Expert Who Called Chauvin’s Use of Force ‘Excessive’ Returns to the Stand

Prosecutors began Day 8 with continued testimony on police training and use of force from an expert witness. Here’s the latest on the Derek Chauvin trial.,

LiveUpdated April 7, 2021, 10:49 a.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 10:49 a.m. ET

Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department continued his testimony for the state about police training and use of force.


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Watch live video of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. Warning: The video may include graphic images.CreditCredit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

April 7, 2021, 10:46 a.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 10:46 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The defense has made the argument that the bystanders watching Minneapolis police restrain George Floyd constituted a hostile crowd that distracted the officers from monitoring Floyd’s condition. But Sgt. Stiger, the L.A.P.D. expert, disagrees: “They were merely filming, and most of their concern was for Mr. Floyd.”


April 7, 2021, 10:48 a.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 10:48 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The prosecution has repeatedly shown a still image of the bystanders using their phones to film, to show that they were not doing any of the things that the experts have defined as aggressive, such as throwing bottles or physically interfering with police officers.


April 7, 2021, 10:44 a.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 10:44 a.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from Minneapolis

Sgt. Jody Stiger, the use-of-force expert from the Los Angeles Police Department who is now testifying, said that Derek Chauvin was using “deadly force” by pinning George Floyd on the ground at a time that “no force” should have been used. He said the pressure of Chauvin’s body weight could have caused “positional asphyxia, which could cause death.”


April 7, 2021, 10:23 a.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 10:23 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department, an expert who called Derek Chauvin’s use of force “excessive” on Tuesday, acknowledges as he resumes testimony on Wednesday morning that a kick by George Floyd as he is being restrained by the Minneapolis police could have been reasonably interpreted by the officers arresting him as active resistance, a point for the defense. Many of the use-of-force witnesses have made similar statements.


April 7, 2021, 10:24 a.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 10:24 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

It’s important to remember, though, that such comments are not necessarily bad for the prosecution — they may help the expert witnesses appear independent and credible in the eyes of the jury.


April 7, 2021, 10:18 a.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 10:18 a.m. ET
Sergeant Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department testifying on Tuesday.
Sergeant Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department testifying on Tuesday.Credit…Court TV still image, via Reuters

Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department, who is expected to be the only outside expert to testify for the state about police training and use of force, returned to the stand on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Sergeant Stiger was asked directly about former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s actions in the arrest of George Floyd. He was blunt: “My opinion was that the force was excessive.”

Sergeant Stiger, a former Marine, joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1993, according to a spokeswoman for the department. He holds the rank of sergeant II and serves as an aide to the office of the Inspector General, the body that oversees the police department and conducts performance audits, reviews use-of-force incidents and handles complaints of officer misconduct. He is the only sworn officer on staff.

Sergeant Stiger served as a tactics instructor for in-service training for Los Angeles police officers for six years, during which he provided training regarding use-of-force policy and state law to about 3,000 officers, he said during his testimony.

Sergeant Stiger was paid a flat fee of $10,000, as well as a trial fee, to review reports, video footage of the incident, training policies and other materials and ultimately make a judgment about whether the use of force by Mr. Chauvin was appropriate.


April 7, 2021, 9:29 a.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 9:29 a.m. ET

By Matt Furber

Members of the Native American community are preparing for possible unrest again after a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, pictured in a mural near where he was arrested last year.
Members of the Native American community are preparing for possible unrest again after a verdict in the trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd, pictured in a mural near where he was arrested last year.Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

The regular updates that Johnny Crow’s girlfriend gives him about the former officer Derek Chauvin’s trial trigger reminders of how the Native American community in Minneapolis rallied to support one another in the months after George Floyd died.

The American Indian Center, where Mr. Crow works, was near areas that were damaged in protests after Mr. Floyd’s death. Based in South Minneapolis, they organized community watches and gave members advice on those nights, he said. The threat of unrest during or after the trial is still a concern, Mr. Crow said.

“To hear the trial, it brings a lot of memories — definitely some worry,” Mr. Crow said. Community members are prepared to protect the area again, especially once a verdict is read, he said. “I think no matter what the verdict is, there will be people who are upset.”

Mr. Crow said he was encouraged to hear Medaria Arradondo, the police chief, testify on Monday that Mr. Chauvin had violated department policy when he knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.

“That shouldn’t be allowed, to put a knee on somebody, especially someone that’s not resisting,” Mr. Crow said. “But, also, my experience is, on the South Side, if you press your knee on anyone’s neck, they are going to resist. That’s survival instinct.”

Mr. Crow said that in the American Indian Movement a prime directive was to protect community members from the police and the violence perpetrated against Native Americans.

“We will have community watch again,” he said. “It did help on Franklin Avenue. Just having people out there keeping watch.”

Mr. Crow recalled riding around the neighborhood after Mr. Floyd’s death and seeing the community’s pain. “It was really shocking,” he said. “A lot of people were hurt and angry. To see that firsthand, it was tough.”


April 7, 2021, 5:07 a.m. ETApril 7, 2021, 5:07 a.m. ET
Judge Peter Cahill during  Derek Chauvin's trial on Tuesday.
Judge Peter Cahill during Derek Chauvin’s trial on Tuesday.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Proceedings on Wednesday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, are expected to begin with continued testimony from Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department, a use-of-force expert called by prosecutors.

Sergeant Stiger said on Tuesday that he believed that Mr. Chauvin used excessive force when he knelt on Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes last May. He was one of several law enforcement officials who testified for prosecutors, though some of their testimony may have been useful for Mr. Chauvin’s defense.

The trial has moved full force into its second phase, where the jury is hearing arguments about whether Mr. Chauvin violated police policy or acted within the bounds of his training. While much of the testimony seemed to bolster the arguments of prosecutors, who are seeking to convince jurors that Mr. Chauvin acted unlawfully and outside of official protocol, the defense may have also made some headway on Tuesday.

Sergeant Stiger testified that Mr. Floyd was resisting arrest when responding officers tried to place him in a police cruiser outside the Cup Foods convenience store in Minneapolis. He also said that, according to his viewing of police body camera footage, Mr. Floyd at one point kicked at the officers. Still, Sergeant Stiger said Mr. Floyd stopped resisting at some point when he was handcuffed and face down on the pavement.

At that point, Mr. Chauvin’s force became excessive, Sergeant Stiger said. Even after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive, Mr. Chauvin did not move his knee or roll Mr. Floyd onto his side.

Another witness, Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, provided testimony that seemed to support a primary argument of the defense: That the crowd of bystanders, some of whom yelled at the officers during Mr. Floyd’s arrest, may have hindered Mr. Chauvin’s ability to render aid to Mr. Floyd or to move his knee.

Lt. Johnny Mercil, a veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department and a use-of-force instructor, also said that vocal bystanders could raise alarm with officers. And Sgt. Ker Yang, a crisis intervention coordinator with the department, said that officers sometimes have to juggle several factors, such as a suspect’s well-being and the volatility of an angry crowd nearby, when making an arrest.

Though the defense may have made headway with these arguments, other testimony could have aided the prosecution. Lieutenant Mercil testified that Mr. Chauvin’s position, with his knee on Mr. Floyd, was not consistent with the Minneapolis Police Department’s training on use of force. He also said officers should “use the lowest level of force possible” when controlling a subject.


April 6, 2021, 5:28 p.m. ETApril 6, 2021, 5:28 p.m. ET

The New York Times

On Day 7 of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of murder in the death of George Floyd, people gathered outside the courthouse and in front of Cup Foods.


April 6, 2021, 4:57 p.m. ETApril 6, 2021, 4:57 p.m. ET
A patron of a laundromat near Cup Foods watching the Derek Chauvin trial on Monday.
A patron of a laundromat near Cup Foods watching the Derek Chauvin trial on Monday.Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Viewer interest in television coverage of the trial of Derek Chauvin has been high, according to ratings data from Nielsen.

Several cable channels, including CNN and MSNBC, have broadcast large portions of the trial live, and one cable network, HLN, has shown it in its entirety since the proceedings started on March 29. For several days last week, CNN’s highest ratings came in the afternoon, during witness testimony, rather than during its prime-time hours.

Mr. Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd last year, faces charges of manslaughter, second-degree murder and third-degree murder.

On Thursday, roughly 3.7 million viewers were watching trial coverage on the three channels during the afternoon testimony of former Sgt. David Pleoger, who supervised Mr. Chauvin and testified that he should have “ended” his restraint after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive. That audience was larger than the number of people tuning into any other cable program that day. “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the most watched cable show on Thursday, drew three million viewers.

On Monday, the trial continued to attract a large viewing audience. CNN’s 3 p.m. hour, which featured testimony from Medaria Arradondo, the Minneapolis police chief, averaged 1.4 million viewers, the network’s highest total for the day, including its prime-time hours. HLN had an average of 470,000 viewers between 3 and 4 p.m. on Monday, also its most-viewed hour of the day.

The Nielsen figures do not reflect people who watched the trial on separate streaming outlets or on digital devices. Court TV is also broadcasting and streaming live trial coverage in its entirety. Fox News, the most-watched cable news network, has not been carrying the trial live.

HLN, a channel formerly known as CNN2 and CNN Headline News that is owned by CNN’s parent company, AT&T’s WarnerMedia, had its highest daytime ratings since 2013, when it covered the trial of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood watch volunteer who fatally shot Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teenager, according to Nielsen. HLN’s audience figures only continued to spike as the week went on.

“The numbers show that there is a high level of interest,” said Ken Jautz, an executive vice president of CNN, who oversees HLN, in an interview.

“This trial raises so many prominent and searing societal issues,” he continued. “Issues of policing practices, and how law enforcement treats people of color.”

On MSNBC, viewership figures for the morning portion of the trial went up throughout its first week. On March 29, 929,000 viewers watched the trial as it began just after 10:30 Eastern time. By Friday, the fifth day, MSNBC viewership figures for the morning portion had risen to 1.2 million viewers, according to Nielsen.

The figures are nothing close to interest to the 1995 O.J. Simpson trial. Roughly 50 million people watched the trial’s conclusion from their homes, a figure that may have been three times that size if the number of people watching it at work, at school or in airports or restaurants had been factored in.

The Chauvin trial is expected to last several weeks, and the three cable news networks are likely to continue broadcasting significant portions of it.


April 6, 2021, 12:37 p.m. ETApril 6, 2021, 12:37 p.m. ET
Prosecutors presenting police guidance on the use of neck restraints during the trial of the former officer Derek Chauvin.
Prosecutors presenting police guidance on the use of neck restraints during the trial of the former officer Derek Chauvin.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

Even as several members of the Minneapolis Police Department have criticized Derek Chauvin’s use of force against George Floyd, they have acknowledged that using force is a necessary part of policing. And data shows that reports of force are extremely rare, although the outcome can sometimes be significant.

Since 2018, there have been 14 reported incidents of officers’ using neck restraints in which the person it was being used on became unconscious, according to data from the department. The most recent incident was in February 2020 in which a 20-year-old Black male was restrained during a traffic stop for “verbal noncompliance,” the data said. Since 2012, there had been 310 instances in which neck restraints were used and the subject did not lose consciousness.

A central question for jurors in this trial will be whether it was appropriate for Mr. Chauvin to kneel on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Johnny Mercil, a Minneapolis police lieutenant who provided use-of-force training to Mr. Chauvin, testified that officers were trained to “use the lowest level of force possible in order to meet those objectives.”

In many ways, this phase of the trial is putting police tactics on trial. Minneapolis residents, particularly African-Americans, have been highly critical of the Police Department, which they say has brutalized their communities. Since 2015, the Police Department has used force against Black residents at seven times the rate that it did against white residents, according to a New York Times analysis of police data last year.

About 20 percent of Minneapolis’s 430,000 residents are Black, but nearly 62 percent of the time that officers used force, it was against Black residents, according to the data.

Police officials argue that although the use of force may get a lot of attention, it is exceedingly rare. The data shows that there have been 4.3 million calls for service since 2008, but force was reported in just 13,472 of those instances, or just .31 percent of the time.

For residents who live in heavily policed areas, however, constant harassment by the police, even when force is not used, has left a bad impression. And shocking cases like Mr. Floyd’s can tend to overshadow the fact that force might be rarely used.


March 29, 2021, 8:49 a.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 8:49 a.m. ET






How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody

The Times has reconstructed the death of George Floyd on May 25. Security footage, witness videos and official documents show how a series of actions by officers turned fatal. (This video contains scenes of graphic violence.)

It’s a Monday evening in Minneapolis. Police respond to a call about a man who allegedly used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. Seventeen minutes later, the man they are there to investigate lies motionless on the ground, and is pronounced dead shortly after. The man was 46-year-old George Floyd, a bouncer originally from Houston who had lost his job at a restaurant when the coronavirus pandemic hit. Crowd: “No justice, no peace.” Floyd’s death triggered major protests in Minneapolis, and sparked rage across the country. One of the officers involved, Derek Chauvin, has been arrested and charged with second-degree murder. The other three officers have been charged with aiding and abetting murder. The Times analyzed bystander videos, security camera footage and police scanner audio, spoke to witnesses and experts, and reviewed documents released by the authorities to build as comprehensive a picture as possible and better understand how George Floyd died in police custody. The events of May 25 begin here. Floyd is sitting in the driver’s seat of this blue S.U.V. Across the street is a convenience store called Cup Foods. Footage from this restaurant security camera helps us understand what happens next. Note that the timestamp on the camera is 24 minutes fast. At 7:57 p.m., two employees from Cup Foods confront Floyd and his companions about an alleged counterfeit bill he just used in their store to buy cigarettes. They demand the cigarettes back but walk away empty-handed. Four minutes later, they call the police. According to the 911 transcript, an employee says that Floyd used fake bills to buy cigarettes, and that he is “awfully drunk” and “not in control of himself.” Soon, the first police vehicle arrives on the scene. Officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng step out of the car and approach the blue S.U.V. Seconds later, Lane pulls his gun. We don’t know exactly why. He orders Floyd to put his hands on the wheel. Lane reholsters the gun, and after about 90 seconds of back and forth, yanks Floyd out of the S.U.V. A man is filming the confrontation from a car parked behind them. The officers cuff Floyd’s hands behind his back. And Kueng walks him to the restaurant wall. “All right, what’s your name?” From the 911 transcript and the footage, we now know three important facts: First, that the police believed they were responding to a man who was drunk and out of control. But second, even though the police were expecting this situation, we can see that Floyd has not acted violently. And third, that he seems to already be in distress. Six minutes into the arrest, the two officers move Floyd back to their vehicle. As the officers approach their car, we can see Floyd fall to the ground. According to the criminal complaints filed against the officers, Floyd says he is claustrophobic and refuses to enter the police car. During the struggle, Floyd appears to turn his head to address the officers multiple times. According to the complaints, he tells them he can’t breathe. Nine minutes into the arrest, the third and final police car arrives on the scene. It’s carrying officers Tou Thao and Derek Chauvin. Both have previous records of complaints brought against them. Thao was once sued for throwing a man to the ground and hitting him. Chauvin has been involved in three police shootings, one of them fatal. Chauvin becomes involved in the struggle to get Floyd into the car. Security camera footage from Cup Foods shows Kueng struggling with Floyd in the backseat while Thao watches. Chauvin pulls him through the back seat and onto the street. We don’t know why. Floyd is now lying on the pavement, face down. That’s when two witnesses begin filming, almost simultaneously. The footage from the first witness shows us that all four officers are now gathered around Floyd. It’s the first moment when we can clearly see that Floyd is face down on the ground, with three officers applying pressure to his neck, torso and legs. At 8:20 p.m., we hear Floyd’s voice for the first time. The video stops when Lane appears to tell the person filming to walk away. “Get off to the sidewalk, please. One side or the other, please.” The officers radio a Code 2, a call for non-emergency medical assistance, reporting an injury to Floyd’s mouth. In the background, we can hear Floyd struggling. The call is quickly upgraded to a Code 3, a call for emergency medical assistance. By now another bystander, 17-year-old Darnella Frazier, is filming from a different angle. Her footage shows that despite calls for medical help, Chauvin keeps Floyd pinned down for another seven minutes. We can’t see whether Kueng and Lane are still applying pressure. Floyd: [gasping] Officer: “What do you want?” Bystander: “I’ve been –” Floyd: [gasping] In the two videos, Floyd can be heard telling officers that he can’t breathe at least 16 times in less than five minutes. Bystander: “You having fun?” But Chauvin never takes his knee off of Floyd, even as his eyes close and he appears to go unconscious. Bystander: “Bro.” According to medical and policing experts, these four police officers are committing a series of actions that violate policies, and in this case, turn fatal. They’ve kept Floyd lying face down, applying pressure for at least five minutes. This combined action is likely compressing his chest and making it impossible to breathe. Chauvin is pushing his knee into Floyd’s neck, a move banned by most police departments. Minneapolis Police Department policy states an officer can only do this if someone is, quote, “actively resisting.” And even though the officers call for medical assistance, they take no action to treat Floyd on their own while waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Officer: “Get back on the sidewalk.” According to the complaints against the officers, Lane asks him twice if they should roll Floyd onto his side. Chauvin says no. Twenty minutes into the arrest, an ambulance arrives on the scene. Bystander: “Get off of his neck!” Bystander: “He’s still on him?” The E.M.T.s check Floyd’s pulse. Bystander: “Are you serious?” Chauvin keeps his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost another whole minute, even though Floyd appears completely unresponsive. He only gets off once the E.M.T.s tell him to. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for over eight minutes, according to our review of the video evidence. Floyd is loaded into the ambulance. The ambulance leaves the scene, possibly because a crowd is forming. But the E.M.T.s call for additional medical help from the fire department. But when the engine arrives, the officers give them, quote, “no clear info on Floyd or his whereabouts,” according to a fire department incident report. This delays their ability to help the paramedics. Meanwhile, Floyd is going into cardiac arrest. It takes the engine five minutes to reach Floyd in the ambulance. He’s pronounced dead at a nearby hospital around 9:25 p.m. Preliminary autopsies conducted by the state and Floyd’s family both ruled his death a homicide. The widely circulated arrest videos don’t paint the entire picture of what happened to George Floyd. Crowd: “Floyd! Floyd!” Additional video and audio from the body cameras of the key officers would reveal more about why the struggle began and how it escalated. The city quickly fired all four officers. And Chauvin has been charged with second degree murder. Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao were charged with aiding and abetting murder. But outrage over George Floyd’s death has only spread further and further across the United States.

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The Times has reconstructed the death of George Floyd on May 25. Security footage, witness videos and official documents show how a series of actions by officers turned fatal. (This video contains scenes of graphic violence.)

On May 25, Minneapolis police officers arrested George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, after a convenience store employee called 911 to report that Mr. Floyd had bought cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Seventeen minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Mr. Floyd was unconscious and pinned beneath three police officers, showing no signs of life.

By combining videos from bystanders and security cameras, reviewing official documents and consulting experts, The New York Times reconstructed in detail the minutes leading to Mr. Floyd’s death. Our video shows officers taking a series of actions that violated the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department and turned fatal, leaving Mr. Floyd unable to breathe, even as he and onlookers called out for help.


March 29, 2021, 8:15 a.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 8:15 a.m. ET
Patrons and employees at Urban Touch Barbers & Salon watch the trial of Derek Chauvin on televisions.
Patrons and employees at Urban Touch Barbers & Salon watch the trial of Derek Chauvin on televisions.Credit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

The trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd is unusual for many reasons: It is being livestreamed from Minneapolis, attendance is severely limited because of the coronavirus and the public’s interest in the case may make this one of the highest-profile trials in recent memory.

The trial can be watched on, via a livestream provided by Court TV, which is also airing the trial in full. Witness testimony and lawyers’ presentations of evidence should last several weeks before the jury begins to deliberate over the verdict.

Among the people allowed in the courtroom, on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center, are: the judge, jurors, witnesses, court staff, lawyers, Mr. Chauvin and only a handful of spectators.

The judge, Peter A. Cahill, wrote in an order on March 1 that only one member of Mr. Floyd’s family and one member of Mr. Chauvin’s family would be allowed in the room at any time. Two seats are reserved for reporters, and various journalists, including from The New York Times, are rotating throughout the trial.

The lawyers, spectators, jurors and witnesses are required to wear masks when they are not speaking. Spectators are prohibited from having any visible images, logos, letters or numbers on their masks or clothing, according to Judge Cahill’s order.

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