Judge hears motion on passenger seen with Floyd Tuesday morning, testimonies from 2 MPD employees heard

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— Ana Lastra (@AnaViLastra) April 6, 2021


11:15 a.m.

The court has reconvened. Lt. Mercil is still on the witness stand with the state questioning. 

Mercil is asked about handcuffing. 

When asked if he believes if people should always be released from the knee-in-shoulder move while they are handcuffed, he said: “not always.” 

The state asked Mercil why an officer needs to put a subject in the recovery position after placing them in the maximal restraint technique (MRT).

“Because when you further restrict their ability to move it can further restrict their ability to breathe,” he replied. 

 The defense then takes over questioning. 

Nelson asked Mercil if a chokehold is considered lethal force because it blocks the trachea or the airway from the front. He then demonstrated that “it’s what you would kind of think of as almost strangulation putting your hands around someone’s neck.” Nelson followed up that by asking if Mercil saw video of the incident and if at any point he saw Chauvin use a chokehold. Mercil replied, “in this case, no.”

The defense also asked if “officers are specifically trained to put a knee across the shoulder blade of the suspect” when handcuffing someone. 

“It is trained, but used situationally,” Mercil said. 

Nelson then displays multiple photographs, with Mercil confirming that Chauvin’s knee placement was between Floyd’s shoulder blades. 

Mercil clarifies that the still-frame photo does not show a neck restraint, showing Chauvin’s knee between Floyd’s shoulder blades. He also states that this is an action an officer might apply as a prone hold.

The lieutenant confirms “it’s been said” within the department that if a person can talk, they can breathe. He also agrees that the use of force in any circumstance is incredibly dependent upon the situation. 

After the state takes over questioning, Mercil agrees with Schleicher that the use of force is always subject to review. 

Mercil then confirmed that bystanders threatening the officers would create a more “high-alert” situation involving police, when asked by Nelson. Schleicher followed that up by asking if it would make officers think twice if someone stated they were killing the person in custody, to which Mercil agreed. 


10:55 a.m.

The court is in recess until 11:15 a.m.


10:15 a.m.

The next witness — Minneapolis Police Lt. Johnny Mercil — is next to testify. He is called by the state.

He was hired by the department in 1996. He is currently on medical leave. 

Mercil says he was on the community response team, responding to community concerns before he went to mounted patrol on horse and then patrol on downtown “middle watch” until 2006 when he was promoted to sergeant. He said he also has worked in gang enforcement, then patrol on North Side for a while, then back downtown to the community response team before he took a lieutenant’s exam and was put in charge of use-of-force training.

Mercil also is trained in Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. He says it’s focused on leverage and body control. 

“True Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu there aren’t strikes, no punching or kicking. It’s using your body weight, kind of like wrestling and joint locks, manipulation, neck restraints,” he said. 

The lieutenant helped develop and approve the training curriculum.

He confirmed in court that the use of force and restraints need to be used when “reasonable.”

Mercil stated, “you want to use the lowest level of force possible to meet those objectives.”

He confirmed the photo of Chauvin holding Floyd down was an act of use of force. He was asked about neck restraints.

“We go over the techniques, definitions of neck restraints and then we go through different reps,” he said, explaining neck restraints restrict blood flow to the brain. He also demonstrated to the court with his hands what a neck restraint is and how it is used. He also explained on how a neck restraint is used with a leg. 

“The knee creates a gap to protect the throat. The person’s leg is on one side and the subject’s arm is on the other side, choking from both sides of the neck,” he said.

He also testified that the restraint Chauvin held Floyd in was not an approved neck restraint. 


9:30 a.m.

The first witness is called to the stand Tuesday, beginning with Minneapolis Police Sgt. Ker Yang, who works as the prevention training coordinator for the department. State prosecutor Steve Schleicher calls him to the stand and begins questioning.

He says he has been with the department for 24 years. Yang has a doctorate in general psychology. He also has a master’s degree in counseling psychology. 

Regarding the critical decision-making model, Yang says information gathering is crucial and listening is key. He adds as information becomes available, they are taught to adjust the technique they are using. 

The defense starts their cross-examination of this witness. 

Nelson asked Yang, “part of the whole goal of the risk intervention techniques … is to not only deal with the suspect but people who may be watching?” Yang agreed. 

The defense also presented Yang training materials in court. Yang clarified it was training he created to “really target and recruit and cadet academies” and said it is separate from the training Chauvin went through. Yang states he trains cadets, recruits and veteran officers. 

 After some questioning from the state and a follow-up from the defense, Yang has been excused. 


8:30 a.m.

Judge Cahill asked Nelson to draft a questionnaire and with the expected answers by Thursday regarding Hall. He and his attorney will go through the questionnaire outside of the jury and then Cahill will make a ruling. 

“We need to tread carefully,” Cahil noted. 

The judge said the video of Hall sitting next to Floyd in the SUV does not incriminate him, or that has not subjected him to criminal liability, at least yet.  


Tuesday, the judge overseeing the trial of Derek Chauvin will consider a motion from a witness.

Judge Peter Cahill will hear the motion after Morries Hall, who was seen in George Floyd’s vehicle the night Floyd died, told a Minneapolis court he will refuse to testify if he’s called to the witness stand.

It comes after a key day in the trial, as an emergency room doctor and two Minneapolis Police Department supervisors took the stand, including Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

Monday, Arradondo testified for more than four hours. He is now the fourth Minneapolis Police Department official to condemn Chauvin’s actions.

“I vehemently disagree that that was the appropriate use of force for that situation,” Arradondo said.

Arradondo testified that Chauvin’s technique was not taught in Minneapolis Police Department training courses.

During cross examination, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson challenged some of Arradondo’s claims, asking whether the chief has a degree in physics.

University of St. Thomas law professor Mark Osler noted how calmly the chief moved on from Nelson’s question, but Osler did say there was one point where the defense did benefit from some testimony.

“One thing they got was a concession that in their policies there are neck restraints, that neck restraints that aren’t something that are flat out barred, and the state is just going to have to deal with that fact because that’s something that is in,” Osler said.

The emergency room doctor who pronounced Floyd dead also testified. He said a lack of oxygen seemed to be the likely cause of Floyd’s death rather than a heart attack.

Trial is set to resume Tuesday morning.

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