George Floyd

George Floyd's Prolonged Prone Restraint Was 'Totally Unnecessary,' a Police Lieutenant Testifies

Richard Zimmerman's testimony contradicts the defense claim that Derek Chauvin "did exactly what he had been trained to do."


Derek Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, says the former Minneapolis police officer "did exactly what he had been trained to do" when he knelt on George Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes, pinning him facedown on the pavement. Lt. Richard Zimmerman, a 35-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, unambiguously contradicted that claim when he testified on Friday in Chauvin's murder trial.

Zimmerman noted that Floyd, who had been arrested for buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, was handcuffed behind his back, which "stretches the muscles back through your chest" and "makes it more difficult to breathe." Forcing Floyd to lie facedown on the ground would have compounded that problem, he said, because "if you're [lying] on your chest, that's constricting your breathing even more."

In light of that danger, Zimmerman said, "once a person is cuffed, you need to turn them on their side or have them sit up; you need to get them off their chest." One of Chauvin's colleagues, Officer Thomas Lane, twice suggested that Floyd, who complained 27 times that he was having trouble breathing, should be rolled onto his side. Chauvin rejected those suggestions.

Floyd, who was initially terrified when an officer drew a gun on him, calmed down until Lane and Officer J. Alexander Kueng tried to place him in their squad car. At that point, he seemed to have a panic attack, saying he was claustrophobic, complaining that he could not breathe, and asking if he could ride in the front seat. After he struggled with Lane and Kueng inside the car, he either tumbled or was pulled out onto the street.

In a pretrial motion, Nelson faulted Lane and Kueng for needlessly escalating the situation. "If Kueng and Lane had chosen to de-escalate instead of struggle, Mr. Floyd may have survived," he said. But once Floyd was handcuffed and out of the car, he was not given a chance to sit up and calm down—an option Zimmerman suggested was consistent with police training.

"Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way," Zimmerman said. "They're cuffed. How can they really hurt you?" When the prosecutor questioning Zimmerman suggested that "a cuffed person could still be combative," the lieutenant agreed but added that the risk of "you getting injured" is "way down." For example, "you could have some guy try to kick you or something, but you can move out of the way."

Once "that person is handcuffed," Zimmerman said, "the threat level is just not there." And "if they become less combative," he said, "you may just have them sit down on the curb….The idea is to calm the person down."

Zimmerman also criticized the restraint technique that Chauvin used. Based on the video record, he said, it was clear that Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd's neck and kept it there until after an ambulance arrived. According to the prosecution, he maintained that position for nearly five minutes after Floyd was no longer responsive, even after Chauvin was repeatedly told that Floyd had no detectable pulse.

In Zimmerman's view, Chauvin's neck restraint was "totally unnecessary" and constituted "deadly force" because "if your knee is on a person's neck, that can kill them." He said he had never been trained to use that technique on someone who is handcuffed in a facedown prone position.

"Pulling him down to the ground facedown, and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for," Zimmerman said. "I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that's what they felt, and that's what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force."

Sgt. David Pleoger, Chauvin's supervisor, made a similar point when he testified on Thursday. Pleoger, who testified that Chauvin initially did not mention the neck restraint, said the officers should not have kept Floyd pinned to the ground when he stopped moving and was no longer responsive.

At that point, Zimmerman said, the officers, who were trained in CPR, had a duty to render aid rather than simply wait for an ambulance to arrive. "You need to provide medical care for a person that is in distress," he said. "That person is yours. He's your responsibility. His safety is your responsibility. His well-being is your responsibility."

Two paramedics who testified on Thursday said Floyd showed no signs of life when they first examined him. He was not moving or breathing, and he had no pulse. "In layman's terms," paramedic Derek Smith said, "I thought he was dead."

[Zimmerman's first name has been corrected.]

NEXT: A Professor Pushed Back Against ‘White Fragility’ Training. The College Investigated Her for 9 Months.

George Floyd Police Abuse Excessive Force Search and Seizure Fourth Amendment Criminal Justice Minneapolis

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

Please to post comments

61 responses to “George Floyd's Prolonged Prone Restraint Was 'Totally Unnecessary,' a Police Lieutenant Testifies

  1. Can we stop defending the cops now? I know it doesn’t fit your narrative, but Jesus, just stop with the defense that White Cops can do no wrong. You know who you are.

    1. Why are only black suspects allowed to engage in Brownian motion when confronted by police?

      1. PART TIME JOB FOR USA Making money online more than 15$ just by doing simple work from home. I have received $18376 last month. Its an easy and simple job to do and its earnings are much better than regular office job and even a little child can do this and earns money. Everybody must try this job by just use the info
        on this page…..VISIT HERE

    2. “Can we stop defending the cops now? I know it doesn’t fit your narrative, but Jesus, just stop with the defense that White Cops can do no wrong. You know who you are.”

      Can you stop defending the drug addled, violent, law breaking Junkie now? I know that it doesn’t fit the narrative either. Did Floyd’s family deserve 27 million? For what, raising a violent Junkie? Let me remind you, the families of soldiers killed in battle only get $500,000. Those soldiers still had earning potential and worth.
      If you didn’t notice, the people that were burning the businesses of innocent taxpayers were in support of the Junkie, not in support of white cops. Do you see Chauvin depicted on murals with angel wings? Nobody supported him you so shut your dick holster, you racist.
      Just stop with the defense that black Junkies can do no wrong. Floyd was a piece of garbage. His death was not a national tragedy. Chauvin will get his day in court. That is how the system is supposed to work.

        1. That is so righteous. I wish the Junkies that I encountered as a youth were as loving and giving as George Floyd. I only encountered “regular” Junkies.

          1. I am creating an honest wage from home 3000 Dollars/week , that is wonderful, below a year agone i used to be unemployed during a atrocious economy.AMs I convey God on a daily basis i used to be endowed these directions and currently it’s my duty to pay it forward and share it with everybody, Here is I started Copy This Link For Full Detail… Home Profit System

      1. That’s a lot of words to say you get on your knees to suck cop dick.

    3. Well, to be fair, the CACLLs here defend the cops, unless they are Capitol cops — when it comes to Capitol cops, the CACLLs are like “fuck ’em, who cares if they were killed, had their eyes gouged, or committed suicide.”

      1. You appear to be an emotional mess.

      2. What was the name of that cop whose head they smashed in with a fire extinguisher loaded with industrial-strength bear spray?

        1. Thanks for making my point. Officer Sicknick’s death is just a big joke to you.

          1. You hate the cops, so yeah it must be a joke to you as well.

          2. Again, not making your point. I feel for Sicknick’s family, they don’t know why he died, don’t seem interested in politicizing it, and have to deal with the repercussions of the media’s speculation in addition to their grief. They have my sympathy.

            You are the big joke, dumbass. You picked up the football and ran the wrong way. That you don’t realize it just makes it funnier.

            1. Gotta support your Fascist traitor pals!

            2. Go ahead and spike that football while KAR dances. Scoring points for the other team.

              1. More points than the Utah Jazz or BYU Football or basketball.

                Mormons are inferior at everything especially sports.

                BYU’s 1984 championship has the biggest asterisks ever next to it

          3. Officer Sicknick’s death is just a big joke to you.

            Trust me, you’re the big joke to everyone here. I have seen no derision of Sicknick, only of imbeciles such as you who don’t even have the common courtesy to take your shoes off before trampling his corpse in the rush to completely misunderstand an event.

            1. Misunderstand what, exactly? That it was a riot? So, it WASN’T a riot, and people didn’t REALLY die. Oh, and I guess they never chanted “HANG MIKE PENCE”, either, huh? Yeah, of course not, that’s just fake news.

              Let me guess: they were ALL antifas, right? Well, antifas and FBI/CIA plants and provocateurs, of course, along with some crisis actors to round it out. That about the gist of it?

              “trampling his corpse”

              Trampling? What, like the rioters did to that Roseanne chick, a fellow rioter? Well, she wasn’t a corpse *until* they totally stomped her ass to death, but close enough…

          4. It is weird how you went all the way back to Jan 6th and can’t be bothered to be outraged about the murders from this weekend. Kind of like how you excused the cops being shot in Houston a few years back cause of BLM. Weird.

            1. I didn’t say anything about some topic, therefore JesseAz can divine my thoughts on said topic.

        2. Your allegiance is to your church, perv god, and lying prophet Chuck. Not to your country.


          I’m against the death penalty, but since mormons aren’t people I have no problem with traitors like you hanging.

      3. Wow, this is truly pathetic even for you sqrsly. Stating the facts of the case instead of the emotions of the case isn’t defending the cops.

        Whereas you claiming trespassing is a death sentence kind of is.

    4. just stop with the defense that White Cops can do no wrong

      Can you stop making every issue about race? I don’t think so.

      The libertarian position should be that cops be held to the same standards as anybody else. Which is what most commenters are advocating and then arguing about the evidence as it becomes available.

      Maybe the relative certainty of riots based on the outcome of the trial shouldn’t be used to determine guilt.

      1. Chuck I know you mormons lie about everything, but YOURE NOT LIBERTARIAN YOU GODDAMN MORON!

        You attend and financially support a Nazi church that is trying to force it’s horseshit beliefs and lifestyle on everyone.

        Mormon and libertarian are oxymorons.

        Chuck is just a moron.

    5. Nobody has argued that idiot. I know you aren’t intelligent enough to actually argue the facts, but this is just pathetic.

    6. Nobody says that cops can do no wrong. What is being said is that there is no conclusive evidence that the restraint killed Floyd, who died of a hypoxia -induced heart attack, which is not consistent with the restraint, but is consistent with the amount of Fentanyl he had in his system.

  2. “Zimmerman noted that Floyd, who had been arrested for buying cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, was handcuffed behind his back, which “stretches the muscles back through your chest” and “makes it more difficult to breathe.”

    So that’s why I couldn’t breathe when was standing “at ease” with my hands behind my back while in the army.

    1. An excellent point! Suspected criminals should be restrained in no manner than causes irritation or discomfort. The ACLU needs to take up the mantle of banning hand cuffing behind the suspect’s back.

    2. “Parade Rest” nearly killed us in the 82nd Airborne!

    3. If you were doing parade rest with your wrists together you were doing it wrong.

      And if you were doing it facedown on the ground with someone kneeling on your neck . . .

      1. Well, to be fair, we weren’t passing bad checks with a bad heart, covid positive, while ingesting heroin, fentanyl, and other drugs either. In my experience, they only do that to known, violent felons that are resisting for 30 minutes. But that is just my experience. Have you yourself been knelt on?

        1. How about soldiers from the 82nd Airborne who murdered a bunch of civilians at Fallujah? Or did they all die from standing at parade rest too much? Oh wait, they all deserved it because your buddies “feared for their lives” after hearing a scary noise that they assumed were magic disappearing bullets (I assume you stood at parade rest while learning about those in training, yes?), and that made it ok to spray bullets into a crowd.

          Sorry, I got confused because a moment ago this was about the likelihood of positional asphyxia playing a role in Floyd’s death, but then it suddenly became a thing about how proud you were for standing upright for a bit in the military and how Floyd deserved it.

        2. That’s actually not your experience.

        3. That’s a lot of words to say you get on your knees to suck cop dick.

  3. Zimmerman lost his income stream when the Minneapolis Police Department stopped allowing the “First 48” to film there.

  4. Surprise! A prosecution witness is critical of the defendant.

    1. Actually, that is a bit of a surprise when a cop is on trial. It looks like the prosecution is actually making an effort to get a conviction rather than deliberately loosing the case.

    2. Usually a cop testifying against a fellow cop jeopardizes his standing in the department. Cops are big on loyalty. Seems likely top brass got whole department to agree to hang Chauvin out to dry; no thin blue line for him.

  5. “I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt, and that’s what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force.”

    Look, did the officers go home safe at the end of their shift that day? Yes? Then that’s all that matters.

  6. Well there is obvious incentive for the Minn PD and FD to throw Chauvin under the bus, since they will be responsible for the cleanup after the violent black riots.

    1. “since they will be responsible for the cleanup after the violent black riots.”

      No. They are not responsible. The looters and the arsonists are. If I punch you in the face, can I just blame the jury’s decision? Is that how it works?
      The difference is, Minneapolis has weak, gutless leadership. If the Minneapolis Mayor gassed BLM and the citizens showed any sort of backbone, their city would not burn. My city is the same size and only a days drive away. No damage. BLM was gassed and chased out of town by armed citizenry before any nonsense. It was lovely. I approved.

  7. This will probably get me banned from here, but I’m going to withhold judgement until the defense has made its case.

    1. Blaspheme!!!!

      They were trained to do that, an expert witness said it wasn’t necessary in that situation. Floyd had a physically dangerous load of drugs in his system at the time of the arrest, which could have easily contributed to his death, and we need to get rid of or at least curtail qualified immunity.

      1. “which could have easily contributed to his death”

        As opposed to being face down prone on the ground with someone kneeling on his neck for almost ten minutes, something that almost certainly contributed to his death.

      2. US navy veteran having mental health crisis died after officer knelt on his neck

        A few important points here:

        No drugs involved.

        He doesn’t have Floyd’s weight issues.

        They were on his neck half as long as Chauvin was on Floyd’s neck.

        1. Was the Navy guy super fat? Was the cop? More details are needed.

          1. There’s a picture of the Navy guy at the link. He’s thin.

            No idea on the cop.

  8. I thought that lying far right cunt Rommelmen was covering the trial for Reason?

    Hopefully they canned the lying cunt!

  9. Thus far the supervising police Sargent, chief police detective, and chief of police have all testified against him.

    1. Honestly all three should resign.

      If he screwed up that badly, well, who was responsible for training him?

      1. Or leaving him on the force for so long… This is the issue right? We’re only talking about it because the video was so clear and it turned into a national uprising. We should be talking about it anyways. We should be talking about it when people get up afterwards and are 100% fine. Police in this country are too aggressive, too apt to claim self defense in bs situations, pretend there is way more danger than actually exists, too obsessed with controlling every interaction they have, and are eager to reduce your rights for their convenience and immunity. Add that to a ridiculous legal system which outlaws everything and the kitchen sink, and you have a justice system which is completely incompatible with free society.

        1. ^ this.


    Prosecutors are now asking the jury to effectively dismiss the findings of the only official autopsy in the case and insist, contrary to those findings, that Floyd died from asphyxia, or, lack of oxygen. Some new disclosures may make that claim more difficult for the prosecution.

    Last week, special prosecutor Jerry Blackwell admitted to jurors that Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker pointed to cardiac arrest as Floyd’s cause of death. However, he insisted that the state would prove that “was … not a fatal heart event,” but asphyxiation.

    It is a bold move since it could invite reasonable doubt on the cause of death. The question is whether a case of manslaughter could have been advanced without the need of opposing the state’s own coroner on such findings. The failure of Chauvin to respond to a medical emergency speaks more to manslaughter than murder but it could be framed consistently with these findings. Instead, the prosecution has asked the jury to effectively reject the coroner’s findings — a risky maneuver.

  11. Chauvin appears to have abused his authority but why assume he is a racist? Given the massive publicity, surely there would be instances of someone coming forward with evidence of racist behavior in the past but none have surfaced. If I were his lawyer, the first thing I would do would be to establish that Chauvin has no history of racism. That does not let him off the hook but it takes the steam out of the racism narrative.

    1. The prosecution has not and will not bring that up.

    2. Racism is unprovable, and therefore is a total red herring in these cases unless you have a text or whatever basically confessing. It plays well in the media though, so they trumpet it every time. It’s super annoying when you’re trying to make points about police aggression and accountability and people just yak and yak about racism. Lefties will even get angry if you 100% agree that a cop is bad and should go to jail, but don’t shout that racism as the REAL crime.

  12. A big problem: body cam video shows Chevin’s knee on Floyd’s shoulder blade.

    1. Yes, that’s a great point. Never mind all the video and images which clearly show his knee on Floyd’s neck, there is one image that shows it on his shoulder blade. And as we all know, if you ever have your knee on someone’s shoulder blade, at no other point in time is it possible for you to have it on their neck because knees never move. And never mind that the same witness who said that attested that it was on his neck at other points.

  13. “…and then, under cross-examination he said…”
    Oh, wait.
    We didn’t get what the defense lawyer asked Zimmerman.
    The entirety of the defense case doesn’t happen when they get to present their side, or question their own witnesses.
    Where is the reporting on the cross?
    unREASON couldn’t be providing only one side of the story, could they?
    That would be so out of character. /sarc

  14. Sky News Daily Breaking Updates
    Sky News US

Comments are closed.