Former police officer Derek Chauvin was justified in pinning George Floyd to the ground because he kept struggling, a use-of-force expert has testified.
Barry Brodd, a former Santa Rosa, California, officer was called as a witness for the defence of Chauvin, who is on trial in Minneapolis for Mr Floyd’s murder.
His evidence contradicted a parade of authorities from both inside and outside the Minneapolis Police Department.
Mr Brodd stoutly defended Chauvin’s actions, even as a prosecutor pounded away at the witness, banging the lectern at one point during cross-examination and growing incredulous when Mr Brodd suggested Floyd was struggling because he wasn’t “resting comfortably” on the pavement.
“It’s easy to sit and judge … an officer’s conduct,” Mr Brodd testified.
“It’s more of a challenge to, again, put yourself in the officer’s shoes to try to make an evaluation through what they’re feeling, what they’re sensing, the fear they have, and then make a determination.”
He said he did not believe Chauvin and the other officers used deadly force when they held Mr Floyd down on his stomach, his hands cuffed behind his back and Chauvin’s knee on his neck or neck area for what prosecutors say was nine-and-a-half minutes.
Mr Brodd likened it instead to a situation in which officers use a Taser on someone fighting with officers, and the suspect falls, hits his head and dies: “That isn’t an incident of deadly force. That’s an incident of an accidental death.”
Several top Minneapolis police officials, including the police chief, have testified that Chauvin used excessive force and violated his training.
And medical experts called by prosecutors have said that Mr Floyd died from a lack of oxygen because of the way he was restrained.
But Mr Brodd said: “I felt that Officer Chauvin’s interactions with Mr Floyd were following his training, following current practices in policing and were objectively reasonable.”
The question of what is reasonable is important: Police officers are allowed certain latitude to use deadly force when someone puts the officer or other people in danger.
Legal experts say a key issue for the jury will be whether Chauvin’s actions were reasonable in those specific circumstances.