Does Derek Chauvin's trial break the "blue wall"?

Former police officer Derek Chauvin's trial for George Floyd's death continues this week. Several officers who work within the police system testified in court to question Chauvin's use of force.

"Directing your attention to that moment when Mr. Floyd is placed on the ground, what is your view of that use of force during that time period?" Matthew Frank, Minnesota assistant attorney general asked. 

"Totally unnecessary," Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, a Minneapolis homicide investigator told the jury. He also said kneeling on Floyd's neck for about nine minutes is "deadly force" because "if your knee is on a person's neck, that can kill him."

Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant who acts as a use-of-force expert during his testimony, also pointed out that the degree of force used by Chauvin was "excessive".

"Knee on the neck would be something that does happen - a use of force that isn't unauthorized," Lt. Johnny Mercil, Minneapolis Police Department's use of force trainer said. But he added that it would not be authorized to use it if the suspect was under control and handcuffed.

Medaria Arradondo, Chief of Minneapolis Police Department echoed this point and he reiterated that Chauvin's response didn't follow the training and has violated Minneapolis police department policy. 

"Once, Mr. Floyd and this is based on my viewing of the videos, once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that that should have stopped. There's, there's an initial reasonableness in trying to just get him under control over the first few seconds. But, but once there was no longer any resistance and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values."

Some local activists applauded the move by those law enforcement officers, because they are willing to break the so-called "blue wall of silence". Usually, within police departments, there is an unofficial code of silence that cops do not report to a colleague's errors and wrongdoings including police brutality.

But others see the wall of police solidarity is still there and raised concerns about whether the trial could eventually lead to any fundamental changes in the police system.

Mr. Bullock who is a local activist and filmmaker argued that although those officers all criticized Chauvin's response in the arrest of George Floyd, they didn't question about the appropriateness of the current training and existing policy in the police department. Their performances are still framed within the system. Mr. Bullock added, "it means to me that they are going to continue the practice of putting their knees on Black men's necks."

"I think it's amazing to see police officers willing to cross that blue wall of silence and be willing to speak up about Derek Chauvin's actions," Nekima Levy Armstrong, a civil rights attorney and activist in Minneapolis said. "But I'm not sure yet if this is going to create a paradigm shift within the institution of policing or if this is just being seen as an isolated incident."

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