Derek Chauvin’s defense team on Tuesday called to the stand Barry Brodd, who became the first use-of-force expert of the trial to deem Chauvin’s restraint of George Floyd “justified” and who, notably, also testified in another highly publicized police misconduct trial in 2018.
Brodd, a former Santa Rosa Police officer who now serves as an expert witness and consultant, testified as a paid witness for the defense that Chauvin acted with “objective reasonableness” in his interactions with Floyd, highlighting the potential dangers to the officers on the scene and downplaying the risk of the prone position Floyd was being held in.
The use-of-force expert, who specializes in police and civilian cases, has reviewed over 140 cases and testified in 10 before, with the most notable being his role in the 2018 trial of Chicago police officer Jason Van Dyke, who fatally shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times while he was walking down the street holding a knife.
During the trial, Brodd testified on behalf of Van Dyke saying the officer had been justified in his actions, even re-enacting the situation of the shooting and pretending to stab the defense attorney with a plastic knife multiple times to describe the danger he believed Van Dyke was in during the interaction.
Van Dyke was ultimately found guilty of second-degree murder, as well as 16 counts of aggravated battery with a firearm.
But Brodd hasn’t always sided with officers in his use-of-force assessments—and in fact, sided against police in a 2017 case that bears some resemblance to Chauvin’s, and reveals some contradictions in his testimony on Tuesday.
Brodd assessed police use-of-force in a case filed by the family of James Greer, a Hayward, Calif., man who was killed in police custody in 2014 after he was pulled over on suspicion of driving under the influence, and then restrained and tased until he lost consciousness.
In parts of a report contained in a court filing, Brodd wrote that officers had applied “prolonged and extreme pressure to Mr. Greer’s torso while he lay in a prone position, which is a known and taught danger given that it can cause positional asphyxia” and that officers had failed to “recognize and properly react to signs of Mr. Greer’s labored breathing as he lay prone on the ground.”
Brodd could not immediately be reached for comment.
However, on Tuesday, as he came out in strong defense of Chauvin’s actions, Brodd said he doesn’t “consider prone control to be a use of force,” describing how police interacted with Floyd as “manhandling.”
Multiple Minneapolis Police officers, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, and police use-of-force experts have testified that Chauvin used excessive force and violated police protocol when he restrained Floyd with his knee on his neck for over nine minutes. However, Brodd, echoing the arguments being made by Chauvin’s defense, said the officer had “valid reasons” for the restraint, including resistance from Floyd, the crowd on the street which he said was distracting to officers, and nearby traffic. “I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective reasonableness following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” Brodd said.