Apr 6, 2021

Defense Questions Lt. Johnny Mercil on Neck Restraints in Derek Chauvin Trial Testimony Transcript

Defense Questions Lt. Johnny Mercil on Neck Restraints in Derek Chauvin Trial Testimony Transcript
RevBlogTranscriptsDefense Questions Lt. Johnny Mercil on Neck Restraints in Derek Chauvin Trial Testimony Transcript

MPD officer Lt. Johnny Mercil was questioned by the defense during Derek Chauvin’s trial for the murder of George Floyd on April 6, 2021. He was the officer that trained Chauvin on the use of neck restraints. Read the transcript of his testimony remarks here.

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Eric Nelson: (00:00)
You were asked a series of questions about whether this appears to be a trained Minneapolis neck restraint.

Johnny Mercil : (00:11)
Yes, I was asked that.

Eric Nelson: (00:12)
And you said no, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (00:15)
Correct.

Eric Nelson: (00:15)
But you hedged a little bit and said it may be some other training.

Johnny Mercil : (00:23)
Perhaps.

Eric Nelson: (00:24)
What would that training be?

Johnny Mercil : (00:26)
Using body weight to control. However, I will add that we tell officers to stay away from the neck when possible and if you’re going to use body weight to pin, to put it on your shoulder and be mindful of position.

Eric Nelson: (00:38)
All right. And if we can take this down and just to the witness, I’d like to display a couple of… This is page 41 of Exhibit 126. Just show this to the witness. Can you see that, sir?

Johnny Mercil : (01:10)
Not yet.

Speaker 3: (01:10)
It’s supposed to be up.

Eric Nelson: (01:13)
Sorry. This is already in evidence, but in this bottom corner here, do you see a photograph of an individual demonstrating how to handcuff a person?

Johnny Mercil : (01:29)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (01:30)
And that knee is across the neck of that individual, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (01:34)
The knee is on his far shoulder.

Eric Nelson: (01:36)
Across the neck, the base of the neck.

Johnny Mercil : (01:38)
The shin would be from his toes up to the knee. Yes, his shin is across the back of the neck.

Eric Nelson: (01:44)
All right. So that’s when we’re talking about prone handcuffing. This is a specific kind of photograph that demonstrates the placement of a knee as it applies to prone handcuffing, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (01:54)
Correct.

Eric Nelson: (01:55)
And ultimately, if that person were to be handcuffed and circumstances dictated the officer would be permitted to continue to hold his knee in that same position. Agreed?

Johnny Mercil : (02:08)
I would say yes. However, we’ve cautioned officers that be mindful of the neck area and to look for the shoulder for placement.

Eric Nelson: (02:16)
Okay. Perfect. We can take this down. Can we take that down, Your Honor?

Eric Nelson: (02:38)
I’m going to show you what has been introduced as Exhibit 56 already. Can you see that, sir?

Johnny Mercil : (02:46)
A little glare, but yes sir.

Eric Nelson: (02:49)
It appears to be the-

Judge: (02:51)
You can stand up.

Johnny Mercil : (02:52)
Sure. Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (02:56)
What appears to be the paramedic checking the carotid pulse of Mr. Floyd?

Johnny Mercil : (02:59)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (03:01)
In your experience, this is already admitted as Exhibit 56. In your experience, would you be able to touch the carotid artery if the knee was placed on the carotid artery?

Johnny Mercil : (03:13)
No, sir.

Eric Nelson: (03:34)
Sir, I’m showing you what’s been marked for identification purposes as Exhibit 1045, 1-0-4-5. Can you just generally take a look at that?

Johnny Mercil : (03:46)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (03:47)
Now, in terms of, do you recognize that this appears to be a still photograph taken from the body-worn camera of one of the involved officers?

Johnny Mercil : (03:58)
That’s what it appears to be, yes.

Eric Nelson: (03:59)
There’s a timestamp on it that indicates May 25th, 2020 at 2020 3:32.

Johnny Mercil : (04:08)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (04:10)
And can you see two officers in this area here holding Mr. Floyd?

Johnny Mercil : (04:19)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (04:21)
Let me clear this. Here, does that appear to be the placement of one officer’s knee and leg?

Johnny Mercil : (04:34)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (04:35)
Does that appear to be across the shoulder blade to the base of the neck?

Johnny Mercil : (04:41)
Now, the shin appears to be across the shoulder blade. I don’t know if I can tell you where the knee is.

Eric Nelson: (04:52)
I would offer a 1045.

Judge: (05:00)
All right. At 1045 is received.

Eric Nelson: (05:05)
Permission to publish. Can we clear that? Okay. So what we’re seeing here again, this is at 8:23 and 32 seconds, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (05:16)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (05:17)
And obviously this is taken from one of the body cameras and here you can see down in that area, the leg placement of the officer, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (05:28)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (05:29)
And based on your observation of this photograph, it appears that the shin is coming from the top of the shoulder across the shoulder blade, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (05:39)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (05:40)
And it appears to be at an angle pointed in towards the squad car, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (05:47)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (05:48)
All right. We can take this down, Your Honor. I think I accidentally closed. Hang on one second.

Speaker 5: (06:27)
It looks like the defense attorney, Eric Nelson’s having some technical difficulties pulling up one of the-

Eric Nelson: (06:33)
Sir, I’m showing you what’s been marked for identification purposes as 1046. Does that appear to be a similar angle?

Johnny Mercil : (06:44)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (06:45)
And I apologize, it was actually Officer Wayne’s body worn camera, 1045 and 1046. Again, can you see what appears to be the placement of the leg of one of the officers at the shoulder blade of Mr. Floyd?

Johnny Mercil : (07:06)
It appears so.

Eric Nelson: (07:07)
You can see in this area here what appears to be the back or the calf area coming across the shoulder blade, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (07:16)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (07:16)
Again, the timestamp is 10:26 and 40 seconds.

Johnny Mercil : (07:21)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (07:25)
And does that knee placement appear to be similar to the placement in the previous exhibit?

Johnny Mercil : (07:35)
The last exhibit, sir?

Eric Nelson: (07:37)
Yes.

Johnny Mercil : (07:37)
Yes.

Eric Nelson: (07:38)
And that was roughly a couple of minutes after, right?

Johnny Mercil : (07:43)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (07:45)
Okay. I would offer exhibit 1046. 8:26 and 40 seconds. 20:26, 40. Okay.

Judge: (08:00)
1046 is received.

Eric Nelson: (08:03)
Permission to publish? So again, it’s a little hard to see in this particular photograph, but if we look in this general area here, correct, you can see the placement of the knee. Correct?

Johnny Mercil : (08:19)
I can see the general area of the placement of the knee. Yes.

Eric Nelson: (08:22)
And again, here we have what appears to be the shin coming over the top of Mr. Floyd’s shoulder blade.

Johnny Mercil : (08:28)
That’s what it appears, sir.

Eric Nelson: (08:30)
And that would be angled in towards the squad car, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (08:34)
Correct.

Eric Nelson: (08:36)
Take that down, your Honor. Sir, I’m showing you what’s been marked for identification purposes as exhibit 1047. Does that also appear be a still frame image taken from a body-worn camera of a Minneapolis police officer?

Johnny Mercil : (09:02)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (09:03)
Timestamp being 8:27 and 49 seconds.

Johnny Mercil : (09:07)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (09:08)
2027-49, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (09:09)
Correct.

Eric Nelson: (09:11)
And it appears that the officer wearing this body-worn camera has now stood up, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (09:18)
It’s a different angle, so yes.

Eric Nelson: (09:21)
From higher to lower, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (09:24)
Lower to higher, sir.

Eric Nelson: (09:25)
All right. It appears that the camera is at a higher angle looking down.

Johnny Mercil : (09:29)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (09:30)
And can you see in this photograph, what appears to be the knee and shin placement of the officer?

Johnny Mercil : (09:38)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (09:39)
And would you agree that it appears that the knee is placed in the center between Mr. Floyd’s shoulder blades?

Johnny Mercil : (09:47)
It appears to be between his shoulder blades, sir. Yes.

Eric Nelson: (09:50)
I’d offer 1047.

Judge: (09:52)
Any objection? 1047 is received.

Eric Nelson: (09:57)
Permission to publish? So again, here in this particular photograph, you can see the placement of Mr. Chauvin’s knee in between the shoulder blades of Mr. Floyd, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (10:12)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (10:14)
All right. And it happens to be right here that moment when the carotid artery is being palpated by the EMT.

Johnny Mercil : (10:22)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (10:24)
We can take this down. Should be one last photograph, sir. Again, does this appear to be a photograph taken from, or a still frame image of a Minneapolis police body camera?

Johnny Mercil : (10:45)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (10:46)
Time being 10:28 and 29 seconds.

Johnny Mercil : (10:49)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (10:50)
Excuse me. 2028-29.

Johnny Mercil : (10:52)
2028-29, sir. Yes.

Eric Nelson: (10:55)
Which would be 8:28, 29.

Johnny Mercil : (10:57)
Correct.

Eric Nelson: (10:58)
And again, can you see the placement of Officer Chauvin’s knee?

Johnny Mercil : (11:03)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (11:04)
Can you see Mr. Floyd’s head?

Johnny Mercil : (11:07)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (11:10)
I’d offer 10-48.

Judge: (11:12)
Any objection? 1048 is received.

Eric Nelson: (11:17)
Permission to publish. Again, it’s a little hard to see here. Can you see Mr. Floyd’s head in that area?

Johnny Mercil : (11:29)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (11:30)
And Mr. Chauvin, Officer Chauvin’s knee between the shoulder blades of Mr. Floyd?

Johnny Mercil : (11:38)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (11:41)
Does this appear to be a neck restraint?

Johnny Mercil : (11:44)
No, sir.

Eric Nelson: (11:45)
Does this appear to be a prone hold that an officer may apply with his knee?

Johnny Mercil : (11:53)
Yes.

Eric Nelson: (11:57)
You can take that down your Honor. Now, you have talked about taking a or holding a person in the prone position after they have stopped resisting. Do you recall talking about that?

Johnny Mercil : (12:24)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (12:25)
And are there circumstances in your career where you have had to use your body weight to hold a suspect down for longer periods of time than say two or three seconds?

Johnny Mercil : (12:39)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (12:40)
And are there times where you have had to use your body weight to hold a suspect down for 10 minutes?

Johnny Mercil : (12:48)
I’m not sure if I’ve ever had held somebody down for 10 minutes or not. I don’t have any recollection of that sir.

Eric Nelson: (12:53)
Is it possible?

Johnny Mercil : (12:56)
Yes, it’s possible.

Eric Nelson: (12:58)
And there are circumstances again that an officer has to take into consideration in terms of continuing to use their body weight regardless of whether the person is resisting or not resisting right?

Johnny Mercil : (13:12)
Can you rephrase that?

Eric Nelson: (13:14)
Sure. Sometimes an officer has called for EMS, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (13:20)
That’s correct.

Eric Nelson: (13:21)
And sometimes an officer may hold a person using their body weight to restrain them awaiting the arrival of EMS, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (13:30)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (13:30)
You’ve done that yourself?

Johnny Mercil : (13:32)
I have.

Eric Nelson: (13:32)
And sometimes you had to… Or was it fair to say that you’ve had to train officers to use their body weight to continue holding them until EMS arrives?

Johnny Mercil : (13:44)
As long as needed to control them. Yes.

Eric Nelson: (13:56)
You would agree that a scene where force has been used and a crowd congregates and is voicing their displeasure or their concern or whatever you want to say, that can be a chaotic situation for an officer, right?

Johnny Mercil : (14:12)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (14:13)
And you would agree also that what you train Minneapolis police officers to do relevant to their use of force is to consider the totality of the circumstances, agreed?

Johnny Mercil : (14:27)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (14:28)
And you train officers that the decision to use force is from their perspective.

Johnny Mercil : (14:35)
Yes, sir.

Eric Nelson: (14:36)
Not the perspective, hindsight being 2020.

Johnny Mercil : (14:40)
That’s correct.

Eric Nelson: (14:41)
That’s the specific policy of Minneapolis police department.

Johnny Mercil : (14:45)
I believe that’s Graham v. Connor, sir.

Eric Nelson: (14:47)
That is encapsulated or incorporated into the Minneapolis police policy on the use of force, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (14:53)
Correct.

Eric Nelson: (14:55)
Because situations are rapidly evolving, correct?

Johnny Mercil : (14:58)
That’s correct.

Eric Nelson: (14:59)
And sometimes just because of an incident is 10 minutes long or 20 minutes long, that doesn’t mean that it can’t instantaneously change.

Johnny Mercil : (15:10)
That’s correct.

Eric Nelson: (15:11)
Right? What may not be a threat one second can be a threat the next.

Johnny Mercil : (15:16)
Correct.