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Several Witnesses Speak On Whether Chauvin Used Justifiable Force

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The most senior officer in the department, and a sergeant, took the stand in the Derek Chauvin trial Friday, Frank Vascellaro reports (2:40). WCCO 4 News At 10 - April 2, 2021

Video Transcript

- The first week of the trial of an ex-Minneapolis police officer ended with testimony from inside the force.

- The most senior officer in the department and the sergeant took the stand today. Both were asked about what happened the night Derek Chauvin kneeled on George Floyd's neck.

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN: Pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for.

FRANK VASCELLERO: That perspective follows a week of witness testimony. So far, the opinion has been the same. Several witnesses believe what they saw in South Minneapolis last May was out of line.

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN: 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.

FRANK VASCELLERO: That's Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, the most senior officer in the Minneapolis department. The prosecution asked a question many have been wondering after seeing the video of George Floyd's arrest last summer.

- What is your view of that use of force during that time period?

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN: Totally unnecessary.

Zimmerman has been with the department since 1985. That amounts to decades of police training and a seasoned grasp on protocol. That too was questioned in court.

- Have you ever, in all the years you've been working for the Minneapolis Police Department, been trained to kneel on the neck of someone who is handcuffed behind their back in a prone position?

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN: No, I haven't.

- Is that-- if that were done, would that be considered force?

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN: Absolutely.

- What level of force might that be.

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN: That would be the top tier, the deadly force.

- Why?

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN: Because of the fact that, um, if your knee is on a person's neck, that can kill them.

- Based on your review of the body cams, did you see any need for Officer Chauvin to improvise by putting his knee on Mr. Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds?

RICHARD ZIMMERMAN: No, I did not.

FRANK VASCELLERO: Also taking the stand Friday with Sergeant Jon Edwards, who was called in to secure the area following Floyd's arrest. He described a scene of confusion and a search for witnesses to fill in the blanks.

JON EDWARDS: I guess we were just trying to get lucky. Maybe there was somebody still there that was willing to talk to us.

FRANK VASCELLERO: Police Chief Medaria Arradondo was also expected to testify. Our live coverage picks up Monday morning on CBSN Minnesota, which is on our app. And to get it, just point your camera at the code on the screen right now. And you can also watch it through wcco.com.