Lieutenant: Kneeling on Floyd's neck 'totally unnecessary'

The first week of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's trial wrapped up Friday with a top police lieutenant testifying that Chauvin's use of force was not necessary.

The stunning testimony came from Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman who heads up the Minneapolis Police Department's homicide division.

Derek Chauvin faces murder and manslaughter charges for using excessive force in the arrest of George Floyd.

Zimmerman referred to Chauvin's kneeling on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes 29 seconds as "totally unnecessary."

"Putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for," said Zimmerman, who testified that once the officers had Floyd in handcuffs, there was no need to apply deadly force such as a knee to the neck.

"I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger if that's what they felt," said Zimmerman.

A key issue in the case, is whether Chauvin and the other officers use of force was justified. The defense has indicated Chauvin felt the crowd and Floyd did pose a danger and argue that he acted according to his training and Floyd died of other health problems.

Also testifying was Minneapolis Police Sergeant Jon Edwards, who was in charge of the scene and ordered two of the officers to turn on their body cameras.

"I asked them to chill out because later on I knew from Sergeant Ploeger that he had a couple of escort sergeants coming down to transport them," said Edwards.

"The use of your knee on someone's neck when you have 3 to 4 officers holding him and he's handcuffed would be a real stretch," said law enforcement expert RIchard Corriea, a former San Francisco Police Commander and an adjunct faculty at the University of San Francisco.

Corriea says law enforcement training has long recognized the dangers of positioning suspects on their stomachs.

"Training changed in the mid-90s so we're talking 26 years, the notion of positional asphyxiation has been in the main in law enforcement," said Corriea, "If you have someone resisting and thrashing around you may want to restrain them but you don't want to compress their neck and it looked to me from the tape the officer had his weight on the neck. And that's dangerous."

The case has prompted calls for national training standards.
"I'd like to say there's a real opportunity here for change in the policing industry to see these things don't happen again," said Corriea.

More officers are expected to testify when the trial resumes on Monday.

Jana Katsuyama is a reporter for KTVU.  Email Jana at and follow her on Twitter or Facebook.