Prosecutors want 2017 arrest of teen in Floyd death trial

Published 10:55 am Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

MINNEAPOLIS — Prosecutors in the upcoming trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd want to introduce evidence of a 2017 arrest in which they say the officer held his knee on the back of a 14-year-old boy and ignored his pleas that he couldn’t breathe.

Derek Chauvin

Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, in a memorandum filed in Hennepin County District Court, said the body camera video that captured the boy’s arrest shows that Derek Chauvin uses unreasonable force when dealing with a suspect who does not immediate comply with his orders, the Star Tribune reported.

“As was true with the conduct with George Floyd, Chauvin rapidly escalated his use of force for a relatively minor offense,” Frank wrote in the filing. “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.”

Email newsletter signup

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, argued that the force used in the 2017 arrest was in keeping with department’s then-policy on dealing with uncooperative suspects.

Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, died in May after Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for several minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe. His death sparked a renewed sense of outrage over the deaths of Black people at the hands of police and sparked mass demonstrations.

In the 2017 arrest, the 14-year-old was slow to comply with Chauvin and another officer’s instructions, so Chauvin grabbed the child by the throat, forced him to the ground and put his knee on the boy’s neck before placing him in a prone position with a knee in his back, prosecutors said.

The boy told Chauvin “he could not breathe. And just like with Floyd, Chauvin ignored those pleas and refused to provide medical assistance,” Frank wrote.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill has yet to rule on Monday’s memorandum.

Chauvin and his co-defendants, Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, were all fired the day after Floyd’s death. Chauvin is facing second-degree unintentional murder and manslaughter charges, while the other three former officers are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.

The four former officers are expected to stand trial in state court in March.