was dropped off at the hospital.
As for why an officer rode with Smith to the hospital and he ordered that officer to do chest compressions, he told defense attorney Eric Nelson: "Any lay person can do chest compressions," he said.
Earlier Thursday, Smith's partner, Seth Bravinder, also took the the witness stand.
George Floyd's girlfriend broke down in tears on the witness stand Thursday as she gave jurors an intimate glimpse at the "mama's boy," amateur athlete, restaurant lover and struggling drug user whose death prompted nationwide protests against police use of force last summer.
Courteney Ross said she had a relationship with Floyd for about three years after they met in Minneapolis in August 2017.
Floyd was usually very active, Ross said, and worked out every day. He often lifted weights. "Floyd loved playing sports with anyone who wanted to, including neighborhood kids. He's that person who'd just run to the store," she said.
He never complained about shortness of breath, she said.
Ross acknowledged that drug use was part of their relationship. The couple sometimes split up for a period but always got back together, she said.
"Floyd and I both suffered from opiate addiction," she said. "We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck. His was in his back. We both had prescriptions. After prescriptions were filled, we got addicted, and we both tried, very hard, to break the addictions, many times."
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