Former Santa Rosa police officer testifies in Chauvin trial
A former Santa Rosa police officer and Santa Rosa Junior College police academy instructor served as a use-of-force expert in the Derek Chauvin trial on Tuesday, telling jurors that the former Minneapolis police officer was reasonable in how he restrained George Floyd during their May 25 encounter.
Barry Brodd, who now owns BVB & Associates, a use-of-force consulting business, said he came to the conclusion after reviewing body worn camera footage from officers at the scene, witness video and other police records collected in the case.
His testimony contradicted a dayslong parade of authorities from both inside and outside the Minneapolis Police Department. Brodd stoutly defended Chauvin’s actions, even as a prosecutor pounded away at the witness, banging the lectern at one point during cross-examination and growing incredulous when Brodd suggested Floyd was struggling because he wasn’t “resting comfortably” on the pavement.
“It’s easy to sit and judge ... an officer’s conduct,” Brodd testified. “It’s more of a challenge to, again, put yourself in the officer’s shoes to try to make an evaluation through what they’re feeling, what they’re sensing, the fear they have, and then make a determination.”
Witness video showed Chauvin, who was responding to a report of a counterfeit $20 bill, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, during which Floyd repeatedly tells officers “I can’t breathe” before going unresponsive and dying.
Chauvin faces second-degree murder and manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death.
Several top Minneapolis police officials, including the police chief, have testified that Chauvin used excessive force and violated his training. And medical experts called by prosecutors have said Floyd died from a lack of oxygen because of the way he was restrained.
But Brodd said: “I felt that Officer Chauvin’s interactions with Mr. Floyd were following his training, following current practices in policing and were objectively reasonable.”
A former police officer whose nearly three decades in law enforcement includes 22 years within the Santa Rosa Police Department, Brodd said Floyd was struggling against police as they tried to detain him, with body-worn-camera footage showing one instance in which he may have kicked an officer.
He added that police officers are trained to bring uncooperative suspects to the ground as it reduces their mobility and limits the what they can do with their hands, Brodd said.
“I felt that Officer Chauvin’s interactions with Mr. Floyd were following his training, following current practices in policing and were objectively reasonable,” said Brodd, who identified himself as former instructor with the Santa Rosa Public Safety Center, which prepares police recruits for careers in law enforcement.
Brodd, who could not be reached by phone for comment Tuesday evening, taught at Santa Rosa Junior College, which operates the training center, between late 1979 to April 2013, according to his LinkedIn page.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher cross-examined Brodd, questioning his statements in court that the “prone control” position Floyd was placed in, with his stomach on the ground and his hands handcuffed behind his back, was not an example of use-of-force because the position was not likely to cause pain.
Schleicher showed body-worn camera footage video of Floyd telling officers he could not breathe as Chauvin continued to press his body weight into Floyd’s neck. A photo from a different angle showed Chauvin’s left knee completely off the ground as it sat on top of Floyd’s neck.
“Shown in this picture, that could be a use of force,” Brodd said in response to Schleicher’s questioning.
“You reviewed these videos and you understand that by the time the defendant got off of Mr. Floyd, Mr. Floyd literally could not support his own head. Did you see that?” Schleicher said later in the cross-examination, to which Brodd agreed with.
“A reasonable police officer, in the position of the defendant … on top of him, would know that, right?” Schleicher asked.
“I think he would know that he’s not resisting,” Brodd said.
Closing arguments are expected to begin early next week.
This article is compiled from reports by the Associated Press and Staff Writer Nashelly Chavez.