Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, testified on April 6 about breathing and providing emergency medical aid in the murder trial of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin.
“There is a possibility somebody could be in respiratory distress and still being able to verbalize it. Just because they are speaking does not mean they are breathing adequately,” Mackenzie said at the trial of Chauvin, a white man who faces charges of murder and manslaughter for the death of George Floyd, a Black man, in May 2020.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked Mackenzie if officers were taught “that if a person can talk, that means that they can breathe.”
“No, sir,” Mackenzie replied.
Mackenzie also said that an officer could mistake gasping for air with breathing.
Mackenzie also told the court that policy requires officers to provide medical aid and that they receive cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) training every other year.
Schleicher showed the court CPR cards issued to Chauvin, indicating he had received training.
“If you don’t have a pulse on a person, you immediately start CPR. If it’s a critical situation, you have to do both” CPR and call for an ambulance, Mackenzie said.
However, Mackenzie also acknowledged in cross-examination by defense attorney Eric Nelson that some situations may prevent an officer from calling emergency medical service.
Schleicher also asked Mackenzie if “the activities of a group of onlookers excuse a police officer from the duty to render emergency medical aid to a subject who needs it.”
Mackenzie replied that only if the onlookers were “physically getting themselves involved” or when an officer was being “physically assaulted.”
However, Mackenzie also said that even if the crowd was not interfering physically, providing medical treatment in front of a hostile crowd could be “incredibly difficult.”
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