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Chauvin Seeks to Bar Evidence of Previous Neck Restraints

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee at George Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and is charged with his murder, has asked a judge to block prosecutors from introducing evidence of his allegedly using similar neck and body restraints on other suspects. Chauvin’s lawyer argues that his “use of force” in those cases was legal and cleared by police supervisors, reports the Washington Post. Prosecutors want to cite eight incidents from Chauvin’s 19-year career to show a pattern of excessive force and behavior similar to the encounter that left Floyd dead. Prosecutors cite four cases in which they claim Chauvin restrained suspects “beyond the point when such force was needed.”

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, asked Judge Peter Cahill to block that proposed evidence, arguing that his client had been “acquitted by MPD supervisors of applying force in a manner that was either unreasonable or unauthorized.” Prosecutors have argued that Chauvin’s behavior is relevant because they could use it to rebut defense claims that he used “reasonable force” in restraining Floyd. One case prosecutors want to mention at Chauvin’s trial is a domestic disturbance incident in which a caller reported that a man had poured gasoline throughout a house and was armed with a knife. In seeking to subdue the suspect, Chauvin allegedly “delivered a single kick” to the man’s midsection and then applied a neck restraint, causing the man to lose consciousness. Chauvin later realized the man had passed out and placed him in a “recovery position” until he “came to,” something prosecutors say he did not do when Floyd complained of struggling to breathe. In what seems to be a new defense argument, Nelson repeatedly claimed Chauvin did not use a neck restraint on Floyd but rather “body weight control techniques.”