Expert says cop was justified in pinning down George Floyd

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In this image from video, Barry Brodd, a use of force expert testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides, Tuesday, April 13, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

MINNEAPOLIS – Former Officer Derek Chauvin was justified in pinning George Floyd to the ground because he kept struggling, a use-of-force expert testified for the defense Tuesday, contradicting a parade of authorities from both inside and outside the Minneapolis Police Department.

Taking the stand at Chauvin's murder trial, Barry Brodd, a former Santa Rosa, California, officer, stoutly defended Chauvin's actions, even as a prosecutor pounded away at the witness, banging the lectern at one point during cross-examination and growing incredulous when Brodd suggested Floyd was struggling because he wasn't “resting comfortably” on the pavement.

“It’s easy to sit and judge ... an officer’s conduct," Brodd testified. “It’s more of a challenge to, again, put yourself in the officer’s shoes to try to make an evaluation through what they’re feeling, what they’re sensing, the fear they have, and then make a determination.”

He said he doesn't believe Chauvin and the other officers used deadly force when they held Floyd down on his stomach, his hands cuffed behind his back and Chauvin's knee on his neck or neck area for what prosecutors say was 9 1/2 minutes.

Brodd likened it instead to a situation in which officers use a Taser on someone fighting with officers, and the suspect falls, hits his head and dies: “That isn’t an incident of deadly force. That’s an incident of an accidental death."

Several top Minneapolis police officials, including the police chief, have testified that Chauvin used excessive force and violated his training. And medical experts called by prosecutors have said that Floyd died from a lack of oxygen because of the way he was restrained.

But Brodd said: “I felt that Officer Chauvin’s interactions with Mr. Floyd were following his training, following current practices in policing and were objectively reasonable.”

The question of what is reasonable is important: Police officers are allowed certain latitude to use deadly force when someone puts the officer or other people in danger. Legal experts say a key issue for the jury will be whether Chauvin’s actions were reasonable in those specific circumstances.