Ex-cop charged in George Floyd death used same tactic in 2017 arrest: prosecutors
November 18, 2020
The former Minneapolis cop charged with killing George Floyd by pressing a knee to his neck did the same thing while restraining a 14-year-old boy during a 2017 arrest, prosecutors contend.
State prosecutors are now asking a judge to allow bodycam footage of the earlier bust to be used as evidence at the upcoming murder trial of ex-cop Derek Chauvin, the Star-Tribune said.
“When faced with a suspect who does not immediately comply with his demands, Chauvin intentionally uses a level of unreasonable force to accomplish subdual and restraint,” Assistant State Attorney General Matthew Frank said in court papers filed this week, the outlet said.
Frank’s comments were in response to a motion by defense lawyers in the case seeking to bar prosecutors from citing seven prior incidents where Chauvin allegedly used excessive force to restrain suspects.
Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson argued that the ex-cop’s prior incidents were in keeping with department policy on the use of restraint and were not part of a pattern that led to Floyd’s May 25 death.
Nelson said in court papers that the earlier cases “were noncriminal incidents of Mr. Chauvin acting in his duties as a Minneapolis police officer.”
“This is simply insufficient to show a marked similarity between the proffered incidents and the charged offenses,” he said.
Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis department, faces murder and manslaughter charges, while three other ex-cops — Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng, and Tou Thao — are charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s caught-on-video death.
The footage shows Chauvin keep his knee passed on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, ignoring Floyd’s pleas of, “I can’t breathe.”
In the earlier case, Chauvin and another officer responded to a report of a domestic incident on Sept. 4, 2017, the Star-Tribune said.
The mother of the 14-year-old boy said he and his sister had assaulted her. The officers found the teen on the floor on his phone in the rear of the house, and Chauvin ordered him to get up.
When the teen didn’t, Chauvin allegedly grabbed him, struck him with a flashlight, and pinned him down with his knee for 17 minutes.
The boy complained that he couldn’t breathe, and started bleeding from his ears at one point, the Star-Tribune said.
In his report on the incident, Chauvin wrote that the teenager “displayed active resistance to efforts to take him into custody,” and noted that, although just 14, the boy was “approximately 6’2″ and at least 240 pounds.”
He conceded that he “deliver (sic) a few strikes to (the teen) to impact his shoulders and hopefully allow control to be obtained.”
Defense lawyers have also argued that all of Chauvin’s earlier use-of-force incidents were deemed within department guidelines.
But prosecutors countered that the incident involving the 14-year-old displays a pattern of conduct that is relevant in the Floyd case.
“As was true with the conduct with George Floyd, Chauvin rapidly escalated his use of force for a relatively minor offense,” Frank wrote. “Just like with Floyd, Chauvin used an unreasonable amount of force without regard for the need for that level of force or the victim’s well-being.”
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill has yet to rule on whether the 2017 video will be allowed at the trial.
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