Chauvin trial: Minneapolis police lieutenant calls restraint on Floyd 'totally unnecessary'

Crystal Hill
·Reporter
·2-min read

A high-ranking official in the Minneapolis Police Department called Derek Chauvin and his fellow officers’ use of force on George Floyd “totally unnecessary” and said it should have stopped when Floyd was pinned to the ground, according to his testimony Friday at Chauvin’s murder trial.

Prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher asked Richard Zimmerman, a lieutenant in the homicide division and the 19th witness to testify at Chauvin’s trial, what he thought about how the officers handled Floyd, based on Zimmerman’s review of the body camera footage of the incident.

“Directing your attention [to the] moment when Floyd is placed on the ground,” Schleicher said, “what is your view of that use of force during that time period?”

“Totally unnecessary,” Zimmerman said. “What do you mean?” Schleicher asked.

“Well, first of all, pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on a neck for ... that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt. And that’s what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force.”

Minneapolis Police Lt. Richard Zimmerman testifies in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, MN. on April 2, 2021. (Court TV via Reuters Video)
Minneapolis Police Lt. Richard Zimmerman testifies in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis on Friday. (Court TV via Reuters Video)

Schleicher then asked Zimmerman if the restraint on Floyd should have stopped when Floyd was handcuffed and on the ground.

“Absolutely.”

Earlier in the trial, prosecutors played multiple videos, including bodycam footage from the officers involved, that showed officers struggling to get Floyd into their vehicle and then pinning Floyd, who was handcuffed, down to the ground and remaining on him after he became unresponsive. Videos showed Chauvin keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck until emergency responders arrived.

During his cross-examination Friday, defense attorney Eric Nelson seemed to suggest that, as a lieutenant, Zimmerman may be too far removed from the use-of-force tactics that patrol officers may have to use on a more frequent basis.

“When’s the last time you got in a physical fight with a person?” Nelson asked.

“About 2018,” Zimmerman replied.

“So it’s been a couple of years since you’ve been in a physical fight with a person,” Nelson asked. Zimmerman agreed.

Footage from Ofc. Thomas Lane's bodycam presented as evidence in the Derek Chauvin trial on March 31, 2021. (via Reuters Video)
Footage from then-Officer Thomas Lane’s body camera presented as evidence in the Chauvin trial on Wednesday. (Via Reuters Video)

Nelson then asked Zimmerman that the “frequency with which you have to use higher levels of force as an investigator doesn’t happen all that often, right?”

“Correct,” Zimmerman said.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. His murder trial is expected to take several weeks.

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