Duty sergeant: Officers could have ended George Floyd restraint

In this image from police body cam video, a Minneapolis police officer approaches George Floyd with a gun drawn, on May 25, 2020, outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, as it is shown Wednesday, March 31, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, in Floyd's death, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

A Minneapolis police supervisory sergeant who was on duty the night George Floyd died testified that he believes the officers who restrained Floyd could have ended it after he stopped resisting.

David Pleoger testified Thursday at the trial of since-fired officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. He noted that officers are trained to roll people on their side to help with their breathing after they have been restrained in the prone position.

“When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint,” Pleoger said.

“And that was after he was handcuffed and on the ground and no longer resistant?” prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked.

“Correct,” replied Ploeger, now retired.

Chauvin, 45 and white, is accused of killing Floyd by pinning his knee on the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as he lay face-down in handcuffs. Floyd had been accused of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a neighborhood market.

His death triggered large protests around the U.S., scattered violence and widespread soul-searching over racism and police brutality. The most serious charge against Chauvin carries up to 40 years in prison.

Thursday’s testimony began with Floyd’s girlfriend tearfully telling the jury how they met in 2017 — at a Salvation Army shelter where he was a security guard with “this great, deep Southern voice, raspy” — and how they both struggled with an addiction to painkillers.