Who is Katie Blackwell? Inspector says Derek Chauvin used 'improvised' neck hold: ‘That's not what we train’
Referring to Chauvin's neck hold, the former head of the Minneapolis police department’s training division said: "I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is. That’s not what we train."
MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA: Derek Chauvin was not following the guidelines set by the department when he kneeled on George Floyd's neck for several minutes said the official who commanded the Minneapolis police department’s training division. Katie Blackwell, who now works as the inspector in the department, testified on Monday, April 5.
She said, "Per policy, a neck restraint is compression of one or both sides of the neck using an arm or a leg," and added, "What we train is using one arm or two arms to do a neck restraint. I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is. That’s not what we train." At this time, Chauvin is facing murder charges for being responsible for George Floyd's death. He was also fired from the Minneapolis police department after Floyd's death.
Blackwell and Chauvin have known each other for nearly two decades now and the kinds of long-running training policies that both of them had been exposed to as they worked through the ranks in the department were similar. Chauvin, by the end, had also become a field training officer who worked with new recruits.
Blackwell said that all officers were trained in providing basic medical care, which includes the risk of “positional asphyxia" which is when someone not getting enough air if their body is overly restricted during an arrest.
She explained, "We were taught positional asphyxia all the way back in my academy." It was also brought to attention during the hearing that as a field officer who trains new recruits, Chauvin had received more than 40 hours of “crisis intervention” training for working with people experiencing mental health, drug, or emotional crises. He was also trained to use medications such as naloxone to stop opioid overdoses in progress.
Minneapolis chief of police, Medaria Arradondo, in his testimony earlier in the day on Monday, April 5, said that the tactic used by Chauvin was not sanctioned by the force. Arradondo said, "There's an initial reasonableness in trying to get him under control in the first few seconds," and added, "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..." He added that the use of such force in "no way shape or form is by policy, is not part of our training, and is certainly not part of our ethics or values.”
The defense however argued that improvisations allow officers to respond appropriately to a wide range of situations. Attorney Eric Nelson said, "The use of force has no precise, objective, singular rule," and added, "It’s different in every case.” He also cited a number of other reasons to explain why Chauvin used the neck hold, including being confronted by the angry crowd, which led to the officer's belief that the show of force could de-escalate the situation.