Most of the foundation was gone over in the first week of the Derek Chauvin trial that began on March 29, 2021, with what happened in George Floyd’s death last May. The infamous video shook the world to the circumstances surrounding the crime scene that day and eventually an introduction to George Floyd’s drug addiction.

On Monday’s hearings, defense counsel Eric Nelson questioned Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo with the following video clip, which reveals how camera perspective bias affects Chauvin’s knee placement on Floyd.

Nelson pointed out that while Chauvin’s knee appeared to be on Floyd’s neck in the video captured by the bystander Darnella Frazier, the knee appeared to be on Floyd’s shoulder blade in the police bodycam footage from former Officer Alexander Kueng. 

Nelson then asked Arradondo: “Would you agree that from the perspective of Officer Kueng’s body camera, it appeared Officer Chauvin’s knee was more on Mr. Floyd’s shoulder blade?”

“Yes,” Arradondo responded. The prosecution, however, took the stand immediately after and was quick to highlight that this was one specific moment “at a time when the ambulance had already arrived [and] very shortly before they loaded Mr. Floyd onto the gurney.”

Arradondo then slammed the defense’s point, claiming that he had not seen Chauvin’s knee anywhere but on Floyd’s neck during his review of all the footage made available to him.

“That is the first time that I’ve seen the knee of the defendant on the shoulder blade area,” Arradondo later added.

When presented with a still image from an officer’s body-worn camera of an EMT palpating Floyd’s carotid artery on his neck to check his pulse, Lt. Johnny Mercil, who teaches Minneapolis Police Department use-of-force policies and taught a use-of-force training class attended by Chauvin in 2018, said Chauvin’s knee at that point “appears to be between the shoulder blades.”

Chauvin tends to shuffle back slightly in the bystander video, shot from a different angle, to give the EMT access to Floyd. Mercil said Chauvin’s use of force was not a neck constraint and appeared to be a bodyweight hold based on the image.

Earlier on Monday, Arradondo testified that Chauvin restrained Floyd in violation of the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) policy. He claimed that while MPD allowed officers to use “light to moderate” pressure-aware neck restraints, Chauvin did not obey the policy “in any way, shape, or form.”

But Arradondo was forced to confess that he had not dealt with street-level crimes for years and that his personal knowledge of de-escalation lacked in a practical sense.

Nelson posited that after rendering someone unconscious, an officer could hold a neck restraint on them while waiting for another officer. That was something Lt. Johnny Mercil agreed on.
Mercil, on the other hand, was unconvinced by Nelson’s argument that Chauvin could keep the neck restraint while waiting for emergency medical aid.

When Mercil was shown the same picture of Chauvin kneeling with his knee on Floyd’s neck, he explained that officers are not taught this, but it is equivalent to using bodyweight to control technique.

Mercil said that officers could use their body weight to control a subject before emergency medical assistance arrives, “as long as it’s needed to control them.”

Monday’s hearings focused on the use of force. The second week will continue the Hennepin County Court’s deliberation over how the Floyd and Chauvin encounter was handled.