Nearly three years before Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd as he cried that he couldn’t breathe last May, Zoya Code, a Black woman, found herself in a similar position: handcuffed facedown on the ground, with Chauvin’s knee on her.
The officer had answered a call of a domestic dispute at her home, and Code said he forced her down when she tried to pull away.
“He just stayed on my neck,” ignoring her desperate pleas to get off, Code said. Frustrated and upset, she challenged him to press harder. “Then he did. Just to shut me up,” she said.
Last week, a judge in Minnesota ruled that prosecutors could present the details of her 2017 arrest in their case against the former officer, who was charged with second-degree unintentional murder in Floyd’s death.
Code’s case was one of six arrests as far back as 2015 that the Minnesota attorney general’s office sought to introduce, arguing that they showed how Chauvin was using excessive force when he restrained people by their necks or by kneeling on top of them—just as he did in arresting Floyd.
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