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4 p.m. update
A former police officer turned lawyer and use of force expert was the last to testify Monday.
The University of South Carolina criminal law professor and former police officer testified that the officers putting George Floyd into a prone restraint and ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck was unreasonable.
"No reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force," said Seth Stoughton. "The failure to render aid to Mr. Floyd both by taking him out of the prone position and by rendering aid as his increasing medical distress became obvious was unreasonable and contrary to generally accepted police practices."
In making that determination, Stoughton outlined a four-step analytical framework.
- Step one: Determining the relevant facts and circumstances.
- Step two: Assess the threat
- Step three: Assess the foreseeable effects of the officer's use of force
- Step four: Combine the previous steps to assess whether in light of the circumstances, the foreseeable effects were justified and reasonable because they were proportional in light of the threat.
Upon cross examination, Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson asked if a reasonable officer were entitled to rely on his or her training. Stoughton responded that an officer is not entitled to rely on training that is unreasonable and that the officer's actions are judged against generally accepted police practices.
Philonise Floyd, George Floyd's younger brother, testified Monday afternoon for so-called "spark of life" testimony. Through his testimony, jurors learned George Floyd "couldn't boil water" and was a leader among his siblings that fiercely loved his mother.
"It was one of a kind," Philonise said of his brother's relationship with their mother. "It was so unique how they were with each other."
The jury was dismissed around 4:30 p.m. The defense is expected to begin its case Tuesday.
Noon update: Cardiologist testifies no evidence other medical conditions caused Floyd's death
Upon cross examination by Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson, Dr. Jonathan Rich said he found no evidence that absent a prone restraint a combination of things like drugs, high blood pressure and an increase in adrenaline from a struggle with officers would have caused death for Floyd.
Rich agreed that fatal arrhythmias often cause no pain but said that anyone could have a fatal arrhythmia with or without coronary artery disease -- something that Floyd was found to have.
Through questioning by Nelson, Rich testified that in an ordinary individual lying in a prone positions, lying flat, would not be inherently dangerous.
The cross examination of Rich was relatively brief. Jurors were sent on the lunch recess shortly before noon with instructions to return at 1:30 p.m.
Two more witnesses are expected to be called this afternoon. It is likely that closing arguments will come Monday, April 19, and then the case will be in the jury's hands.
11:30 a.m.: 'Yes, I believe he would have lived,' cardiologist testifies
A Northwestern Memorial Hospital cardiologist testified on questioning by Special Assistant Attorney General Jerry Blackwell that he believed George Floyd would be alive today if not for the 9 minutes and 29 second subdual he suffered that May day.
Dr. Jonathan Rich testified that Floyd died from a "cardiopulmonary arrest. It was caused by low oxygen levels and those low oxygen levels were induced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxiation he was subjected to."
After reviewing medical records, videos and the autopsy, Rich could said with a "high degree of medical certainty" that Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event or a drug overdose.
The defense has argued that Floyd’s drug use and underlying health problems contributed to his death. Floyd had cardiac arrhythmia resulting from hypertension and coronary disease.
Rich also testified that while a pathologist can look under the microscope and give important information, clinical information to give context affects how a pathologist diagnoses and interprets what they see under the microscope.
Previously, Dr. Andrew Baker, the medical examiner for Hennepin County who performed Floyd's autopsy, testified that he did not watch the bystander video before performing the autopsy so that he would not be influenced by what he saw.
As part of his testimony, Rich also pointed out to jurors at least three points where actions could have been made to save Floyd's life.
- First, Rich testified, would have been to not subject Floyd to the initial prone restraint in the first place.
- The next opportunity would have been to move Floyd onto his side in the so-called recovery position when he began saying he couldn't breath.
- Lastly, when an officer recognized that Floyd had not pulse, Rich said the immediate response could have been to not only end the restraint but to being chest compressions immediately.
Before jurors were brought into the courtroom Monday morning, attorneys argued a number of motions.
Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson requested the jury be sequestered and to re-question the jurors following the fatal police shooting of a 20-year-old man in Brooklyn Center Sunday afternoon, April 11, during a traffic stop. Special Assistant Attorney General Steve Schleicher opposed the motion.
Judge Peter Cahill denied the motion.
Attorneys also spent considerable time Monday morning on legal arguments about the potential testimony of Morries Hall. Hall was with Floyd just before he was detained May 25, 2020, and then left the state for Texas shortly after Floyd's death. Hall has indicated that he is likely to plead his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if asked to talk about the events leading up to and after the arrival of Minneapolis police at the scene where Floyd would be arrested.
Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, testified that Hall in the past had provided drugs to Floyd, who was found to have fentanyl and other drugs in his system upon an autopsy. Asking Hall if he provided drugs to Floyd in the past could open him up to third-degree murder charges in particular, according to his attorney. Attorneys for Chauvin have several times referenced Floyd's use of drugs in their defense.
The matter is expected to be addressed further Tuesday morning, April 13.
8:30 a.m.: Additional medical witness expected to testify
Court will resume at 9:30 a.m. today in the trial of Derek Chauvin. An early adjournment Friday pushed additional medical expert witness testimony back to this morning.
It will follow a week of highly technical testimony in which officials who investigated the cause of George Floyd's death spoke at length. Their consensus was that the force used to pin Floyd to the ground the night of May 25, 2020, directly contributed to his death, though there are disagreements over the significance of drug use and underlying health conditions to the case.