Apr 6, 2021
Prosecution Questions Lt. Johnny Mercil on Neck Restraints in Derek Chauvin Trial Testimony Transcript
MPD officer Lt. Johnny Mercil testified 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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Prosecution : (00:00)
You’re familiar with the circumstances that bring you here today, is that right?
Johnny Mercil: (00:08)
Prosecution : (00:09)
I need to show you a photo that’s been received into evidence. It’s exhibit 17. I’d like to publish that. All right. You see exhibit 17 and you see the defendant on top of a subject that you know to be George Floyd. Is that right?
Johnny Mercil: (00:29)
Prosecution : (00:31)
Is this a use of force?
Johnny Mercil: (00:34)
Prosecution : (00:35)
If you could take that down, please. I want you to discuss, in terms of using force and using it safely, what you teach your trainees about sort of the frailty of the human body. It’s important to be careful with people, is that right?
Johnny Mercil: (00:59)
Oh yes. It’s very important to be careful.
Prosecution : (01:01)
And there’s some parts of the body that are more prone to injury than others, correct?
Johnny Mercil: (01:06)
Prosecution : (01:07)
And you train on that, is that right?
Johnny Mercil: (01:08)
Prosecution : (01:09)
If we could display exhibit 119, page 49. Now this is from strike training. Is that right?
Johnny Mercil: (01:23)
Prosecution : (01:23)
But it does it generally helpful in describing what some of the more sensitive parts of the human body are as you train Minneapolis police officers?
Johnny Mercil: (01:32)
Related to strikes? Yes.
Prosecution : (01:35)
Could it be related to other types of restraint as well?
Johnny Mercil: (01:40)
I think it gets stretched that some. I don’t know exactly. What’s the question exactly again? I’m sorry.
Prosecution : (01:47)
Is it fair to say that the areas that are marked in red, the red zones are more prone to injury than other parts of the body that could be serious?
Johnny Mercil: (01:56)
Prosecution : (01:57)
So for example, the neck.
Johnny Mercil: (02:00)
Prosecution : (02:01)
And the head.
Johnny Mercil: (02:02)
Prosecution : (02:03)
And the sternum of the chest, is that right?
Johnny Mercil: (02:05)
Prosecution : (02:09)
And this wouldn’t just pertain to strikes, it could also pertain to pressure, couldn’t it?
Johnny Mercil: (02:15)
Prosecution : (02:18)
Is that something you probably knew before you even did any use of force training?
Johnny Mercil: (02:23)
Prosecution : (02:30)
I’d like you to then discuss with the jury, the concept of neck restraints. And if we could publish it, page 52 of the exhibit. And looking at the time period that you were doing this training, neck restraints were authorized by MPD policy, correct?
Johnny Mercil: (02:53)
Prosecution : (02:54)
Can you please describe the training that you provided to Minneapolis police officer regarding the use of neck restraints?
Johnny Mercil: (03:01)
Yes, sir. We’d go over the techniques, definitions of neck restraints. Then we’d go through different reps of the neck restraint to get the officers comfortable in doing it.
Prosecution : (03:12)
Could you just give the jury an overview of what a neck restraint is?
Johnny Mercil: (03:17)
Yes, sir. So neck restraint is constricting the sides of a person’s neck and they refer to it as a vascular neck restraint. So you’re slowing the blood flow to and from the brain with the intent to gain control of a subject.
Prosecution : (03:31)
And there are two different types of neck restraints in the MPD policy. Is that correct?
Johnny Mercil: (03:37)
Prosecution : (03:38)
And those are what?
Johnny Mercil: (03:40)
The two levels are conscious neck restraint. So that means you’ve wrapped somebody up and they’re still conscious. You can gain compliance with many people with that. And then there’s unconscious and that’s applying pressure until the person when they’re not complying, you put enough pressure that they become unconscious and then therefore comply.
Prosecution : (04:00)
How does one actually apply a neck restraint?
Johnny Mercil: (04:04)
We teach a couple of different techniques, but the basic idea is you use your elbow as a landmark and you place your arm across. So your bicep would be on one side of the neck and your arms on the other side of the neck. And then there’s a couple of different hand placements, but then you apply pressure with head pressure on both sides of the neck to gain compliance.
Prosecution : (04:26)
And you, you were demonstrating, you were using your arm to do that.
Johnny Mercil: (04:30)
Prosecution : (04:31)
And it also be done with the leg?
Johnny Mercil: (04:33)
It can be done with the leg.
Prosecution : (04:35)
Does MPD train on how to do it with the leg?
Johnny Mercil: (04:38)
We may show the younger officers in the academy, what that looks like, but we don’t train leg neck restraints with the officers in service. As far as my knowledge, we never have.
Prosecution : (04:47)
How would a trained neck restraint work? I’m sorry. How would a trained a leg neck restraint work?
Johnny Mercil: (04:56)
People who have watched MMA, so professional fighters, they call it a triangle choke and I use the term choke loosely, that’s just what it’s called. But that’s when you place your leg over somebody’s back, across their side of their neck and then you trapped their arm. And so the person ends up having one arm in and their arm causes pressure on one side and the leg causes pressure on the second. And you can actually render somebody unconscious if you hold that long enough.
Prosecution : (05:24)
What part of the leg?
Johnny Mercil: (05:25)
Usually it’s the inner thigh.
Prosecution : (05:27)
Inner thigh. So in this scenario using a leg to do a neck restraint, would the knee sort of replace the elbow in terms of placement, or how would you describe it?
Johnny Mercil: (05:38)
I would say the knee doesn’t really replace the elbow. Your thigh would be across the side of somebody’s neck, your leg across their back. And you protect the airway really with the space that’s created with their arm being pinned in there.
Prosecution : (05:54)
If you could please display next page, page 53. Use of neck restraints. Can you describe in using those concepts of proportionality when it’s authorized to use a neck restraint and the two different varieties?
Johnny Mercil: (06:13)
Yes, sir. On subjects who were actively aggressive, which means assaultive. They’re actively resisting and other techniques haven’t worked, you can use it then. And then on the bottom it says, note that you can’t use it against subjects who are passively resistant.
Prosecution : (06:28)
And if you could go to the next slide, page 54. And after a neck restraint is applied, there are certain guidelines that you train that have to be followed. Is that right?
Johnny Mercil: (06:41)
Prosecution : (06:42)
For the care of the individual upon whom the neck restraint was applied.
Johnny Mercil: (06:46)
Prosecution : (06:48)
And if we could publish exhibit 110 again, and bringing this specific topic back to the concept of proportionality, could you enlarge this please? Do you have one a stylus up there?
Johnny Mercil: (07:15)
Yes, I do.
Prosecution : (07:17)
You can touch the screen and make a mark here. An unconscious neck restraint is when the person would actually be rendered unconscious, correct?
Johnny Mercil: (07:27)
Prosecution : (07:28)
And intentionally so.
Johnny Mercil: (07:29)
Prosecution : (07:31)
Could you please underline unconscious neck restraint as you see it in this response and control guide?
Johnny Mercil: (07:36)
Prosecution : (07:41)
What level of subject activity would be required to use an unconscious neck restraint?
Johnny Mercil: (07:49)
Well, according to this chart is in the red area, so it would be active aggression.
Prosecution : (07:52)
Okay. And do you agree with that?
Johnny Mercil: (07:55)
Yeah, I think on the last slide, we talked about active resistance if other techniques didn’t work, but definitely active aggression is where it’s placed.
Prosecution : (08:04)
If we look then you can also find a conscious neck restraint and that’s the neck restraint that’s used for the purpose of control, correct?
Johnny Mercil: (08:11)
Prosecution : (08:12)
Could you underline where that is in this force continuum? Exhibit 110. And so the conscious neck restraint is authorized in circumstances where there’s in fact active resistance. Is that right?
Johnny Mercil: (08:27)
Prosecution : (08:31)
So then if there was something like passive resistance, the conscious neck restraint nor the unconscious neck restraint would be authorized, is that right?
Johnny Mercil: (08:42)
Would not be authorized?
Prosecution : (08:43)
Would not be authorized.
Johnny Mercil: (08:43)
That is correct.
Prosecution : (08:46)
And an unconscious neck restraint would not even be authorized for some forms of active resistance, would it?
Johnny Mercil: (08:53)
Prosecution : (08:56)
And if the subject is offering no resistance, obviously then no neck restraint would be authorized.
Johnny Mercil: (09:02)
Prosecution : (09:04)
Or any restraint would?
Johnny Mercil: (09:05)
Prosecution : (09:06)
Or any restraint, if there’s no-
Johnny Mercil: (09:09)
Prosecution : (09:10)
Okay. In addition to the classroom training, you actually teach officers, show them physically how to do these sort of neck restraints.
Johnny Mercil: (09:26)
Prosecution : (09:28)
At this time I’d like to republish exhibit 17. Sir, is this an MPD trained neck restraint?
Johnny Mercil: (09:40)
Prosecution : (09:43)
Has it ever been?
Johnny Mercil: (09:43)
A neck restraint? No, sir.
Prosecution : (09:50)
Is this a MPD authorized restraint technique?
Johnny Mercil: (09:54)
A knee on the neck, would be something that does happen in use of force, that isn’t unauthorized.
Prosecution : (10:00)
And under what circumstances would that be authorized? How long can you do that?
Johnny Mercil: (10:04)
I don’t know if there’s a timeframe. It would depend on the circumstance at the time.
Prosecution : (10:08)
Which would include what?
Johnny Mercil: (10:10)
The type of resistance you’re getting from the subject that you’re putting the knee on.
Prosecution : (10:13)
And so if there was, say, for example, the subject was under control and handcuffed, would this be authorized?
Johnny Mercil: (10:23)
I would say no. You can take that down, please.