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A use-of-force instructor at the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) testified Tuesday that officers have never been trained to use the type of knee-on-neck restraint that Derek Chauvin employed against George Floyd.

Driving the news: Johnny Mercil, a lieutenant who has worked in patrol and on the community response team, said that officers are trained to use the "least amount of force necessary" to subdue a suspect, and that a knee on the neck would not be authorized against a suspect who is "under control and handcuffed."

Why it matters: The testimony challenges the defense's argument that Chauvin's actions were necessary in order to subdue George Floyd, and comes one day after MPD chief Medaria Arradondo testified that Chauvin "absolutely" violated department policy when he kneeled on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes.

What he's saying: Mercil testified that active or "assaultive" aggression by a suspect may require up to and including deadly force for "life-saving purposes," but that as levels of resistance decrease — especially once a subject is in handcuffs — officers "should deescalate use of force."

  • When shown a photo of Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck, Mercil said the position is not and has never been an MPD-trained neck restraint. "We don't train" officers to use legs in neck restraint, Mercil testified, adding that this kind of restraint should involve the inner thigh, not the knee.
  • Mercil explained that a neck restraint would not be authorized for a subject who is under control and handcuffed, especially since the neck, head and sternum are more prone to injury than other parts of the body. "It’s very important to be careful" with people, he noted.

The big picture: Previous testimony and footage showed that Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd's neck even after he was handcuffed and said "I can't breathe" over 20 times.

  • Though law enforcement officers have testified that handcuffing people or using force is fairly common for patrol officers, all of those who have appeared at the trial so far have emphasized the importance of using "reasonable" force.
  • Mercil said Chauvin received training on proportional use of force as recently as 2018. Minnesota banned chokehold and neck restraints after Floyd's death.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

Minneapolis police chief: Chauvin "absolutely" violated department policies

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo. Photo courtesy of NBC News.

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said Monday "sanctity of life is absolutely vital" when considering the use of force and that former police officer Derek Chauvin "absolutely" violated department policies in his use of force on George Floyd.

Why it matters: In the second week of Chauvin's trial, Arradondo described a departmental culture at odds with Chauvin's behavior when he kneeled on Floyd's neck for over nine minutes.

ER doctor: George Floyd's cause of death most likely oxygen deficiency

The Minneapolis doctor who attended to George Floyd testified Monday that it's more likely Floyd died of loss or deprivation of oxygen than of a heart attack or drug overdose.

Why it matters: Opening the second week of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial, the doctor's testimony challenges the defense's argument that Floyd suffered a heart attack related to the influence of drugs — and not as a result of Chauvin's use of force.

Minneapolis police chief expected to testify against Derek Chauvin

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. Photo: Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo is expected to take the stand as soon as today, as testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial continues for a second week.

Why it matters: The city's top cop will tell jurors that Chauvin's "conduct was not consistent" with MPD training and policies, per special prosecutor Jerry Blackwell's opening statement.