Derek Chauvin Trial: What We Learned in George Floyd Murder Case

Everything you need to know about the trial of Derek Chauvin, the ex-cop charged with George Floyd's murder. Find day to day coverage, testimonies, and more.

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On May 25, 2020 George Floyd—a 46-year-old Black man and father of five—was killed at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department.

Floyd’s death spurred protests nationwide and stood as the latest example of rampant, institutionalized police brutality in the U.S. Among those who publicly criticized the Minneapolis Police Department during the summer of 2020 was former POTUS Barack Obama, who called on the country to remember that “for millions of Americans,” being treated differently due to race is a tragically “normal” facet of American life.

“This shouldn’t be ‘normal’ in 2020 America,” Obama said in May of last year. “It can’t be ‘normal.’ If we want our children to grow up in a nation that lives up to its highest ideals, we can and must be better.”

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In March 2021, the trial against now-former cop Derek Chauvin—the State of Minnesota v. Derek Michael Chauvin—began at the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis.

With all eyes on the progression of the murder trial, Complex will be updating this post with daily updates from the court proceedings.

Within days of Floyd’s death in May of 2020, footage of which saw Chauvin holding his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. In June 2020, a charge of second-degree murder was added. And while the third-degree murder charge was initially dismissed in October, the court in this year’s trial reinstated that charge on March 11.

“The charge of third-degree murder, in addition to manslaughter and felony murder, reflects the gravity of the allegations against Mr. Chauvin,” Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who’s leading the prosecution, said when announcing the charge’s reinstatement. “We look forward to presenting all three charges to the jury.” 

Matthew Frank is also a prosecutor in the murder trial. 

Eric J. Nelson is the defense attorney for Chauvin and—as detailed in a recent Bloomberg Law piece—is known for previously repping clients in alcohol-related offense cases, as well as several lower-stakes homicide cases.

Jury selection for the trial, which was briefly delayed, began on March 9. At the time, the reinstatement of the third-degree murder charge had not yet been confirmed. By March 23, 15 jurors (six of which are people of color) had been formally selected.

Of those 15, a dozen were selected to participate in deliberations while two people were chosen as alternates. The remaining juror was dismissed, as is protocol, when all the other selected jurors showed up for court proceedings on the first day of the trial.

Also in March, the city of Minneapolis agreed to pay a reported $27 million to settle a civil suit from the family of George Floyd. 

“George Floyd had more witnesses to his torture than any other killing in modern history,” attorney Ben Crump, who represents Floyd’s family, said after the settlement was announced. “His death is now a symbol for the countless Black lives taken too soon and without cause. Today’s settlement shows that we CANNOT be written off as unimportant and lacking value!”

On Monday, March 29, the murder trial began with opening statements from both the prosecution and the defense.

Among the highlights from the first day of proceedings was the revelation that Chauvin had actually held his knee against Floyd’s neck for longer than was initially reported. Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, who said on Monday that Floyd died “one breath at a time” due to oxygen deprivation, noted that Chauvin was kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. 

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Footage of Chauvin holding his knee on Floyd’s neck was also played in court. Chauvin’s defense, meanwhile, attempted to argue (notably spurring immediate ridicule from those closely watching this case) that Floyd had actually died due to a combination of drugs and an underlying health condition. Nelson told the court he intended to show evidence supporting this argument.

Among the witnesses called on the first day of trial was Donald Williams, an MMA fighter who witnessed Floyd’s May 2020 death and also took the stand on the second day after day one was adjourned by Judge Peter Cahill due to what he said was a “major technical glitch” mid-testimony.

On Monday, Williams said he had previously encountered Minneapolis officers during his training. Later in his testimony on Monday, Williams explained the difference between air choke and blood choke techniques, the latter of which he described as a chokehold move aimed at cutting off the circulation of arteries and stops blood flowing.

Later in his testimony, Williams recalled walking up on the scene of Floyd’s eventual death.

“I told [Chauvin] it was a blood choke,” Williams said of the former officer’s placement of his knee on Floyd’s neck. Deeper into his testimony, Williams further elaborated on this assessment.

“He was going through distress because of the knee. … His eyes slowly rolled to the back of his head and [I saw] the blood coming out of his nose. … From there on, he was lifeless,” Williams said.

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On Tuesday, March 30, testimony resumed with further comments from Williams.

Williams was asked about his 911 call on the day of Floyd’s death, with Williams saying he made the call because he had “witnessed a murder.”

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Others who took the stand on Tuesday included four witnesses who were minors at the time of Floyd’s death, all of whom were determined by Judge Peter Cahill to be able to testify off-camera.

Darnella Frazier, now 18, testified that she was on her way to a nearby convenience store with her cousin when she walked up on the officers. During her emotional testimony, Frazier recalled Chauvin staring at her and others with a “cold” and “heartless” look.

“He didn’t care,” she said on Tuesday. “It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying.”

Later, Frazier—who captured footage of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck—was asked how witnessing Floyd’s death had affected her life to this day.

“When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all Black. … I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them,” Frazier said. “There’s been nights I’ve stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life but it’s like, it’s not what I should have done. It’s what [the officer] should have done.”

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Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter who was at the scene of Floyd’s death and also testified during Tuesday’s proceedings, returned to the stand on Wednesday. 

Hansen reiterated that she was off duty on May 25, 2020, which meant she did not have work-related ID to show police at the time when trying to intervene in the situation. As Hansen explained, it was her assessment when coming upon the scene that Floyd was in need of immediate medical attention.

Later, Christopher Martin—a former employee of the Cup Foods convenience store—took the stand. Surveillance footage showing Floyd walking into the store was also played, sans audio.

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Martin, 19, spoke briefly with Floyd on May 25 inside the store when Floyd paid with a $20 bill he believed to be fake. According to Martin, his pay would have been docked if he had elected to accept the bill. A manager later instructed another employee to notify police.

After a clip of surveillance footage was played for the court in which Martin was seen with his head in his hands, he was asked to tell the court what he was feeling in that moment.

“Disbelief and guilt,” Martin said. “If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.”

Courteney Ross took the stand on Thursday. Ross, who was Floyd’s girlfriend, was asked to recount how she and Floyd first met. As the 45-year-old Ross explained, noting this was “one of my favorite stories to tell,” she first met Floyd in August of 2017 when he was working at a Salvation Army shelter as a security guard. One day after getting off from work at a local coffee shop, Ross went down to the shelter in an effort to visit her son’s father, who was staying there at the time.

“He didn’t seem to be coming down so I waited in the lobby and I wanted to talk to him about our son’s birthday,” Ross, who cried while telling this story, said. “I was pretty upset and I started kinda fussing in the corner of the lobby and at one point Floyd came to me. Floyd has this great, deep, southern voice. Raspy. And he’s like, ‘Sis, you okay, sis?’ And I wasn’t okay. I said, ‘No, I’m just waiting for my son’s father.’ He said, ‘Well, can I pray with you?’ I thought, I was so tired and we had been through so much—my sons and I—and this kind person just [came up] to me and say ‘Can I pray with you?’ when I felt so alone in this lobby. It was so sweet.”

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Later, Ross reflected on how Floyd seemed like “a shell of himself” following the death of his mother in 2018. She also spoke candidly on how she and Floyd both struggled with painkiller addictions during their relationship.

Seemingly, the prosecution is anticipating the defense’s efforts of trying to pin Floyd’s death on factors unrelated to Chauvin having held his knee to Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, effectively taking control of the drugs-related aspect of the narrative by offering a candid discussion on such struggles while noting that Floyd’s death would have been avoided if the officers had ensured he received immediate medical attention instead of being violently pinned to the ground.

Floyd family attorneys Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci issued a statement to Complex on Thursday, condemning the defense’s ongoing efforts of building a narrative that Floyd’s death was caused by the fentanyl in his system:

“As the defense attempts to construct the narrative that George Floyd’s cause of death was the fentanyl in his system, we want to remind the world who witnessed his death on video that George was walking, talking, laughing, and breathing just fine before Derek Chauvin held his knee to George’s neck, blocking his ability to breathe and extinguishing his life for all to see. Tens of thousands of Americans struggle with self-medication and opioid abuse and are treated with dignity, respect and support, not brutality. We fully expected the defense to put George’s character and struggles with addiction on trial because that is the go-to tactic when the facts are not on your side. We are confident that the jury will see past that to arrive at the truth – that George Floyd would have lived to see another day if Derek Chauvin hadn’t brutally ended his life in front of a crowd of witnesses pleading for his life.”

Also on Thursday, Hennepin County paramedic Seth Zachary Bravinder took the stand, stating that Floyd was unresponsive when he first arrived on the scene.

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When court resumed Friday morning, Minneapolis Police Sergeant Jon Edwards—who worked the night shift in his precinct—took the stand. Chauvin, though he didn’t directly report to Edwards, also worked in the same precinct.

During his testimony, Edwards recounted being notified of George Floyd having been taken to a hospital. At that point, Edwards was told to secure the scene where the fatal arrest occurred. Edwards was not cross-examined by Chauvin’s defense.

Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman of the department’s homicide unit then took the stand. First, he walked the court through what he initially saw when he arrived on the scene.

“I arrived on 38th Street and I parked on the southwest corner on 38th Street,” he said. “I saw yellow tape up—we call it crime scene tape—around the intersection. I saw Sgt. Edwards, who I know from work, on his cellphone and I saw two officers standing on the southeast corner of the intersection.”

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After detailing the scene further and explaining the difference between what the department calls “involved” and “uninvolved” officers when surveying a scene and beginning an investigation, Zimmerman explained that once another sergeant on the homicide team arrived, he was informed that Floyd had died. At this point, the nature of the investigation changed.

Later, Zimmerman was asked about his training on uses of force and the use of handcuffs, particularly with regards to cuffing an individual behind the back. Asked specifically if he had ever been trained to kneel on someone’s neck in the fashion seen in the Chauvin footage, Zimmerman said he had not.

“That would be the top-tier [level of force],” he said, “because of the fact that, if your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill them.”

Zimmerman was also asked—based on his review of the footage—for his assessment of this particular use of force.

“Totally unnecessary,” Zimmerman said. “First of all, pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that’s what they felt, and that’s what they would have to feel to be able to use that kind of force.”

After a weekend away, testimony continued on Monday, with Dr. Bradford Langenfeld—the physician who pronounced Floyd dead in May of last year—first taking the stand. As Langenfeld explained to the court, there is a substantially lowered chance of survival for each minute a person does not receive CPR when needed. Oxygen deficiency, Langenfeld said, was determined by him at the time to be the likely cause of Floyd’s cardiac arrest.

Later, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo took the stand. Previously, Arradondo has criticized Floyd’s death as “a murder” that had nothing to do with a lack of training. On Monday, Arradondo explained to the court how his department puts what he described as “a lot of time, energy, and resources” into the training of their officers.

“It’s to help our officers and also to help our communities at the same time,” he said, later confirming that he actively participates in this training.

“Our officers are being called to, again, respond in a way to our communities needs It’s hundreds of thousands of calls that they respond to … We have to make each engagement with our community count and so the training is very important because, for many in our communities, the first time they encounter [a police officer] may be the only time in their life that they do,” Arradondo said.

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Speaking on the importance of de-escalation, Arradondo noted that such training practices were first introduced in his policing region in the late 1990s.

Arradondo himself also recalled using de-escalation methods earlier in his career when actively serving in an on-patrol capacity.

“The primary goal is you wanna keep yourself safe as an officer but you also want to keep the community safe,” he said, adding that the city department currently has in place a de-escalation policy. Arradondo also agreed that—when considering de-escalation methods—a person who may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol is not inherently more dangerous and could actually be more vulnerable to physical interactions.

Also on Monday, a visitor chair set aside for a guest of Chauvin’s was removed due to not being used.

Following Monday’s testimony from Arradondo, who emphasized the importance of de-escalation tactics and stated that Floyd’s death had nothing to due with “a lack of training,” more officials from the Minneapolis Police Department took the stand on Tuesday.

Key among Tuesday’s witnesses is Lieutenant Johnny Mercil, a use-of-force instructor. 

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Shown an image of Chauvin with his neck on Floyd’s neck, Mercil was asked in court if this constituted an “MPD-trained neck restraint.” Mercil stated it did not. While similar restraint methods aren’t automatically an example of an unauthorized use-of-force, Mercil further explained, these methods should only be used in specific cases and only for a certain period of time. Asked to clarify when given an example of whether such a method would be appropriate for a situation in which a person is under control and handcuffed, Mercil agreed that a knee-on-the-neck restraint would not be authorized. 

Similar to Monday’s testimonies, Tuesday’s proceedings included a detailed walk-through of a number of departmental policies dealing with use-of-force techniques. In his testimony, Mercil was shown a screenshot of footage showing witnesses to Floyd’s arrest holding up their phones and filming Chauvin. Mercil was asked to clarify whether, according to departmental policies, the presence of such witnesses would “justify an increased use of force.” Mercil confirmed it would not.

Speaking more broadly, an officer’s potential use of a knee across someone’s back was explained as intended to be solely a “transitory” move, meaning it should cease once a person is determined by police to be under control. The risk of positional asphyxia, Mercil explained, could be increased by body weight from an officer.

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Also on Tuesday, a friend of Floyd’s who was with him on the day of the 2020 arrest made a virtual appearance in court, stating he did not wish to testify in the Chauvin trial. The jury was not present for this appearance.

Jody Stiger, an LAPD sergeant and use-of-force expert who said on Tuesday that Chauvin used “excessive” force against Floyd, again took the stand on Wednesday.

Stiger discussed five photos—as well as footage—showing Chauvin’s actions on May 25. He was also asked to go into further detail about departmental code of conduct and use-of-force policies. Floyd, Stiger noted, did not pose an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others on the scene.

“He was not attempting to resist and he was not attempting to assault these officers,” Stiger said, adding that he also made no verbal comments about such actions.

Another factor Stiger said would contribute to use-of-force distinctions is the number of officers and the number of subjects. In this case, there was a strong presence of police against Floyd. 

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Stiger also expressed his agreement when asked whether Chauvin’s restraint of Floyd was an example of deadly force. And while he agreed that a Taser could have been used earlier during the arrest, Stiger highlighted that use-of-force methods are meant to change as the situation progresses.

Later on Wednesday, James Reyerson—a senior special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension—took the stand. Reyerson, who’s currently assigned to the newly formed Use-of-Force Investigation team and is known for having led his office’s investigation into Floyd’s death, first walked the court through his extended investigative and collegiate history before being asked about Floyd’s death.

“We knew that some form of a critical incident had occurred but at that point we didn’t have a huge amount of information,” he said of when he was first called into the investigation. When presented with a photo of Chauvin that was taken shortly after his arrival at City Hall on the evening of Floyd’s death, Reyerson provided estimations for both Chauvin’s body weight—approximately 140 pounds—and the weight of Chauvin’s duty belt and other equipment, including a vest. The latter, collectively, was determined by Reyerson to amount to approximately 30 to 40 additional pounds.

Following a bulk of testimony earlier this week that was largely focused on use-of-force policies—including how those policies were not followed prior to Floyd’s death—Thursday centered on an extended assessment from Dr. Martin Tobin.

Tobin, a pulmonologist with expertise in pulmonary and critical care, was asked during his testimony whether he had formed an opinion “to a reasonable degree of medical certainty” on the cause of Floyd’s death.

“Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen,” Tobin said Thursday. “This caused damage to his brain, that we see, and it also caused a PEA arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop.” Asked to clarify for the court what a PEA (pulseless electrical activity) arrhythmia is, Tobin said it’s a “particular form of an abnormality to the heart” that’s sometimes also referred to as asphyxia.

“It has been called asphyxia,” he said. “To me, it’s not terribly helpful. What we’re really talking about is a low level of oxygen. … All of this is really other words for a phenomenon that is a low level of oxygen.”

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Asked to pinpoint what caused this low level of oxygen, Tobin added, “The cause of the low level of oxygen was shallow breathing, small breaths. … Shallow breaths that weren’t able to carry the air through his lungs down to the essential areas.”

Also on Thursday, Tobin explained how Floyd’s respiratory rate does not indicate that fentanyl—as argued by the defense—caused his death.

By Tobin’s calculations, Floyd lost the entirety of his oxygen at 8:25 p.m. on May 25, 2020. Chauvin, however, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for another three minutes, at which point—per Tobin—there was “not one ounce of oxygen” left.

“You can figure this out with very precise science,” Tobin explained. “Looking at once somebody stops breathing, what will be the rate of decline in the level of oxygen and how long it will take to reach zero. We see here that he reaches a level of zero oxygen at [8:25]. And at that point, there’s not an ounce of oxygen left in his body, in his entire body.”

Dr. Lindsey Carol Thomas, who helped in the training of the Hennepin County medical examiner who ultimately made the ruling on Floyd’s cause of death, took the stand on Friday.

Thomas, a forensic pathologist who described her day-to-day work as focused on the overlapping of “medicine and law,” said she had reviewed multiple medical documents and various footage related to Floyd’s death. She also noted she agreed with the determination of the cause of Floyd’s death.

“In this case, I believe the primary mechanism of death is asphyxia, or low oxygen,” Thomas said, adding that this was not an example of a sudden cardiac death.

“This is a death where both the heart and lungs stopped working,” Thomas told the court. “The point is that it’s due to law enforcement subdual, restraint, and compression. That is ultimately what is the immediate cause of death: subdual, restraint, and compression.”

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Asked by the prosecution if the manner of death having been determined a homicide would, in her opinion as a medical examiner, “rule out” the possibility of an accidental drug overdose death, Thomas said that it would.

Elsewhere, Thomas elaborated further on her determination that Floyd’s death was not sudden by comparing his death to what would be observed in instances of sudden cardiac arrest.

Specifically citing footage she had reviewed of Floyd’s death, Thomas said there was “nothing sudden” about it.

“It was not the type of death that has been reported in fentanyl overdoses, for example,” said Taylor, who noted the position Floyd was put in by Chauvin was detrimental to his oxygen.

Later, Andrew Baker—Hennepin County’s chief medical examiner—took the stand. Baker conducted the official autopsy on Floyd.

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Also on Friday, civil rights attorney Ben Crump joined members of Floyd’s family for a prayer vigil at the Community of Faith Church in Houston, Texas:

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Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, was the first on the stand in the third week of Chauvin’s murder trial.

During his testimony, Rich explained he was given access to a variety of information regarding Floyd’s death, and made an “expert report” using that insight.

“I was provided with a lot of evidence to look through, but mostly I looked at the medical records, interviews, all the videos that were provided to me, and the autopsy report,” Rich explained, adding that he also included several “journal articles” in his report.

Asked later if he had arrived at a conclusion with “a reasonable degree of medical certainty” as to the cause of Floyd’s death, Rich said he had.

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“In this case, Mr. George Floyd died from a cardiopulmonary arrest,” Rich said Monday. “It was caused by low oxygen levels and those low oxygen levels were induced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxiation that he was subjected to.”

Rich also noted during his testimony that, after reviewing the case, he can state “with a high degree of medical certainty” that Floyd did not die from a drug overdose or a primary cardiac event.

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, took the stand later Monday afternoon.

“On May 24th, I got married, and on May 25th, my brother got killed, then my mom died on May 30th,” he said early in his testimony when explaining how the month of May remains a difficult time for him. Asked to detail what role his brother played in the household when they were younger, Philonise reflected on the impact George’s leadership had on his family.

“He was so much of a leader to us in the household,” he said. “He would always make sure that we had our clothes for school. He made sure that we all were gonna be to school on time. … He was one of those people in the community that, when they had church outside, people would attend church just because he was there.”

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Later, Philonise spoke on George’s relationship with his mother.

“He was a big mama’s boy. … Every mother loves all of her kids, but it was so unique how they were with each other,” he said.

After Philonise left the stand, Seth Stoughton—a law professor and former officer—was called to testify. Stoughton is known for, among other things, being the principal co-author of the NYU Press publication Evaluating Police Uses of Force.

Earlier on Monday, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill denied a motion from the defense to sequester the jury due to the unrest following the police killing of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in nearby Brooklyn Center.

As of Tuesday, the prosecution had rested its case. On the 12th day of main trial proceedings, the defense called retired Minneapolis Police Department cop Scott Creighton to the stand. Creighton was on the scene of a prior arrest of Floyd in 2019.

Prior to questioning from Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson, the judge noted Creighton’s appearance on the stand was not to be used as evidence of Floyd’s character. Body camera footage of the 2019 incident was also played.

Later, Michelle Moseng—a retired Hennepin County paramedic—was called by the defense. Moseng had attended to Floyd in May 2019 after being called by police. When the prosecution spoke with Moseng, she said Floyd was compliant and coherent at the time of their interactions. 

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After Shawanda Hill—Floyd’s friend who was in the back of the car on May 25, 2020 when police approached—and Minneapolis Park Police officer Peter Chang took the stand after being called by the defense, Nicole Mackenzie—the police department’s medical support coordinator who earlier in the trial testified for the prosecution—took the stand. On Tuesday, Mackenzie agreed with the prosecution, who—during cross-examination—pointed out that anyone in a state of “excited delirium” should be placed by officers in a position that would help with breathing.

Following a break, Barry Brodd—a defense use-of-force expert who in 2018 said during the trial of Jason Van Dyke that the shooting of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald was justified—took the stand.

“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department and current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” Brodd said Tuesday when asked for an overview of his assessment.

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First up during Wednesday’s session was the defense’s request for a judgment of acquittal. The defense argued that the prosecution had failed to present what they described as “sufficient evidence” with regards to key case issues. More specifically, the defense said the prosecution had not provided such evidence on the issue of use-of-force and had not proven the cause of Floyd’s death.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill denied the defense’s motion.

The person who was with Floyd on the day of the fatal 2020 arrest, Morries Hall, then confirmed he would invoke the Fifth Amendment when asked about testifying. As previously discussed amid the trial, both Hall and his lawyer have argued that answering questions could potentially be used to incriminate him, regardless of whether Chauvin is ultimately convicted.

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After a brief break, the defense called Dr. David Fowler, a retired pathologist. Fowler is also a former chief medical examiner in Maryland and is currently at the center of a lawsuit alleging he helped cover up police’s part in the 2018 death of 19-year-old Anton Black, a Black man who died while in police custody.

“In my opinion, Mr. Floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia or cardiac arrhythmia due to his atherosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease—you can write that down multiple different ways—during his restraint and subdual by police, or restraint by the police,” Fowler told the court Wednesday.

Fowler then detailed to the defense what he believed to be the “contributory conditions” to Floyd’s death. 

“His significant contributory conditions would be—since I’ve already put the heart disease in part one—he would have the toxicology, the fentanyl and methamphetamine,” Fowler said. “There is exposure to a vehicle exhaust, so potentially carbon monoxide poisoning or at least an effect from increased carbon monoxide in his bloodstream, and paraganglioma or the natural disease process that he has. So, all of those combined to cause Mr. Floyd’s death.”

Fowler was then cross-examined by the prosecution.

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On the same day as Fowler’s testimony, the family of Anton Black shared a statement with WTOP News.

“It’s surreal that you have two men on the opposite sides of the country that experienced almost the same treatment by two different police officers,” LaToya Holley, Anton’s sister, said. “The medical examiner, in my opinion, was egregious in the way he finalized Anton’s autopsy results. Now, he’s being called to be an expert witness for another police officer.”

Derek Chauvin, charged with murder and manslaughter, confirmed to the court on Thursday that he will not be taking the stand. Prior to his announcement, as the defense explained, he had been advised by his attorney during a meeting on Wednesday night regarding whether or not to offer testimony.

“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” Chauvin told the court.

This move was widely expected. The defense has now rested.

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Following the defense’s confirmation of not calling additional witnesses, the prosecution aimed to recall Dr. Martin Tobin, who testified earlier in the trial. According to prosecution, they wanted to question Tobin about Fowler’s comments theorizing on carbon dioxide in Floyd’s blood and said they also wanted to introduce new evidence in the form of Hennepin County blood tests of Floyd.

The judge, however, decided new evidence could not be introduced, as it could lead to a mistrial. Instead, he said Tobin could be recalled as long as those tests were not discussed. Tobin then made a short appearance on the stand.

On Monday, the prosecution and defense will begin closing arguments.

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher, when giving closing arguments on Monday, urged the jury to not look at this trial as being against police officers at large. Instead, Schleicher asked they simply look at the actions of the defendant on their own.

“You need to set aside the notion that it’s impossible for a police officer to do something like this,” he said Monday. “The defendant is on trial not for being a police officer. It’s not the state versus the police. He’s not on trial for who he was. He’s on trial for what he did.” 

As a photo was shown of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck, Schleicher reiterated this point.

“That is what he did on that day,” he said. “Nine minutes and 29 seconds. That is what he did. He didn’t follow training, those hundreds of hours of training that he did. He did not follow the department’s use-of-force rules. He did not perform CPR. He knew better. He just didn’t do better.”

Continuing, Schleicher told the court the defendant’s actions did not constitute policing and were instead a fatal assault.

“If a person dies because of your assault, you’re guilty of murder,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. And what the defendant did here was a straight-up felony assault. This was not policing. It was unnecessary. It was gratuitous. It was disproportionate. And he did it on purpose. No question. This was not an accident. He did not trip and fall and find himself upon George Floyd’s knee and neck. He did what he did on purpose and it killed George Floyd. … He betrayed the badge and everything it stood for.”

When playing a portion of footage showing the earlier moments of Floyd’s fatal arrest, Schleicher again highlighted what he said were failings by the defendant and other officers involved to appropriately respond to the situation.

“The defendant arrives on the scene, he surveys the scene, he saunters up to the car and he slips on his gloves,” Schleicher said. “They don’t listen. They just shove him into the car, into that tiny backseat. You saw the look on his face, you saw the look on George Floyd’s face, when he glanced over into that car. He looked like he’d seen a monster looking into that car. Clearly, a trained officer should have recognized that and understood at that moment and that time, what is your goal? Where did this critical thinking model go?”

Later, Schleicher asked the jury “would George Floyd have died that day?” if Chauvin hadn’t used such force.

“Did he just miraculously die of a drug overdose in that time?” he asked. “Maybe it was the tail pipe? Maybe it was his enlarged heart? Maybe not. Use your common sense. Believe your eyes. What you saw, you saw.”

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Later, the defense spoke to jurors, after which the prosecution would have a chance to offer a rebuttal. In his opening moments, defense attorney Eric Nelson spoke on the concepts of presumption of innocence and proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

“The law recognizes three standards of proof: the preponderance of the evidence is the first and lowest standard, clear and convincing evidence is the next standard, and the third standard is proof beyond a reasonable doubt,” Nelson said. “And the way we lawyers sometimes illustrate what these three standards mean is through the scales of justice...the scales of justice equally balanced.”

At one point, Nelson pointed to “fanciful and capricious” evidence by giving the hypothetical example of a person arguing that “space aliens” had entered Chauvin’s body “and caused this stuff” to happen.

“Beyond the reasonable doubt, it is the highest standard in the law,” Nelson said. “It doesn’t mean beyond all possibility of doubt because I suppose space aliens may have been inhabiting his body but that’s obviously fanciful and capricious.”

Later on, Nelson spoke on what he said was the importance of “carefully reading the entire instructions” and reviewing the entirety of the evidence. At one point, as seen in an excerpt here, Nelson discussed the baking of chocolate chip cookies.

“A criminal case is kind of like baking chocolate chip cookies,” Nelson said. “You have to have the necessary ingredients. You’ve got to have flour and sugar and butter and chocolate chips and whatever else goes into those chocolate chip cookies. If you have all of the ingredients, you can make chocolate chip cookies. But if you’re missing any one single ingredient, you can’t make chocolate chip cookies. … The criminal law works the same way.”

In an effort to push back against the prosecution’s assessment that the defendant failed in utilizing departmental training to keep safety at the forefront of the fatal arrest, the defense later played through arrest footage, with Nelson saying “you’re breathing fine if you can talk.”

Deeper into his closing argument, Nelson focused on what he said were the “two distinct concepts” of perspective and perception by describing four of the witnesses to Floyd’s fatal arrest. And closer to the end of his lengthy argument, Nelson told the jury this was—in the opinion of the defense—an example of an “authorized use of force, as unattractive as it may be.”

Nelson also criticized many of the testimonies from the weeks-long trial and argued that bystanders were distracting Chauvin during the arrest.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter A. Cahill shared criticism of California Democratic Representative Maxine Waters, who over the weekend said, “I hope we get a verdict that says guilty, guilty, guilty. And if we don’t, we cannot go away. We’ve got to stay on the street. We get more active, we’ve got to get more confrontational. We’ve got to make sure that they know that we mean business.” 

“We have U.S. representatives threatening acts of violence in relation to this specific case, it’s mind boggling,” Nelson said while arguing for a mistrial. Judge Cahill denied the motion, but did say her comments could give the defense “something on appeal that may result in this whole trial being overturned.”

“I wish elected officials would stop talking about this case, especially in a manner that is disrespectful to the rule of law, and to the judicial branch and our function,” Cahill said. “I think If they want to give their opinions, they should do so in a respectful, and in a manner that is consistent with their oath to the Constitution.”

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