Key testimony: Day 5 of ex-MPD officers’ federal trial focuses on training

Friday concluded the first week of testimony in the federal civil rights trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged in connection to the death of George Floyd, and use of force and police training was the primary focus.

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For the second day, Minneapolis Police Inspector Katie Blackwell was back on the stand — and she provided key testimony for the prosecution Friday.

RELATED: Testimony continues Friday in ex-Minneapolis officers’ federal trial

Blackwell testified that officers are trained to intervene if force is being used inappropriately — either verbally or physically — and told jurors that police have repeated training on this concept “because it’s so critical to their job.”

She said Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng’s actions were inconsistent with that training.

A four-minute body camera video shown to the jury featured Thao looking directly at Derek Chauvin, who was convicted last year of murdering George Floyd, and fellow officers J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane as they restrained Floyd on the ground.

RELATED: Derek Chauvin sentenced to 22½ years in prison for murder of George Floyd

Blackwell, regarding the crowd of bystanders, said that she didn’t observe anything that prevented Thao from intervening, and that if police feel observers pose a threat, they are able to call for backup — which Thao did not do.

“What, if anything, did you observe in the video… that could’ve prevented Mr. Kueng from complying with the training on the duty to intervene?” Assistant U.S. Attorney LeeAnn Bell asked Blackwell Friday.

“Nothing,” she responded.

Blackwell said “If George Floyd is unconscious, they’re supposed to render first aid,” referring to the officers. She also said that Kueng’s knee on Floyd’s back was inconsistent with police training because when Floyd stopped resisting, “he needed to move because of the dangers of positional asphyxia.”

Officers Lane and Kueng were in charge of the scene at 38th and Chicago, according to Blackwell, because they were the first squad to respond. During cross-examination, Kueng’s attorney Tom Plunkett said that Chauvin did not listen to Lane when he asked if they should roll Floyd over.

“He was denied that opportunity by a 19-year veteran who had been Mr. Kueng’s FTO just three shifts prior,” Plunkett alleged.

RELATED: Who are the 3 officers on trial in Floyd’s killing?

Plunkett showed jurors a confidential survey taken by field training officers and read several complaints out loud, summarizing that “in a nutshell, they’re saying the FTOs aren’t consistently trained?” which Blackwell confirmed.

Blackwell told the jury that she subsequently developed a 40-hour training program for field training officers.

“It’s to address problems that have been identified,” Plunkett asked regarding the program, “but you have to agree the problems… were systemic and deep?”

Blackwell said some, yes.

Further, Plunkett posited whether officers received scenario-based training on the duty to intervene.

“We teach the recruits the defensive tactics and how to communicate with one another so an inappropriate amount of force is not used,” Blackwell responded.

Court resumes Monday at 9:30 a.m.