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Kneeling on Floyd’s neck ‘totally unnecessary’, homicide lieutenant tells court

Minneapolis: Kneeling on George Floyd ’s neck while he was handcuffed and in the prone position was “top-tier, deadly force” and “totally unnecessary,” the head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide division has testified.

“If your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill him,” said Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, adding that when a person is handcuffed in the prone position, “your muscles are pulling back … and if you’re laying on your chest, that’s constricting your breathing even more”.

Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman said kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while he was prone was “top-tier, deadly force”.

Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman said kneeling on George Floyd’s neck while he was prone was “top-tier, deadly force”.Credit:Court TV via AP

Zimmerman, who testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial on Friday (Saturday AEDT), also said that once Floyd was handcuffed, he saw “no reason for 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 that use of force”.

“So in your opinion, should that restraint have stopped once he was handcuffed and thrown on the ground?” Prosecutor Matthew Frank asked.

“Absolutely,” Zimmerman replied.

He also testified that officers have a duty to provide care for a person in distress, even if an ambulance has already been called.

Under cross examination, Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson peppered Zimmerman with questions about use of force, pointing out that officers must consider the entire situation when deciding about whether to use force – including what is happening with a suspect, whether the suspect is under the influence, and other surrounding hazards, such as a crowd.

Zimmerman agreed with Nelson that a person who is handcuffed can still pose a threat and can continue to thrash around.

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