Minneapolis police chief on George Floyd death: 'This was murder—it wasn’t a lack of training'
MINNEAPOLIS -- Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo released a statement Monday, detailing some of the department's training history in light of the death of George Floyd.
In the statement, Chief Arradondo wrote that following a 2013 lawsuit, the department began providing additional training regarding positional asphyxia. The chief wrote that George Floyd's death was "not due to lack of training" and went on to call his death a murder.
Full statement from Chief Arradondo:
“In Spring of 2013, the City settled the David Smith lawsuit, agreeing to pay the estate of David Smith $1.1 million and his attorneys $1.975 million. In addition to this payment, the City agreed “to provide additional training to its sworn police officers regarding positional asphyxia in the Minneapolis Police Department’s 2014 training cycle.”
Today, in response to data requests, the City is releasing data on the training after the Smith settlement.
I can confirm that MPD fulfilled the training requirement. 2014 in-service training, which was given to all officers, covered getting an arrestee from a prone position into a recovery position (seated or on the arrestee’s side) where the maximal restraint technique or a neck restraint has been used. The reason for getting an arrestee into a recovery position is to prevent positional asphyxiation, and the training covered situations where positional asphyxiation is of primary concern. This training therefore met the settlement agreement’s requirement of “additional training . . . regarding positional asphyxiation.” I can confirm that Chauvin and Thoa had this training.
Additionally, MPD went beyond the requirements of the settlement and enacted policy changes in June 2014. The policy changes explicitly require moving an arrestee from a prone position to a recovery position when the maximal restraint technique is used and require continuous monitoring of an arrestee’s condition.
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, and this began even before the Smith settlement’s required 2014 training. Even though the Smith settlement did not require training until 2014, we provided training in 2012 and 2013, and continuing thereafter.
In 2012, the department issued an announcement to all sworn officers and posted a video on positional asphyxiation. The announcement stated that the video “serves as a reminder that whenever a subject is restrained, there is a direct correlation between their ability to breathe and the position their body is in.” The announcement required that the video be shown at all roll calls.
Additionally, in 2013 in-service MPD trained on the dangers of in-custody deaths. This training covered “compressional asphyxia” as a cause of in-custody deaths.
MPD continues to stress training on the risks of in-custody deaths and the importance of putting restrained arrestees into the recovery position as soon as possible. There is simply no way that any competent officer in MPD would be unaware of the need to get an arrestee into a recovery position so that he or she can breathe freely.
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 Ellison: what happened to Mr. Floyd was murder. Chauvin had his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for over seven minutes, and for those last minutes he knew that Floyd was non-responsive. 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. Further, one of the officers on the scene told Chauvin that Mr. Floyd should be put into a recovery position and he eventually told Chauvin that he could not find Mr. Floyd’s pulse. The officers knew what was happening—one intentionally caused it and the others failed to prevent it. This was murder—it wasn’t a lack of training. This is why I took swift action regarding the involved officers’ employment with MPD.”
- Medaria Arradondo, Chief, Minneapolis Police Department