SALT LAKE CITY — Video emerged this week of a Minneapolis police officer’s use of force, in the form of a knee to the neck, against George Floyd for up to eight minutes. The officer kept his knee on Floyd’s neck despite Floyd’s cries that he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd, 46, died soon afterward at a hospital.
“He’s not even resisting arrest right now, bro,” one bystander tells the white officer and his partner in the video.
All four officers involved in the incident have been fired from the Minneapolis Police Department. Floyd’s family says they want murder charges filed against the officers, according to CNN.com.
Protests and demonstrations erupted throughout Minneapolis and St. Paul, collectively known as the Twin Cities, after Floyd’s death.
Mark Ryan, a former federal law enforcement officer and listener of the show, joined Debbie Dujanovic and Connor Boyack, who is filling in for Dave Noriega. They discussed Floyd’s death and what went wrong with his arrest.
Boyack is president of Libertas Institute, a free-market think tank in Utah.
Ryan instructed other officers at a federal agency in use-of-force training for about eight years.
Knee to neck not allowed
“I can tell you 100 percent that is absolutely not a thing that at least federal agencies teach,” said Ryan.
“I can tell you that local and state agencies do not teach that as a method for controlling someone.”
“There is a method where you might want to use a small amount of bodyweight with your shin across the shoulder blades of somebody to control them temporarily while they’re handcuffed,” Ryan said, “but once they’re handcuffed, absolutely not.”
“I saw the video. It was incredibly disturbing,” he said. “I was deeply saddened to see that kind of treatment. If I had been there, they would’ve had to arrest me because I would’ve peeled that guy right off.”
And whether the arresting officer who placed his knee on Floyd’s neck should be charged with murder is a matter of intent, Ryan said.
“Certainly negligent homicide at the least,” he said.
Other cops not off the hook
Ryan said the other officers involved may be facing charges as serious as the arresting officer.
“One of the things that we teach our agents is that if you’re in the presence of another agent, and that agent is doing something that you know to be wrong and you fail to act, you’re just as culpable,” Ryan said.
Boyack pointed out that it can be seen from the video of the arrest that other officers were preventing bystanders from helping Floyd who was struggling to breathe.
Ryan also observed from the video that the officers who were guarding the area appeared to be younger than the arresting officer and, because of that, they may have been reluctant to act.
“You just can’t let people do whatever they want to do and look the other way,” Ryan said.
Police training in use of force
“What could possibly be his [the arresting officer’s] defense for that type of an action?” Debbie asked.
Ryan said the officer may say he received bad training. He added that an investigation will likely include a review of the officer’s training record.
Part of Ryan’s responsibilities as an instructor in the use of force, he said, was to correct agents when they violated training policies.
“If I don’t correct it, what have I just done? I have basically just given license to that person to do something that I know to be wrong,” Ryan said.
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