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For the first time in the trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin, a witness explicitly defended his actions when he knelt on George Floyd for nine and a half minutes.

Barry Brodd, an expert on the use of force who was called to testify by the defense, said on Tuesday that Mr. Chauvin had been justified in his actions, and that he did not consider the restraint that Mr. Chauvin used — keeping Mr. Floyd pinned under his knee while handcuffed and facedown on the street — a use of force. (Mr. Brodd later acknowledged that the restraint did qualify as a use of force under the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department.)

Mr. Brodd’s testimony contradicted that of numerous witnesses who were called by the prosecution, including other use-of-force experts and the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department.

The defense also called several other witnesses, including a woman who was in the car with Mr. Floyd just before police officers arrived.

As the defense called its witnesses to the stand, officials in Minnesota scrambled to deal with the fallout from the fatal shooting of a Black man by a police officer in suburban Minneapolis over the weekend. The officer who fired the fatal shot, as well as the police chief for Brooklyn Center, the suburb where the shooting happened, both resigned on Tuesday.

Here are key takeaways from Day 12 of the trial.

  • Mr. Brodd said that the officers who arrested Mr. Floyd had acted appropriately every step of the way. “I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” he said. Mr. Brodd also said that Mr. Chauvin’s actions did not qualify as a use of force at all, and that the fact that Mr. Floyd died did not mean Mr. Chauvin had used “deadly force.” He compared the situation to that of a police officer who uses a Taser, only to have the suspect fall back, hit their head and die. Though the suspect died, the initial use of force could still be reasonable, he said. Mr. Brodd also said the prone position in which Mr. Floyd was kept for nine and a half minutes was safe, did not typically hurt suspects and was an accepted way to control someone during an arrest.

Barry Brodd, a former police officer and use-of-force expert, testifying on Tuesday.
Still image, via Court TV
  • During cross-examination, Mr. Brodd acknowledged that Mr. Chauvin’s restraint qualified as a use of force under the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department, though he had previously said it was not a use of force. In addition, he had initially said that the prone position in which Mr. Floyd was placed was unlikely to hurt suspects. During cross-examination, though, a prosecutor played body camera footage from the arrest which captured Mr. Floyd explicitly saying, “Everything hurts,” along with other exclamations of pain. Mr. Brodd said that he had heard these exclamations during his review of the tapes, but that he didn’t “note it.”

  • The prosecution and Mr. Brodd appeared to view the videos of the arrest from completely different perspectives. On several points, common ground was hard to find. For example, when watching video of Mr. Floyd pinned to the ground, Mr. Brodd said he thought that Mr. Floyd was resisting. The prosecutor, though, said Mr. Floyd was “writhing on the ground because he can’t breathe.”

  • Jurors also heard from a woman who was with Mr. Floyd just before police officers approached his vehicle, and they saw new body camera footage from Peter Chang, an employee of the Minneapolis Park Police and a licensed peace officer who responded to the scene of the arrest. Both witnesses provided new insight on Mr. Floyd’s condition before he was taken to a police cruiser and eventually pinned to the ground.

Still image, via Court TV
  • The woman, Shawanda Hill, said Mr. Floyd was “happy, normal, talking, alert” while in the Cup Foods convenience store before he was arrested. Ms. Hill said that Mr. Floyd had offered to give her a ride home, and they went to a vehicle together. Mr. Floyd then fell asleep while she took a phone call in the vehicle, she said. Other than being tired, Ms. Hill said, Mr. Floyd seemed normal, never complaining of shortness of breath or chest pains; the defense has suggested that Mr. Floyd died of complications from drug use and a heart condition.

  • In Mr. Chang’s body camera footage, Mr. Floyd can be seen handcuffed and sitting on the street as a police officer asked him for his name and birthday. Mr. Floyd answered the officer coherently and did not try to flee. The footage could benefit the prosecution, which has argued that the officers, particularly Mr. Chauvin, acted unreasonably during what should have been a routine interaction.