Good morning, readers, and welcome to our ongoing live coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial. Proceedings against Chauvin continue this morning at 9am CT in Minneapolis, with the trial entering its ninth day of testimony.
Chauvin, a former police officer with the Minneapolis police department, faces charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May.
Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against the neck of Floyd, who is Black, for more than nine minutes during the fatal encounter. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Thus far, the trial has broken down to several key themes. Prosecutors have conducted extensive questioning of witnesses, including Chauvin’s former colleagues and police chief, about proper use-of-force.
They are trying to establish that Chauvin’s behavior flouted departmental guidelines and was a flagrantly excessive use-of-force, resulting in Floyd’s death.
Chauvin’s defense, through its cross-examination of witnesses, has tried to pick apart concrete concepts about use-of-force, effectively arguing that excessive force in one situation might be appropriate and reasonable in a number.
Remember: his lawyer, Eric Nelson, has basically claimed through questioning that the crowd forming around Floyd’s arrest could have constituted a threat to Chauvin and his colleagues on the scene, which would move the metric for appropriateness.)
Chauvin’s defense is also trying to argue that Floyd’s use-of-drugs led to his death – not the knee against his neck as he shouted for help and eventually stopped breathing.
Here are several key points from Wednesday’s proceedings:
- Sgt Jody Stiger, whom prosecutors called as an expert witness on use-of-force, said that Chauvin’s use-of-force “was not objectively reasonable.”
- Stiger, whom the defense tried to prompt into saying that a crowd might post a risk, stood his ground, saying: “As the time went on in the video, clearly you could see Mr Floyd’s medical … his health was deteriorating. His breath was getting lower. His tone of voice was getting lower. His movements were starting to cease. So at that point, as an officer on scene, you have a responsibility to realize that, ‘OK, something is not right’. Something has changed drastically from what was occurring earlier, so therefore you have a responsibility to take some type of action.”
- Both the Mercedes SUV Floyd was in prior to his arrest, as well as the police squad car on scene, were subject to a second forensic examination. While pills were recorded in photographs in these vehicles during the first forensic examination on 27 May, they weren’t logged or subjected to chemical analysis until December 2020 and early 2021, respectively. Nelson has pushed to suggest that investigators erred significantly in missing this, to sow doubt about the investigation more generally.
- Testimony revealed that the two pills contained methamphetamine and fentanyl.
- Susan Neith, a Pennsylvania-based forensic chemist in who also analyzed the pills, stated that levels of methamphetamine discovered some of those samples is low, between 1.9% and 2.9%. Neith said she frequently comes across street methamphetamine pills having from 90% to 100% methamphetamine in them. So, testimony which points out the relatively low levels of methamphetamine can undermine Nelson’s drug-overdose argument.
That’s it for right now. Please check back soon for breaking reporting and analysis.