Derek Chauvin trial: Defendant confirms he will not testify
Below is a recap of all the witnesses who have testified at Derek Chauvin’s trial as of April 14, in order of appearance.
911 dispatcher Jenna Scurry
The prosecution’s first witness on March 29 was Jenna Scurry, a 911 dispatcher who watched live video of police kneeling on Floyd and testified that she called the officers’ supervisor with concerns about their use of force.
It was Scurry who sent officers to the Cup Foods at 38th and Chicago Avenue on May 25, 2020, after receiving a call about a man using a counterfeit bill.
Scurry told how she had seen surveillance footage of the incident from one of the city’s pole mounted cameras and been struck by a ‘gut instinct’ that ‘something wasn’t right’.
The video, which had not previously been released publicly, showed Chauvin and fellow officers Lane and Keung perched atop Floyd next to a squad car while officer Thao looked on.
Scurry noted that she wasn’t watching the stream the entire time because she was fielding other calls. But she said that as she glanced away and back again, she was struck that the officers hadn’t moved and asked a colleague if the screen had frozen.
‘I first asked if the screens had frozen because it hadn’t changed. I thought something might be wrong,’ she said.
She said that she hadn’t wanted to be a ‘snitch’ but she recognized what appeared to be use of force and stated: ‘I took that instinct and I called the sergeant.’
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank played audio from the call, in which Scurry said: ‘I don’t know if they had to use force or not. They got something out of the back of the squad and all of them sat on this man. So I don’t know if they needed to or not but they haven’t said anything to me yet.’
‘You can call me a snitch if you want to,’ she added.
She said she made the call to ‘voice my concerns’ and noted that she had never made one like it to a police sergeant before.
Cross examining Scurry, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson was at pains to underscore gaps in what she saw and the facts that she had no police training, little knowledge of what the calls to which she sent officers actually looked like and pointed out that her attention was not trained on the screen at all times.
Bystander Alisha Oyler
Alisha Oyler, a cashier at the Speedway gas station opposite Cup Foods who recorded video of Floyd’s arrest was the state’s second witness.
‘Trying not to cuss’ and frequently failing to recall events Oyler explained that she had first noticed police ‘messing with someone’ outside the Dragon Wok restaurant opposite Cup Foods.
She said she had watched officers handcuff Floyd and take him across to the now infamous site of squad car 320 in front of the store’s entrance and continued to record events on her cell phone as she stepped out to have a cigarette.
She said she had done so because the police were ‘always messing with people and it’s not right’.
MMA fighter and bystander Donald Williams
Donald Winn Williams II, a mixed martial arts fighter and the prosecution’s third witness who had yelled at Chauvin to check for a pulse and accused him of placing Floyd in what he called a ‘kill choke’, testified first on March 29 before continuing on March 30.
Williams became emotional as he spoke about how he called 911 after Floyd was placed in an ambulance because: ‘I believed I had just witnessed a murder. I felt the need to call the police on the police.’
He began to cry as jurors were played audio of the call, in which he named officer 987 and said: ‘He just pretty much killed this guy. He wasn’t resisting arrest. He had his knee on his neck. He wasn’t resisting arrest or nothing, he was handcuffed.’
Williams said he witnessed Chauvin ‘shimmying’, or adjusting his position on Floyd’s neck, in a recognized martial art maneuver designed to double-down on and tighten a choke hold.
He told how he watched Chauvin squeeze the life out of Floyd, who he said was in ‘tremendous pain’ and ‘faded away like a fish in a bag’.
He said that when he called Chauvin out for using a blood choke the officer looked him straight in the eye and did not stop.
Williams also told how Officer Tou Thao put his hands on his chest and pushed him back to the curb when he tried to intervene.
At the end of his 911 call Williams was heard shouting at Thao: ‘Y’all murderers man, y’all murderers.’
On cross-examination, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson attempted to undercut William’s presentation of himself as a controlled and professional observer of events who remained schooled by his training and experience in sports and security.
Nelson appeared to be trying to provoke Williams into a display of anger as he repeatedly tried to discredit his claims to having remained calm.
‘You started calling [Chauvin] names didn’t you?’ Nelson asked. ‘You called him, ‘a tough guy.’ You called him ‘such a man,’ ‘bogus.’ You called him a ‘bum’ 13 times. You called him a ‘bitch. »
But while Williams agreed to all of these assertions he would not be persuaded to agree to Nelson’s characterization of him as ‘angry’ or threatening.
Asked if he had told Officer Tou Thao that he hoped he would shoot himself he said: ‘No..I said you will shoot yourself in two years because of what you did.’
Bystander Darnella Frazier, 18
Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old when she recorded the most famous viral video of Floyd’s arrest last spring, took the stand on March 30 and told how she felt helpless as she watched him lose consciousness.
‘There’s been nights I’ve stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting, not saving his life,’ Darnella, now 18, said. ‘But it’s not what I should have done – it’s what [Chauvin] should have done.’
Darnella – who was not shown on camera in court because of her age – asserted that Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck even harder as the growing crowd begged him to stop – and that he didn’t remove his knee even when paramedics were searching for a pulse.
‘I heard George Floyd saying: « I can’t breathe, please get off of me. » He cried for his mom and he was in pain,’ Darnella said. ‘It seemed like he knew it was over for him. He was terrified, he was suffering. This was a cry for help.’
When an ambulance arrived, Darnella said paramedics had to tell Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck.
Darnella said that she felt ‘threatened’ by both Chauvin and Thao who she said ‘were quick to put their hands on their mace’ when a woman who identified herself as a firefighter asked Chauvin to check for a pulse and she and Darnella made to move towards Floyd where he lay.
Asked if, at any point, Chauvin had ‘got up or let up’ she said: ‘If anything he actually was kneeling harder. It looked like he was shoving his knee in his neck.’
At the close of her testimony Darnella broke down as she told jurors how witnessing and filming Floyd’s death affected her life.
‘When I look at George Floyd I look at my dad, I look my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all black,’ she said. ‘I have a black father, black brother, black friends and I look at that and I think how that could have been them.’
Bystander Judea, nine
Nine-year-old witness Judea, took the witness stand on March 29 and described how she and her cousin Darnella, who testified earlier, had gone to Cup Foods for snacks on May 25 when they found Floyd pinned to the ground by Chauvin and two other police officers.
The girl, who was not shown on camera due to her age, gave gut-wrenching testimony about how Chauvin refused to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck even after paramedics arrived and ‘asked him nicely to get off of him’.
‘He [Chauvin] still stayed on him [Floyd],’ Judea said. She said the medics eventually ‘just had to put him off, get him off of him.’
‘I was sad and kind of mad. If felt like he was stopping his breathing and kind of hurting him,’ Judea said of Floyd.
Judea is pictured second from the right in a green shirt in video from Floyd’s fatal confrontation with police that was shown in court
Bystander Alyssa, 18
The prosecution’s fourth witness on March 30 was an 18-year-old named Alyssa, who told how she had walked towards the incident and started recording on her friend’s cell phone because she felt ‘something was wrong’.
Alyssa broke down in tears as she described what of Floyd, saying: ‘It’s difficult [to talk about] because I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do…and I felt like I was failing him, failing to do anything.’
Alyssa said that Chauvin did not move his knee even on the arrival of paramedics and in fact she saw him put more weight on Floyd’s neck as the minutes ticked by.
‘He [Chauvin] didn’t really take his eyes off him [Floyd] for the most part. At one point I saw him put more and more weight onto him. I saw his back foot lift off the ground and his hands go in his pocket.’
‘I saw him move his knee down more, make little movements,’ she added.
The prosecution played the video recorded by Alyssa, in which she could be heard shouting: ‘He’s not moving. Check his pulse. Tell me his pulse right now. It’s been over a minute [since he moved].’
She told the jury: ‘I knew that time was running out. He was going to die.’
Finally she said, there came a point when ‘I kind of knew that he was dead and not breathing, no longer fighting, no longer resisting.’
Bystander Kaylynn, 17
Alyssa’s friend, 17-year-old Kaylynn, was the last minor to testify on March 30.
She said that it was the police officers who were ‘hostile’ not the crowd recalling how Chauvin was ‘digging his knee into George Floyd’s neck’ and ‘grabbed his mace and started shaking it at us’ when onlookers shouted at him to check for a pulse.
‘I was scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen,’ she said. Asked directly what she was scared of, she replied: ‘I was scared of Chauvin.’
Off-duty firefighter Genevieve Hansen
Off-duty Minneapolis firefighter and paramedic Genevieve Hansen, 27, caused a stir in the courtroom on March 30 when she was admonished by Judge Cahill for repeatedly interrupting and talking back to Chauvin’s attorney Nelson during cross examination.
Hansen had wiped away tears as she recalled how she had identified herself as a first responder and begged to help Floyd when she believed he was dying outside the Cup Foods store on May 25, 2020.
But soon after her demeanor changed as she was questioned by Nelson, who asked if she would describe bystanders at the scene of Floyd’s arrest as upset or angry.
Hansen replied: ‘I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting.’
At this point Judge Cahill stepped in and cautioned Hansen for being argumentative, telling her to ‘just answer his questions’.
Minutes later Cahill sent the jury out for the day before turning to an increasingly combative Hansen and telling her in no uncertain terms: ‘You will not argue with the court, you will not argue with counsel.’
Under direct examination, Hansen explained how her desperate pleas to be allowed to provide Floyd with life-saving medical assistance were ignored by the officers who pinned him down and blocked by officer Thao.
‘I tried calm and reasoning, I pleaded and was desperate. I was desperate to help,’ Hansen said.
Her calls fell on deaf ears as Chauvin remained unmoved and Officer Thao told her to remain on the curb, at one point saying: ‘If you really are a Minneapolis firefighter you would know better than to get involved.’
In court Hansen said: ‘That’s exactly what I should have done. There was no medical assistance on the scene and I could have given [it].’
‘The officers were leaning over his body with what appeared to be the majority of their weight on him,’ she said. ‘He wasn’t moving, he was cuffed and three grown men putting all their weight on somebody – that’s too much.
‘Chauvin seemed very comfortable with the majority of his weight balanced on top of Mr Floyd’s neck. In my memory he had his hand in his pocket. He wasn’t distributing the weight on the car, on the pavement.’
Hansen said that she had assessed that Floyd had a ‘altered level of consciousness,’ that concerned her greatly.
She said that his face was ‘smooshed’ into the pavement and said: ‘I was really concerned. I thought his face looked puffy and swollen which would happen if you were putting a grown man’s weight [on him].
‘I noticed some fluid coming from what looked like George Floyd’s body and a lot of time we see a patient release their bladder when they die – that’s where my mind went. He was restrained but he wasn’t moving.’
Hansen said she recognized that Floyd was unconscious because he was not responding to the ‘painful stimulae’ of Chauvin’s knee on his neck.
‘What I needed to know was whether or not he had a pulse anymore,’ she said. But she said she was not permitted access to the scene and the officers ignored her offers to talk them through CPR.
She said she felt ‘helpless.’ ‘There’s a man being killed,’ she said, ‘and had I had access I would have [helped]. This human was denied that right.’
Before she took the stand jury saw video she had recorded on the scene and heard audio of the 911 call she placed immediately after.
Her voice trembling with shock and emotion she could be heard telling the operator: ‘I literally just watched police officers not take a pulse and not to do anything to save a man and I am a first responder myself and I literally have it on video.’
In an uncomfortable cross-examination, Hansen refused to be drawn into an admission that she would be distracted from her job if a threatening crowd were gathered telling her she was ‘doing it wrong’.
Time after time Nelson attempted to get an admission out of her until she said: ‘I think a burning structure where there are buildings and homes and people living on either side is much more concerning than 20 people.
‘I’ll repeat myself, I know my job, I’m confident in doing my job and there’s nothing anybody can do to disturb me.’
When he asked if she had grown angry, she said she had been ‘desperate’ before admitting: ‘I got quite angry after Mr Floyd was loaded into the ambulance and there was no point in trying to reason with them anymore because they had just killed somebody.’
Cup Foods employee Christopher Martin
Cup Foods clerk Christopher Martin testified on March 31 about how his coworker called the cops on Floyd because he believed he used a counterfeit $20 bill on May 25.
Looking back, Martin said he wished he’d never raised alarm about the bill because he believes Floyd might still be alive if he hadn’t, telling the court: ‘This could have been avoided.’
Martin told the court that he became suspicious of the bill because it had an unusual ‘blue pigment so I assumed it was fake’.
‘The policy was if you took a counterfeit bill you had to pay for it out of your pay-check,’ Martin explained. ‘I took it anyways and was planning to just put it on my tab – until I second guessed myself and eventually told my manager.’
The manager then instructed Martin to go outside and bring Floyd back, he said. When Floyd refused, a co-worker called police. One of the responding officers was Chauvin.
Martin said that the two things he noticed about Floyd were his ‘size’ and he appeared to be ‘high’.
However he said that he did not find Floyd’s demeanor to be threatening, saying: ‘He seemed very friendly, approachable, talkative, he seemed just to be having an average Memorial Day living his life. But he did seem high.’
Martin said he went back to manning the cash register when police arrived but soon after noticed a commotion at the front of Cup Foods and went outside, where he saw Floyd pinned to the ground.
‘I saw people yelling and screaming I saw Derek [Chauvin] with his knee on George’s neck on the ground,’ he said.
‘George was motionless, limp and Chauvin seemed very…he was in a resting state, meaning like he just rested his knee on his neck.’
Martin, who lived above the store, said: ‘I pulled my phone out first and called my mom and told her not to come downstairs. Then I started recording.
‘Later on that night I deleted it because when they picked George up off the ground the ambulance went straight down 38th and the quickest way to get to the hospital is straight down Chicago Avenue.’
Martin said he assumed from this that Floyd was already dead and deleted his recording as he didn’t want to have to show it to anybody or answer questions about it in the aftermath.
Asked how he had felt as he absorbed what he had just witnessed, Martin said ‘disbelief and guilt’.
Martin, who had earlier told jurors that he had almost not reported the fake bill and only done so after second-guessing himself, said: ‘If I would have just not taken the bill this could have been avoided.’
Asked if he still worked at Cup Foods, Martin’s voice cracked as he said: ‘No. I didn’t feel safe.’
Bystander Christopher Belfrey, 45
Christopher Belfrey testified on March 31 about video he recorded when he drove past Cup Foods and say officers Lane and Keung approaching Floyd in his car.
Belfrey, 45, said he started recording when parked directly behind Floyd’s SUV because he was ‘startled’ to see Lane draw his handgun.
He explained that he pulled to the other side of the street, not wanting to ‘get in the middle’ of whatever was occurring and continued recording.
The court watched the footage in which Floyd can be seen, apparently cuffed and compliant, seated against a wall having been removed from his vehicle. According to Belfrey, Lane and Keung then walked Floyd across to their squad car and put him in it.
Belfrey said that he had simply gone home at that point because ‘I thought he was detained. I thought it was over.’
Bystander Charles McMillian, 61
Charles McMillian, who was the first person to confront police about their treatment of Floyd on the day of his fatal arrest, broke down in tears as the prosecution played footage of cops wrestling with the handcuffed black man.
McMillian, 61, said he was driving by the Cup Foods convenience store when he noticed officers struggling with Floyd and pulled over simply because he was ‘being nosy’.
In footage from Lane’s body camera McMillian was heard calling out as cops grappled with Floyd in their squad car.
McMillian said he ‘tried to make the situation easy,’ by telling Floyd: ‘You can’t win.’
Floyd could be heard telling McMillian: ‘I’m not trying to win. Don’t do me like that, I’m claustrophobic.’
As he described how Floyd began to cry out for his mother minutes later while pinned to the ground by the officers, McMillian wept as he revealed that he understood how Floyd felt after losing his own mom.
‘I couldn’t help but feel helpless. I don’t have a mama either, but I understand him. My mom died June 25th,’ the witness said through tears.
He revealed that he had experience of being handcuffed himself and as Floyd became more agitated, having been apparently calm as he was walked towards officers Lane and Keung’s squad car, McMillian said he tried to help.
The court played footage of the events as McMillian described them. One clip of McMillian on the sidewalk was spliced with body camera footage of Floyd in the squad car.
‘I’m watching, you know, Mr Floyd,’ McMillian said. ‘He collapsed onto the back seat and I’m trying to get him to understand when you make a mistake, once they get you in cuffs you got to wait there. Once they get you in cuffs you can’t win.’
McMillian then described how he continued to try to help Floyd after officers Lane, Keung and Chauvin had pinned him to the ground.
‘[Floyd] kept saying: ‘I can’t breathe. Mama they’re killing me, they’re killing me.’ He started saying: ‘My body’s shutting down. »
As more of the video was played McMillian’s voice could be heard urging Floyd: ‘Get up and get into the car. Get up and get into the car man.’
Floyd responded: ‘I can’t.’
Later McMillian could be heard telling Chauvin: ‘Your knee on his neck, that’s wrong man.’
Of his own part in the scene, McMillian said: ‘I was trying to help him. He appeared to be in and out [of consciousness], with foam around his mouth. I said: ‘Man he said he can’t breathe,’ and they said: ‘Well if he keeps talking he can breathe. »
The jury was shown body-cam footage in which McMillian told Chauvin: ‘I don’t respect what you did.’ The officer replied: ‘Well that’s one person’s opinion. We got to control this guy because he’s a sizeable guy and looks like he’s probably on something.’
Minneapolis Police Lt Jeff Rugel
Lt Jeff Rugel, who runs the Minneapolis Police Department’s Business Technology Unit, testified on March 31 to authenticate officers’ body camera footage and other video evidence from the scene.
Brief footage from Chauvin’s camera was played, revealing his perspective as he approached Floyd for the first time.
Chauvin was seen with his hands around Floyd’s neck as he and Officer Thomas Lane struggled with to get him into a squad car.
After a chaotic, blurred portion of footage, Chauvin’s camera fell to the tarmac and there was no more footage from his perspective.
In footage recorded by Lane’s body camera, Chauvin’s camera could be seen lying beneath the squad car. It’s unclear exactly how the camera came to be on the ground during the confrontation.
Rugel told the jury how that Minneapolis police policy demands that officers wear their cameras at all times and to activate them during any activity or public interaction.
Asked if Chauvin wore a body camera and if that was ‘the box on the floor [beneath squad car 320]’, Rugel said: ‘Yes.’
George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross
Courteney Ross broke down in tears within minutes of taking the stand on Thursday as she described how she and Floyd first met in 2017 at the Salvation Army’s Harbor Light Center, a shelter where he was working as a security guard and she was visiting her son’s father.
The married mother-of-two said she was touched when Floyd asked to pray with her because she was going through a hard time in her own life – and they kissed in the lobby that same day.
Ross – who wore a gold necklace with her late boyfriend’s name – began crying even harder when Frank pulled up a photo of Floyd.
Then she laughed as she called the photo a ‘dad selfie’, before telling how hard it was for Floyd to be so far away from his two daughters, who lived in Texas.
She described the man who had called out for his mother in his dying moments as ‘a mama’s boy’ who was ‘devastated’ and ‘broken’ by her death in May 2018.
‘He seemed like a shell of himself like he was broken, he seemed so sad,’ she said. ‘He didn’t have the same kind of bounce that he had.’
Ross was then asked to tackle head on the issue of drug abuse with which, she admitted, both she and Floyd struggled.
She said that they were both addicted to opioids having been prescribed them for chronic pain – including oxycodone, which he took in pill form, obtaining it through other people’s prescriptions to make sure the pills were safe.
‘Both Floyd and I, our story — it’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back.
‘We both have prescriptions. But after prescriptions that were filled, and we got addicted, and tried really hard to break that addiction many times.’
Though he tried to get clean, she said it was something that he struggled with ‘every day’.
In March 2020, she said, she noticed ‘behavioral changes’ that made her suspect that Floyd was using again, or more, and that she too fell into heavier use at that time.
On cross examination by Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson, Ross revealed that that she and Floyd both purchased opioids from Morries Lester Hall, a friend who was in the passenger seat of Floyd’s car on the day he died.
Jurors heard that Hall sold controlled substances to both her and Floyd and that she ‘did not like Morries at all’.
Ross told the court how, in March 2020, just two months before Floyd’s death, he purchased pills that she did not recognize as the opioids to which both she and Floyd were addicted.
She said the pills, which she believes landed Floyd in the hospital due to an accidental overdose, appeared ‘thick’ and were not uniform, and that when she took them they did not have the same effect as opioids.
‘The pill seemed like it was a really strong stimulant. I couldn’t sleep all night. I felt very jittery,’ Hall said.
Ross also revealed that Floyd had been hospitalized twice in March – on one occasion due to a drug overdose that saw him hospitalized for five days.
Paramedics Seth Bravinder and Derek Smith
Paramedics Seth Bravinder and Derek Smith testified on Thursday as the jury was shown shocking new images of EMTs loading Floyd into an ambulance and attempting to resuscitate him.
Bravinder and Smith were asked by the prosecution to explain what was happening in graphic video and stills of Floyd being placed on a stretcher and treated in the ambulance.
Some of the images came from video recorded by witnesses on the scene, while others came from the body camera of officer Thomas Lane, who rode with Floyd to the hospital.
Asked to describe Floyd’s condition, Smith said: ‘In lay terms, I thought he was dead,’ as the prosecution showed a screengrab of him checking for Floyd’s pulse.
Video showed Smith gesturing to Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck so they could put his limp body on a stretcher.
In images shown during Smith’s testimony, Floyd was seen slumped, and with his mouth bloodied as Smith said he did not have an obvious physical injury that would explain his dire condition.
Smith told the court that Floyd’s pupils were ‘large and dilated’.
Bravinder was asked during his testimony what a medic would expect to see in the eyes of a patient who had suffered an opioid overdose. ‘We look to see if their pupils are really small, constricted, pinpoint,’ he said.
But when Nelson countered, asking what methamphetamine – one of the substances found in Floyd’s blood – does to the pupils, Bravinder said: ‘It dilates them.’
Smith told the court that he detected a flicker of electrical activity in Floyd’s heart as they sped to the Hennepin County Medical Center and administered a shock in hopes of restarting a pulse. But, he said, Floyd remained ‘in his dead state’.
Both Bravinder and Smith testified that they wanted to get Floyd into the ambulance quickly because he was in cardiac arrest.
Bravinder added: ‘On top of that there was also a crowd of people who were yelling and in my mind we had to get away from that because running a cardiac arrest takes lot of mental power, can be taxing and we want to do that in the optimum environment …to be in a controlled space.’
Bravinder said he stopped the ambulance en route to the hospital and went into the back to assist his partner when Floyd’s cardiac monitor was showing ‘asystole’ – the medical term for ‘flat-lined’.
‘It’s not a good sign,’ Bravinder said. ‘Basically just because your heart isn’t doing anything at that moment. There’s not — it’s not pumping blood. So it’s not — it’s not a good sign for a good outcome.’
Asked if it was important to start resuscitation efforts as soon as a pulse was lost, Bravinder said: ‘Yes, as soon as possible.’
‘The longer a patient goes without receiving resuscitation the less likely it is that resuscitation will be successful.’
Cross-examined by Nelson, Bravinder confirmed he had personally been called out to emergencies involving drug overdoses and that police were called to such cases as a matter of course.
Nelson asked: ‘Is that because sometimes when people are treated for an overdose and they come round they become aggressive and violent?’
Bravinder responded: ‘Yes.’
Minneapolis Fire Department Captain Jeremy Norton
Minneapolis Fire Department Captain Jeremy Norton testified on April 1 about the initial confusion that saw their fire rig arrive at Cup Foods to assist paramedics only to find that the ambulance had pulled off the scene and was treating Floyd a few blocks away.
He explained that they had received very little information beyond receiving a call out to Cup Foods which was elevated from code 2 (non-emergent), to code 3, (lights and sirens en route).
According to Norton the only information he had was that the patient had sustained ‘a mouth injury’.
On arrival at the store Norton found ‘people upset’ and searched for a patient.
Norton said: ‘I was looking for a patient. The call was confusing because I didn’t have a lot of information so was essentially looking on the floor for someone.’
The fire rig ultimately joined the ambulance crew at 36th and Park Avenue, two blocks away.
By the time he saw Floyd he was, he said: ‘Face up on the stretcher. He had an advance airway in an he had the Lucas compression device in place and working.’
Norton cleared Lane out of the ambulance and took over attempts to resuscitate Floyd who was, he said, ‘to all intents and purposes dead’.
Minneapolis Police Department Sergeant David Pleoger
David Pleoger, who recently retired as a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department and was Chauvin’s supervisor, testified on April 1.
The jury heard new audio of Chauvin speaking with Pleoger moments after Floyd’s death, saying: ‘I was just going to call you come out to our scene we had to hold a guy down he was going crazy, wouldn’t go in the back of the squad.’
Pleoger said that Chauvin did not tell him that he had applied his knee to Floyd’s neck or that he had held him down for any length of time.
‘I believe he told me he’d become combative he mentioned he’d injured either his nose of his mouth and eventually having struggled with him,’ Pleoger recalled. ‘He said he’d suffered a medical emergency and an ambulance was called.’
As supervising shift sergeant, Pleoger was tasked with investigating any use of force incidents that occurred during his shift – 3pm to 1am.
Describing the call he’d received from 911 dispatcher Jenna Scurry, Pleoger said: ‘She called to say she didn’t want to be a snitch but she had seen something while viewing a camera that she thought was concerning.’
Pleoger had not received a call from Chauvin at that time and initially told Scurry that what she saw ‘might not count’.
According to Minneapolis Police Department policy officers are required to report use of force incidents under certain circumstances but not if it is a ‘take down’, which Pleoger – who had not been called by any of the officers on the scene – initially assumed was the case.
The jury was shown footage from Pleoger’s body camera in which officers Chauvin, Thao, Keung and Lane could be standing near the site of where they took down Floyd.
Pleoger instructed Chauvin to identify and speak with witnesses, to which the officer replied: ‘We can try but they’re pretty hostile.’
Additional video showed Pleoger arriving at the hospital where Floyd was pronounced dead, in which Chauvin appeared to be wringing his hands.
Asked if he had an opinion as to when Chauvin’s restraint should have ended, Pleoger responded: ‘Yes [it should have ended] when Mr Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance.’
MPD Sergeant Jon Edwards
Sgt. Jon Edwards, who was called to secure the scene in the aftermath, testified that two of the officers involved were still at the site when he arrived and that he was ordered to remove the crime scene tape just hours after his death was confirmed.
Edwards said he encountered Lane and Keung at the scene when he arrived and he instructed them to turn on their body cameras.
Edwards said: ‘I asked them to chill out because I knew from Sergeant Pleoger that he had a couple of escort sergeants coming down to transport them to interview room 100.’
Edwards told jurors that at approximately 10.13pm news came through that Floyd had died and the situation was confirmed as a critical incident. By then homicide was on the scene and Lane and Keung were transported to City Hall to be interviewed.
Edwards testified that he was then ordered to remove the crime scene tape he had earlier put up at about 3.30am.
MPD Lt Richard Zimmerman
Richard Zimmerman, the head of the Minneapolis Police Department’s homicide division, told jurors that Chauvin’s use of force in arresting Floyd was ‘totally unnecessary’ because a handcuffed person doesn’t pose a threat and kneeling on someone’s neck can ‘kill them’.
Zimmerman, who responded to the crime scene after Floyd’s deadly arrest, testified that he had watched multiple videos showing the moment the officer knelt on the black man’s neck after handcuffing him.
Having watched the videos, Zimmerman was clear: ‘Pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on his neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for.’
He added that once Floyd was handcuffed, he saw ‘no reason why the officers felt they were in danger and that’s what they would have to feel to use that level of force.’
Zimmerman told jurors that kneeling on the neck of someone who is handcuffed and in the prone position is ‘top-tier, deadly’ force and should not be used. ‘If your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill him,’ he said.
Asked by prosecutors whether a handcuffed person was a reduced threat, Zimmerman said: ‘Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way. They are cuffed, how can they really hurt you.
‘You getting injured is way down. You could have some guy try to kick you or something, but you can move out of the way. That person is handcuffed, you know, so the threat level is just not there.’
Zimmerman, who is trained every year in the use of force, told jurors he had never been trained to ‘kneel on the neck of somebody who’s cuffed and in the prone position’.
‘Once you secure or handcuff a person you need to get them out of the prone position as soon as possible because it restricts their breathing,’ he said, adding that having your hands cuffed behind your back ‘stretches the muscles back through your chest and makes it more difficult to breathe’.
Dr Bradford Langenfeld
Dr Bradford Langenfeld, the medic at the Hennepin County Medical Center who pronounced Floyd dead, told jurors on April 5 that he believed the cause of death last May 25 was asphyxia.
He told the court, ‘Any amount of time that a patient spends in cardiac arrest without CPR markedly decreases the chances of survival’ before explaining that those chances dropped by 10 to 15 percent with each passing minute.
There was nothing in the paramedics’ reports, he said, to suggest that they were concerned that Floyd had either suffered a heart attack or drug overdose.
Dr Langenfeld also told how paramedics had fought to revive Floyd for 30 minutes by the time he arrived in his ward but that despite their efforts he was in cardiac arrest and save for occasional Pulseless Electrical Activity (PEA) – activity in the heart not strong enough to establish a pulse – he flat-lined.
The medic could not recall whether or not Floyd was still cuffed on arrival but he did remember seeing indentations from the handcuffs on his wrists.
Dr Langenfeld said he had considered a host of possible causes for Floyd’s cardiac arrest and concluded that hypoxia – oxygen deficiency or asphyxia– was most likely, he said ‘based on the information that I had.’
He declared Floyd dead after 30 minutes in the hospital, by which time he had been without a pulse for close to an hour.
Speaking softly and soberly he recalled, ‘In the absence of any apparent reversable cause, [I felt that] the likelihood of any meaningful outcome was far below 1 percent and we would not be able to resuscitate Mr Floyd, so I then pronounced him dead.’
The court also heard from Dr. Bradford Langenfeld Monday, pictured, the medic at the Hennepin County Medical Center who pronounced Floyd dead
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told jurors that Chauvin ‘absolutely did not’ follow police policy on de-escalation or use of force when he pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.
In explosive testimony on April 5, Arradondo said Chauvin’s use of force ‘absolutely’ violated the department’s policy and belief in ‘the sanctity of life,’ and that the pressure he used was contrary to all departmental teachings.
He said: ‘Once Mr Floyd had stopped resisting and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped.
‘Once there was no longer any resistance and clearly when Mr Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back that in no way shape or form is by policy, part of our training, certainly not part of our ethics or values.’
Shown a still image taken from the bystander video Arradondo said: ‘When I look at the facial expression of Mr Floyd that does not appear in any way shape or form that that is ight to moderate pressure [as per policy].
‘That action is not de-escalation and when we talk about the framework of our sanctity of life and principals and values that we have that action goes contrary.’
Arradondo, Minneapolis’s first black police chief, also told the court that he agreed the Chauvin had violated policy by failing to provide any medical aid to the clearly suffering Floyd. He fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Mr Floyd’s death on May 25 last year and in June called it ‘murder’.
As well as his clear condemnation of the actions he described as violating policy, Arradondo told the court that Floyd’s alleged crime – passing a fake $20 bill at Cup Foods store – did not rise to the level of violent crime that demanded use of force or a custodial arrest.
Inspector Katie Blackwell
Inspector Katie Blackwell, former commander of the Minneapolis police department’s training division, took the stand on April 5.
She said that she has known Chauvin for close to twenty years having first served as a community officer with him. And she herself appointed Chauvin, who was by far the most senior officer on the scene May 25, to the role of Field Training Officer, responsible for training and mentoring new recruits.
But when shown an image of Chauvin, with his knee on Floyd’s neck, Blackwell was damning. She said, ‘I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is.’
According to Blackwell officers are taught to use one or two arms, not knees, for neck restraints and to constantly reassess the situation.
She also said that ‘positional asphyxia’ was a concept known to her for as long as she had been an officer – roughly the same period of time that Chauvin has served.
She echoed testimony already heard by the jury regarding the dangers of keeping a person in the prone position – one in which they are not able to adequately breath.
For that reason, she said, officers are taught to put suspects on their side, in the side-recovery position or sitting upright ‘as soon as is possible.’
MPD Inspector Katie Blackwell also gave evidence Monday. She told jurors about the training officers recieve
Ker Wang, Crisis Training Coordinator
On April 6 the court heard from Sergeant Ker Wang, 49, Crisis Training Coordinator with the MPD and the man who wrote significant portions of that training.
He said that he recognized Chauvin’s name, not because he knew him personally, but from training.
The court heard that Chauvin took part in a 40-hour crisis training course in 2018 – though this was not a course in which Wang had personally instructed him.
Wang described a ‘crisis’ as anything that took an individual ‘beyond their coping mechanisms’ and said that the primary goal of any intervention was to ‘de-escalate’ and restore the situation to a pre-crisis level.
Steve Schleicher asked Wang to talk the jury through the Critical Decision Making Model – a graphic of five spheres around a central sphere.
Wang, who introduced the model to MPD training in 2018, explained how the outer spheres which contained the topic headings: Information Gathering, Threat/Risk Assessment, Authority to Act, Goals and Actions, Review & Re-Assess linked to the ‘key pillars of procedural justice’ expressed in the centre ‘Voice Neutrality Respect Trust.’
The model could be read and enacted in any direction, as officers respond to crisis in a state of flux and constant reassessment.
He said that every officer could apply this model, ‘like memory’ and in doing so ‘can slow down time,’ in a crisis situation.
He said, ‘I believe in this model because it works.’
When Nelson cross-examined the witness he sought to widen the focus from Chauvin’s assessment of and actions towards Floyd to take in the context of the crowd – the part that they played in events and the extent to which their understanding of them was limited.
He pointed out that an officer had to consider ‘the totality of the circumstances,’ which ‘is more than just how you react to the person being arrested.’
Wang agreed with Nelson’s statement that this included, ‘citizen bystanders, what to do when a citizen bystander starts filming you, how to identify when a citizen constitutes a risk.’
The model was, Nelson asserted, ‘a very dynamic, ever-changing thing based on the information that comes to the officers in real time.’
Much of that may be invisible to the onlookers, he said – such as tactical thinking, knowing that medical help is on the way, considering officer safety.
Nelson then steered toward a presentation of Chauvin’s conduct and appearance as textbook.
Referencing training he said, ‘An officer should appear confident, they should be able to try to stay calm, they should try speak slowly and softly, they should avoid staring or eye-contact…’ Wang agreed.
They should, he said, in all respects attempt to ‘create time and distance.,’ acting only when it was ‘safe and feasible’ to do so.
Lieutenant Johnny Mercil
Minneapolis Police Department’s use of force expert and the man in charge of officer training told jurors on April 6 that Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck is not, and never has been, an MPD trained neck restraint.
Asked by prosecutor Steve Schleicher if such a level of restraint would be authorized when a subject is handcuffed Lieutenant Johnny Mercil replied, ‘I would say no.’
Mercil also told the court that officers were taught to use the minimum amount of force needed to detain someone.
Asked about leg neck restraints Mercil explained that, while not taught to officers, they were something that might be shown to young cadets. But they would not look like the restraint carried out by Chauvin on May 25.
As Schleicher walked him through the training and concepts in MPD’s Use of Force Mercil told the court that officers are not taught to use leg neck restraints and never have been.
Mercil was responding to a picture of Chauvin with his knee pressed into Floyd’s neck shown to him in court.
According to Mercil officers are taught how to deliver conscious and unconscious neck restraints with their arms and only under very limited circumstances when the level of resistance and threat would make such a measure proportional.
MPD medical support coordinator Nicole MacKenzie
Nicole MacKenzie, Minneapolis police medical support coordinator, testified that it is ‘very difficult to focus on a patient if you don’t feel safe’, arguing a noisy crowd could have made it hard for officers to hear Floyd struggling to breathe.
She told jurors on April 6 that treating a person under the eyes of a noisy crowd was ‘incredibly difficult.’
MacKenzie said: ‘It might sound wrong but bystanders do sometimes attack EMS crews so sometimes just getting out of the situation is the best way to diffuse it.’
‘It’s incredibly difficult [to treat under those circumstances] because you’re trying to be heads down on a patient [but] it’s very difficult to focus on the patient if you don’t feel safe around you.’
MacKenzie also said Floyd could have displayed ‘super-human strength’ due do ‘Excited Delirium’ brought on by the consumption of the illicit drug speedball.
Explaining this potential side-effect of taking the illicit drug MacKenzie said, ‘The person might be experiencing elevated body temperature, the heart rate might be extremely elevated and insensitive to pain. Because you don’t really have that pain/compliance edge that would normally control somebody’s behavior.
‘Somebody experiencing this might have what we would call super-human strength, lifting things they wouldn’t normally be able to lift, breaking things.’
One of other officers at the scene, Thomas Lane, said he was ‘worried about excited delirium’ and suggesting rolling Floyd on his side.
The prosecution established that Chauvin had undergone training in CPR and AED as well as other first aid before MacKenzie told the jury that trained officers must provide medical aid when necessary.
It was not enough, she said, for an officer to simply call for an ambulance and wait when in a ‘critical situation’.
She talked the jury through the basic steps in which officers are trained to establish responsiveness and – if no response is forthcoming – to check for breathing and a pulse before commencing chest compressions.
Asked if it was true to say that if a person can talk they can breathe, MacKenzie said, ‘No sir, somebody can be in respiratory distress and still be able to verbalize it.’
But under cross-examination MacKenzie agreed that the policies on rendering emergency medical aid were ‘somewhat qualified or contingent on what was going on at the scene at the time.’
Put simply the scene had to be safe, she accepted, before an officer should turn their attentions to first aid or CPR.
Nelson focused again on the scene. Painting the picture of a busy road and volatile, vocal crowd he asked if it would be possible for an officer to confuse the gasps of ‘agonal’ ineffective ‘breathing’ with effective breathing and if this mistake would be more likely, ‘when there’s a lot of noise and commotion.’
MacKenzie agreed on both points.
Use-of-force expert Jody Stiger
Derek Chauvin’s use of force was ‘excessive’, according to Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles police sergeant who gave testimony as the state’s use-of-force expert on April 6.
Stiger told the court that he has served in some of the most dangerous places and some of the most dangerous beats – Skid Row, gangs, narcotics – both in uniform and undercover and on LAPD’s Use of Force Board, as a peer reviewer of high profile uses of force.
Stiger was also a tactics instructor of six years and has travelled nationally in his capacity as an aid to the Inspector General – an independent oversight entity in LAPD – consulting with police forces across the country to establish consistent standards and training nationwide.
He has conducted 2500 use of force reviews including use of deadly force.
Stiger told the jury that he had reviewed all of the state’s materials– body-worn cameras, cell and pole-camera video footage, reports and MPD manuals and training materials. He told the court that he also took into consideration legal standards, the level of the offense and the person’s actions.
Asked about Floyd’s crime – attempting to pass a fake $20 bill – he said, ‘Typically you wouldn’t even expect to use any force.’
He said officers were initially justified in their use of force because Floyd was ‘actively resisting’ but said ‘once he was placed in the prone position on the ground he slowly ceased his resistance and at that point the ex-officers should have slowed down or backed off their force as well.’
Instead, he noted, ‘They continued the force that they were utilizing from the time when they put him on the ground.’
Stiger told the court that the officers could have continued trying to talk to Floyd and noted that Keung had already established some sort of rapport.
But despite this he said that they had not behaved unreasonably in their efforts to get a struggling Floyd into the back of the squad car.
He recalled, ‘Mr Floyd was actively resisting moving around clearly, trying to get out. He didn’t want to be there and the officers were initially trying to place him in the back seat, grabbing the seat belt and things of that nature and eventually the decision was made to remove him from the vehicle.’
He said, ‘They were pulling him from the driver side, passenger door – the street side – pulling on his legs and his arms and once they got him out he kind of went on his knees.
‘He was saying he couldn’t breathe, saying he was claustrophobic. Numerous times he stated he was afraid, he had had covid and couldn’t breathe and he had anxiety and was claustrophobic.’
Jody Stiger, 50, who gave testimony as the state’s Use of Force expert, said Chauvin’s use of force was ‘excessive’
Senior Special Agent James Reyerson, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension officer
James Reyerson, the lead investigator in Derek Chauvin’s murder case on April 7 reversed his testimony regarding George Floyd’s declaration, ‘I ate too many drugs’, later clarifying he heard: ‘I ain’t doing no drugs’.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson had played the clip to the court from one of the officer’s body-worn cameras at the scene last May 25.
Asked if he recalled hearing that Reyerson said no he did not.
After the segment was played in court, when asked again if he had heard it he said, ‘Yes I did.’
But in a stunning about face, when recalled by the prosecution and played a longer portion of the bodycam footage, Reyerson said that he now believed Floyd to be saying, ‘I ain’t doing no drugs.’
Reyerson told the jury both the patrol car Floyd was pulled out of and the car he was in were processed on May 27, two days after Floyd’s death, then again in December 2020 when the prosecution requested a search of the Blue Mercedes SUV before the defense asked to see squad 320 in January.
It was at that time a half- chewed speedball pill was found bearing Floyd’s DNA and saliva.
BCA forensic scientist and Lead Crime Scene Investigator McKenzie Anderson
BCA forensic scientist and Lead Crime Scene Investigator McKenzie Anderson told the jury on April 7 how she had found a crumpled and open packet of Suboxone – a medication given to adults with an opioid addiction – in the driver’s seat footwell of the Mercedes Floyd had arrived in, as well as an unopened packet on the seat.
She also told them about two round white pills found in the center console of the car. Jurors were shown pictures of all of these findings.
Anderson and her colleagues had not found the pills or containers on an initial search of the Mercedes on May 27 when she photographed the interior and searched with little sense of what she might be looking for.
The car was searched again on the request of the Attorney General’s office December 9 when the pills and $20 bills stuffed between the passenger seat and center consol.
Anderson told jurors that she ‘didn’t give any forensic significance’ to the small white pill clearly visible on the floor on the passenger side of the vehicle’s back seat in the first set of pictures.
She explained that she had been looking for blood or something to do with fake bills.
The potential significance was immediately spotted by the defense who requested a second search of the car having seen the half-chewed pill in pictures.
On a second search Anderson found the white pill as well as several other small irregular shaped white objects that could, she said, have been parts of a pill.
There were no visible markings on either the pill or the fragments, all of which, she said had a rough texture and irregular shape.
There was one fragment, stuck to the back seat and reddish-brown in color, that, she said, seemed ‘consistent with the other pieces,’ except for the color difference.
Forensic testing found Floyd’s DNA in saliva left on the half-chewed pill which was found to be a ‘speedball’ or compound of methamphetamine and fentanyl when sent to drug chemistry division.
Forensic scientist Breahna Giles
BCA’s Breahna Giles was the forensic scientist tasked with analyzing the glass pipe and pills found in the Mercedes.
On April 7 she testified that she found traces of THC – the psychoactive component found in marijuana – in residue scraped from the pipe and determined the pills, which had pharmaceutical markings, to be a compound of Oxycodone and Acetaminophen.
She also tested the tablet and fragments found in the back of squad 320 and found the partial white pill to be methamphetamine as well as identifying methamphetamine in the fragments found.
Under cross-examination Giles said that there was the presence of other substances but not enough to make a positive determination of its nature.
Asked by Nelson, ‘But that was fentanyl?’ she said she could neither confirm nor deny its presence. Eleven nanograms of Fentanyl was found in Floyd’s bloodstream.
BCA’s Breahna Giles was the forensic scientist tasked with analyzing the glass pipe and pills found in the Mercedes. She found traces of THC – the psychoactive component found in marijuana – in residue scraped from the pipe and determined the pills, which had pharmaceutical markings, to be a compound of Oxycodone and Acetamenophin
Forensic chemist Susan Neith
Forensic chemist Susan Neith was the last witness on April 7. She also tested the pills from both vehicles and told the jury that she found trace levels of fentanyl and methamphetamine in the pills taken from the back of the squad car.
She put the levels of fentanyl at less than 1 percent the amount she said she would expect to find in street fentanyl. But put the levels of methamphetamine at between 1 and 2.9percent which she said was much lower in her experience than that found in street drugs which she would expect to come in at 80 to 90 percent.
Forensic chemist Susan Neith was the last witness of the day. She also tested the pills from both vehicles and told the jury that she found trace levels of fentanyl and methamphetamine in the pills taken from the back of the squad car
Pulmonology expert Dr Martin Tobin
Dr Martin Tobin, a specialist at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Chicago, testified he believed Floyd’s cause of death was due to a lack of oxygen that damaged his brain and caused his heart to stop.
During his hours-long testimony on April 8, he said there were several factors that he said made it difficult for Floyd to breathe, beyond Chauvin’s knee on his neck: Officers lifting up on his handcuffs, the hard street, lying face down, his turned head and a knee on his back.
‘A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,’ Dr Tobin said.
Tobin, analyzing a graphic presentation of the three officers holding down Floyd for what prosecutors say was almost 9 1/2 minutes, testified that Chauvin’s knee was ‘virtually on the neck’ for more than 90% of the time by his estimate.
Chauvin also kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 3.02 minutes after Floyd had ‘reached the point where there was not one ounce of oxygen left in the body,’ Tobin said.
When asked if Dr Tobin, based on his medical expertise, had determined a cause of death for Floyd after viewing videos from the scene, he said: ‘Mr Floyd died from a low level of oxygen… The cause of low level of oxygen was shallow breathing. Small breaths that weren’t able to carry the air through his lungs.
‘He was being squashed between the two sides,’ Dr Tobin said as he described the position Floyd was in lying face down on the ground with the officers pinning him down.
Dr Tobin told the court that the impact of the pressure of the officers and handcuffs rendered movement so impossible that Floyd’s left lung was greatly affected.
‘When you breathe you use your diaphragm, next thing you recruit is the big muscles in the neck, when those are wasted up then you’re relying on these kinds of muscles to get air into the right side.’
Elsewhere in his testimony, Dr Tobin said he’d calculated that Floyd’s lung capacity was reduced by 43 percent when Chauvin was pinning him down.
Forensic toxicologist Dr Daniel Isenschmid
Dr Daniel Isenschmid took the stand on April 8 and told how he found traces of fentanyl and methamphetamine when he tested blood drawn from Floyd at the hospital and urine from his autopsy.
He told the court that even though there was a high level of fentanyl in Floyd’s bloodstream – 11ng ml where a 3ng ml could be lethal – individual tolerance had to be taken into account.
The toxicology expert suggested Floyd’s tolerance have been high as a regular user.
He also pointed to the presence of norfentanyl – a metabolic of fentanyl.
Isenschmid said that he wouldn’t expect to see this in a case where death had occurred as a result of fentanyl overdose because the body wouldn’t have had a chance to metabolize the drug.
He described the level of meth in Floyd’s bloodstream – 19ng ml – as no more than he would expect to find in the blood of a patient who had consumed a single legally prescribed dose and his amphetamine was below reportable levels.
Forensic expert Dr William Smock
Dr William Smock took the stand on April 8 and testified that Floyd died from positional asphyxia, which he said was ‘a fancy way of saying he died because he had no oxygen left in his body’.
‘When the body is deprived of oxygen, in this case from pressure on this chest and back, he gradually succumbed to lower and lower levels of oxygen until he succumbed and he died,’ he said.
Smock said that he had considered and dismissed other causes including the defense’s causes of choice – fentanyl overdose and excited delirium.
One by one he explained the symptoms of excited delirium – including excessive sweat, being unaffected by pain and super-human strength – and dismissed them pointing out that Floyd was cold to the touch, complaining of pain from the moment he was on the ground and unable to throw the police officers from his back.
Asked by prosecutors how many of the 10 recognized symptoms he observed, Smock answered: ‘Zip.’
He discarded fentanyl overdose as a possible cause of death because he said, Floyd was not falling into a coma, snoring, or slowing down in breathing.
He was, instead, fighting for his life and demonstrating ‘air hunger’ as he struggled to breathe. He pointed to Floyd’s weakening voice as evidence that the life was draining from him and recognized Floyd’s dying moments in his altering facial expressions and anoxic seizure – when his legs kicked out straight behind him.
Smock explained that since Floyd was a chronic drug users the levels of narcotics and their metabolites found in his blood stream really meant very little. ‘You don’t rely on the level, you look at the patient,’ he said.
The defense has pointed to the fact that there was no bruising on Floyd’s neck and throat post mortem as proof that Chauvin’s knee did not dig into him until the life was squeezed out of him.
But Smock, who is also a specialist in strangulation, said: ‘You can be fatally strangled and died of asphyxia and have no bruising.’
Dr William Smock, a forensic medicine expert, told the jury in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial on Thursday April 8 that when George Floyd cried out ‘I can’t breathe’ he was exhibiting the desperation of ‘air hunger’
Forensic pathologist Dr Lindsey Thomas
Forensic pathologist Dr Lindsey Thomas, who works as a medical examiner in Reno and Salt Lake City, testified on April 9 that Floyd died as as result of ‘low oxygen’ or ‘asphyxia.’
Thomas said that in this case the autopsy itself did not tell her the cause of death in her investigation but the ‘unique’ amount of documentation in terms of videos and records was vital in establishing ‘mechanism’ of death.
She agreed with Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr Andrew Baker’s finding that the cause of death was ‘cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual restraint and neck compression’.
Thomas told the court that there are no physical findings in autopsy that show low oxygen but there are sometimes findings consistent with a cause of death that may result in low oxygen. She gave as an example a partial hanging in which a person may have petechiae, tiny burst blood vessels in the eye.
She said that she had found such supporting signs in Floyd’s autopsy. According to Thomas, ‘Mr Floyd had superficial injuries on his face, shoulders and wrists. What that does is it supports what I saw in the videos which is that he’s being forcibly restrained and subdued and trying to move into a position by rubbing his face against the ground, pulling against his handcuffs and by pushing with his shoulder.
‘And he also had some scrapes on his knuckles on his right hand and again that was from him pushing trying to get into a position where he could breathe.’
She explained: ‘There are really two parts; cardiopulmonary arrest which doesn’t really provide much additional information because essentially we all die when our heart and lungs stop, but as a forensic pathologist I would use it to differentiate from cardiac arrest. This is not a sudden cardiac arrest.
‘This is a death where both the heart and lungs stopped working and the point is that it is due to subdual restraint and compression.’
Thomas concluded: ‘The activities of the law enforcement officers led to Mr Floyd’s death.’
And by that she meant placing him in the prone position, handcuffing him and kneeling on his back and, specifically, neck.
Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr Andrew Baker
Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr Andrew Baker, who performed Floyd’s autopsy, took the stand on April 9 and said that he did not find the cause of death to be asphyxia or low oxygen levels and that he did not believe that Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck for ‘the majority’ of the time.
In a massive departure from the prosecution’s contention, Baker said: ‘In my impression from the video it would appear that Mr Chauvin’s knee was primarily on the back, on the side or the area in between Mr Floyd’s neck (and back).’
Under cross examination, Baker told the court that asphyxia was ‘a very common cause’ of the deaths that he had seen across 2,900 to 3,000 autopsies but it was not the conclusion that he came to before, or after, having seen the videos of the incident on May 25, 2020.
In a startlingly brief direct questioning by Jerry Blackwell, Baker told the court that Floyd died because being pinned down on the ground with his neck compressed was, ‘just more than he could take,’ given his severe underlying heart disease.
Asked if, in his opinion, the positioning of Chauvin’s knee would cut off Floyd’s oxygen supply, Baker said: ‘In my opinion it would not.’
In his view, he said: ‘It was the stress of that interaction that tipped him over the edge given his underlying heart disease and his toxicological status.’
The doctor told the court that he had deliberately avoided all video footage until after he conducted the autopsy because he did not want to introduce any ‘bias’ that might, ‘lead [his] examination down any particular path’.
In his conclusion Floyd’s death occurred ‘in the context’ of law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression but he did not give the cause of death as set out by others.
Cardiologist Dr Jonathan Rich
Dr Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, took the stand on April 12 and said Floyd would still be alive if it weren’t for Chauvin’s restraint as he asserted that the black man did not have heart disease and his tolerance for fentanyl was so high that the drug played no role in his death.
‘In this case Mr George Floyd died from a cardiopulmonary arrest,’ Rich told the jury. ‘It was caused by low oxygen and those low oxygen levels were produced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxia that he was subjected to.’
Rich refuted key arguments from the defense when he said he had considered and discounted Floyd’s cause of death as having originated from the heart itself or being the result of an overdose.
‘After reviewing all of the facts I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event and he did not die from a drug overdose,’ he said.
Instead, he said Floyd ‘was just unable using all of his muscles, his accessory muscles, he was unable [to breathe] because of the position he was subjected to’.
‘The heart thus didn’t have enough oxygen either which means the entire body didn’t have enough oxygen,’ he said.
Asked whether he thought Floyd would be alive today were it not for ‘Mr Chauvin’s subdual and restraint of nine minutes and 29 seconds on the ground’, Rich said: ‘To a high degree of medical certainty, he would have lived.’
Rich told the court that, in his view: ‘Mr George Floyd’s death was absolutely preventable.’
He said the first thing that could’ve been done to prevent Floyd’s death would have been to simply not place him in the prone position at all.
After that happened, Rich said Floyd should have been moved into the side recovery position when his complaints of not being able to breathe became audibly weaker.
While Floyd had high blood pressure which could, Rich said, become a problem over time if not treated, he told the jury: ‘Every indicator is that Mr Floyd had an exceptionally strong heart because he could generate pressures at some points upwards of 200.’
Rich explained that a problem with some of the patients he sees who are suffering heart failure is that they cannot generate pressures of even 80 as a top number. Normal blood pressure is around 120/80.
As doctors Martin Tobin, William Smock and Lindsey Thomas had before him, Rich asserted that the deterioration he observed in Floyd was not the sudden loss of consciousness of a primary cardiac event, but the slow seeping way of one deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time.
‘In the course of the restraint I was looking to see if his deterioration occurred rapidly,’ Rich said. ‘A primary cardiac event, the most common arrhythmia is ventricular fibrillation, when that happens the individual will look relatively okay and then they will immediately become unconscious.
‘On the other hand if the cause is from something else – for example low oxygen levels – you will typically see that happening more gradually and slowly.
‘I could see his speech starting to become less forceful, his muscle movements becoming weaker until eventually his speech and muscle movements were absent. And then of course he was in a PEA (Pulseless Electrical Activity) cardiopulmonary arrest.’
Turning to the autopsy report, Rich said that he had found no evidence of the sort of tell-tale damage to the heart that a heart attack would have left behind.
And while he called Floyd’s arterial disease ‘notable’, he said it was not something that surprised him because it is so common. What was most significant, he said, was that Floyd’s arteries were only partially blocked, not completely occluded – a sign of that a heart attack had occurred.
Rich discounted a fentanyl or methamphetamine overdose saying that he felt the latter ‘played no substantive role at all’.
He said from what he had seen, Floyd’s behavior – his talkativeness, alertness, ability to walk – was the opposite of what a person would witness in an opiate overdose.
On cross examination, Nelson tried to take the sting out of Rich’s testimony that Floyd would be alive today were it not for Chauvin’s actions.
Flipping the outcome back on Floyd, Nelson asked: ‘If Mr Floyd had just got into the seat of the squad car do you think he would have survived?’
Rich tip-toed into his answer, denying Nelson the straight yes or no that he sought.
‘Had he not been restrained in the way in which he was, I think he would have survived that day. I think he would have gone home had he not been subjected to the prone position that he was,’ he said.
‘So in other words,’ Nelson summed up for the court. ‘If he had just gotten into the squad car.’
Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother
Floyd’s younger brother Philonise Floyd broke down in tears at trial on April 12 as the court was shown pictures of his slain sibling – as a young boy, sleeping in his smiling mother’s arms, as a teenager studying, pen in hand and as a young athlete who got a basketball scholarship to South Florida before transferring to Gainesville, Texas, where he played football, and smiling with his seven-year-old daughter Gianna in his arms.
Philonise, 39, recalled his oldest brother as a ‘leader,’ who organized his younger siblings and made sure they had their school uniform each morning and a snack before school. He said that people in their community would go to church just because they saw that Floyd was there.
He said that his older brother always wanted to be taller and to be the best, measuring himself as he grew and throwing hundreds of hoops in a bid to be the ‘best’ at basketball.
Philonise recalled playing video games and catch with Floyd growing up before telling the court with a smile that his brother ‘couldn’t boil water’ but would make the best ‘banana and mayonnaise and syrup sandwiches’.
Toward the end of his brief testimony, he told how broken Floyd was by his mother’s death, saying that at the funeral, ‘George just sat there at the casket saying: « Mamma » over and over again.
‘He was just kissing her. He didn’t want to leave the casket.’
George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial on Monday afternoon (pictured)
Use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton
The prosecution’s final witness, use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton, testified on April 12 that Floyd did not pose a threat during his fatal arrest and said officers should have relented after the handcuffed black man pleaded: ‘I can’t breathe’ 27 times.
Stoughton, a former cop turned law professor, was asked to provide his analysis of body camera video of Floyd pinned to the ground by Chauvin and two other officers on May 25 in Minneapolis.
In a damning sequence prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked: ‘Did Mr Floyd present any threat of escape? Did he present any threat to physical property? Did he present any threat to the physical safety of officers or anyone else?’
Again and again Stoughton answered: ‘No he did not.’
Asked: ‘Did he present any sort of threat at all?’ Stoughton again said: ‘No he did not.’
Stoughton concluded: ‘No reasonable officers would have believed that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force.’
Stoughton said it was ‘never’ necessary or reasonable to place Floyd in a prone position, adding: ‘It’s clear from the number of officers the fact that he’s handcuffed and has been searched he doesn’t present any threat of harm, his actions don’t suggest he’s any threat of escape.’
‘Given the range of alternatives available to officers it’s just not appropriate to prone someone when they’re already compliant,’ Stoughton said.
Stoughton went on to draw a distinction between ‘threat’ and ‘risk’.
He explained: ‘Threat is not some abstract notion. It’s specific; threat « of » something. Threat exists when the individual has the physical ability, the opportunity and apparent intention to cause whatever harm we’re envisaging.
‘That’s how we identify threat. Risk you can think of as a potential threat. Risk is something officers can use tactics and communications to address. The goal is to prevent risk becoming threat and that threat to turn into whatever the apparent harm intended is.’
He added: ‘While threat can justify use of force, risk can’t.’
Stoughton said that he considered a use of force review as ‘kind of a balancing of harms. The idea is an officer cannot use more force than the situation justifies.
‘The foreseeable effects can’t be disproportionate to the perceived threat.’
That is exactly what he concluded they had been on May 25, 2020.
Stoughton told the court: ‘Before he fell silent Mr Floyd said: « I can’t breathe » by my count at least 27 times. If somebody is describing that they’re in distress then officers have to take that into account.’
‘The officers are maintaining Mr Floyd in that prone position but there are some indicators that the foreseeable effects are occurring and that he’s experiencing positional asphyxia.
‘Not only does he indicate it with the words he’s using but [as the restraint continues] his voice is slower and thicker.’
According to Stoughton a ‘reasonable officer’ would ‘absolutely’ have been aware of Floyd’s complaints and in fact Chauvin can be heard acknowledging both them and, later, Officer J Alexander Keung telling him that he could not find a pulse.
Returning to his threat assessment as a vital part of establishing the reasonableness of force used Stoughton said: ‘Somebody who does not have a pulse does not present a threat in any way.’
Stoughton also dismissed the notion that the crowd posed any credible threat or could be perceived as such by a ‘reasonable officer’.
He pointed out that the first negative comment from the crowd came more than three minutes into the restraint and he noted Officer Tou Thao’s flippant comment: ‘This is why you don’t do drugs, kids’ as an indication that the officers were not truly afraid of trouble.
‘That’s relevant because if you are concerned about a crowd you don’t say things that are likely to exacerbate that situation,’ he explained. ‘A comment like: « This is why you don’t do drugs, kids, » is not rapport building.’
After Floyd had been removed by paramedics Chauvin returned to his squad car and could be heard in a interaction with a bystander.
Paraphrasing what he could recall, Stoughton said that Chauvin attempted to justify his actions by saying, ‘something akin to describing Mr Floyd as a pretty big guy, possibly intoxicated possibly on drugs and that officers needed to keep control over him’.
According to Stoughton: ‘All of those individual statements are true; Mr Floyd was a larger individual and there was ample reason to think he may have been impaired by alcohol or drugs.
‘But a reasonable officer in this situation would have perceived that they could have maintained control over him without putting a knee on his neck or keeping him in that position.
‘The sanctity of human life is the absolute priority in policing.
On cross examination, Nelson pressed Stoughton: ‘Does the reasonable officer decide whether they should be put in the squad car or does the suspect decide whether they should be put in the squad car…the suspect does not get to dictate I get to sit on the ground or in the front of the squad car?’
Stoughton agreed they did not.
Nelson re-iterated Stoughton’s view that the use of the prone position was never reasonable suggesting that ‘reasonable minds’ can disagree.
‘On this particular point? No,’ Stoughton countered.
Stoughton agreed that the use of force is often not very pretty but that that did not necessarily mean that it was unlawful.
But he added: ‘I don’t think that’s the case here.’
Retired Minneapolis police officer Scott Creighton
Retired Minneapolis police officer Scott Creighton was the first witness to take the stand for the defense on Tuesday April 13 as the court watched body-camera footage of Floyd’s arrest on May 6, 2019.
In a remarkably brief direct examination Nelson asked Creighton what he had observed of Floyd as he approached his vehicle. Creighton told the jury that Floyd was not responsive and that he had to ‘physically reach in [to the car] because I wanted to see his hands.’
In the video Floyd can be heard saying: ‘I don’t want to be shot’ before Creighton pulled him out of the car.
Under cross examination by Erin Eldridge, Creighton observed that the situation had ‘escalated really quick’ once Floyd refused to show his hands and that he was compelled to pull his gun.
He described Floyd as ‘incoherent’ but able to walk and talk.
Nelson had hoped to show the jury that, under similar circumstances, when approached in a car by an officer with his gun drawn, Floyd rapidly ingested drugs and pretended to have a medical emergency.
On re-direct Nelson asked if Creighton had heard his partner instructing Floyd to ‘spit it out’. Creighton said, he may have done.
Retired Minneapolis Police Officer Scott Creighton (pictured) testified about what he witnessed of Floyd during an arrest on May 6, 2019
Retired paramedic Michelle Moseng
Retired paramedic Michelle Moseng was the prosecution’s second witness on Tuesday April 13 as Nelson drew out the parallels between May 6, 2019 and what he contests took place on May 25, 2020.
Moseng was called to Floyd’s arrest during which he had required medical care.
According to Moseng, Floyd was agitated and upset and told her that he had been taking seven to nine opioids – oxy and Percocet – every twenty minutes throughout the day and another just before the officer had approached the car.
When asked for details of her physical assessment of Floyd she revealed that she recorded a blood pressure of 216 over 160 – so high that she recommended he be taken immediately to hospital.
Floyd told her, she said, that he had not been taking his blood pressure medication, ‘for months’.
In an aggressive cross-examination, Eldridge peppered the witness with questions demanding her acknowledgement that Floyd’s blood oxygen, pulse, respiration, heart rhythm and EKG were all normal.
‘And you took him to the hospital and he was monitored for two hours and he was released,’ Eldridge said, to which Moseng answered: ‘Yes.’
Michelle Moseng (pictured) was the paramedic called to administer medical aid during Floyd’s arrest on May 6, 2019
George Floyd’s friend Shawanda Hill
The third witness called by the defense was Shawanda Hill, the woman who was in the car with Floyd and his friend Morries Hall, on May 25, 2020, after having bumped into Floyd in Cup Foods where he offered to give her a ride home.
At times hard to hear and irritable, Hill told Nelson that Floyd was ‘happy, normal’ and ‘alert’ when she spoke to him in the store.
But back in the car – after she had been on a call with her daughter – Hill said she saw that Floyd had suddenly fallen asleep before Cup Foods clerks came out to confront him about using a counterfeit $20 bill.
By then, she said: ‘He was already sleeping. When they came to the car and when they came try to wake him up, I tried to wake him up over and over, he kept, he’d wake up, then say something, then nodded back off. He did that a couple of times.’
Hill went onto relate how she had struggled to get Floyd to focus when the police arrived, telling him: ‘Baby that’s the police, open the door, roll down the window.’
Hill said Floyd was ‘startled’ when Officer Thomas Lane pulled his gun, prompting him to grab at the steering wheel and plead: ‘Please don’t shoot me, please don’t shoot me.’
Judge Cahill spoke to Hill, who had been named in earlier testimony as a heroin dealer, ahead of the jury being seated after a brief morning break.
He explained to her that the attorneys might ask her whether or not she was under the influence of drugs or alcohol and that, though he did not think the questions would incriminate her and he had instructed the limit of their scope, she had the right to consult and attorney regarding invoking her Fifth Amendment right.
She said she did not need one and that she was ‘ready to go’.
In his brief cross-examination Assistant Attorney General Frank Matthew established that, despite his sleepiness, Floyd was not short of breath or complaining of chest pains at any point.
Minneapolis Park Police Officer Peter Chang
The fourth witness for the defense was Minneapolis Park Police Officer Peter Chang, who arrived at Cup Foods after officers Thomas Lane and J Alexander Keung had already confronted Floyd.
The jury was shown video from Chang’s body-camera, which revealed Floyd’s friends reactions to his arrest for the first time.
Chang described a relatively calm scene on his arrival at Cup Foods where he saw Keung next to Floyd who was seated on the ground, handcuffed and leaning against the wall outside Dragon Wok restaurant.
Chang told the court that he had been ‘concerned for the officers’ safety’ due to the ‘very aggressive crowd’ that gathered outside Cup Foods on 38th and Chicago as police struggled with and subdued Floyd.
As the scene in front of Cup Foods clearly becomes more heated, Chang can be seen pacing to and fro – movement he explained to Nelson as due to checking on his fellow officers’ safety – and repeatedly telling Hill and Hall to stay put as they agitate to see what’s going on.
He informs them: ‘Right now they’re grabbing an ambulance for your buddy. He might have heart himself.’
Cautioning both to stay away from the car and the scene, he tells Hill: ‘Shawanda you’re not helping.’
In a very brief cross-examination Frank established that there had never been a ‘code 3’ or emergent call out to the scene at Cup Foods and undercut Chang’s concern for his fellow officers by pointing out that he knew there were four officers on scene and that none ever radioed for help.
MPD Medical Support Coordinator Nicole MacKenzie
Minneapolis Police Department Medical Support Coordinator Nicole MacKenzie made her second appearance on the stand directly before the court broke for lunch on Tuesday.
When appearing as a state witness last week, MacKenzie gave her opinion that treating a person under the eyes of a crowd, hostile or otherwise, ‘is incredibly difficult’. She also told the court about ‘excited delirium’, saying that it could give a person, ‘super-human’ strength.
Today Nelson focused on the symptoms of the condition and recent training materials that, he established, of which Chauvin as a veteran would not have had knowledge.
In contrast, rookie Lane did and in body-worn camera footage he can be heard expressing concern that Floyd may be suffering from excited delirium.
MacKenzie explained that Lane would have received training that included the acronym NOTACRIME of signs and actions cadets were trained to note and take.
She talked the jury through each letter. She said that a person may be Naked, exhibit violence towards Objects, by Tough and unstoppable. The onset could be Acute, the person Confused and Resistant as well as Incoherent, the condition could be due to Mental health issues and always required an EMS to be called early as it could lead to a sudden cardiac arrest.
In another brief cross Frank established from MacKenzie that as a medical support coordinator it was not her job to diagnose conditions. She agreed she would always defer to a paramedic.
Minneapolis Police Department Medical Support Coordinator Nicole MacKenzie made her second appearance on the stand directly before the court broke for lunch on Tuesday
Use-of-force expert Barry Brodd
Barry Brodd, a former cop and use-of-force expert who specializes in police and civilian defense cases, testified for Chauvin’s defense on Tuesday April 13 and said the defendant did not use deadly force against Floyd.
In fact, Brodd argued that Chauvin’s placing the handcuffed black man in the prone position and kneeling on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds did not constitute use of force at all.
‘It’s a control technique. It doesn’t hurt,’ Brodd said. ‘It’s safe for the officer, safe for the suspect and you’re using minimal effort to keep them on the ground.’
During direct examination by Nelson, Brodd said Chauvin was ‘justified’ and acting ‘with objective reasonableness’ in his interactions with Floyd.
He told the jury that police officers ‘don’t have to fight fair’, explaining that they can use a level of force that is ‘one up’ from the level of any resistance. He noted that when dealing with suspects who are under the influence of drugs, officers can ‘find themselves in a fight for their life in a heartbeat’.
Brodd also leaned in to the defense narrative that Chauvin and his fellow officers felt ‘threatened’ by the gathering crowd.
Brodd’s confident testimony took a turn when prosecutor Steve Schleicher stepped up to cross examine him, wasting no time in tackling the assertion that keeping Floyd in the prone position did not constitute a use of force and did not hurt.
He asked Brodd if he truly believed that it is unlikely that ‘orienting yourself on top of a person on the pavement with both legs [on top of them] is unlikely to produce pain?’ Brodd conceded that it could.
Schleicher countered that if that position could produce pain, by Brodd’s logic, it could also constitute a use of force.
Looking at the all-too-familiar image of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, Brodd was forced to concede: ‘Shown in this picture, that could be use of force’ – but argued that Floyd had grown increasingly non-compliant.
Schleicher then showed a screengrab of Floyd pinned to the ground and asked: ‘What part of this is not compliant?’
Refusing to deviate from his narrative Brodd insisted: ‘I see his arm position. A compliant person would have both their hands in the small of their back and be resting comfortably.’
The disbelief clear in his voice, Schleicher asked: ‘Did you say resting comfortably?’
‘At this time when he’s attempting to breathe by shoving his shoulder into the pavement,’ Brodd replied.
Pathologist Dr David Fowler
Dr David Fowler, the former chief medical examiner of Maryland, took the stand on April 14 to share his conclusion that Floyd’s death should have never been ruled a homicide because there were too many competing potential causes of death.
One of the potential causes Fowler presented was Floyd’s exposure to exhaust from the squad car he was pinned next to, which the witness said could have caused some degree of carbon monoxide poisoning.
But on cross examination by trial attorney Jerry Blackwell, Fowler was forced to admit that he had no concrete evidence to support the carbon monoxide poisoning theory.
Blackwell seized on the fact that Fowler had never set eyes on the squad car or attempted to simulate the conditions to sample possible levels of carbon monoxide in Floyd’s vicinity.
The prosecutor bluntly challenged: ‘For that matter cutting even more to the chase how do you even know the car was on?’
Fowler said that it was a question he had specifically asked and that he had observed water dripping from what appears to be a tail pipe.
Blackwell pressed: ‘You just assumed based on observing something dripping from a tail pipe that the car was on?’
‘It’s not an assumption,’ Fowler bit back. ‘It’s an evaluation based on an indicator that the car was running.’
The carbon monoxide point was one of many on which Fowler contradicted the opinions of medical experts who testified before him.
Blackwell drilled down on those contradictions while attempting to chip away at Fowler’s credibility, at one point telling him: ‘You’re not a toxicologist..a pulmonologist.. a cardiologist, a physiologist…You don’t treat patients.’
Fowler’s earliest contradiction across more than five hours of testimony came when he shared his conclusion that Floyd died from a ‘sudden cardiac arrhythmia’ due to his underlying heart disease during his restraint by police. That conclusion was refuted by Dr Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County chief medical examiner who performed Floyd’s autopsy.
Among the ‘significant contributing conditions’ that he listed was the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamine, paraganglioma – the adrenalin secreting-tumor that Floyd had – and his exposure to the squad car exhaust.
Fowler also said that Floyd had an enlarged heart, which meant he needed more oxygen to function, and that methamphetamine use heightened his risk of cardiac arrhythmia.
Later in his lengthy and technical testimony, Fowler cited multiple studies which challenged the notion that the prone position – in which Floyd was held for nine minutes and 29 seconds – is inherently dangerous.
He also referenced studies which concluded that it doesn’t matter how much a person weighs if they are applying a single knee to another person – and a double knee restraint makes only a modest difference.
According to those studies a person transfers just 23 percent of their bodyweight during a double knee restraint. So, Dr Fowler said, Chauvin – who he viewed as applying a single knee restraint for most of the restraint – would have been applying less than 30 to 35 pounds of weight to Floyd.
Asked if any of that weight compromised Floyd’s neck structures, Fowler said: ‘None of the vital structures.’
‘There was absolutely no evidence of any injury to the skin or deeper structures of the back or neck,’ he said, citing photos from Floyd’s autopsy.
In fact, he said the pressure applied to Floyd was less than the amount necessary to even bruise him.