Arradondo on George Floyd’s death: ‘This was murder,’ not lack of training

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said late Monday that the death of George Floyd had nothing to do with a lack of training involving the four former officers that day on 38th Street and Chicago Avenue.

Arradondo said former officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao had completed Minneapolis Police Department training designed to teach officers to arrest and restrain suspects in ways in which they could still breathe.

"Mr. George Floyd’s tragic death was not due to a lack of training — the training was there. Chauvin knew what he was doing. I agree with Attorney General [Keith] Ellison: what happened to Mr. Floyd was murder," the police chief said.

On May 25, Chauvin pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck for seven minutes and 46 seconds, including several minutes where Floyd was unresponsive, as other officers failed to intervene to move him to a position where Floyd could breathe.

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Bystander video of the incident shows Floyd handcuffed, pleading for air.

Chauvin, Thao, Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng were fired stemming from the incident. Chauvin faces second-degree and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. The other three face charges of aiding and abetting the killing.

The statement addresses how the officers had been trained on positional asphyxia and how to avoid it. The training requires moving an arrestee from a prone position into a recovery position, which means seated or on their side. Minneapolis police added the instruction in 2014 as part of a $3 million settlement when a different officer pressed his knee on 28-year-old David Smith’s back, making it difficult for him to breathe.

"It is important to note that getting an arrestee into a position where he or she can breathe is something that is hammered into all of our officers," Arradondo said. "And this began even before the Smith settlement’s required 2014 training."

The police chief stated that all officers watch a video on positional asphyxiation as part of roll calls and that they’ve received training on the dangers of in-custody deaths.

"Mr. Floyd shouted out that he couldn’t breathe; bystanders shouted out that Mr. Floyd had stopped talking; then they shouted out that Mr. Floyd had become non-responsive; and finally they shouted out that Mr. Floyd was dying," Arradondo said in the statement. "The officers knew what was happening—one intentionally caused it and the others failed to prevent it."

Floyd went into cardiopulmonary arrest as Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck while he was on the ground handcuffed, a Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s report revealed.