Monday’s testimony kicked off with Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfield, the emergency physician at Hennepin County Medical Center who pronounced George Floyd dead.
Dr. Langenfield testified that when Mr. Floyd arrived at the hospital, the paramedics advised him that they had been trying to resuscitate Mr. Floyd for approximately 30 minutes. His team then worked on him for about 30 more minutes, before pronouncing him dead.
He testified that “Based on the history that was available to me, I felt that hypoxia was one of the more likely possibilities.” In a follow up question, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell had the doctor clarify that “hypoxia” refers to “cardiac arrest meaning oxygen insufficiency.” He said that is correct.
Asked again by the prosecuting attorney if the doctor’s “leading theory then for the cause of Mr. Floyd’s cardiac arrest” was oxygen deficiency, Dr. Langenfeld said, “That was one of the more likely possibilities. I felt at the time based on information I had, it was more likely than the other possibilities.”
The doctor said that “asphyxia” is another name for “death by oxygen deficiency.”
Next to take the stand was Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. He oversees the entire operations of the department, and has held that position for three years.
One of the issues the state questioned Chief Arradondo about was the bystanders recording the incident, and whether or not that interfered with the officers’ ability to do their jobs. When individuals are recording officers on their cellphones, this does not mean they are obstructing police from doing their jobs, even if it is “irritating,” he stated.
Arradondo said the Minneapolis police department has a policy that says people have the “absolute First Amendment right” to record officers interacting and engaging with a community member. “With the exception that they cannot obstruct the activity of the officers,” he noted.
Chief Arradondo also testified about officer training, and the department’s de-escalation policy. He was asked to read the department’s policy on the stand, which in part states: “As an alternative and/or the precursor to the actual use of force MPD officers shall consider verbally announcing their intent to use force including displaying an authorized weapon as a threat of force when reasonable under the circumstances.” He said the officers’ goal is to resolve the situation as safely as possible.
He was also asked about an officers duty to render first aid when necessary. The chief acknowledged that officers are trained in basic first aid. “We are often times going to be the first one that responds to someone needing aid. And so, we absolutely have the duty to render that aid.”
The next part of his testimony was in regard to officers’ use of force. He was asked to read a portion of his department’s policy that explains the purpose of the policy. He read, “Sanctity of life and the protection of the public shall be cornerstones of the MPD’s use of force policy.” He went on to say, “Of all the things that we do as peace officers for the Minneapolis Police Department, and I mention the thousands of calls that our men and women respond to — it’s my firm belief that the one singular incident we will be judged forever on will be our use of force.”
“While it is absolutely imperative that our officers go home at the end of their shift, we want to make sure and ensure that our community members go home, too. And so sanctity of life is absolutely vital that that is the pillar for our use of force,” Arradondo said. When asked to define the term “force” he replied, “It can be any physical contact. It can be with a weapon. It can be with a vehicle. But it’s any sort of physical contact that is more likely to render harm or injury to someone,” he said. The police chief said that restraint is considered force.
And…one of his best responses of the day. When asked when Chief Arradondo believes the restraint should have stopped, he replied with, “Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting. And certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped. There is an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds. But once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive, and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned-out, handcuffed behind their back. That, in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not a part of our training. And it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”
The cross-examination, as it has been with the other police witnesses, was full of hypotheticals and “in general” type questions that did nothing to discredit the testimony or give the defense any leverage.
Last to testify was Katie Blackwell, a Minneapolis Police Inspector who served as commander of the department’s training division. Blackwell also testified that Chauvin’s act of putting his knee on Floyd’s neck was not in keeping with the training the officers receive. “I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is,” she testified. She also stated that said being handcuffed and faced down could hinder a person’s ability to breathe.
Blackwell said officers are supposed “to put them on the side recovery position.” When asked how soon should officers do that when they have a person under control, she said “as soon as possible.” Blackwell said officers were taught about the potential dangers of positional asphyxia during the police academy at the Minneapolis Police Department.
My take: Dr. Langenfield’s testimony wasn’t overly remarkable, but did lend his expertise towards to the state’s stance that Floyd died from cardiac arrest as a result of Chauvin’s knee pressure on his airway. There will be many more medical experts to testify, I believe.
Chief Arradondo’s testimony extremely cutting to the defense. He was extremely credible, and testified to the same sentiments as Lt. Zimmerman before him. He was very firm in his assessment, at one point stating “I vehemently disagree with that use of force.” I also think Nelson is hurting his defensive efforts by continuing to propose hypothetical scenarios that have no bearing on this case, and also by hammering home the point that sometimes police officers have to make “split-second decisions.” Because Derek Chauvin didn’t make a split second decision. He made an almost 10-minute long decision that cost a man his life.
It will be interesting to see what the defense has up their sleeve. Right now, it is not looking good for them.