Derek Chauvin Trial: Key Moments from Day 12

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer began calling witnesses to the stand in an effort to convince jurors that George Floyd died from heart disease and drug use.,

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Twelve days into the trial of the former officer Derek Chauvin, his lawyer began calling witnesses to the stand in an effort to convince jurors that George Floyd died from heart disease and drug use. Prosecutors spent two weeks crafting an argument — through medical and policing experts — that Mr. Chauvin caused Mr. Floyd’s death by pinning him to the ground for more than nine minutes.

Here are some key moments from the day’s testimony.

Barry Brodd, a former police officer and use-of-force expert, testified for the defense that Mr. Chauvin’s use of force against Mr. Floyd was justified — countering two weeks of prosecution witnesses who argued the opposite.

“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, who has nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience and specializes in police and civilian defense cases, referred to Graham v. Connor, a 1989 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled that an officer’s use of force must be “objectively reasonable,” but that “police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”

Officers must respond to imminent threats, Mr. Brodd said, which require a police officer to have a “reasonable fear that somebody is going to strike you, stab you, shoot you.”

To judge use-of-force cases, Mr. Brodd said he considered whether an officer had justification to detain a person, how the person responded to the officer — with compliance or varying degrees of resistance — and whether the officer’s use of force correlated with the level of resistance.

Mr. Brodd said that Mr. Chauvin’s use of force was appropriate for the level of resistance from Mr. Floyd, and that the officers would have been justified in using even more force.

“Police officers don’t have to fight fair,” he said. “They’re allowed to overcome your resistance by going up a level.”

Mr. Brodd said that officers had used force when they pulled Mr. Floyd from the police car and onto the ground, but that he did not consider keeping Mr. Floyd in a prone position, with his wrists handcuffed behind his back, to be a use of force. When questioned later by the prosecution, he amended this claim, saying the position and the officers on top of Mr. Floyd could have caused him pain and therefore qualified as use of force.

ImageIn newly shown footage, from the body camera of Officer Peter Chang of the Minneapolis Park Police, George Floyd is seen handcuffed and sitting on the street near a Chinese restaurant.
In newly shown footage, from the body camera of Officer Peter Chang of the Minneapolis Park Police, George Floyd is seen handcuffed and sitting on the street near a Chinese restaurant.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

In new body camera footage shown to jurors, Mr. Floyd is seen handcuffed and sitting on the street near a Chinese restaurant, giving his name and birth date to one of the first police officers who arrived at Cup Foods after a clerk called to report that Mr. Floyd had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.

The footage was from the body camera of Peter Chang, a Minneapolis Park Police officer who arrived to back up the two rookie officers who first responded to the scene, before Mr. Chauvin and his partner arrived. Officer Chang’s testimony was the first in the trial from an officer who responded to the incident before Mr. Floyd had died.

During Mr. Chang’s testimony before the body camera video was shown, Mr. Nelson asked about one of the key points of his defense: that the group of vocal bystanders who gathered around the officers as they struggled on the ground with Mr. Floyd became increasingly angry and represented a threat to the officers. “They were very aggressive,” Mr. Chang agreed.

Yet on cross-examination by Matthew Frank, a prosecutor, Mr. Chang seemed to undercut the defense’s point about the angry crowd. Mr. Chang said that while he remained across the street to watch Mr. Floyd’s friends, he assumed the officers struggling with Mr. Floyd had things under control and said they did not ask for help.

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Shawanda Hill, George Floyd’s Associate, Testifies in Derek Chauvin Trial

Shawanda Hill, an associate of George Floyd’s who was sitting in the back seat of the car when Mr. Floyd was arrested, testified about his demeanor before the arrest.

“When I tried to wake him up, he woke up the second time, I said, ‘Floyd, the police is here. It’s about the $20 bill wasn’t real.’ I kept saying, ‘Baby, get up, the police.’ So he looked, and we looked to the right and he had the police. He tapped on the window with a flashlight. And I’m like, ‘Floyd.’ So he turned back around again. ‘What, what, what?’ And I was like, ‘Baby, that’s the police. Open the door, roll down the window, whatever he told you to do.’ So he looked back and when he’d seen the man, the man had the gun at the window at — when we looked back to him. So he instantly grabbed the wheel and he was like, ‘Please, please don’t kill me. Please, please don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me. What did I do? Just tell me what I did. Please don’t kill me.'” “During this time period, coming out from Cup Foods and being in the vehicle, did he complain of shortness of breath at all?” “No.” “Did he complain of chest pains at all?” “No.” “And other than being sleepy or nodding off a little bit, did he seem abnormal to you in any way?” “No, not at all.” “And did he seem startled when the officer pulled a gun on him?” “Very.”

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Shawanda Hill, an associate of George Floyd’s who was sitting in the back seat of the car when Mr. Floyd was arrested, testified about his demeanor before the arrest.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

Ms. Hill, an associate of Mr. Floyd’s who was sitting in the back seat of the car when he was first approached by officers and arrested, testified for the defense on Tuesday, giving more insight into his demeanor before the arrest.

Ms. Hill said she ran into Mr. Floyd in Cup Foods, where he appeared “happy, normal, talking, alert,” she said. He offered to give her a ride home, so she went with him to the car and sat in the back seat.

Ms. Hill said she chatted for a few minutes with Mr. Floyd, and then took a phone call from her daughter, during which time Mr. Floyd fell asleep.

She said she tried to rouse him, and that he would “nod, do a gesture,” and then fall back asleep. He was asleep when the store clerk approached the car about the counterfeit $20 bill, she said.

When police officers approached the vehicle, Ms. Hill again tried to rouse Mr. Floyd.

“I kept telling him, ‘Baby get up,'” she said. The approaching officers, one with his gun already drawn, startled him, she said.

Ms. Hill told jurors Mr. Floyd’s behavior was normal, other than being sleepy.

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Defense Calls Retired Paramedic to the Stand in the Derek Chauvin Trial

Michelle Moseng, a retired paramedic, testified about George Floyd’s condition after a 2019 arrest, saying Mr. Floyd told her he had been taking some form of opioid. Her testimony was limited to the physical effects of opioids on Mr. Floyd.

“Were you able to learn that Mr. Floyd had consumed some narcotics that day?” “Yes.” “What did he tell you specifically about what narcotics he had taken and when he had taken them?” “I don’t remember if it was oxy or Percocet, but it was opioid-based. It wasn’t real consistent with his behavior at that point. He was real elevated and agitated.” “So he told you that he had been taking those pills throughout the day, right?” “Yes and I asked him why, and he said it was because he was addicted.” “He was not in respiratory distress, correct?” “No.” “His blood oxygen level was normal, right?” “Correct.” “His pulse was normal, correct?” “Yes.” “His heart rhythm was regular or normal, right?” “Correct. “His E.K.G. was normal?” “Correct.” “He had a normal rhythm — the sinus rhythm, which is the rhythm of a normal, healthy heart, correct?” “Correct.” “And you indicated that you had been worried about high blood pressure for the possibility of a stroke, right?” “Among other things, yes.” “But he didn’t have a stroke, right?” “Didn’t have any indications that we were picking up at the time.” “He didn’t have a stroke while you were with him?” “No.” “He was never given Narcan, correct?” “Correct.” “He didn’t stop breathing?” “No.” “His heart didn’t stop?” “No.” “He didn’t go into cardiac arrest?” “No.” “He didn’t go into a coma?” “No.” “And you took him to the hospital, correct?” “Correct.” “And he was monitored for two hours and released right after, right?” “I don’t know.”

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Michelle Moseng, a retired paramedic, testified about George Floyd’s condition after a 2019 arrest, saying Mr. Floyd told her he had been taking some form of opioid. Her testimony was limited to the physical effects of opioids on Mr. Floyd.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

The first two defense witnesses on Tuesday were on and off the stand very quickly, in line with the judge’s order that their testimony about Mr. Floyd’s arrest in May 2019, when he had medical issues, be strictly limited.

The first witness, Scott Creighton, a retired Minneapolis police officer, worked for the Police Department for 28 years, including 22 years as a street level narcotics investigator, he said.

The defense questioned Mr. Creighton about an incident on May 6, 2019, a traffic stop during which a passenger, whom he identified as Mr. Floyd, was not responsive to his commands.

“In my mind his behavior was very nervous, anxious,” he said, noting that he turned away continuously as he asked to see his hands.

Michelle Moseng, a former paramedic at Hennepin County Medical Center Emergency Medical Services, was also called to testify about the 2019 traffic stop. She said she was summoned to the police precinct to care for Mr. Floyd after he had been arrested.

That day, she said, Mr. Floyd told her he had been taking some form of opioid “multiple, every 20 minutes” and another as the officers approached. She recommended that he be transported to a hospital based on his elevated blood pressure.

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