Tag Archives: Chauvin

On Minneapolis TV Channels, Wall-to-Wall Coverage of the Chauvin Trial

Viewers tuning into the Minneapolis NBC affiliate expecting to see Hoda Kotb or Jenna Bush Hager on the “Today” show are instead seeing the inside of a courtroom and hearing experts discuss police use of force.

For three weeks, KARE, the affiliate, has packed its daytime schedule, usually full of morning shows and soap operas, with legal experts giving analysis of the trial of the former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin. It’s the same on the local FOX station: gavel-to-gavel coverage starting at about 8:30 a.m. every morning until the judge sends the jury home. That’s usually followed by a panel discussing takeaways from the day’s testimony. CBS and ABC affiliates are interrupting programming for key developments.

It’s less Nancy Grace of Court TV fame and more a sober examination of legal concepts, medical theories and testimony. On Thursday, Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender in Hennepin County, explained the morning’s events, including why Mr. Chauvin had invoked his Fifth Amendment right to not testify and why the prosecution submitted new evidence about a medical report it just found.

The defense rested on Thursday, and the jury is expected to start deliberating on Monday. And while Minneapolis residents are closely watching coverage of the trial, there is one group that isn’t allowed to. Every night, Judge Peter A. Cahill thanks the 12 jurors for their service and leaves them with a thought about the TV coverage.

“Have a good night,” he says. “And don’t watch the news.”

Andrés R. Martínez
This article originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

Chauvin Trial: Defense Focuses on Floyd's Past Police Encounters

MINNEAPOLIS — A police officer approached a car with George Floyd in the front seat, and Mr. Floyd started to panic. While officers ordered him to spit out a pill he was trying to swallow, he repeatedly begged them not to shoot him.

Within seconds, one of the officers had his gun drawn and Mr. Floyd was being pulled out of the car and handcuffed.

The body-worn camera video of that scene was shown for the first time on Tuesday to jurors in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murdering Mr. Floyd. The episode was strikingly similar to the day Mr. Floyd died. But it had been taken a year before.

As the defense began its case after 11 days of testimony against Mr. Chauvin, the video was the first exhibit introduced and signaled a key strategy: shifting the jurors’ focus to Mr. Floyd’s use of illicit drugs.

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, presented the video of the May 2019 arrest and questioned the paramedic who treated Mr. Floyd that day. He asked a woman who was with him the day he died about how Mr. Floyd fell asleep in the car and was difficult to rouse. He reviewed the signs of excited delirium, a condition often attributed to using stimulants.

Other planks of the defense emerged as well, including suggestions that the bystanders who tried to intervene were threatening and that Mr. Chauvin’s behavior was reasonable in the circumstances.

A Minneapolis Park Police officer who responded to the scene on May 25, 2020, the day Mr. Floyd died, testified that the bystanders were aggressive enough to make him fear for the other officers’ safety. A policing expert said the period of time when Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck was not only justified but did not even qualify as force. Each line of questioning was designed not so much to persuade the jury, but to sow the seeds of reasonable doubt.

The judge, Peter A. Cahill, has tried to bar a common defense tactic, blaming the victim. He has strictly limited testimony about Mr. Floyd, saying that his past acts and state of mind were not relevant to the case.

But the defense has tried to expose jurors to Mr. Floyd’s history of involvement with the police, and arguments over how much of the May 2019 arrest jurors would see began well before the trial.

Mr. Nelson said that arrest showed a pattern of behavior in which Mr. Floyd responded to the police by panicking, implying that he faked his response.

“This goes to the very nature of this case and why public perception is what it is,” Mr. Nelson said in court a few weeks ago. “The things that he is saying. ‘I can’t breathe.’ ‘I’m claustrophobic.’ Calling out for his Mama.”

The judge did not buy that argument, and initially barred any mention of the incident. He changed his mind after a second search, in January, of the squad car used on the day Mr. Floyd died turned up half-chewed pills of methamphetamine with Mr. Floyd’s DNA and saliva on them. He said that showed similarities between the two arrests, but he allowed the jury to see only about 90 seconds of the 2019 video.

“This evidence is being admitted solely for the limited purpose of showing what effects the ingestion of opioids may or may not have had on the physical well-being of George Floyd,” Judge Cahill told the jury on Tuesday before the video was shown. “This evidence is not to be used as evidence of the character of George Floyd.”

The video showed Mr. Floyd being slow to respond to commands from the police, and the officer who wore the body camera reaching to put Mr. Floyd’s hand on the dashboard. “It escalated real quick,” said the officer, Scott Creighton, who is now retired and who was the day’s first witness.

The prosecution has tried to engender empathy for Mr. Floyd’s struggle with opioid addiction, presenting testimony that he had tried to stop using. On Tuesday, the paramedic who was called to the precinct to treat Mr. Floyd in 2019 said he told her that not only had he taken an opioid painkiller as the officer approached the car, but that he had been taking them every 20 minutes.

Dan Herbert, a defense lawyer in Chicago who specializes in representing police officers, said the defense accomplished its goals in presenting the 2019 arrest. “What Nelson needs to do is show a side of George Floyd that is different from the poor individual that suffocated before everyone’s eyes on video,” he said. “He was lucky and didn’t die in that incident in 2019 — he wasn’t as lucky in 2020, that’s the strategy there.”

But the evidence could backfire because it showed an aggressive, profanity-laden approach by the police officers, and because unlike in 2020, Mr. Floyd was given medical assistance and survived the encounter.

“I don’t think Nelson scored a point at all,” said Albert Goins, a retired Minneapolis defense lawyer who represented the family of Jamar Clark, a Black man killed by the Minneapolis police in 2015. “Not only did Nelson’s use of the 2019 incident not land any blows, it raised the issue of the arbitrary practice and history of the Minneapolis Police Department in stopping its Black citizens.”

The defense spent the most time on Tuesday on testimony from Barry Brodd, the first witness to explicitly defend Mr. Chauvin’s actions.

Mr. Brodd, a former police officer and expert on self-defense, said that putting Mr. Floyd handcuffed in the prone position on the street did not qualify as force because no pain was inflicted.

“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement, in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” he said.

Mr. Brodd made statements that have been used before to defend officers accused of killing a Black man. He mentioned Mr. Floyd’s size and muscular build, and said that some suspects who are high on drugs “don’t feel pain” and can exhibit “superhuman strength,” said to be a sign of a condition called excited delirium that is often used to explain deaths in police custody.

On cross-examination, Steve Schleicher, one of the prosecutors, got Mr. Brodd to acknowledge that under Minneapolis Police Department policy a restraint is considered a use of force, and that a reasonable officer would abide by department policies.

Mr. Brodd acknowledged that he had listened to the videos in which Mr. Floyd expressed pain, saying, “Everything hurts.” But, Mr. Brodd said, he didn’t “note it.”

While Mr. Brodd challenged days of testimony on accepted police practices presented by the prosecution, not all the witnesses on Tuesday were friendly to the defense. Shawanda Hill, another witness, made it plain through her facial expressions that it was not her choice to testify.

Ms. Hill ran into Mr. Floyd at Cup Foods, the convenience store where he spent the $ 20 bill that was reported to the police as counterfeit, and he offered her a ride. Once they were in the parked car, she said, Mr. Floyd kept falling asleep and was difficult to rouse. When police officers approached the car, she said, she woke him.

“He instantly grabbed the wheel and he said, ‘Please, please don’t kill me,’” she said.

Another witness was Peter Chang, a Minneapolis Park Police officer who responded to the scene and was asked to watch Mr. Floyd’s car. As he did that, he said, he became concerned for the safety of the officers who were interacting with Mr. Floyd. “The crowd was becoming more loud and aggressive,” he said.

Officer Chang’s body camera video showed long minutes during which Ms. Hill and another of Mr. Floyd’s associates, Morries Lester Hall, waited on the sidewalk, unable to see what was happening to Mr. Floyd. When the ambulance carrying Mr. Floyd began to pull away, they asked if they could retrieve his phone from the car.

“He’s already gone,” Mr. Chang told them. “He doesn’t need his phone.”

Shaila Dewan and Tim Arango
This article originally appeared on NYT > U.S. News

5 Takeaways From the Second Week of the Derek Chauvin Trial

The first week of the Derek Chauvin trial[1] was marked by emotional accounts from bystanders who witnessed the nine and a half minutes that the police pinned George Floyd to the ground. But the second week struck a different chord, highlighting testimony from medical and law enforcement experts that centered on the conduct of Mr. Chauvin and the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death.

Those witnesses hit on the key issues of the trial: what exactly killed Mr. Floyd[2], and whether Mr. Chauvin violated police policies on use of force. The answers to those two questions will be crucial for Mr. Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murdering Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis last May.

Several medical witnesses testified that Mr. Floyd died from a deprivation of oxygen — contradicting claims by the defense lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, who has sought to tie Mr. Floyd’s death to complications from drug use and a heart condition. Law enforcement officials, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, said Mr. Chauvin violated police policy when he used his knee to keep Mr. Floyd pinned to the street.

Here are five key takeaways from the second week of the trial.

On Monday, Chief Medaria Arradondo[3] of the Minneapolis Police Department said Mr. Chauvin “absolutely”[4] violated the department’s policies during the arrest. His statements represented an unusual rebuke of a police officer by an acting chief.

“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” Chief Arradondo said. The chief’s statement was one of the most clear-cut and significant on the issue of Mr. Chauvin’s use of force, though several other witnesses also suggested that Mr. Chauvin acted outside the bounds of normal policing.

Still, Mr. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, may have made some headway with other witnesses on the question of force. Officer Nicole Mackenzie[5], the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, agreed with Mr. Nelson’s assertion that a crowd of vocal bystanders could make it difficult for an officer to render medical aid during an arrest. And Lt. Johnny Mercil, a veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department and a use-of-force instructor, also said that hostile bystanders can raise alarm with officers[6].

Mr. Nelson has suggested throughout the trial that the crowd of bystanders outside the Cup Foods convenience store, some of whom yelled at Mr. Chauvin during the arrest, may have hindered the former officer from providing help once Mr. Floyd became unresponsive.

Sgt. Jody Stiger, who works with the Los Angeles Police Department Inspector General’s Office, continued to explore the use-of-force issue by saying that Mr. Chauvin used “deadly force”[7] when he should have used none. He also teed up another aspect of the trial that came into focus later in the week: whether Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by “asphyxia,” or a lack of oxygen.

“He was in the prone position, he was handcuffed, he was not attempting to resist, he was not attempting to assault the officers — kick, punch or anything of that nature,” Sergeant Stiger said. Responding to questions from the defense, Sergeant Stiger[8] said that Mr. Floyd resisted arrest when the officers tried to place him in the back of a squad car. In those early moments of the arrest, Mr. Chauvin would have been justified if he had decided to use a Taser, Sergeant Stiger said.

The defense has argued that people who do not appear to be dangerous to officers can quickly pose a threat. The sergeant pushed back on that argument, saying that officers should use force that is necessary for what suspects are doing in the moment, not what they might do later.

Mr. Floyd’s drug use was a recurring point of discussion throughout the week. On Wednesday, the jury heard testimony from McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who processed the squad car that Mr. Floyd was briefly placed in on the night he died. An initial inspection found no drugs in the vehicle[9], but during a second search, requested by Mr. Chauvin’s defense team in January, the team discovered fragments of pills. In testing the fragments, Ms. Anderson said a lab found DNA that matched Mr. Floyd’s.

Breahna Giles, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified that some of the pills recovered at the scene were found to contain methamphetamine and fentanyl. Mr. Chauvin’s defense has suggested that Mr. Floyd died from complications of drug use. Later in the week, the medical examiner who performed the official autopsy of Mr. Floyd said he found no fragments of pills in Mr. Floyd’s stomach contents.

Two medical witnesses on Thursday testified that they saw no evidence that Mr. Floyd died from a drug overdose. The first, Dr. Martin J. Tobin[10], a pulmonologist and critical care physician from the Chicago area, said that any normal person could have died from being pinned under Mr. Chauvin’s knee for nine and a half minutes.

His testimony gave a moment-by-moment breakdown of the arrest of Mr. Floyd, identifying what he believed to be “the moment the life goes out of his body.” Responding to Mr. Nelson’s suggestion that Mr. Floyd died from complications of fentanyl use — a toxicology report found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system — Dr. Tobin said Mr. Floyd’s behavior did not correspond with that of a person who was overdosing.

He also pushed back on the idea that simply because Mr. Floyd was speaking, he was getting enough oxygen. Dr. Tobin said that a person might be taking in enough oxygen to speak but not enough to survive. The person can be alive and talking one moment, and dead just seconds later, he said. Dr. Bill Smock[11], the surgeon for the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, also testified, saying he saw no evidence of an overdose.

“That is not a fentanyl overdose,” Dr. Smock said. “That is somebody begging to breathe.”

The second week ended with testimony from Dr. Andrew Baker[12], the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed the official autopsy of George Floyd. Dr. Baker testified that while drug use and a heart condition contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death, police restraint was the main cause.

Leading up to the trial, Dr. Baker had made several statements that could have complicated the arguments of the prosecution, particularly in relation to Mr. Floyd’s drug use. During testimony on Friday, he said that the level of fentanyl found in Mr. Floyd’s system could have been fatal for some people.

Still, Dr. Baker said that, in Mr. Floyd’s case, it was less likely than other potential causes of death. He added that Mr. Floyd had an enlarged heart for his size, which would require more oxygen to pump blood through his body. High-intensity situations — like the one Mr. Floyd experienced during his arrest — could exacerbate that problem[13].

“In my opinion, the law enforcement, subdural restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions,” he said.


  1. ^ Derek Chauvin trial (www.nytimes.com)
  2. ^ what exactly killed Mr. Floyd (www.nytimes.com)
  3. ^ Medaria Arradondo (www.nytimes.com)
  4. ^ “absolutely” (www.nytimes.com)
  5. ^ Officer Nicole Mackenzie (www.nytimes.com)
  6. ^ can raise alarm with officers (www.nytimes.com)
  7. ^ “deadly force” (www.nytimes.com)
  8. ^ Sergeant Stiger (www.nytimes.com)
  9. ^ found no drugs in the vehicle (www.nytimes.com)
  10. ^ Dr. Martin J. Tobin (www.nytimes.com)
  11. ^ Dr. Bill Smock (www.nytimes.com)
  12. ^ testimony from Dr. Andrew Baker (www.nytimes.com)
  13. ^ could exacerbate that problem (www.nytimes.com)

Will Wright

Dr. Martin Tobin, Chauvin Trial Expert Witness, Dismisses Talk of Overdose

MINNEAPOLIS — It was a video everyone in the courtroom has been shown repeatedly, of George Floyd facedown on the street with Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck. But this time, it was slowed down so the jury could see the briefest widening of Mr. Floyd’s eyes — what the expert witness on the stand on Thursday said was his last conscious moment.

“One second he’s alive, and one second he’s no longer,” said the witness, Dr. Martin Tobin, adding, “That’s the moment the life goes out of his body.”

Dr. Tobin, a pulmonologist who specializes in the mechanics of breathing, presented the prosecution’s first extended testimony on a central question in the murder trial of Mr. Chauvin: how George Floyd died. “You’re seeing here fatal injury to the brain from a lack of oxygen,” Dr. Tobin said.

Dr. Tobin said that Mr. Chauvin and other police officers had restricted Mr. Floyd’s breathing by flattening his rib cage against the pavement and pushing his cuffed hands into his torso, and by the placement of Mr. Chauvin’s knees on his neck and back.

The doctor pinpointed the moment he said Mr. Floyd had shown signs of a brain injury, four minutes before Mr. Chauvin lifted his knee from his body.

After two days of sometimes tedious law enforcement testimony on procedures and policy, jurors appeared to be riveted by Dr. Tobin’s ability to break down complex physiological concepts, at times scribbling notes in unison.

Leaning into the microphone, tie slightly askew, Dr. Tobin used his hands and elbows to demonstrate how people breathe. He gave anatomy lessons by asking jurors to palpate their own necks, and showed an artist’s rendering of how three officers, including Mr. Chauvin, had been positioned on Mr. Floyd.

He delivered his opinions without a shred of ambivalence, noting that his conclusions were based on “very precise” scientific knowledge like the level of oxygen when someone loses consciousness.

Dr. Tobin said he had watched portions of the video evidence hundreds of times. He had calculated what he said was the exact amount of weight Mr. Chauvin had placed on Mr. Floyd’s neck (86.9 pounds), clocked Mr. Floyd’s respiratory rate and marked the instant he took his final breath: 8:25:15 p.m.

He reassured jurors that many of the medical terms they have heard during the trial — hypoxia, asphyxia, anoxia — all mean essentially the same thing, “a drastically low level of oxygen.”

His testimony may help prosecutors overcome the fact that the official autopsy report did not use the word “asphyxia,” and seemed to make irrelevant the exact position of Mr. Chauvin’s knees, which has come up several times.

“I don’t think I’ve seen an expert witness as effective as this,” said Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender of Hennepin County, who has been following the televised trial. “He appears to be the world’s foremost expert on this, and he explained everything in English, in layman’s terms.”

The jury has heard repeatedly that police officers are taught that restraining people facedown is dangerous. Dr. Tobin walked the jury through exactly why, explaining first that simply being in the prone position reduces lung capacity.

On top of that, a knee on the neck compressed Mr. Floyd’s airway, he said, and the weight on his back alone made it three times harder than normal to breathe.

Dr. Tobin discounted the oft-repeated adage that someone who can talk can breathe, calling it “a very dangerous mantra to have out there.”

It is technically true, he said, but “it gives you an enormous false sense of security.”

“Certainly at the moment that you are speaking you are breathing,” he continued, “but it doesn’t tell you that you’re going to be breathing five seconds later.”

Using video stills, Dr. Tobin showed the efforts that Mr. Floyd had made to free his torso enough to breathe, trying to use his shoulder, his fingertips and even his face, smashed flat against the pavement, as leverage against the weight of Mr. Chauvin.

He pointed out the toe of Mr. Chauvin’s boot lifting off the pavement, and the telltale kick of Mr. Floyd’s legs that, he said, indicated that he had suffered a brain injury 5 minutes and 3 seconds after Mr. Chauvin first placed his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

The prosecution used Dr. Tobin to pre-emptively poke holes in the defense’s argument that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by his use of fentanyl, underlying heart disease and other physical ailments.

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result,” Dr. Tobin said.

Dr. Tobin was born in rural Ireland, went to medical school in Dublin and spoke with a soft Irish lilt. He is a physician in pulmonary and critical care medicine at Edward Hines Jr. V.A. Hospital and Loyola University Medical Center in the Chicago area and has been practicing for more than 40 years, but this was his first time testifying in a criminal case.

He said that he had testified numerous times in medical malpractice cases, and that he had waived his usual fee of $ 500 an hour for the Chauvin trial.

Experts say that working for free could cut two ways, either impressing the jury or suggesting that the witness was biased in favor of one side. Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, tried to highlight the latter possibility. “You agreed to waive your hourly rate for this time?” he asked. “You felt it was an important case, right?”

Dr. Tobin disputed a defense assertion that an elevated level of carbon dioxide found in Mr. Floyd’s blood was the result of fentanyl use, attributing it instead to the length of time he was not breathing before he was given artificial breaths in an ambulance.

He said that if fentanyl had been having a significant effect, Mr. Floyd’s respiratory rate would have been slower than normal, and that if Mr. Floyd’s heart disease had been severe, it would have been more rapid. Instead, the rate was normal, he said.

Mr. Nelson pushed back, continuing to press his argument that Mr. Floyd’s death might have been an overdose.

He asked if Mr. Floyd’s breathing may have been inhibited if he had taken fentanyl in the moments before police officers brought him to the ground. Dr. Tobin agreed that it could have been but said that Mr. Floyd had never gone into a coma, as he would have done if he were overdosing.

The prosecution called to the stand two more witnesses on Thursday who undermined the claim that Mr. Floyd died of an overdose. Daniel Isenschmid, a forensic toxicologist at N.M.S. Labs in Pennsylvania, where Mr. Floyd’s blood was tested, said the level of fentanyl in his system was far from being obviously fatal. He said it was common for intoxicated drivers who had used fentanyl and survived to have an even higher level of the drug than was found in Mr. Floyd’s blood.

Dr. William Smock, the police surgeon for the Louisville Metro Police Department and a professor of emergency medicine at the University of Louisville School of Medicine, said Mr. Floyd would have had a much more depressed disposition if he were experiencing a fentanyl overdose. “He’s breathing. He’s talking. He’s not snoring,” Dr. Smock said.

“He is saying, ‘Please, please get off of me. I want to breathe. I can’t breathe.’ That is not a fentanyl overdose. That is somebody begging to breathe.”

Reporting was contributed by Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Tim Arango from Minneapolis, John Eligon from Kansas City, Mo., and Sheri Fink and Haley Willis from New York.

Shaila Dewan

Derek Chauvin trial live coverage: Ex-cop never took knee off George Floyd's neck, expert says

MINNEAPOLIS — George Floyd died of a lack of oxygen from being pinned to the pavement with a knee on his neck, a medical expert testified at former Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial Thursday, emphatically rejecting the defense theory that Floyd’s drug use and underlying health problems were what killed him.”A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,” said prosecution witness Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Chicago.

Using easy-to-understand language to explain a host of medical concepts, Tobin told the jury that Floyd’s breathing was too shallow to take in enough oxygen while Chauvin and other officers pinned down the 46-year-old Black man on his stomach last May with his hands cuffed behind him and his face jammed against the pavement.VIDEO: Police chief: Kneeling on George Floyd’s neck violated policy

The lack of oxygen resulted in brain damage and caused his heart to stop, the witness 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.

The witness cited several factors that he said had made it difficult for Floyd to breathe, beyond Chauvin’s knee on his neck: officers lifting up on the suspect’s handcuffs, the hard street, his prone position, his turned head, and a knee on his back.

Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for 3 minutes, 2 seconds, after Floyd had “reached the point where there was not one ounce of oxygen left in the body,” Tobin said. And he said that after officers found no pulse, the knee stayed on Floyd’s neck for an additional 2 minutes, 44 seconds.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death May 25. Floyd was arrested outside a neighborhood market after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $ 20 bill.

VIDEO: ER doctor says he theorized George Floyd most likely suffocated

Bystander video of Floyd crying that he couldn’t breathe as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off him sparked protests and scattered violence around the U.S.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that the now-fired white officer did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s use of illegal drugs – an autopsy found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his body – and underlying medical problems that included high blood pressure and heart disease caused his death, not Chauvin’s actions.But Tobin said he analyzed Floyd’s respiration as seen on body-camera video and explained that while fentanyl typically cuts the rate of respiration by 40 percent, Floyd’s breathing was “right around normal.”

Tobin also explained that just because Floyd was talking and shown moving on video, it doesn’t mean he was breathing adequately. He said a person can continue to speak until the airway narrows to 15% — but once it gets below that, it’s dangerous. “At the point where you can’t speak … you are in deep trouble,” he said.

Officers are heard on video telling Floyd that if he can talk, he can breathe.

He said it appeared that Floyd was getting enough oxygen for about the first five minutes to keep his brain alive because he was still speaking.

But Tobin said that where Chauvin had his knee after the five-minute mark would not make much of a difference, because at that point Floyd had already experienced brain damage.

Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, has repeatedly shown the jury still images from the video that he said showed Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s shoulder blade. But nearly all of those images were captured more than five minutes into the ordeal, according to video time stamps.

Tobin explained to jurors what happens as the space in the airway narrows, saying breathing then becomes “enormously more difficult,” like “breathing through a drinking straw.”He said that if the hypopharynx – the bottom part of the throat — becomes totally obstructed, it takes just seconds to reduce the level of oxygen to where it would result “in either a seizure or a heart attack.”

Prosecutors showed images of Floyd side by side, one with the front of his face pressed against the pavement and another with his head turned. Tobin said that when Floyd’s head was facedown, a ligament at the back of his neck would have protected his airway. But with his head turned, Chauvin’s weight would have compressed the hypopharynx.

The expert calculated that at times when Chauvin was in a near-vertical position, with his toes off the ground, half of Chauvin’s body weight — 91.5 pounds — was directly on Floyd’s neck.

Tobin also reviewed body camera video that showed Floyd’s leg moving upward during the restraint, saying it was involuntary and at that point: “You’re seeing here fatal injury to the brain from a lack of oxygen.”

Tobin used simple language, with terms like “pump handle” and “bucket handle” to describe the act of breathing for jurors. At one point, he invited them to “examine your own necks, all of you in the jury right now” to better understand the effect of a knee on a person’s neck.

Most of the jurors felt their necks as Tobin instructed, though the judge later told them they didn’t have to do so.

Webber reported from Fenton, Mich.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


LAPD Sgt. Says Chauvin Used ‘Deadly Force’ on Floyd

A use-of-force expert with the Los Angeles Police Department testified on Wednesday that Derek Chauvin had used “deadly force” on George Floyd at a time when it was not appropriate to use any force.

Sgt. Jody Stiger, who works with the L.A.P.D. Inspector General’s Office to investigate wrongdoing in the department, reviewed evidence in the Chauvin case for prosecutors and said Mr. Chauvin had put Mr. Floyd at risk of positional asphyxia, a key point for prosecutors who have argued that Mr. Floyd died of asphyxia, meaning a loss of oxygen.

Sergeant Stiger said that even being handcuffed and in a prone position can make it harder to breathe.

“When you add body weight to that, it just increases the possibility of death,” he said.

The testimony from Sergeant Stiger came on the eighth day of the trial of Mr. Chauvin, who has been charged with murdering Mr. Floyd. The sergeant has said that the officers who arrested Mr. Floyd were initially justified in using force to try to put him in the back of a police car and put him in the prone position, but “should have slowed down or stopped their force” once Mr. Floyd was on the ground.

Sergeant Stiger said on Wednesday that while Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd, he had appeared to use a “pain compliance” technique on one of Mr. Floyd’s hands. Sergeant Stiger said Mr. Chauvin could be seen, in body camera video, either pushing Mr. Floyd’s knuckles together or pulling his wrist against his handcuffs to hurt him. The sergeant said he could hear the handcuffs ratcheting tighter in one of the videos.

Those techniques may be appropriate to get a person to comply with police commands, Sergeant Stiger said, but he indicated that there was no opportunity for Mr. Floyd to comply.

“At that point, it’s just pain,” Sergeant Stiger said.

In response to a prosecutor’s question about the bystanders who filmed Mr. Floyd’s arrest and shouted at the officers who were there, Sergeant Stiger said he did not find them to be a threat, rebutting one of the defense’s arguments that the bystanders may have diverted Mr. Chauvin’s attention from Mr. Floyd’s condition.

But in the cross-examination of Sergeant Stiger, the lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, Eric J. Nelson, played a short video of Mr. Floyd handcuffed on the ground and asked the sergeant if it sounded like Mr. Floyd was saying, “I ate too many drugs.” Sergeant Stiger said he could not make out what Mr. Floyd had said, at which point Mr. Nelson asked him if things can be “missed” in a chaotic scene. The sergeant agreed that they could.

Sergeant Stiger also agreed, in response to Mr. Nelson’s questioning, that it would have been appropriate for Mr. Chauvin to use a Taser on Mr. Floyd when he first arrived on scene, given that Mr. Floyd appeared to be resisting officers’ efforts to get him into a police car. Still, the jury has heard from many experts — including Sergeant Stiger — who said that the appropriate level of force changed once Mr. Floyd was on the ground and no longer resisting.

Mr. Nelson also emphasized that the sergeant was an outside expert who worked for the Los Angeles Police Department, which he joined in 1993, and might not be as familiar with Minneapolis police policies.

Mr. Nelson also highlighted that the Minneapolis Police Department’s policies on using force give discretion to officers. He read from one portion of the department’s policy that says that the reasonableness of an officer’s use-of-force has to be judged “from the perspective of the reasonable officer on the scene rather than with the 20-20 vision of hindsight.”

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs and Marie Fazio

In Rare Testimony, Chief Says Chauvin ‘Should Have Stopped’ Pinning Floyd

“Generally, you’re thinking that police departments are going to defend their police officers,” said David Schultz, a visiting professor of law at the University of Minnesota. “Getting the police chief to come in and say, ‘This is not what our practices were, these are not our protocols, these are not our standards’ — I have to think that’s got to weigh very heavily on a jury, in terms of them saying, ‘OK, I guess he wasn’t acting within that area of protected police activity.’”

The prosecution took Chief Arradondo through a painstaking recitation of his career, beginning with where he attended high school (Roosevelt High School, in Minneapolis), seeking to establish both his ties to the community and his law enforcement expertise.

They had him read copiously from the department’s manual, demonstrating that the policies within give officers specific factors to consider when deciding whether to use force. “Neck restraints,” for example, “shall not be used against subjects who are passively resisting,” the manual says.

Asked to recall his own involvement in the case, Chief Arradondo said he was at home on May 25 when he was informed that a man had been arrested who was not expected to survive. The chief notified the state agency that investigates police use of force, called the mayor and went to his office, where he watched footage of the arrest from a city-owned surveillance camera, which had no sound, was taken from a distance and showed the officers from the back.

Nothing from the video “jumped out at me,” he said.

But around midnight, he testified on Monday, he heard from a resident, who said, “Chief, have you seen the video of your officer choking and killing that man at 38th and Chicago?”

It was video taken by a bystander, close up, painfully graphic and showing the nine and a half minutes that Mr. Chauvin had his knee on Mr. Floyd. It spread across the internet, setting off protests over racism and police abuse across Minneapolis and in cities across the country.

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs, Shaila Dewan and John Eligon

Derek Chauvin trial live coverage: Kneeling on George Floyd's neck violated policy, police chief says

MINNEAPOLIS — The Minneapolis police chief testified Monday that now-fired Officer Derek Chauvin violated departmental policy in pinning his knee on George Floyd’s neck and keeping him down after Floyd had stopped resisting and was in distress.Continuing to kneel on Floyd’s neck once he was handcuffed behind his back and lying on his stomach was “in no way, shape or form” part of department policy or training, “and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values,” Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said.

Arradondo, the city’s first Black chief, fired Chauvin and three other officers the day after Floyd’s death last May, and in June called it “murder.”
His testimony came after the emergency room doctor who pronounced Floyd dead testified that he theorized at the time that Floyd’s heart most likely stopped because of a lack of oxygen.

Dr. Bradford Langenfeld, who was a senior resident on duty that night at Hennepin County Medical Center and tried to resuscitate Floyd, took the stand at the beginning of Week Two at Chauvin’s murder trial, as prosecutors sought to establish that it was Chauvin’s knee on the Black man’s neck that killed him.

Langenfeld said Floyd’s heart had stopped by the time he arrived at the hospital. The doctor said that he was not told of any efforts at the scene by bystanders or police to resuscitate Floyd but that paramedics told him they had tried for about 30 minutes.

Under questioning by prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, Langenfeld said that based on the information he had, it was “more likely than the other possibilities” that Floyd’s cardiac arrest – the stopping of his heart – was caused by asphyxia, or insufficient oxygen.

VIDEO: Courteney Ross’ testimony on day 4

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death May 25. The white officer is accused of digging his knee into the 46-year-old man’s neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, outside a corner market, where Floyd had been accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $ 20 bill for a pack of cigarettes.

The defense argues that Chauvin did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s use of illegal drugs and his underlying health conditions caused his death.

Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson questioned Langenfeld about whether some drugs can cause hypoxia, or insufficient oxygen. The doctor acknowledged that fentanyl and methamphetamine, both of which were found in Floyd’s body, can do so.

The county medical examiner’s office ultimately classified Floyd’s death a homicide – that is, a death at the hands of someone else.

The full report said Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” A summary report listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use under “other significant conditions” but not under “cause of death.”WATCH: Charles McMillian cries on the stand after watching video of George Floyd’s arrest

Under cross-examination from Nelson, Langenfeld said Floyd’s carbon dioxide levels were more than twice as high as levels in a healthy person, and he agreed that that could be attributed to a respiratory problem. But on questioning from the prosecutor, the doctor said the high levels were also consistent with cardiac arrest.

Langenfeld also testified that neither he nor paramedics administered a drug that would reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. The doctor said giving Narcan once a patient is in cardiac arrest would provide no benefit.

Floyd’s treatment by police was captured on widely seen bystander video that sparked protests that rocked Minneapolis and quickly spread to other U.S. cities and beyond and descended into violence in some cases.

Langenfeld said that “any amount of time” a patient spends in cardiac arrest without immediate CPR decreases the chance of a good outcome. He said there is an approximately 10% to 15% decrease in survival for every minute that CPR is not administered.

Prosecutors in the second week of the trial are also expected to zero in on Chauvin’s training in the use of force.

Arradondo also testified about police policy that dictates that whenever it is reasonable to do so, officers must use tactics to deescalate a situation so as to avoid or minimize the use of force.

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher noted that while some people may become more dangerous under the influence of drugs or alcohol, some may actually be “more vulnerable.” Arradondo agreed and acknowledged that this must also be taken into consideration when officers decide to use force.

“It’s recognizing that when we get the call from our communities, it may not often be their best day, and they may be experiencing something that’s very traumatic,” the chief said.

Before he was pinned to the ground, a handcuffed and frantic Floyd struggled with police who were trying to put him in a squad car, saying he was claustrophobic.Arradondo said officers are trained in basic first aid, including chest compressions, and department policy requires them to request medical assistance and provide necessary aid as soon as possible before paramedics arrive.

Officers’ first aid training is “very vital because those seconds are vital,” Arradondo said, adding: “And so we absolutely have a duty to render that.”

Officers kept restraining Floyd – with Chauvin kneeling on his neck, another kneeling on Floyd’s back and a third holding his feet – until the ambulance arrived, even after he became unresponsive, according to testimony and video footage.

One officer asked twice if they should roll Floyd on his side to aid his breathing, and later said calmly that he thought Floyd was passing out. Another checked Floyd’s wrist for a pulse and said he couldn’t find one.

The officers also rebuffed offers of help from an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter who wanted to administer aid or tell officers how to do it.

The city moved soon after Floyd’s death to ban police chokeholds and neck restraints. Arradondo and Mayor Jacob Frey also made several policy changes, including expanding requirements for reporting use-of-force incidents and documenting attempts to de-escalate situations.

Prosecutors have already called supervisory officers to build the case that Chauvin improperly restrained Floyd. A duty sergeant and a lieutenant who leads the homicide division both questioned Chauvin’s actions in pinning Floyd to the ground.

“Totally unnecessary,” Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the longest-tenured officer on the force, testified Friday.

Copyright © 2021 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.


6 Takeaways From the First Week of the Derek Chauvin Trial

The first week of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis was marked by emotional accounts from bystanders who watched Mr. Chauvin pin George Floyd to the ground for more than nine minutes in May.

The prosecution presented testimony, often accompanied by tears and shaking voices, from people who were there during the fatal arrest of Mr. Floyd, along with hours of video evidence and additional testimony from paramedics and law enforcement officials who said that Mr. Chauvin’s use of force was unnecessary.

Prosecutors also introduced the issue of Mr. Floyd’s drug use, which is expected to be a crucial part of Mr. Chauvin’s defense; Mr. Chauvin’s lawyers are expected to argue that Mr. Floyd’s death was a result of his drug use. The trial, one of the most viewed in decades, comes with the memory of last summer’s protests for racial justice fresh in people’s minds.

Here are six key points from the first week of the trial.

On Monday, each side laid out its strategy in opening statements[1].

Eric J. Nelson, the lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, made clear on Monday that he would attempt to convince jurors that the videos of Mr. Floyd’s death did not tell the full story. The case “is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” Mr. Nelson said, referring to the time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd. He signaled that he planned to argue that Mr. Chauvin had been following his training, that his knee was not necessarily on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and that Mr. Floyd’s death may have been caused by drugs.

One of the prosecutors, Jerry W. Blackwell, urged jurors to “believe your eyes, that it’s homicide — it’s murder.” Prosecutors call all of their witnesses before the defense begins to lay out its case, so the week was heavily weighted toward the prosecution’s arguments, but the strategies of both sides began to come into view.

The trial began with powerful testimony from a series of witnesses to the arrest[2], many of whom broke down in tears while recounting what they saw. They included several women who were under 18 at the time of the arrest, as well as a 61-year-old man who spoke with Mr. Floyd while he was pinned to the ground. From the convenience store clerk at the Cup Foods where Mr. Floyd bought cigarettes to an off-duty firefighter who yelled at the officers as Mr. Floyd became unresponsive, they conveyed a shared sense of trauma from what they saw that day.

By highlighting the emotional trauma Mr. Floyd’s arrest caused witnesses, prosecutors seemingly hoped to convince jurors that Mr. Chauvin’s actions had been clearly excessive to people who saw them in real time. One witness, Darnella Frazier, now 18, testified that she has been haunted by what she saw, sometimes lying awake at night “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”

For the first time, the final moments before Mr. Floyd’s arrest were shown in detail. Surveillance video from Cup Foods, along with testimony from the store clerk[3], showed Mr. Floyd walking around the store, chatting and laughing with customers, and eventually buying a pack of cigarettes with a $ 20 bill that the clerk suspected was fake.

Footage from police body cameras then replayed the arrest from beginning to end. It showed an officer approach Mr. Floyd with his pistol drawn, and captured audio of Mr. Floyd’s fearful reaction: “Please, don’t shoot me,” he said. Mr. Floyd appeared terrified, first of the pistol, then of being held in a police car. As Mr. Chauvin pinned him to the ground, the footage captured the moments when the officers checked for a pulse and found none, but took no action.

On Thursday, jurors heard from Courteney Ross, Mr. Floyd’s girlfriend at the time of his death. Through stories of their first kiss, their dates and his hobbies, prosecutors used Ms. Ross’s testimony[4] to show Mr. Floyd’s humanity as a father, partner and friend.

Ms. Ross’s testimony also brought one of the most important aspects of the trial to the forefront: Mr. Floyd’s drug use. The role that drugs did or did not play in Mr. Floyd’s death is expected to be a crucial element of Mr. Chauvin’s defense, and prosecutors called Ms. Ross to the stand to get in front of the claims of Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer.

Ms. Ross said that she and Mr. Floyd had first been prescribed painkillers to ease chronic pain, but that when the prescriptions ran out, they continued to buy the pills from others. They had begun a battle for sobriety, sometimes avoiding the drugs before they relapsed again. In the weeks before Mr. Floyd’s death, Ms. Ross said, she suspected that he had begun using again.

Prosecutors sought to show that Mr. Floyd had built up a high tolerance of the drugs, making it less likely that he died of an overdose; Mr. Floyd had methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, according to a toxicology report.

Two paramedics who responded to the scene both testified that they saw no signs of life from Mr. Floyd upon their arrival. One of them, Derek Smith, felt Mr. Floyd’s neck while police officers were still on top of him, and said he found no pulse. Mr. Smith’s attempts to revive him, including the use of a defibrillator and a machine that provides chest compressions, did nothing to improve Mr. Floyd’s condition. Though the paramedics did not address what exactly killed Mr. Floyd, their testimony seemed to support prosecutors’ claim that Mr. Chauvin’s actions resulted in his death.

On Friday, Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the longest-serving officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, offered scathing condemnation of Mr. Chauvin’s use of force[5]. He said Mr. Chauvin violated police policy and called his actions “totally unnecessary.” Putting a knee on someone’s neck while they are handcuffed in a prone position, he said, qualifies as “deadly force.”

“If your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill them,” Lieutenant Zimmerman said, adding that people who are handcuffed generally pose little threat to officers. Mr. Zimmerman’s testimony, bolstered by his more than 35 years on the force, could be a major setback for a crucial aspect of Mr. Chauvin’s defense — that his actions were not only legal, but within the bounds of his training.

Will Wright

Here's What's Happened So Far on Day 4 of the Chauvin Trial

Testimony continued on the fourth day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, with appearances from George Floyd’s girlfriend and a paramedic who responded to the scene.

Here are some of the highlights so far:

  • Courteney Ross, who dated George Floyd for nearly three years before his death in May, was the first witness called by prosecutors. Her testimony focused on Mr. Floyd’s struggle with addiction[1], an attempt by prosecutors to get out in front of the argument by Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer that Mr. Floyd’s drug use may have led to his death or caused him to struggle more with officers as they tried to put him in a police car.

    Ms. Ross delivered tearful testimony about their shared struggle with an opioid addiction and shared details about their relationship, including how they met and their first kiss.

    Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, probed Ms. Ross about her and Mr. Floyd’s drug use, asking where they purchased opioids and other drugs that she and Mr. Floyd had taken. She said they had purchased drugs from Morries Lester Hall in the past. Mr. Hall was in the car with Mr. Floyd on the day he died when the police approached him about the $ 20 bill. In a court filing on Wednesday, Mr. Hall said he would invoke[2] his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if called to testify in the trial.

  • Seth Bravinder, a paramedic for Hennepin County, took the stand after the morning break. He was on duty the day that George Floyd died and was dispatched to the scene of Floyd’s arrest. Mr. Bravinder answered questions about the treatments given to Mr. Floyd and attempts to resuscitate him.

    He said that Mr. Floyd appeared lifeless when they arrived to the scene. “I didn’t see any breathing or movement,” he said.

    Mr. Bravinder and his partner transferred Mr. Floyd into the ambulance soon after arriving, he said. They parked the ambulance several blocks away, and Mr. Bravinder moved to the back of the ambulance to help his partner resuscitate Mr. Floyd.