Arradondo’s unequivocal and historic testimony condemning now-former officer Derek Chauvin’s actions that led to George Floyd’s death is seen by some veteran lawyers as a fresh crack in the longstanding “blue wall” code of silence by police.
“What could be the possible interest in the police trying to defend that?” civil rights attorney Al Goins said. “Their best defense as a department is to try to say this is wrong, this is not who we are, and that’s not who we want to be in the future.”…
It is incredibly rare for a police chief to take the stand against one of his own former officers, so Arradondo’s remarks immediately ricocheted around social media and were rebroadcast on TV news outlets across the country in one of the most extraordinary moments of the trial. But his comments also took on broader implications for a department whose culture has long discouraged officers from criticizing a colleague’s conduct — at least publicly.
Some watching the trial saw Arradondo’s testimony, coupled with that of other police witnesses — homicide Lt. Richard Zimmerman, Sgt. Jon Edwards and David Pleoger , a retired MPD sergeant — as striking a blow to the “blue wall of silence” that usually protects police wrongdoing.
Goins said the video of Floyd’s death made it harder for police officials to defend the actions to the public.
He said he frequently faced resistance when representing victims of police brutality, and not only from fellow officers, but also sheriff’s deputies, prosecutors and other criminal justice representatives who tried to cover up bad police behavior.
“In those cases where there were close calls, I think they had no incentive to try to say, ‘Nope, we’re gonna root this out.’ Their incentives operated the other way, to try to close ranks,” Goins said.
Arradondo has previously called Floyd’s death a “murder.”
Some critics on social media said that Arradondo’s testimony was self-serving and that by painting his former officer as an outlier, or “bad apple,” he was deflecting attention from the aggressive tactics that the department trains its officers on. Others pointed out that Arradondo disciplined an officer who spoke as an anonymous source for a GQ magazine article criticizing the department’s “toxic culture.”
Last week, Zimmerman, the longest-tenured officer in the department, testified that he saw Chauvin’s actions kneeling on Floyd’s neck as “totally unnecessary.”
…The officers’ testimony in Chauvin’s trial is in line with administrative attempts to shift the culture of policing, both in Minneapolis and elsewhere.