Derek Chauvin Trial: Defense Motion for New Trial and Impeachment of Jury Verdict

On May 4, Defendant Derek Chauvin submitted to the trial court a motion for a new trial and impeachment of the jury verdict. These matters are summarized below.[1]

Motion for New Trial [2]

This motion is based on Minnesota Rules of Criminal Procedure 26.04, subd. 1, which provides that the trail court may grant a new trial on the issue of guilt on any of the following grounds:

“(1)The interests of justice; (2) Irregularity in the proceedings, or any order or abuse of discretion that deprived the defendant of a fair trial; (3) Prosecutorial or jury misconduct; (4) Accident or surprise that could not have been prevented by ordinary prudence; (5) Newly discovered material evidence, which with reasonable diligence could not have been found and produced at the trial; (6) Errors of law at trial, and objected to at the time unless no objection is required by these rules; or (7) A verdict or finding of guilty that is not justified by the evidence, or is contrary to law.”

In support of this motion Chauvin alleges that:

  • “(a) The court abused its discretion in denying Chauvin’s motion for a change of venue.
  • (b) The court abused its discretion in denying Chauvin’s motion for a new trial on the ground that there was adverse publicity during the trial with respect to the defense’s expert witnesses.
  • (c) The court abused its discretion in failing to sequester the jury for the duration of the trial.
  • (d) The State committed pervasive, prejudicial prosecutorial misconduct. . . . including but not limited to: disparaging the Defense; improper vouching; and failing to adequately prepare its witnesses.
  • (e) The court abused its discretion by failing to order Morries Hall to testify or, alternatively to admit into evidence Mr. Hall’s statement to law enforcement regarding his interactions with George Floyd and presence at the May 25, 2020 incident.
  • (f) The court abused its discretion by submitting instructions to the jury that failed to accurately reflect the law with respect to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and authorized use of force.
  • (g) The court abused its discretion by permitting the State to present cumulative evidence with respect to use of force.
  • (h) The court abused its discretion by ordering the State to lead witnesses on direct examination.
  • (i) The court abused its discretion by failing to order that a record be made of the numerous sidebars that occurred during the trial.
  • (j) The cumulative effect of the court’s multiple errors deprived Chauvin of a fair trial in violation of his constitutional rights.”

Motion for Impeachment of Verdict [3]

This motion is based on the Minnesota Supreme Court’s decision in the Schwartz case and Minn. R. Crim. Pro. 26.03, subd. 20(6). and the allegations that “that the jury committed misconduct, felt threatened or intimidated, felt race-based pressure during the proceedings, and/or failed to adhere to instructions during deliberations.”

Issues Regarding Juror Brandon Mitchell [4]

Mr. Mitchell, a Black man, in his written responses to the court’s questionnaire to prospective jurors, stated he had a “very favorable” opinion of Black Lives Matter (BLM). When questioned about this response in voir dire by defense counsel Erik Nelson, Mitchell said, “Black lives just want to be treated as equals and not killed or treated in an aggressive manner simply because they’re Black” and that “Black Lives Matter” was “simply a statement of fact that he supported.”

On the questionnaire Mitchell also stated he had a neutral opinion about “Blue Lives Matter” about police officers. When questioned in voir dire by Nelson, Mitchell said he knew some police officers at his gym and that they were “great guys.”

Mitchell on the questionnaire also said  “no” to the question whether he or anyone close to him had “participated in protests about police use of force or police brutality.”

Another Mitchell statement on the questionnaire said he wanted to serve on the jury “because of all the protests and everything that has happened after the event [the Floyd killing], this is the most important case of my lifetime and I would love to be a part of it.”  Nelson, therefore,  asked, “How did the protests and things that have happened afterward have to do with  . . the facts and evidence in this case?” Mr. Mitchell responded: “Well there’s no correlation between the protest and the facts. The facts are the facts. There’s no correlation between these two things.”

Thereafter Nelson obviously did not seek to strike Mitchell as a juror.

Recently it became known via social media that Mitchell had attended a large rally on August 28, 2020, in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the 57th  anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech at the Lincoln Memorial. Some groups, including the NAACP, emphasized it was a way to recommit to King’s vision of racial equality while other groups tied ihe event to promote voter registration, police reform and justice for George Floyd.

The source of this information about Mitchell was a social media post containing a photo of him with two relatives in what appears to be a bar or restaurant the weekend of this event. He is wearing a T-shirt with an image of Dr. King, the logo “BLM” and “Get Your Knee Off Our Necks Commitment March.”

When questioned by journalists about this event, Mr. Mitchell said he attended because he had never been to Washington, D.C. and wanted to commemorate Dr. King. He also said he may have been given the t-shirt during the march, but does not specifically recall details.

Joseph Daly, a retired law professor at St. Paul’s Mitchell Hamline School of Law, thought Mr. Mitchell has been very forthright on a range of topics in his voire dire and that Nelson’s question about attending any anti-police rally was open to interpretation. Daly added, a prospective juror is “not going to confession. You just have to answer the questions you are asked.” Therefore, in Daly’s opinion, it was unlikely the court could find that Mitchell was lying on his response to that question.

Mary Moriarty, a former Chief Hennepin County Public Defender, thought Mitchell’s attendance at the event in Washington, D.C. did not make a difference. Given the evidence in the case, a court would be hard pressed to throw out the verdict. This view was shared by Melissa Murray, a law professor at New York University, who said although the attendance at the MLK event and the t-shirt were “not great, throwing out a jury verdict under these circumstances is probably a long shot.”

A similar opinion came from a New York criminal defense lawyer, Benjamin Brafman, who said, ”It’s been my experience that if you represent a really notorious individual in a trial that’s been watched by the entire world, you would have to have a really powerful confluence of legal issues for any appellate court to give it traction.”

Another Minnesota criminal defense attorney, Mike Padden, had a different view. He thought Mitchell in the voir dire should have disclosed his attendance at the MLK event and let the judge and the attorneys decide whether he should be on the jury.

Apparently the relevant legal precedent for this issue held that for a party to get a new trial, the party must show that the juror’s response on voir dire to a material question was dishonest and a correct response would have provided a valid basis for removal of the juror. (McDonough Poser Equip. v. Greenwood, 464U.S. 548 (1984).) https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/explainer-will-jurors-march-presence-impact-chauvin-case/2021/05/05/f2f70e84-addd-11eb-82c1-896aca955bb9_story.html

State’s Response to the Motions [5]

Chauvin’s four-page motion document asked for additional time to prepare and submit a thorough brief on these issues, and the State’s has not yet submit its detailed response to these motions. However, a spokesman for the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office stated, “The court has already rejected many of these arguments and the State will vigorously oppose them.”

Conclusion

The press reports about these defense motions, cited in footnote 1, contain the following opinions about the likely success of these motions .

Mike Brandt, a Minneapolis criminal defense attorney, said these requests are routine following a guilty verdict and often predict issues that will be raised on appeal, but that the convictions are unlikely to be overturned.

The previously mentioned Mary Moriarty said there wasn’t much new in the defense motion and that it lacked specificity. “You can see it’s very rushed and they actually asked for additional time to brief the issues.

It should also be noted that before or at the sentencing hearing in late June, the court has to rule on the prosecution’s pending motion for enhanced sentencing because of alleged aggravating circumstances. [6]

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[1] Defendant’s Notice of Motions and Post-Verdict Motions, State v. Chauvin, Court File No. 27-CR-20-12646 (Henn. Cty. Dist. Ct. May 4, 2021); Walsh, Derek Chauvin files for new trial, alleging prosecutorial and judicial misconduct, StarTribune (May 4, 2021); Xiong & Walsh, Chauvin files for new trial, alleging prosecutorial misconduct and judicial errors, StarTribune (May 5, 2021); Forliti (AP), Chauvin’s lawyer seeks new trial, hearing to impeach verdict, Wash. Post (May 4, 2021); Barrett & Winter, Derek Chauvin Seeks New Trial in George Floyd Case, W.S.J. (May 4, 2021); Eligon, Derek Chauvin’s Lawyer Asks for New Trial After Jury Verdict, N.Y. Times (May 4, 2021); Bailey, Derek Chauvin’s attorney files motion for a new trial, alleging misconduct by judge, prosecution and jurors, Wash. Post (May 4, 2021); Forliti (AP), EXPLAINER: Will juror’s march presence impact Chauvin case, Wash. Post (May 5, 2021). Details about the court’s previous rulings on these issues may be found in List of Posts to dwkcommentaries—Topical: George Floyd Killing.

[2] See n.1 supra; Minn. R. Crim. Pro. 26-04, subd. 1.

[3] See n. 1 supra; Minn. R. Crim. Pro. 26.03, subd. 20(6); Schwartz v. Minneapolis Suburban Bus Co., 104 N.W.2d 301 (Minn. Sup Ct. 1960).

[4] Forliti & Glass (AP), Chauvin juror: After intense trial, verdict was ‘easy part,’ StarTribune (April 28, 2021); Xiong, Chauvin juror hopes experience will lead to change, inspire others, StarTribune (April 28, 2021); AP, Juror talks of deliberations before finding Chauvin guilty, StarTribune (April 28, 2021); Beliware, First Chauvin juror to speak publicly recounts stress of coming to court to ‘watch a Black man die,’ Wash. Post (April 28, 2021);Xiong, Juror defends participation in March on Washington after social media post surfaces, StarTribune (May 4, 2021).

[5] See n. 1 supra.

[6] Xiong & Olson, Attorneys debate ‘aggravating factors ‘ in George Floyd murder, StarTribune (April 30, 2021); Forliti (AP), Prosecutors seek higher sentence for Chauvin in Floyd death, StarTribune (April 30, 2021); Bila, Chauvin’s ‘particular cruelty’ to George Floyd should mean harsher sentence, Minnesota attorney general argues, Wash. Post (May 1, 2021); AP, Chauvin sentencing in Floyd death pushed back to June 25, Wash. Post (April 27, 2021); State’s Memorandum of Law in Support of Blakely Aggregated Sentencing Factors, State v. Chauvin Henn. County Dist. Ct. No. 27-CR-20-12646 (April 30, 2021),; Defendant’s Memorandum of Law in Opposition to Upward Durational Sentencing Departure, State v. Chauvin Henn. County Dist. Ct. No. 27-CR-20-12646 (April 30, 2021).

 

Witnessing

Witnessing is an important human activity and responsibility.

Sometimes witnessing is a planned activity, like attending or watching and listening to a concert, play, movie, sporting event or a church worship service and then reporting (orally or in writing) what happened to others. Witnessing sometimes, however, is not planned beforehand when you observe something happening in your presence and subsequently tell others what you had observed.

Witnessing by Darnella Frazier [1]

An important example of the latter type of witnessing was provided by Darnella Frazier, a 17-year-old high school student, in Minneapolis at the corner of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street on May 25, 2020.

By happenstance she and her nine-year-old cousin walked from their home to the nearby Cup Foods store on that corner to buy some snacks. When they arrived at the store they noticed in the street a Minneapolis police car where a black man (George Floyd) was pinned in pain on the pavement by three Minneapolis policemen. Frazier immediately got out her cell phone and started a video recording of this event and then held her camera steady for over the next ten minutes until the Black man apparently died. She then  posted this video recording on her FACEBOOK page, which immediately was seen by many people around the world.

The next day in an interview by the StarTribune Frazier said she started the video recording ”as soon as I heard  . .  [the Black man] trying to fight for his life. It was like a natural instinct, honestly. The world needed to see what I was seeing. Stuff like this happens in silence too many times.” She hoped that the video can in some way bring about “peace and equality. We are tired of [police] killing us.” It was obvious to her that the officer had “seen how weak [Floyd] was, and he still proceeded. . . . My video proves what really happened.”

Frazier amplified her remarks in March 2021 FACEBOOK postings. “George Floyd was already cuffed on the ground, a knee to the neck when [the] restraint already is absolutely unnecessary. The man was begging for his life and Chauvin did not care. He deserves to go down.” Moreover, I can’t go to sleep in silence, my mind will eat me alive.” Frazier also criticized the falsity of the Minneapolis Police Department’s initial public report of this incident that stated the following:

  • “On Monday evening, shortly after 8:00 pm, officers from the Minneapolis Police Department responded to the 3700 block of Chicago Avenue South on a report of a forgery in progress.  Officers were advised that the suspect was sitting on top of a blue car and appeared to be under the influence.”
  • “Two officers arrived and located the suspect, a male believed to be in his 40s, in his car.  He was ordered to step from his car.  After he got out, he physically resisted officers.”
  • Officers were able to get the suspect into handcuffs and noted he appeared to be suffering medical distress.”
  • “Officers called for an ambulance.  He was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center by ambulance where he died a short time later.”
  • “At no time were weapons of any type used by anyone involved in this incident.”
  • “The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension has been called in to investigate this incident at the request of the Minneapolis Police Department.”
  • “No officers were injured in the incident.”
  • “Body worn cameras were on and activated during this incident.”

At Chauvin’s recently concluded criminal trial, Frazier was the fourth witness called by the prosecution and provided moving and emotional testimony about what she observed and did that day. “When I look at George Floyd I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all Black. I have a Black father, I have Black brothers, I have Black friends. I look at that and how it could have been one of them. It’s been nights I’ve stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. It’s not what I should have done. It’s what he [Chauvin] should have done.” She also testified that Chauvin had a “cold look—heartless. It didn’t seem like he cared.”

In cross examination, defense counsel Erik Nelson was trying to fabricate a scene with bystanders becoming increasingly hostile to the point of creating a potential threat to the officers. Frazier agreed that bystanders were getting louder and angrier, but she added that she didn’t think anyone was ever threatening Chauvin.

After the jury on April 20th rendered its verdict that Chauvin was guilty on all three counts, Frazier said on FACEBOOK, “I just cried so hard. This last hour my heart was beating so fast, I was so anxious, anxiety [busting] through the roof. But to know GUILTY ON ALL 3 CHARGES !!! THANK YOU GOD THANK YOU … George Floyd we did it!! Justice has been served.”

Courage Award for Darnella Frazier [2]

Praise for Frazier’s actions at the scene of the Floyd killing actually started in October 2020, when PEN America, which works to defend and celebrate free expression in the United States and worldwide through the advancement of literature and human rights, announced that it was granting its annual Benenson Courage Award to Frazier. The announcement stated the following:

  • “In May 2020, Frazier documented the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police officers, one of whom—Derek Chauvin—pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck, well after Floyd lost consciousness. Frazier’s video quickly spread across social media and led to a wave of community outrage, a major investigation, and Chauvin’s arrest, as well as the dismissal of [him and] the three other officers. Floyd’s killing, along with the deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, Dion Johnson, and others, drove a wave of activism across the country crying out for racial and economic justice.”

This award was presented at a virtual ceremony on December 8, 2020, by Spike Lee, the famous Oscar-winning film director. He said, “I’m so proud of my sister. She documented the murder of George Floyd, our brother, King Floyd. And that footage reverberated around this God’s earth, and people took to the streets all over this earth. Not just the United States of America, and it wasn’t just Black people either. Everybody took to the streets. My sister, I commend you, and you deserve  . . . the PEN/Benenson Courage Award. The [important] word is courage!”

Ms. Frazier accepted the Award with these comments: “ I would like to say thank you for honoring me with this PEN/Benenson Courage Award. I never would imagine out of my whole 17 years of living that this will be me. It’s just a lot to take in, but I couldn’t say thank you enough for everything that’s been coming towards me. Thanks to Mr. Lee for presenting this, and I appreciate that. Thank you for the PEN/Benenson Courage Award.”

Then followed thank you’s for her courage from attendees, including Meryl Streep, Anita Hill and U.S. Senator Cory Booker.

Other Praises for Frazier [3]

Many others have praised Frazier for her courage and quick-thinking on May 25th.

Her recording this video was praised at a June 11, 2020, press conference by Minneapolis Police chief Medaria Arradondo, “I am thankful, absolutely, that this [police encounter] was captured in the manner it was. [In similar situations, he encouraged others,]“Record, Record, absolutely. Record, call . . . a friend. Yell out. Call 911. We need a supervisor on the scene. Absolutely, we need to know that. So the community [should[ play a vital role and did two weeks ago.”

Chauvin’s conviction brought immediate praise for Frazier. Minnesota Governor Tim Walz said, Frazier’s taking “that video, I think many folks know, is maybe the only reason that Derek Chauvin will go to prison.” The NAACP in North Carolina, the state where Floyd was born. stated “The video shot by a high school student will go down in history. Not even many of Chauvin’s police colleagues, could argue against Ms. Frazier’s film.” Oprah Winfrey tweeted, “I’m grateful to the witnesses and their testimonies. Grateful to Darnella Frazier. Grateful to every juror for seeing and acknowledging what the world saw on that tape. Thank you God for real!”

Michelle Norris, a Washington Post columnist and a Minnesota native and graduate of the University of Minnesota, states Frazier “was the witness George Floyd needed on May 25, 2020. She was the witness we all needed—the public, the police, a country still grappling with racial codes that are stitched into the fabric of our governing institutions. She is the hero of this story.”

Norris continued, “Her bravery is a reminder that we too must not look away, and not just in the most wicked moments of bias but also in the small things that grease the runway toward larger prejudice. We must not look away when we see the softer kind of oppression that masks itself in offhand comments, and jokes, and the denigration and dismissal of ‘those people.’”

“And when I say ‘we,’ I am also talking about our public servants and especially our law enforcement officers who know too well that there are those in their ranks who ‘police’ from a dark and dangerous perspective. They know that some officers are guided by prejudice and proceed from warped beliefs. Those officers debase the entire profession.”

Conclusion

 Seven other bystanders to the killing of George Floyd testified in the Chauvin trial, including Judeah Reynolds, who is Frazier’s nine-year-old cousin. As Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said in his closing argument, all of these bystander witnesses “were a bouquet  of humanity.”[4]

All of the bystanders testimony was  applauded by two prominent journalists. For Frank Bruni, the New York times columnist, these witnesses are “tormented by their memories of Floyd’s last minutes” and Floyd’s and their sense of “helplessness” of not being able to stop what was being done to Floyd. The Chicago Tribune’s columnist, Heidi Stevens, called these bystanders “stone catchers” or people who stand up and intervene when someone’s been wrongly accused and condemned. (This phrase is based upon Jesus rebuking men who were ready to stone to death a woman caught in adultery by asking them who is without sin to cast the first stone, which prompted all the men to drop their stones and walk away and upon Bryan Stevenson of the Equal Justice Initiative coining  the phrase “stone catchers.” [4]

This reference to the Bible should remind those of religious faith of our calling to be witnesses and give testimony. This is not easy. You have to give your account of what happened and your belief as to what it means. The person has to stand and say what he or she believes about God.

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[1] Walsh, For first time, Minneapolis teen opens up about her viral George Floyd arrest video, StarTribune (Mar. 12, 2021); Minneapolis Police Department, Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction (May 25, 2020); Paybarah, How a teenager’s video upended the police department’s initial tale, N.Y. Times (April 20, 2021); Bogel-Burroughs & Arango, Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed George Floyd’s arrest, testifies at the trial, N.Y. Times (Mar. 30, 2021);  Assoc. Press, [Video] ‘He Was Suffering’: Teenager Who Filmed Floyd’s Arrest Testifies at Trial, N.Y. Times (Mar. 30, 2021); Watch the replays” Day 2 testimony of witnesses Donald Williams and Darnella Frazier, StarTribune (Mar. 30, 2021); Xiong, Walsh & Olson, Teen who recorded George Floyd’s death reveals trauma, pain in testimony, StarTribune (Mar. 31, 2021); Jackson, Derek Chauvin trial shows people who film police violence later struggle with trauma, StarTribune (April 2, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four, dwkcommentaries.com (April 4, 2021); Knowles & Belia, Darnella Frazier, teen who filmed Floyd’s arrest, celebrates Chauvin’s guilty verdict: ‘Justice has been served,’ Wash. Post (April 21, 2021); Yan, A teen with ‘a cell phone and sheer guts’ is credited for Derek Chauvin’s murder conviction, cnn.comm (April 21, 2021); Fowler, You have the right to film police. Here’s how to do it effectively—and safely, Wash. Post (April 22, 2021).

[2] See note 1 supra. See also Walsh, Minneapolis teen ‘humbled’ to receive national Courage Award for filming George Floyd’s killing by police, StarTribune (Oct. 29, 2020); PEN America, Darnella Frazier, Dec. 8, 2020); Walsh, Minneapolis teen receives prestigious award for recording George Floyd video, StarTribune (Dec. 10, 2020).

[3] Norris, Opinion: Darnella Frazier is the hero of this story, Wash. Post (April 21, 2021). This blog has frequently commented about Bryan Stevenson’s amazing legal representation of death-row inmates and others. See also Sullivan, By bearing witness—and hitting ‘record’—17-year-old Darnella Frazier may have changed the world, Wash. Post (April 20, 2021.).

[4] The other bystander witnesses were Alyssa Funaru (17 years old), Kaylynn Gilbert (17 years old), Genevieve Hansen, Donald Williams II, Christopher Belfrey and Charles McMillian. (Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four, dwkcommentaries.com (April 4, 2021). Bruni, Listening to Those Who Saw George Floyd Die, N.Y. Times (April 24, 2021); Stevens, ‘The world needed to see what I was seeing,’ StarTribune (April 23, 2021)..

Department of Justice Starts Investigation of Minneapolis Police Department

On April 21 (the day after the Chauvin guilty verdict), U.S. Attorney General Merrick B. Garland announced that “the Justice Department has opened a pattern or practice investigation into the City of Minneapolis (the City) and the Minneapolis Police Department [MPD].”[1]

The Investigation Announcement

“The investigation will assess all types of force used by MPD officers, including uses of force involving individuals with behavioral health disabilities and uses of force against individuals engaged in activities protected by the First Amendment. The investigation will also assess whether MPD engages in discriminatory policing. As part of the investigation the Justice Department will conduct a comprehensive review of MPD policies, training and supervision. The department will also examine MPD’s systems of accountability, including complaint intake, investigation, review, disposition and discipline. The Department of Justice will also reach out to community groups and members of the public to learn about their experiences with MPD.”

According to the Attorney General, this investigation “will assess whether the [MPD] engages in a pattern or practice of using excessive force, including during protests. Building trust between community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us, but we undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait.”

“Like so many of you, I have closely watched the events in Minnesota. Although the state’s prosecution was successful, I know that nothing can fill the void that the loved ones of George Floyd have felt since his death. My heart goes out to them and to all those who have experienced similar loss.”

“I know such wounds have deep roots, and that too many communities have experienced those wounds firsthand. Yesterday’s verdict in the state criminal trial does not address potentially systemic policing issues in Minneapolis.”

“The Justice Department also has the authority to bring a civil lawsuit, asking a federal court to provide injunctive relief that orders the MPD to change its policies and practices to avoid further violations.”

“Most of our nation’s law enforcement officers do their difficult jobs honorably and lawfully.”

“I strongly believe that good officers do not want to work in systems that allow bad practices. Good officers welcome accountability because accountability is an essential part of building trust with the community, and public safety requires public trust.”

“I have been involved in the legal system, in one way or another, for most of my adult life. I know that justice is sometimes slow, sometimes elusive, and sometimes never comes. The Department of Justice will be unwavering in its pursuit of equal justice under law.” 

“The challenges we face are deeply woven into our history – they did not arise today or last year”

“Building trust between the community and law enforcement will take time and effort by all of us, but we undertake this task with determination and urgency, knowing that change cannot wait.”

Reactions [2]

Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Pamela S. Karlan, for the Department’s Civil Rights Division, said, “One of the Civil Rights Division’s highest priorities is to ensure that every person in this country benefits from public safety systems that are lawful, responsive, transparent and nondiscriminatory,” said  “It is essential that police departments across the country use their law enforcement authority, including the authority to use force, in a manner that respects civil rights and the sanctity of human life.”

According to W. Anders Folk, the Acting U.S. Attorney  for the District of Minnesota, “People throughout the city of Minneapolis want a public safety system that protects and serves all members of our community. This investigation by the Department of Justice provides a vital step to restore and build trust in the [MPD} and its officers.”

The New York Times pointed out that the Department would issue a  public report at the conclusion of the investigation. It also has the option to bring a civil suit against the MPD and enter into a settlement agreement, or consent decree, to ensure that prompt and effective action is taken to bring the department’s practices into compliance with the law.

More immediately, this investigation was welcomed in a StarTribune editorial and by Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey, Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo and 12 of the 13 Minneapolis City Council members.

The StarTribune editorial said this investigation “is a welcome development in a city where mayors and police chiefs alike have struggled for years to effectively reform the department.” It also noted  that “MPD officers are seldom disciplined for their actions, well-protected by a powerful union. Chauvin had at least 16 prior complaints against him, only two of which drew reprimands. A recent Star Tribune analysis shows that for the department as a whole, only about 3% of misconduct complaints resulted in discipline.”

The Mayor said the City must seize on this “generational opportunity” to improve life for the Black community. Similar sentiments were voiced by Chief Arradondo, who pledged to “cooperate fully” with the investigation while saying , “The Chief has been insistent that he wants to make the MPD the best department possible.”

The 12 Council members stated they “fully support [this investigation in holding accountable] any and all abuses of power and harms to our community and stand ready to aid in this process as full partners.” They also said, “The City Council’s oversight of the Minnea[polis Police Department has been historically constrained by the City Charter and state law and we welcome new tools to pursue transformational, structural changes  to how the City provides for public safety.”

Minnesota’s two U.S. Senators, Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith, issued a joint statement reminding everyone that they previously had “called for the Department of Justice to conduct an investigation into the patterns and practices of racially discriminatory policing in Minneapolis. We commend the Department of Justice’s decision to open this investigation, and we encourage them to coordinate with the ongoing investigation by the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Through both of these efforts, we are hopeful to make meaningful progress. These investigations alone will not solve systemic issues, which is why we won’t stop fighting to pass police reform legislation to hold officers accountable for misconduct, increase transparency in policing practices, and ban dangerous police practices like chokeholds and no-knock warrants.”

Several activist groups had mixed responses:

  • Black Visions said, “The police investigating themselves will never result in needed changes to truly provide public safety to the people of Minneapolis and greater Minnesota. The MPD has shown the public  and community time and time again that they do not care about the safety of Black people or the larger community.”
  • Reclaim the Block said, “Minneapolis’ violent and murderous police department is built on the Obama Justice Department model of 21st century policing. We don’t expect real change to come out of the DOJ.”
  • Communities United Against Police Brutality said, “ We have been asking for DOJ assistance—since at least 2001. We have a toxic culture of police in this state, and not just in one department.”

Jared Fishman, a former federal civil rights prosecutor, called the announcement “hugely significant” and said it could signal that the Justice Department would once again use its considerable legal muscle to try to force police reforms. The Obama administration had opened 25 investigations into local law enforcement agencies and enforced 14 court-approved consent decrees mandating changes. Yet Fishman cautioned that the efficacy of such settlements can sometimes be stymied because local departments or prosecutors’ offices lack the resources or expertise to make the changes federal officials recommend.Fishman also noted that last week Attorney General Garland had rescinded a 2018 order by then Attorney General Jeff Sessions that aimed to drastically limit the use of such settlement agreements with local police agencies.

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[1] Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Delivers Remarks at Announcement of Pattern or Practice Investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department (April 21, 2021); U.S. Dep’t Justice, PRESS RELEASE: Attorney General Merrick B. Garland Announces Investigation of the City of Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the Minneapolis Police Department (April 21, 2021); Benner, Attorney general Merrick Garland announces an investigation into the Minneapolis Police Department, N.Y. Times (April 21, 2021); Nakamura, Berman & Zapotonsky, Garland announces Justice Dept. probe into Minneapolis police, Walsh. Post (April 21, 2021), [2] See note 1 supra. See also Editorial, Justice Department probe is a critical next step, StarTribune (April 21, 2021); Press Release: Klobuchar, Smith Statement on Department of Justice Investigation into Minneapolis Police Practices (April 21, 2021); Mannix,  Justice Department to probe whether Minneapolis police have ‘pattern and practice’ of misconduct, StarTribune (April 22, 2021), ; Nakamura, Merrick Garland rolls back Trump-era restriction on forcing local police reforms, Wash. Post (April 16, 2021); Condon & Woodall, Advocates fear Minnesota, federal police reform efforts could lose momentum, StarTribune (April 22, 2021).

It should also be noted that shortly after the killing of George Floyd, the City of Minneapolis and the Minnesota Department of Human Rights entered into an agreement banning choke holds and neck restraints by the MPD. (See these posts to dwkcommentaries.com: Ban on Police Choke Holds and Neck Restraints in Agreement between City of Minneapolis and Minnesota Department of Human Rights (June 6, 2020); Court Approves Agreement on Police Conduct Between City of Minneapolis and Minnesota Department of Human Rights (June 9, 2020).

Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Seven (CONVICTION)

On Tuesday (April 20), the jury in Minnesota’s Hennepin County District Court returned its verdict in the Derek Chauvin criminal case: Guilty on all three counts (second degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter)! They did so after only about six  hours of deliberation.

In the courtroom, Chauvin’s bail immediately was revoked, and he was handcuffed and taken for his safety to administrative segregation (solitary confinement) at Oak Park Heights Prison until sentencing in June.

This verdict was hailed by individuals and groups around the U.S., including President Biden and former President Barack Obama.

Further details are provided in many newspaper articles., some of which are listed below.{1}

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[1] Forliti, Karnowski & Webber (AP), Jury’s swift verdict for Chauvin in Floyd death: Guilty, StarTribune (April 21, 2021); https://www.startribune.com/jurys-swift-verdict-for-chauvin-in-floyd-death-guilty/600048350; Xiong & Walsh, Derek Chauvin, convicted of murdering George Floyd in Minneapolis, is led away in handcuffs, StarTribune (April 21, 2021), https://www.startribune.com/derek-chauvin-convicted-of-murdering-george-floyd-in-minneapolis-is-led-away-in-handcuffs/600048324; Arango, Dewan, Eligon & Bogel-Burroughs, Derek Chauvin is found guilty of murdering George Floyd, N.Y. Times (April 20, 2021); https://www.nytimes.com/2021/04/20/us/chauvin-guilty-murder-george-floyd.html?searchResultPosition=7; Walsh, Derek Chauvin is segregated from other inmates in state’s ‘most secure unit,’ StarTribune (April 21, 2021). https://www.startribune.com/derek-chauvin-is-segregated-from-other-inmates-in-state-s-most-secure-unit/600048467/. The elements of these three crimes are set forth in the court’s instructions to the jury. (Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Seven (Jury Instructions), dwkcommentaries.com (April 20, 2021), https://dwkcommentaries.com/2021/04/20/derek-chauvin-trial-week-seven-submission-to-jury.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Seven (Jury Instructions)

On Monday (April 19), Judge Cahill delivered instructions on the law to the jury, as discussed below. Then attorneys for the prosecution and Chauvin gave their closing arguments, which will be discussed in a subsequent post, while we and millions of people await the jury’s verdict.

The Jury Instructions are contained in a 14-page document: single-spaced (with extra space between paragraphs and headings). The following contains the headings with occasional portions of the actual text and without the details on subjects in brackets and without the instructions after the closing arguments of the parties.[1]

[Duties of Judge and Jury]

[Instructions To Be Considered as a Whole]

[Presumption of Innocence]

Proof Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is such proof as ordinarily prudent men and women would act upon in their most important affairs. A reasonable doubt is a doubt based upon reason and common sense. It does not mean a fanciful or capricious doubt, nor does it mean beyond all possibility of doubt

[Direct and Circumstantial Evidence]

[Statements of Judge and Attorneys]

[Multiple Charges to be Considered Separately]

[Definitions of Words and Phrases]

COUNT I

The defendant is charged in Count I with Murder in the Second Degree in connection with the death of George Floyd.

Definition

Under Minnesota law, a person causing the death of another person, without intent to cause the death of any person, while committing or attempting to commit a felony offense is guilty of the crime of Murder in the Second Degree. (Emphasis added.)

Elements

The elements of the crime of Murder in the Second Degree while committing a felony are:

First Element: The death of George Floyd must be proven.

Second Element: The Defendant caused the death of George Floyd. (Emphasis in original.)

Third Element: The Defendant, at the time of causing the death of George Floyd, was committing or attempting to commit the felony offense of Assault in the Third Degree. It is not necessary for the State to prove the Defendant has an intent to kill George Floyd, but it must prove that the Defendant committed or attempted to commit the underlying felony of Assault in the Third Degree. (Emphases in original.)

There are two elements of Assault in the Third Degree:

(1) Defendant assaulted George Floyd.

“Assault “ is the intentional infliction of bodily harm upon another or the attempt to inflict bodily harm upon another. The intentional infliction of bodily harm requires proof that the Defendant intentionally applied unlawful force to another person without that person’s consent and that this act resulted in bodily harm. (Emphases in original.)

  • Defendant inflicted substantial bodily harm upon George Floyd. It is not necessary for the State to prove that the Defendant intended to inflict substantial bodily harm, or knew that his actions would inflict substantial bodily harm, only that the Defendant intended to commit the assault and that George Floyd sustained substantial bodily harm as a result of the assault. (Emphases in original.)

Fourth Element:. The Defendant’s act took place on or about May 25, 2020 in Hennepin County.

If you find that each of these elements has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt, the Defendant is guilty of this charge. If you find that any of these elements has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the Defendant is not guilty of this charge, unless you find that the Defendant is liable for this crime committed by another person or persons according to the instruction below on page 8 under the heading ”Liability for Crimes of Another.”

Count II

The Defendant is charged in Count II with Murder in the Third Degree in connection with the death of George Floyd.   

Definition

Under Minnesota law, a person causing the death of another by perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others and evincing a depraved mind, without regard for human life, but without intent to cause the death of any person, is guilty of Murder in the Third Degree. (Emphasis added.)

Elements

The elements of the crime of Murder in the Third Degree are:

First Element: The death of George Floyd must be proven.

Second Element: The Defendant caused the death of George Floyd. (Emphasis in original.)

Third Element: The defendant caused the death of George Floyd by an intentional act that was eminently dangerous to other persons. A person commits an act eminently dangerous to others when the act is highly likely to cause death.(Emphases in original.)

Fourth Element: Defendant acted with a mental state consisting of reckless disregard for human life. The Defendant’s act may not have been specifically intended to cause death, and may not have been specifically directed at the particular person whose death occurred, but it must have been committed with a conscious indifference to the loss of life that the eminently dangerous act could cause. (Emphases in original.)

Fifth Element: The Defendant’s act took place on or about May 25, 2020 in Hennepin County.

If you find that each of these elements has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is guilty of this charge. If you find that any of these elements has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the Defendant is not guilty of this charge, unless you find that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is liable for this crime committed by another person or persons according to the instruction below on page 8 under the heading “Liability for Crimes of Another.”

COUNT III

The Defendant is charged in Count III with Manslaughter in the Second Degree in connection with the death of George Floyd.

Definition

Under Minnesota law, whoever, by culpable negligence, whereby he creates an unreasonable risk and consciously takes the chance of causing death or great bodily harm to another person, causes the death of another is guilty of Manslaughter in the Second Degree.

The Defendant is charged with committing this crime or intentionally aiding the commission of this crime.

Elements

The elements of Manslaughter in the Second Degree are:

First Element: The death of George Floyd must be proven.

Second Element: The Defendant caused the death of George Floyd, by culpable negligence, whereby the Defendant created an unreasonable risk and consciously took a change of Causing death or great bodily harm. “Culpable negligence” is intentional conduct that the Defendant may not have intended to be harmful but that an ordinary and reasonable prudent person would recognize as involving a strong probability of injury to others. (Emphases in original.)

Third Element: The Defendant’s act took place on or about May 25, 2020 in Hennepin County.

If you find that each of these elements has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is guilty of this charge. If you find that any of these elements has not been proven beyond a reasonable doubt, the Defendant is not guilty of this charge, unless you find that the State has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is liable for this crime committed by another person or persons according to the instruction below on page 8 under the heading “Liability for Crimes of Another.”

[LIABILITY FOR CRIMES OF ANOTHER]

Defense: Authorized Use of Force by a Police Officer

No crime is committed if a police officer’s actions were justified by the police officer’s use of reasonable force in the line of duty in effecting a lawful arrest or preventing an escape from custody. (Emphases in original.)

The kind and degree of force a police officer may lawfully use in executing his duties is limited by what a reasonable police officer in the same situation would believe to be necessary. Any use of force beyond that is not reasonable. To determine if the actions of the police officer were reasonable, you must look at those facts which a reasonable officer in the same situation would have known at the precise moment the officer acted with force. You must decide whether the officer’s actions were objectively reasonable in light of the totality of the facts and circumstances confronting the officer and without regard to the officer’s own subjective state of mind, intentions, or motivations. (Emphases in original.)

The Defendant is not guilty of a crime if he used force as authorized by law.

To prove guilt, the State must prove beyond a reasonable doubt  that the Defendant’s use of force was not authorized by law.

[Evaluation of Testimony—Believability of Witnesses]

[Expert Testimony]

Defendant’s Right Not to Testify

The State must convince you by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the Defendant is guilty of the crime charged. The Defendant has no obligation to prove his innocence. The Defendant has the right not to testify. This right is guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions. You should not draw any inference from the fact that the Defendant has not testified in this case.

[Impeachment]

Evidence of Other Occurrences Involving George Floyd

You have heard evidence of an occurrence involving George Floyd on May 6, 2019. As I told you at the time this evidence was offered, it was admitted solely for the limited purpose of showing what effects the ingestion of opioids may or may not have had on the physical wellbeing of George Floyd. this evidence is not to be used as evidence of the character of George Floyd.

[Demonstrative Evidence]

[Definition of Words]

[Rulings on Objections to Evidence]

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[1] District Court, Jury Instructions, https://www.mncourts.gov/mncourtsgov/media/High-Profile-Cases/27-CR-20-12646/JuryInstructions04192021.pdf; Read the judge’s instructions to the jury in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, StarTribune (April 19, 2021);  https://www.startribune.com/read-the-judges-instructions-for-the-jury-in-the-derek-chauvin-murder-trial/600047788; Read: Judge’s instructions to Derek Chauvin trial jurors, Wash. Post (April 19, 2021), https://www.washingtonpost.com/context/read-judge-s-instructions-to-derek-chauvin-trial-jurors/5b3517cb-bfa2-4dad-957e-11acfb2783f2/.

Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Six (Defense Case)

Tuesday (April 13) of Week Six turned to the presentation of the defense’s case, after the testimony of the prosecution’s final three witnesses on April 12. [1] The defense then called seven witnesses on Wednesday (April 14) while Thursday (April 15) saw the end of the evidentiary phase of the trial. First, however, we will examine rulings and comments by Judge Cahill.

Judge Cahill’s Rulings and Comments[2]

Wednesday’s trial started with the Judge granting a motion by Morris L. Hall, to quash a defense subpoena for him to testify in the trial on the ground that such testimony would infringe his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination. The Judge said, “I’m finding that he has a complete Fifth Amendment privilege.”

The Judge then denied the defense’s motion for an acquittal on the grounds that the State allegedly had failed to prove whether there was a use of force and whether any such force was unreasonable and caused Floyd’s death.

The Judge ordered the jury to consider the testimony of two defense witnesses (Creighton and Moseng on what impact “the ingestion of opioids may or may not have on the physical well-being of George Floyd, not on his character.”

At the end of Tuesday’s proceedings, the Judge told the jury that the defense was expected to finish its case by this Thursday, that the Court probably would not be in session this Friday and that closing arguments probably would happen next Monday after which the jury would be sequestered for their deliberations. “So next Monday pack a bag and bring it to court.”

Defense Witnesses [3]

1. Scott Creighton( (Retired MPD officer). He was involved in a May 2019 traffic stop of George Floyd in Minneapolis and testified, with the aid of his body cam video, that  Floyd “was unresponsive and noncompliant to my commands [to show his hands] in the car he was driving. Creighton, therefore, pointed his gun at Floyd and “reached [into the car] to  grab his hand and put it up on the dash.”  In response, Floyd said, ”Don’t shoot me man.” Then “that individual [Floyd] was taken from the vehicle and handcuffed. In my mind, his behavior was very nervous and anxious.”

On cross-examination, Creighton admitted that he had given conflicting commands on where Floyd should put his hands in the car and that after Floyd was out of the car he was coherent and cooperative. It also should be noted that Floyd was not charged with any crime on that occasion.

2. Michelle Moseng (retired Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC) paramedic). At the time of the May 2019 encounter, she tended to Floyd in the Police Department’s Fourth Precinct in north Minneapolis. He had “extremely high” blood pressure, and he said he “has a history of hypertension and hadn’t been taking his medication,” but that day had been taking multiple opioid pills every 20 minutes because he was addicted. She wanted him to go to a hospital because she thought he was at risk of a stroke, but he refused.

Under cross examination by the prosecution, she admitted that Floyd “was alert, obeying commands and his respiration and pulse rates were normal.” Nor did he have a stroke or stop breathing while he was with her.

3. Shawanda Hill (a young Black woman).  On the morning of May 25, 2020, at Cup Foods she happened to run into George Floyd, an acquaintance, who appeared to be normal, talking and alert. He offered her a ride home in his car, but soon after they were in his car, ”he fell asleep.”

When Cup Foods employees came to the car to ask about the $20 bill Floyd had used in the store, “they were trying to wake him up over and over, but Floyd just said something, made a little gesture and nodded back off.” Floyd told her “he was tired because he had been working.”

Later a police officer arrived at the car with a drawn gun and demanded that Floyd put his hands on the dash. She woke up Floyd and told him, “Baby, that’s the police. It’s about the $20 bill that wasn’t real. Roll down the window.” Floyd immediately rolled down the window, grabbed the steering wheel and said, “Please, please don’t shoot me.”  Floyd appeared to be “very” startled, but she saw nothing to indicate he was having any health problems such as shortness of breath or chest pains.

4. Peter Chang (Minneapolis Park Police officer). On May 25, 2020, he was stationed at a nearby park, but came to the scene in response to a call for assistance. He then commented on portions of his bodycam video. When he arrived, Floyd was handcuffed and sitting on the sidewalk [next to the brick wall of an Asian restaurant across 38th Street from Cup Foods.]

At the request of one of the four officers already at the scene, Chang used his squad car computer to find information about Floyd. Chang stayed by Floyd’s car and talked with two people who had been in the car, the previously mentioned Shawanda Hill and Morris Hall. As they watched what was happening across the street, Hall said, “Something’s going on. They’re taking pictures over there. Everybody’s recording this shit, man.”

When the ambulance arrived at the scene, Hall said, “Can I just see what y’all did to him? He on the ground and everything? Oh my God.” One of the bystanders, Mr. McMillian, came across the street to see these two Black people and told them they needed to call Floyd’s family.

Under cross examination, Chang said his focus remained on Floyd’s car and the two Black people there because he assumed the four officers (Chauvin and the other three) were OK.They had never radioed for help.

5. Nicole Mackenzie (MPD Medical Support Coordinator). She testified about “excited delirium,” a syndrome in  dispute among health professionals, but taught to MPD police cadets. She said that the MPD training asserts that this syndrome leads to psychotic behavior , agitation, incoherent speech, superhuman strength and hyperthermia. Cadets are trained to have an ambulance at a safe distance in such situations because a suspect “can rapidly go into cardiac arrest.”

She also testified that the MPD training on “excited delirium” emphasizes putting the suspect in the side recover position and rendering CPR assistance. Judge Cahill, however, told the jury there was no evidence that Chauvin had had this training and, therefore, this testimony was not relevant to his state-of-mind on May 25, 2020. [4]

6. Barry Brodd (Retired police officer and use-of-force expert). He testified for the defense, “I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified and acting with objective reasonableness following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with Mr. Floyd.”

When asked about his opinion, Brodd brought up a scenario he taught at the academy referring to a domestic violence incident where an individual is Tased, falls to ground and strikes his head. That’s not deadly force, that’s an accidental death, Brodd contended.

Brodd, who for served 22 years in the Santa Rosa Police Department before his retirement in 2004, said it’s important for anyone “to try to see it as the officer on the scene … then try to put yourself in the officer’s shoes. It’s easy to sit in an office and judge an officer’s conduct.”

Brodd testified that police used force in attempting to get Floyd in the squad and getting him to the ground, but once Floyd was on the ground, Brodd said he didn’t believe the “prone control” position was use of force.

Brodd also said police officers must always keep their head on a swivel and engage in “one upsmanship,” meaning officers do not always have to fight fair. “They’re allowed to overcome your resistance by going up a level to gain control.”

He asserted that the prone position was not dangerous and unlikely to cause “pain” for restrained suspects. With respect to Floyd, “there were space limitations; Mr. Floyd was butted up against the tire of the patrol car. There was traffic still driving down the street. There were crowd issues that took the attention of the officers. Mr. Floyd was still somewhat resisting. I think there were valid reasons to keep him in the prone.

Brodd also claimed that the prone position could be viewed as “safer” for suspects potentially on drugs because it was a method of control should someone suddenly exhibit “erratic behavior going from compliant to noncompliant, not feeling any pain, potentially having superhuman strength.”

7. Dr. David Fowler (Former Maryland Chief Medical Examiner and use-of-force expert). In his opinion, Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia due to heart disease with contributing factors, including fentanyl. He also said, in his opinion, that Chauvin’s knee did not impact the vital structures of Floyd’s neck, that there was no research evidence suggesting that the prone position is an issue in restricting air and that carbon monoxide poisoning from the police car may have contributed to his death. Other factors Fowler mentioned were Floyd’s high blood pressure (216/160) which “could be due to his hypertension being out of control, his exposure to vehicle exhaust from the adjacent patrol car, his tumors near the carotid artery and nerve pathways. As a result, he would have classified the cause of death as undetermined due to these multiple factors.

On cross examination, Fowler admitted that there were no data showing Floyd had any injury from carbon monoxide and no evidence the squad car was running, that he did not identify the time of death, that Floyd showed no signs of overdoses such as sleepiness, that 90 percent of tumors called paraganglioma do not secret adrenaline (contrary to his direct testimony), that Fowler was not claiming that Floyd died from such tumors and that he had never said the white object observable in Floyd’s mouth was a pill of any kind.

On cross examination, Dr. Fowler also admitted he erroneously had claimed that another medical expert who had criticized holding someone in a prone position had reversed that position.

Fowler also agreed that Chauvin and the other three officers were negligent in failing to provide immediate lifesaving measures to Floyd once he lacked a pulse. at roughly five of the over nine minutes he was restrained, and Fowler is critical of that failure by the officers.

Closing of Defense Case [5]

On Thursday (April 15), outside the presence of the jury, Mr. Chauvin announced that he invokes his Fifth Amendment right not to testify and then responded to  questions about that decision from his attorney, Erik Nelson: the two of them have had many conversations about whether he would testify, including as recently as the prior night; that Chauvin testified, the state would have broad latitude in its cross examination; and that he understood that any decision to testify was his alone and neither the state nor the court can equate silence with guilt. Judge Cahill then asked whether this was his decision, and he said, “It is, your Honor.”

The Judge also  said, “If he [Tobin] even hints at test results the jury has not heard about, it’s gonna be a mistrial, pure and simple.”                

The defense then rested on their case in chief.

Prosecution’s Rebuttal [6]

Jerry Blackwell for the prosecution told the court he intended  to recall Dr.Tobin to testify about the “very small” carbon monoxide levels in Mr. Floyd’s blood, an issue made relevant by the testimony of the defense expert, Dr. Fowler. Defense counsel, Erik Nelson, however, objected to this new evidence in rebuttal.

Judge Cahill agreed with this objection because he claimed the prosecution months ago knew that Dr. Fowler would testify about carbon monoxide and allowing such evidence in rebuttal would prejudice the defense because Dr.Fowler already had left Minnesota . However, the judge said that Dr. Tobin could testify about how carbon monoxide could have affected Floyd, but could not mention the actual amount of that chemical in his blood. The Judge also said, “If he [Tobin] even hints at test results the jury has not heard about, it’s gonna be a mistrial, pure and simple.”

The prosecution then called Dr. Tobin for brief testimony within those constraints.

Then the prosecution rested its case.

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[1] See Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Six (Ending of Prosecution Case), dwkcommentaries.com (April 13, 2021).

[2] Walsh, The state rests.’ Now the defense starts its case in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, StarTribune (April 13, 2021); Walsh, ‘Baby, that’s the police:’ Woman in SUV with George Floyd testifies she woke him up when cop was at window with gun drawn, StarTribune (April 13, 2021); Walsh, Simons & Sayle, What happened Tuesday in the Derek Chauvin trial, StarTribune (April 13, 2021); Walsh, Defense expert says Derek Chauvin ‘was justified’ in his actions before George Floyd died, StarTribune (April 13, 2021); Bailey, Derek Chauvin’s defense opens with focus on George Floyd’s drug use, rebuttal testimony on use of force, Wash. Post (April 13, 2021); Xiong, Walsh & Olson, Derek Chauvin’s actions were justified and reasonable, defense expert testifies, StarTribune (April 14, 2021): Walsh, Defense will resume today arguing that Derek Chauvin did not kill George Floyd, Star Tribune (April 14, 2021); Forliti, Karnowski & Webber(AP), Judge refuses request to acquit Chauvin in Floyd’s death, Wash. Post (April 14, 2021); Karnowski & Tarm, EXPLAINER: Reluctant witness won’t testify in Chauvin trial, Wash. Post (April 14, 2021); Bella & Iati, Live Updates: At Chauvin’s trial, defense’s medical expert says officer’s kneeling on George Floyd’s neck did not injure him, Wash. Post (April 14, 2021); Walsh, Defense witness: Due to multiple factors, manner of George Floyd’s death ‘undetermined,’ StarTribune (April 14, 2021); Bella, Iati, Kornfield & Knowles, Live updates: At Chauvin’s trial, defense medical expert say’s officer’s kneeling on George Floyd’s neck did not injure him, Wash. Post (April 14, 2021); Walsh, Simons & Sayle, What happened Wednesday in the Derek Chauvin trial, StarTribune (April 14, 2021; .Xioong, Walsh & Olson, Cardiac arrest and drugs, not lack of oxygen, caused Floyd’s death, defense expert says, StarTribune (April 15, 2021).

[3] See fn. 2 supra.

[4] Mackenzie previously had testified for the prosecution. See Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Five, dwkcommentaries.com (April 10, 2021).

[5] Walsh, Derek Chauvin tells court he will not testify in his murder trial, StarTribune (April 15, 2021); Belia & Bellware, Chauvin declines to testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right as defense rests its case, Wash. Post (April 15, 2021); Walsh, Simons & Sayle, What happened Thursday in the Derek Chauvin trial, StarTribune (April 15, 2021); Tompkins, Derek Chauvin declines to testify, N.Y. Times (April 15, 2021).

[7] See fn. 6 supra.

[8] Belia, Derek Chauvin tells court he will not testify in his murder trial, Wash. Post (April 15, 2021); Beila, Coroner who performed Floyd’s autopsy called to dispute defense expert’s carbon monoxide claim, prosecutor says, Wash. Post (April 15, 2021); Walsh, Derek Chauvin tells court he will not testify at his murder trial, StarTribune (April 15, 2021);Tompkins, Derek Chauvin declines to testify, N.Y. Times (April 15, 2021).

Derek Chauvin Trail: Week Six (Ending of Prosecution Case)

The testimony of the prosecution’s final three witnesses and Judge Cahill’s rulings on several issues occupied the first day (April 12) of the trial’s Week Six.[1] This was after Week Four’s opening statements and testimony from 19 prosecution witnesses and Week Five’s 16 prosecution witnesses. [2] Thereafter the defense started presentation of its case, which will be discussed in a subsequent post.

Prosecution Witnesses [3]

36. Dr. Jonathan Rich (Associate Professor, Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago and Cardiology Expert). He testified that in his opinion, “Floyd’s cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest caused by low oxygen levels that “were induced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxia” from the officers’ restraint. The low oxygen sent him into cardiopulmonary arrest “much more slowly and gradually . . . . His speech [was] starting to become less forceful . . . until his speech became absent and his  muscle movements were absent.”

Moreover, Dr.  Rich testified, “I believe that Mr. George Floyd’s death was absolutely preventable.”  He also pointed out the following moments when Floyd’s death could have been prevented: (1) when one of the officers said, “I think he is passing out;” (2) when one of the officers twice suggested that Floyd be turned over; and (3) when one of the officers said Floyd no longer had a pulse. Chauvin rejected all of those suggestions, but if they had been accepted, Floyd could have been released from the restraint and CPR started.

Dr. Rich also testified, “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.”

37. Philonise Floyd (George Floyd’s brother). He talked about how the two of them played video games and basketball together as children. When he looked at a photo of George as a toddler sleeping in the arms of their mother, the brother began to cry while saying he was “a big mama’s boy.”  Their mother died in 2018, and at her funeral, George sat at the coffin saying “Mom, Mom” over and over.

George was a talented athlete, marking his height on the wall, wanting to be taller to have an edge in sports. “He always wanted to be the best.He was excellent in football and basketball and won a scholarship to attend college in Florida. George made snacks for his younger siblings although he couldn’t cook. He was a person everyone loved. He just knew how to make people feel better.”

This testimony was permissible under a 1985 Minnesota Supreme Court decision allowing prosecutors to present evidence that a murder victim was “not just bones and sinews covered with flesh, but was imbued with the spark of life.”

The defense did not cross-examine Philonise.

38. Seth W. Stoughton (University of South Carolina Schol of Law; use-of-force expert). He said that the officers severely mishandled the arrest of Mr. Floyd at nearly every level. The prone position is meant to be a temporary position, typically used to apply handcuffs to a suspect, not the nine and a half minutes used on Floyd. The dangers of the prone position—making it more difficult for a suspect to breathe, particularly with extra weight on their back or neck—“have been well known in policing for decades.”

Stoughton concluded that “no reasonable officer would have believed that [kneeling on the prone body of Mr. Floyd] was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force;” that “there’s no specific and articulable facts that . . . a reasonable officer in the defendant’s position, could use to conclude that [Floyd] had the intention of causing physical harm to the officers or others;”and that “a reasonable officer would not have viewed the bystanders as a threat.”

Judge Cahill’s Rulings

At the start of the hearing, defense counsel Erik Nelson asked the court immediately to sequester the jurors and ask them whether they had learned about the civil unrest in Brooklyn Center in response to the police killing of a black man in that city and to order the jurors to avoid all news media. Prosecution counsel opposed both requests and Judge Cahill immediately denied same.

Also at the start of the hearing Mr. Nelson asked the court to deny the prosecution’s calling another witness (Dr.Stoughton)  about Chauvin’s use of force, especially  with another showing of the full video of Floyd’s restraint. After the prosecution said it would not be showing this witness the entire video, Judge Cahill ruled that Dr. Stoughton may testify, but only about national use of force standards and about the impact of bystanders on Chauvin’s actions.

Another issue raised before testimony was whether the defense may call Morries L. Hall, but that issue has not yet been resolved.

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[1]  This summary of Week Six is based upon watching some of the livestreaming of the trial and the following reports: Walsh, 3rd Week of testimony in Derek Chauvin trial has begun with medical expert, StarTribune (April 11, 2021); Walsh, Medical expert opened 3rd week of Chauvin trial testimony: George Floyd’s death ‘absolutely preventable,’ StarTribune (April 11, 2021); Barrett, George Floyd Could Have Survived if Restraint Eased, Cardiologist Jonathan Rich Testifies, W.S.J. (April 11, 2021); Kornfield, Hauslohner & McMilian, Live Updates: Cardiologist testifies that Derek Chauvin’s acts—not drugs or a heart condition—caused George Floyd’s death, Wash. Post (April 12, 2021); Wright, Takeaways from Day 11 of the Derek Chauvin Trial, N.Y.Times (April 12, 2021); Walsh, Brother breaks down telling jurors in Derek Chauvin murder trial of George Floyd’s love for their mother, StarTribune (April 12, 2021); Karnowski (AP), EXPLAINER: Prosecution explores Floyd’s ‘spark of life,’ StarTribune (April 12, 2021); Walsh, Simons & Sayle, What Happened Monday in the Derek Chauvin trial, StarTribune (April 12, 2021); Forliti, Karnowski & Webber (AP), Expert: Chauvin did not take action of ‘reasonable officer,’ Wash. Post (April 12, 2021); Kornfield, Hauslohner & McMilian, Live Updates: Cardiologist testifes that Derek Chauvin’s acts—not drugs or a heart condition—caused George Floyd’s death, Wash. Post (April 12, 2021).

[2] See these posts to dwkcommentaries.com: Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four (April 2, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four (Commentaries) (April 5, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four (Sources) (April 6, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Five (April 10, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Five (Commentaries) (April 11, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Five (Sources) (April 12, 2021).

Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Five (Commentaries)

Now that a summary of the testimony in Week Five has been provided [1], here is a collection of commentaries related to the trial.

          Will Chauvin Testify in This Trial? [2]

Observers expect that the prosecution will  finish its case-in-chief early this coming week with testimony from some members of George Floyd’s family and that the defense will start presenting its case-in-chief. The latter raises the question of whether Chauvin himself will testify.

Chauvin, of course, under the U.S. Constitution, has the privilege against self-incrimination and thus would not face any adverse legal consequences, if he (and his attorney) decide that he will not testify.

On the other hand, as Minneapolis criminal defense lawyer Joe Friedberg notes, “[T]his is a case that really centers on Chauvin’s state of mind, and the best person to tell us about that would be Chauvin, so . . . [attorney Erik Nelson]  might really be forced to put him on in this case.” Friedberg added that perhaps Chauvin could testify that he placed his knee on Floyd’s shoulder, not his neck. “When the defendant takes the stand and denies the things that make up the crime, that’s got to make the jury pause.” However, Friedberg cautioned, “Remember now, [Chauvin would be] taking the stand as the most hated man in America.”

Another Minnesota criminal defense attorney, Mike Padden, also thinks Chauvin should testify. He said, “I don’t think he has any choice but to testify. It’ll be a mistake if he doesn’t. The jury needs to hear from him, that’s the bottom line.”  Chauvin needs “to explain the reasoning behind his actions and to apologize, which could help negate the ‘depraved mind’ element needed to convict him on third-degree murder.”

Other attorneys and legal scholars reach the opposite conclusion: Chauvin should not testify. They believe “there’s little Chauvin can say to overcome a bystander’s graphic video showing him kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as he pleaded for his life and repeatedly saying he couldn’t breathe. Pleas for mercy from several horrified bystanders, including children and an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter, were also captured in the video.”

For example, Joseph Daly, emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, said, “Chauvin doesn’t come across as a character that you want to root for because of the video. [If he testifie, prosecutors] will take him through every single second of that video.  . . . In cross-examination he’ll just get beat up. It’ll be horrible for him. The risk is so immense for him to testify.”

Agreeing with Daly are two other Minnesota criminal defense attorneys, A.L. Brown and Andrew Gordon.

Attorney Brown said, Chauvin is “not incredibly sympathetic, so he doesn’t offer much by way of story line. It’s even worse for Chauvin because he’s got the chief of police saying,‘This guy’s not with us. We didn’t teach him to do that.’”

Attorney Gordon thinks that defense attorney Nelson already has signaled that he did not intend to call Chauvin to the stand because in the opening statement Nelson did not say much about him. “Most defense attorneys,” added Gordon, “ will tell you that you have to spend some time in your opening statement humanizing your client. You need . . .[the client] to be a person for the jurors” although Chauvin has “a baked-in advantage: . . . [he] is a cop, and the uniform and badge does a lot of the humanizing for” him.

Others have stressed that the face mask that Chauvin (and others in the courtroom) are forced to wear (unless speaking to the jury) “has hidden his reaction to testimony, including any sympathy or remorse that legal experts say can make a difference to jurors.” All the jurors see is the masked Chauvin scribbling notes on a notepad and having short unheard conversations with his attorney. Only at the start of the trial did Nelson have Chauvin remove his mask so the jurors could see his faced Yes, Chauvin appears in a well-fitted suit, shirt and neckti, not a police uniform. In addition, until one day last week, there was no one sitting in the chair in the courtroom reserved for someone from his family.

The StarTribune articles on this subject, however, fails to mention several other reasons why, in the opinion of this blogger, it would be a defense mistake to have Chauvin testify and forced to face cross-examination on the following subjects:[3]

  • Almost immediately after Chauvin was fired by the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) and charged with state crimes for Floyd’s death, he had to have anticipated that he would be sued for significant money damages by Floyd’s family and, therefore, he (and his then wife) has a reason to take steps to try to protect their assets.
  • Such a civil lawsuit against Chauvin, the other three ex-officers and the City of Minneapolis for money damages was filed in Minneapolis federal court on July 15, 2020. Although the complaint did not specify the amount of alleged damages, the lead plaintiff’s attorney, Ben Crump, publicly stated, “This is an unprecedented case, and with this lawsuit we seek to set a precedent that makes it financially prohibitive for police to wrongfully kill marginalized people — especially Black people — in the future.” In short, the case is “the tipping point for policing in America.”
  • The March 12, 2021, announcement of the City of Minneapolis’ $27 million settlement of the Floyd Family’s lawsuit did not make this financial issue for Chauvin (and his former wife) disappear. The City has a claim against Chauvin (and the three other ex-officers) for contribution to help reimburse the City for at least a portion of that huge sum, and an examination of the details of the settlement agreement presumably would have provisions on whether the Family was releasing the four officers, which seems unlikely.
  • Reflecting this motivation to try to protect their assets from such litigation, in those early days after the killing of Floyd, Chauvin and his wife reached a divorce agreement which provided a bulk of the couple’s assets gwould go to her and which a Minnesota state court subsequently found to be fraudulent and refused to approve until it had been significantly modified.
  • In addition, soon after Chauvin was fired and charged with crimes in state court, there are reports that he pursued a guilty plea agreement involving his serving a prison sentence in a federal prison even though he did not then face any federal charges, but then U.S. Attorney General William Barr reportedly rejected the proposal.
  • Chauvin and his then wife last year also were confronted with state criminal charges over alleged fraudulent Minnesota income tax returns and failure to pay such taxes.
  • Related to all of the above was the Chauvin’s couple having a condominium and other property in Florida.

                    The Chief’s Consultations Before Firing The Four Officers [4]

In his trial testimony, Chief Medaria Arradondo stated that on the day after the death of Mr. Floyd, he announced his decision to fire Derek Chauvin and the other three officers who were involved. (The following additional details about that decision are not in the trial record, but in the cited article by Libor Jany.)

Late the night of May 25th and the next morning, the Chief consulted with Black faith-leaders and community activists like Spike Lee, a local civil rights pioneer. At a morning meeting, according to Bishop Richard Howell of Shiloh Temple International Ministries, the Chief said he was torn about what to do. A FBI official in attendance raised the possibility of a civil rights investigation. Some in the room said there would be protests, and one even said there would be a “war.”  Other attendees included Nekima Levy Armstrong, Al Flowers, Leslie Redmond (former Minneapolis NAACP President) and Steven Belton (President and CEO of the Urban League Twin Cities).The Chief told them he would discuss the options with Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey.

Around noon on the 26th the Chief met with members of his senior command staff: then-Assistant Chief Mike Kjos and Deputy Chiefs Kathy Waite, Henry Halverson and Erick Fors while Art Knight (the Chief’s former chief of staff) joined by telephone. They all discussed the possibility of firing the four officers, but apparently no decision was made.

After this meeting the Chief made his decision to fire the officers and called and told the Mayor, who in a tweet at 2:00 p.m. announced the firings and said, “This is the right call.”  The Chief and the Mayor then held a public news conference to announce this important decision.

           Does “Blue Wall of Silence” Protect Chauvin? [5]

Usually police accused of wrongdoing can count on the “blue wall of silence”—protection from fellow officers refusing to cooperate with investigators. But that is not true for Chauvin.

As just noted, Chief Arradondo fired him immediately after the killing of Floyd and testified against him in the current trial. Other Minneapolis police officers have also so testified—Lieutenants  Richard Zimmerman, Johnny Mercil and Jon Edwards and Sergeants David Ploege and Ker Yang and Inspectorr Katie Blackwell. And the other three ex-officers facing criminal trial in August on charges of aiding and abetting the killing of Floyd probably will blame Chauvin. In addition, fourteen supervisory officers, including Zimmerman, signed an open letter last year saying Chauvin “failed as a human being and stripped George Floyd of his dignity and life. This is not who we are.”  

                                    Why Didn’t Other Officers Stop Chauvin? [6]

On May 25, 2020, Officer Thomas Lane was helping Derek Chauvin hold George Floyd to the ground in handcuffs and told Chauvin at least  twice that Floyd should be turned over. But Chauvin rejected the suggestion and Lane did not persist in his suggestion or express objection.  Nor did Officer Kueng, was also was helping hold Floyd down. When this happened, both of them were in training under the supervision of Chauvin. Nor did Officer Thao who was a nine-year veteran of the MPD.

Rosa Brooks, a law professor at Georgetown University, says the failure of these three officers to intervene are examples “of what psychologists call ‘the bystander effect,’ paralyzed by the powerful social forces that too often operate to prevent even decent people from taking action to halt abuses.” This was despite the two rookies having had instruction at the police academy about the dangers of using bodyweight to keep a suspect in a prone position for an extended period.”

Professor Brooks says “scores of studies” have provided “a fairly clear understanding of the factors that can lead ordinary people to do nothing even when morality seems to demand intervention. People are less likely to intervene when faced with ambiguous rather than clear situations . . . They’re less likely to intervene when surrounded by peers who are also doing nothing, or when intervention would require challenging those they perceive as having authority.” The professor also says that these studies indicate people are “less likely to intervene when they believe someone else will, or should, take action, or to help those whom they view as culturally different from themselves.”

These factors, she says, “appear to have been at play in the moments leading to Floyd’s death. Chauvin was the most experienced officer on the scene, and the less experienced officers deferred to his judgment; Chauvin was insistent  about keeping Floyd on the ground and indicated he was taking steps to keep Floyd alive, creating, for the other officers, a degree of ambiguity about whether  Chauvin’s actions were inappropriate. Each of the three officers could see that none of his colleagues was intervening to stop Chauvin, thus diffusing responsibility for any bad outcomes.”

Finally, Brooks claims “differences of class, race and culture might have allowed the officers to view Floyd as ‘other,’ rather than as someone they felt obligated to help.” This is a dubious contention regarding Lane and Kueng as both “had received instruction at the police academy about the dangers of using bodyweight to keep a suspect in a prone position for an extended period of time” and “both were perceived by their peers as caring, idealistic young officers. Kueng, one of just 80 Black officers in a department of 900, had joined the Minneapolis police because he hoped an increasingly diverse force would reduce police racism and aggression toward people of color. Lane, who tutored Somali children in his spare time, was known for his calmness and his ability to defuse tense situations.”

In any event, Professor Brooks argues that effective intervention to stop abuses is a skill that can be taught and learned. It also requires creating a culture encouraging intervention and practice. It also requires “redefining loyalty. Instead of defining loyalty as ‘letting your friends do whatever they want,’ loyalty was redefined as ‘helping your friends avoid potentially fatal mistakes.’”

If the MPD had had a more intensive intervention training program, one of the other three officers could “have pulled Chauvin off Floyd, saying, ‘I can’t let you do this. He’s going to get hurt, or worse, and you’re going to get fired, or worse. Let me handle this.”

All of this analysis by Professor Brooks seems contradicted by the lay bystanders at the site on May 25th—male and female, young and old, those with some experience with use of force and those without such experience, all not having intervention training. Nonetheless, they all persisted in urging the officers to stop holding Floyd on the pavement with Chauvin’s knee to his neck or back. They truly were courageous in so doing.

Permissible Neck Restraints.[7]

At the time of Floyd’s arrest, MPD policy allowed for two types of neck restraint. One was called “conscious neck restraint,” which permitted light pressure on the neck “without rendering unconsciousness” of an individual who was “actively resisting” arrest. The other type was an “unconscious neck restraint” allowing officers to use their arms or legs to knock out a person by pressing carotid arteries on either side of the neck, blocking blood flow to the brain for an individual “exhibiting active aggression.” This MPD policy also instructed officers, at the first possible opportunity to turn people on their sides once they are handcuffed  and under control to avoid “positional asphyxia in which breathing becomes labored in a prone position and an lead to death.

Preparing for Reactions to Possible Acquittal of Chauvin [8]

The jury’s verdict is still in the future, perhaps weeks away. Although this blogger, expects and hopes for a guilty verdict, the city and others need to plan for a possible acquittal.

Many people here (and elsewhere) continue to call for conviction. For example, on April 9, over 100 people attended the “We Can’t Sleep If We’re Not Safe From Police Violence” rally and march in downtown Minneapolis that was organized by the Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Communities United Against Police Brutality and Black Lives Matter Minnesota. Chants were heard—“Prosecute the police, no justice, no peace.”

The City of Minneapolis’ Office of Violence Prevention has entered into partnerships with seven community organizations to send volunteers into different parts of the City to connect people with social services, calm conflicts before they escalate into violence and pass along residents’ concerns to city officials. They, however, will not replace the police.

The Legal Rights Center, a nonprofit criminal defense law firm in Minneapolis, has been conducting weekly Zoom and Instagram discussions for the public about legal issues in the current trial .

The church near the site of the Floyd killing—Worldwide Outreach for Christ—has developed a ministry of reaching out to the young men, many of whom are gang members—who gather there to offer them free conversations and counseling to help them turn their lives around.

On the other hand, a City attorney advised the Minneapolis Civil Rghts Commission against preparing and disseminating statements about the current trial.

                                                Reforming Police Training and Practices

The most general question raised by the Chauvin trial is whether it will prompt  more general reform of police recruitment, training and practices in Minneapolis and the rest of the U.S. by state and federal governments.

=========================================

[1] Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Five, dwkcommentaries.com (April 10, 2021).

[2] Xiong, As defense prepares to call witnesses, question remains: Will Derek Chauvin testify?, StarTribune (April 10, 2021); Groves (AP), EXPLAINER: Could mask hamper ex-officer’s image with jurors?, StarTribune (April 7, 2021).

[3] See these posts to dwkcommentaries.com: George Floyd’s Family Sues City of Minneapolis and  Four Ex-Officers in George Floyd’s Death (July 16, 2020); Family’s Complaint Against Four Ex-Police Officers Over His Death (July 17, 2020); Chauvin and Wife Now Charged with Minnesota Tax Crimes (July 22, 2020); State Court Rejects Chauvin Divorce Settlement (Nov. 20, 2020); Complications in Derek Chauvin Divorce Case (Jan. 20, 2021); Comment: Court Approves Redacted Chauvin Divorce Agreement (Feb. 4, 2021); Did Derek Chauvin Agree To Plead Guilty to Third-Degree Murder? (Feb. 11, 2021): Derek Chauvin Trial: Week One (Mar. 15, 2021).

[4] Jany, In interview with agents, Minneapolis chief Arradondo details ‘emotional’ discussions with officers before officers were fired hours after George Floyd’s death, StarTribune (April 7, 2021).

[5] Givhan, In trial testimony, Chauvin is cast beyond the blue wall, Wash. Post (April 6, 2021); Editorial, Opinion: The blue wall of silence has broken in the Chauvin trial, but that doesn’t absolve the police, Wash. Post (April 7, 2021); Crump & Romanucci [attorneys for Floyd family], Opinion: At Derek Chauvin’s trial, a dangerous code of silence is crumbling, Wash. Post (April 8, 2021); Salter(AP), ‘Blue wall of silence’ takes hit in Chauvin’s murder trial, StarTribune (April 9, 2021).

[6] Brooks, What About the Cops Who Watched George Floyd Die?, Politico (April 9, 2021).

[7] Tarm (AP), EXPLAINER: Was officer’s knee on Floyd’s neck authorized?, StarTribune (April 5, 2021).

[8] Jackson, More than 100 rally in downtown Minneapolis for police accountability, Star Tribune (April 9, 2021); Navratil, Minneapolis to boost community patrols during Derek Chauvin trial, StarTribune (April 9, 2021); Navratil, Minneapolis lawyers advise city-appointed task force on George Floyd to keep quiet for now, StarTribune (April 9, 2021); Du, Minneapolis criminal defense attorneys offer legal takes, healing spaces during Chauvin trial, StarTribune (April 9, 2021); Du, Church at 38th and Chicago reaches out to gang members nearby, StarTribune (April 9, 2021);

Derek Chauvin Trail: Week Five

The trial’s Week Five continued with testimony of 16 prosecution witnesses after Week Four’s opening statements and testimony from 19 prosecution witnesses.[1]  This summary of Week Five is based upon watching some of the livestreaming of the trial and reports in the Star Tribune, Washington Post, New York Times and Wall Street Journal that will be listed in a subsequent post while another subsequent post will cover commentaries about Week Five.

Prosecution Witnesses

20. Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld (Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC)). As an emergency room physician, Dr. Langenfeld examined Mr. Floyd upon his arrival at HCMC in an emergency condition of cardiac arrest with a heartbeat not sufficient to sustain life.  This was a “PEA” state of pulseless electrical activity caused by low oxygen, which soon evolved into asystole or flatlining when electrical shocks to the heart cannot bring the patient to life. After being advised that no lifesaving means had been performed on Mr. Floyd by officers or bystanders at the scene before Chauvin took his knee off the man, but that paramedics in the ambulance had spent about 30 minutes in the ambulance trying to resuscitate Floyd, the doctor’s immediate goal was to try to re-establish “spontaneous circulation.” To that end, the doctor examined several possible causes of cardiac arrest and concluded that hypcoxia, or lack of oxygen to the body tissues, was the most likely cause. Soon thereafter, Dr. Lagenfeld pronounced Mr. Floyd’s death due to lack of oxygen or asphyxia.(On cross examination, the doctor agreed that lack of oxygen in the body could be caused by the presence of opioids fentanyl and methamphetamines, which the subsequent autopsy found present in Floyd’s body.) “At the time it was not completely possible to rule that out,” he said, “but I felt it was less likely based on the information available to us.” The doctor also said patients with cardiac arrest have a 10 to 15 percent decrease in chances of survival for every minute CPR is not administered.

21. Medaria Arradondo (Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) Chief of Police). Arradondo, who joined the MPD in 1989 and has been its Chief for the last three years, after reviewing his background and training, testified that around 9:00 p.m.on the evening of May 25, 2020, he was advised of this incident by telephone at his home.  After immediately notifying Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation, the Chief went to his office downtown. There he first saw the video (without audio) of the city-operated surveillance camera, which made it difficult to determine what had happened.

Around midnight at his office, a community member called and asked if he had seen the “video of your officer choking and killing a man at 38th and Chicago.” This was the video taken by Darnella Frazier (then 17 years old, )which the chief had not yet seen.

Soon thereafter, however, the Chief obtained and watched that video and immediately concluded that “the facial expression of Mr. Floyd . . . does not appear in any way, shape or form [to reflect] light to moderate pressure” as required by MPD policy. Moreover, “once there was no longer any resistance, and clearly Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even was motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind [his] . . back, that in no way shape or form is anything that is policy, part of our training and is certainly not part of our ethics or values.” Chauvin also failed in his duty to render first aid before the ambulance arrived and to deescalate the situation with no or minimal force if they can.

The Chief added that the MPD moto is “to serve with compassion,” which means  that every police officer needs “to understand and authentically accept that we see our neighbors as ourselves, we value one another, we see our community as necessary to our existence.”  To that end, each officer signs a document that he or she knows the contents of the MPD policy manual, which says in part that an officer may not detain a suspect “longer than necessary, and the copy signed by Chauvin was shown to the jury.

“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting — and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that — that should have stopped,” the chief said after spelling out department policy on when to use force vs. calming a situation through de-escalation tactics.

“There’s an initial reasonableness of trying to just get him under control in the first few seconds,” the chief continued, “but 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 anything that is by policy. It’s not part of our training and is certainly not part of our ethics or values.”

The next day,  the Chief publicly announced his decision immediately to fire Chauvin and the other three officers.

Under cross examination by defense attorney Eric Nelson, Arradondo acknowledged that officers sometimes need to take control of a situation. “Would you agree that the use of force is not an attractive notion?” Nelson asked. In response, the Chief said, “I would say the use of force is something that most officers would rather not use, and agreed that department policy affords an officer flexibility under evolving circumstances for when to use force or choose to de-escalate an encounter with someone resisting arrest.

22. Katie Blackwell. (MPD Fifth Precinct Inspector). At the time of the Floyd killing, she  headed up training for the department. Blackwell was shown a photo from the viral video of Chauvin on Floyd’s neck and was asked whether that is a tactic the police are taught.”I don’t know what kind of improvised position this is,” said Blackwell.

She inspected  records showing the  training that Chauvin had received in 2016 and 2018, which included situations when a suspect is detained facedown and handcuffed. That training stated that officers should be careful when holding a handcuffed person on their stomach because that position makes it difficult to breathe and that the person should be put “in the side recovery position or an upright position … as soon as possible,” or run the risk of asphyxiation.

23. Ker Yang (MPD  Sergeant). Asa MPD crisis intervention trainer, Yang testified that listening is key to crisis intervention. Voice, neutrality, respect and trust are at the core of the model on how an officer should approach a crisis situation. “It is useful [and] it is practical,” he said. “When it is safe and feasible, we shall de-escalate.”

Yang coordinates with civilian mental health professionals to train officers who encounter people in crisis situations, such as mental health issues. Yang discussed the best practices in dealing with people in crisis, or a situation “beyond a person’s coping mechanism. When it is beyond their control, they don’t know what to do.” That could also include people under the influence of drugs and alcohol or suffering from anxiety. In such situations, officers are trained to “bring them back down.” When it is safe and feasible, we shall de-escalate,” and the model for crisis intervention focuses on voice, neutrality, respect and trust. “It is useful, and it is practical.”

On cross-examination, Yang agreed that officers in these situations are taking in a lot of information and processing it simultaneously.

24. Johnny Mercil (MPD Lieutenant). He is a MPD use-of-force trainer experienced in the martial arts, and one of his trainees was Chauvin. He testified that at the time of the Floyd encounter, the MPD had two permitted neck restraints: to render a suspect unconscious to counter “active aggression” and to keep a suspect conscious when offering the lesser “active resistance.” He said. “You want to use the least amount of force necessary to meet your objective to control. If those lower uses of force do not work or are too unsafe to try, you can increase your level of force against that person.

Mercil also testified about “red zones,” where injury tends to range from serious to long lasting and could include serious bodily injury or death. Such areas included the head, neck and sternum, among others.

On cross examination, Mercil admitted that sometimes a suspect will make excuses like being unable to breathe or having a medical emergency to try to avoid going to jail. He also admitted that there were some photos with Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s back, not his neck and these were not neck restraints and that hostile bystanders could raise an alarm with officers.

25. Nicole Mackenzie (MPD Medical Support Coordinator & First Aid Educator). She is responsible for CPR and other classes for officers. She said police have a responsibility to both call an ambulance and render aid “if it’s a critical situation.” She testified that being able to talk doesn’t mean you’re necessarily able to breathe. She testified that agonal breathing, or a brainstem reflex that causes gasping, could be misinterpreted as breathing. “Somebody could be in respiratory distress and still be able to verbalize it,” she said. “Just because they’re speaking doesn’t mean they’re breathing adequately.”

She also said cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) can be started by officers while waiting for paramedics to arrive and that officers are trained to do so while waiting for an ambulance. Talking doesn’t contradict someone’s contention that they can’t breathe.

However, she also admitted that chaotic scenes can adversely affect an officer’s ability to provide aid. “If you’re trying to be heads down on a patient that you need to render aid to, it’s very difficult to focus on that patient while there’s other things around you. if you don’t feel safe around you, if you don’t have enough resources, it’s very difficult to focus on the one thing in front of you.” But in response to questions by the State’s attorney, she said a crowd of agitated onlookers could excuse an officer from rendering aid “only if they were physically getting themselves involved.”

26.  Jody Stiger (Sergeant, os Angeles Police Department and use-of-force expert for the State of Minnesota. He reviewed the MPD use-of-force materials and testified that Chauvin’s use of force against Floyd was “excessive.” Initially when Mr. Floyd was being placed in the backseat of the squad car, the officers were justified in trying to have him comply and sit in the backseat of the vehicle. However, once he was placed in the prone position on the ground, he slowly ceased his resistance and the officers . . should have slowed down or stopped their force.”

Stiger testified that his review of all the video evidence showed that Chauvin had applied pressure to Floyd’s neck or neck area for 9.5 minutes from the time the officers put him on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back until after the paramedics arrived.

The videos show Floyd being placed on his chest in the prone position. Stiger noted that he saw Floyd one time “kicked the officers’ arms in an attempt to possibly break free from the officers’ grasp.” This led the police to reverse their decision to use a hobble device on Floyd , which Stiger attributed to the officers recognition that Floyd was starting to comply and cease resistance. And that compliance and non-resistance continued through the remainder of Floyd’s time on the ground until he was taken on a gurney to the ambulance. In so doing, Chauvin put Mr. Floyd at risk of positional asphyxia or deprivation of oxygen.

Stiger said body-worn camera video from one of the officers showed Chauvin using “his right hand and appeared to use a pain compliance on Mr. Floyd’s hand.” Chauvin appeared to accomplish this by “squeezing [Floyd’s] fingers or bringing his knuckles together, which can cause pain or pulling the hand into the cuff, which can cause pain as well.”  Stiger also pointed out that “the handcuffs [on Floyd] were not double-locked [and as a result] can continue to ratchet tighter as the person moved.”

When someone cannot comply, he said, “at that point, it’s just pain.” He also testified that placing a person prone on the ground runs the risk of positional asphyxiation, and placing weight on that person heightens the risk.

Stiger concluded by saying that while the three officers were on Floyd, he “was not actively resisting while he was in the prone position” and , therefore, the amount of force by the officers was excessive.

Moreover, “as time went on . . .in the video you can clearly see that Mr. Floyd’s health was deteriorating, his tone of voice was deteriorating, his movements are starting to cease. As a police officer you realize something is not right . . . [which means you have a] responsibility to take some action [to improve the person’s condition].” But when Floyd kept saying, “my neck hurts, my back hurts, everything hurts,” all Chauvin does is utter “uh huh” and say “if Floyd can talk, he can breathe.”

Stiger also said  the officers also should have considered the nature of the original alleged offense when weighing use of force. In Floyd’s case, that was the passing of an alleged  counterfeit $20 bill at Cup Foods. Typically, for low-level offenses like this, “you wouldn’t expect to use any force.”

Under cross-examination, Stiger admitted every time an officer responds to a call there is an inherent risk. The bystanders’’ comments, Stiger said, were “potential threats,” but did not justify use of force.

27. James Ryerson (Special Agent, BCA). He described the BCA’s extensive investigation of the case–taking photos of Chauvin, processing videos and other evidence, including the squad and Floyd’s cars along with items subsequently found inside the vehicles: a pill, some dollar bills, a pipe.

 He testified that Chauvin kept his weight on a handcuffed George Floyd’s neck for minutes after Floyd was no longer talking or moving during the incident.

Under cross examination, Reyerson testified that a short clip of Kueng’s body cam video footage appeared to show Floyd’s saying, “”I ate too many drugs.”  But on redirect questioning, a longer version of the video was shown, and Reyerson said. “Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd was saying, ‘I ain’t do no drugs.'”

28. McKenzie Anderson (Forensic Scientist, BCA). She processed both Floyd’s car and Squad Car 320. On the latter, she tested eight stains, seven of them blood, that tested positive for George Floyd’s DNA. In January 2021, she reprocessed the two cars at defense attorneys’ request and found in the squad car what appeared to be a pill and pill remnants: in the center console of Floyd’s car were two small white pills; on the driver’s side floor was a box for Suboxone (a prescription medicine for adults with an opioid addition);  and on the driver’s side seat was an unopened packet of that prescription. The DNA on one of these pills matched Floyd’s DNA.

29.  Breahna Giles, (Chemical Forensic Scientist, BCA). She testified that the pills found inside Floyd’s car contained methamphetamine and fentanyl, both addictive opioids. The partial pill and other traces of it tested positive for methamphetamine, while another substance was detected on the largest partial pill, Defense attorney Eric Nelson asked Giles if the trace substance was fentanyl. “I can’t confirm if it was or was not fentanyl. A glass pipe in Floyd’s car tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

30.  Susan Neith (Forensic Chemist at NMS labs in Pennsylvania). She tested the two pills found in the Floyd car and the partial pill found in the squad car. All three pills contained a fentanyl concentration of less than 1%, which she said is common. The pills contained a methamphetamine concentration of 1.9 to 2.9%, which she said was atypically low. “The majority of the time I see 90 to 100% methamphetamine,” she said.

31. Dr. Martin Tobin (Chicago physician specializing in respiratory and Critical care and Expert Witness).“Floyd died from a low level of oxygen [that] caused damage to his brain . . .  [and] arrhythmia [pulseless electrical activity] causing his heart to stop.”

The low level of oxygen was due to “shallow breathing, small breaths . .  that weren’t able to carry the air through his lungs down to the essential areas of the lungs that get oxygen into the blood and get rid of the carbon dioxide..” All of this was due to his being “turned prone on the street,. . .  [having] handcuffs in place combined with the street, . . . a knee on his neck, and . . . a knee to his back and side.” Using a composite video, Dr. Tobin ”showed jurors how Floyd was positioned with the officers on top of him and how it contributed to his inability to take sufficient breaths.” Chauvin and officer Kueng “manipulated Floyd’s handcuffs by ‘pushing them into his back  and pushing them high, further hindering his ability to breathe.”

Floyd stopped breathing 23 seconds later and “didn’t have an ounce of oxygen in his body” less than a minute after losing consciousness, Tobin said. He noted the moment Floyd died when shown the bystander video of his final moments. “At the beginning you can see he’s conscious, you can see slight flickering and then it disappears, so one second he’s alive and one second he’s no longer,” Tobin said. ” … That’s the moment the life goes out of his body.” Yet after Floyd’s breathing ceased, “Chauvin’s knee remained on Floyd’s neck for another three minutes and 27 seconds.

Dr.Tobin continued, “ It’s like the left side is in a vise, it is being pushed in from the street at the bottom and the way the handcuffs are manipulated . . . totally interfere with central features of how we breathe. . . . Basically , on the left side of his chest, it’s as if a surgeon almost went in and removed the lung . . . and left him totally reliant on his right side.” In addition, Floyd was bracing his knuckles to try to get air. This shows he has used up all his resources and . . . is trying to breathe with his fingers and knuckles. . . . He is using his fingers  and knuckles against the street to try to crank up his chest. This is the only way to [try] to get air into the right lung.” 

In addition, the knee on Floyd’s neck also restricted “air getting into the passageway.” It was like “trying to breathe through a space similar to a small straw.” Yet Dr. Tobin saw no reduction in Floyd’s ability to breathe before he went unconscious.

Journalists, watching the trial, said, “Jurors paid close attention to Dr. Tobin’s testimony from start to finish, watching every video, chart or illustration, listening closely to his testimony, and taking notes at specific points.”

32. Daniel Isenschmid (Forensic Toxicologist at NMS Labs in Pennsylvania and Expert Witness). He testified that while fentanyl was found in Floyd’s blood, so was norfentanyl, which is metabolized fentanyl. Overdose victims rarely have norfentanyl in their blood, he said. He testified that Floyd’s ratio of fentanyl to norfentanyl was 1.96 ng/ml,compared with  the average ratio of 9.05 in postmortem cases and 3.2 in driving-under-the-influence cases. Floyd’s level of methamphetamine, 19 ng/ml, was in the bottom 5.9% of a sample of DUI methamphetamine cases. “Does this show Mr. Floyd was below the average and even below the median in DUI cases?” prosecutor Erin Eldridge asked. “Yes,” Isenschmid responded.

33, Dr. Bill Smock (Police Surgeon, Louisville Police Department and Expert Witness). He reviewed videos from Floyd’s arrest and other case records and concluded that Floyd died from positional asphyxia (a lack of oxygen) and not from a fentanyl overdose, which usually involves people who are sleeping, who snore and who have constricted pupils and falling breathing rate, none of which Floyd exhibited. Smock said Floyd was not snoring, had dilated pupils, and was talking and saying “I can’t breathe.” “That is not a fentanyl overdose,” he said. “That is someone begging to breathe.”

Smock also testified that Floyd also showed no signs at the scene of a diagnosis called excitable delirium, which is a “physical and psychiatric state “ when patients show a high heart rate, seemingly “superhuman strength,” garbled speech and other symptoms,

He also addressed Floyd’s need for CPR, “way before it was used. As soon as Mr. Floyd was unconscious, he should have been rolled over. … When they can’t find a pulse, CPR should have been started.”

34.  Dr. Lindsey Thomas (Retired Medical Examiner, Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office and Expert Witness).

She testified that “the primary mechanism of Floyd’s death was asphyxia, or low oxygen” and that “the activities of law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death, and specifically their activities of subdural restraint and neck compression.”

All of these videos show that  this was not “a sudden death,” Thomas testified. “It’s not like snow shoveling when someone clutches their chest and falls over. There was nothing sudden about his death.” Nor was there any evidence he suffered from a heart attack.

She later said with certainty, “There’s no evidence to suggest he would have died that night except for the interactions with law enforcement.”

She said that the sheer volume of videos of Floyd’s death was “absolutely unique” in that she’d never had a case so thoroughly documented, and it helped her determine how Floyd died.

Dr. Thomas also explained that autopsy reports like the one by Dr. Andrew Baker, whom she had trained, have several categories for causes of death, and she agrees with Baker’s (a) listing “homicide” as the cause, meaning it was death caused by another human being; (b) listing Floyd’s health challenges and drug use as valuable for public health purposes although not a direct cause of death; and (c) not listing asphyxia as there is no test for oxygen in an autopsy.

35. Dr. Andrew Baker (Chief Hennepin County Medical Examiner).  He performed Floyd’s autopsy and stood by his opinion that Floyd’s cause of death was a homicide, caused by “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdural, restraint, and neck compression.” Baker did not include a lack of oxygen, or asphyxia.

According to Baker, Floyd  had “a very severe underlying heart disease,” i.e., hypertension heart disease,” meaning his heart weighed more than it should. So he has a heart that already needs more oxygen than a normal heart by virtue of its size and it’s limited in its ability to step up to provide more oxygen to meet demand because of the narrowing of his coronary arteries.”

These heart conditions meant Floyd needed more oxygen, while faced with the challenge of being stressed by being pinned to the street with his face scraping the asphalt.

Floyd’s “being held to the ground . . . [[increasing] pain . . . for having [his] cheek up against the asphalt and that abrasion on [his] shoulder . . . are going to cause stress hormones to pour out of your body, specifically things like adrenaline, and what that adrenaline is going to do is it’s going to ask your heart to beat faster,” Baker testified. “It’s going to ask your body for more oxygen so that you can get through that altercation, and 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.

Floyd’s health problem and drug use were not “direct causes. They are contributing causes.”

Baker saw no bruises or scrapes on Floyd’s neck or signs of pressure on the back of his neck and agreed with defense counsel that the pressure on Floyd’s neck “would not constrict his airway.”

Baker chose not to look at the videos of the police encounter before he completed the autopsy so as not to bias his findings.

Baker admitted he is not an expert on lack of oxygen because he does not treat live people and would defer to experts on same.

According to Ted Sampsell-Jones, a law professor at Mitchell-Hamline School of Law, “evidence about Floyd’s cause of death is shaping up to be the biggest weakness for prosecutors.” But the prosecution for  the charges against Chauvin only has to prove that Chauvin’s conduct was a “substantial contributing cause” for the death.

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[1] See these posts fo dwkcommentaries.com: Derek Chauvin Trial: Week One (Mar. 15, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Two (Mar. 21, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Three (Mar. 24, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Commendations and Thank You’s (Mar. 25, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Its National and International Importance (Mar. 28, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four (April 2, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four (Commentaries) (April 5, 2021); Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four (Sources) (April 6, 2021). See also List of Posts to dwkcommentaries—Topical: George Floyd Killing, dwkcommentaries.com.

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Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four (Sources)

The summary of the Trial’s Week Four of opening statements and testimony of 19 prosecution witnesses was based upon the following reports in the StarTribune, Washington Post and New York Times. [1]

Star Tribune Articles

Xiong. George Floyd’s cause of death is heart of arguments in Chauvin trial (Mar. 29, 2021)

Rao, Jurors will consider George Floyd’s death, not the issue of race—in the Derek Chauvin trial (Mar. 29, 2021)

Karnowski & Forliti (AP), Jurors shown video at ex-officer’s trial in Floyd’s death (Mar. 29, 2021)

Walsh, Xiong & Olson, Witnesses, Derek Chauvin purposely shifted weight to add pressure on George Floyd’s neck, (Mar. 29, 2021)

Olson, Chauvin trial testimony begins with opening statements, three witnesses on first day (Mar. 30, 2021)

Norfleet, Jackson & Rao, Trauma relived as Derek Chauvin trial unfolds before the world (Mar. 30, 2021)

Editorial: Cameras build trust in Chauvin trial (Mar. 30, 3021)

Groves, EXPLAINER: Use of force experts evaluate Floyd arrest (Mar. 30, 2021)

Walsh, Xiong & Olson, In Derek Chauvin trial, off-duty firefighter tells of attempts to intervene: ‘There is a man being killed’ (Mar. 31, 2021)

Xiong, Walsh & Olson, Teen who recorded George Floyd’s death reveals trauma, pain in testifying (Mar. 31, 2021)

Karnowski & Forliti (AP), Witnesses: Onlooker anger increased as Floyd stopped moving (Mar. 31, 2021)

Glanton, Scenes from a trial over a horror we wish we didn’t have to dwell on (Mar. 31, 2021)

Salter, 2 views of Floyd onlookers: Desperate to help, or angry mob (Mar. 31, 2021)

Walsh, Derfek Chauvin trial witness overwhelmed with sorrow watching video of George Floyd’s arrest (Mar. 31, 2021)

Karnowski & Forliti (AP), Witnesses: Onlooker anger increased as Floyd stopped moving (Mar. 31, 2021)

Tarm, EXPLAINER: Video dominates trial in George Floyd’s death (Mar. 31, 2021)

Olson, Walsh & Xiong, Chauvin trial video reveals Floyd shopping for cigarettes, officer defending actions for first time (April 1, 2021)

Walsh & Sayle, What happened Tuesday in Derek Chauvin trial (April 1, 2021)

Boswell, Step by step, here’s how George Floyd’s fatal encounter with police unfolded (April 1, 2021)

Walsh, Olson & Xiong, Derek Chauvin’s supervisor testifies he wasn’t told immediately of knee on George Floyd’s neck or for how long (April 1, 2021)

Floyd’s girlfriend recalls their struggle with addiction (April 1, 2021)

Olson, Walsh & Xiong, Minneapolis homicide unit’s chief, force on George Floyd by Derek Chauvin was dangerous, ‘uncalled for’( April 2, 2021)

Olson, Walsh & Xiong, Chauvin didn’t immediately tell supervisor that he knelt on Floyd’s neck, or for how long (April 2, 2021)

Foley, EXPLAINER: How Chauvin trial has impacted its witnesses (April 2, 2021)

Jackson, Derek Chauvin trial shows people who saw police violence later struggle with trauma (April 2, 2021)

Karnowski, Forliti & Weber (AP), Lieutenant: Kneeling on Floyd’s neck ‘totally unnecessary’ (April 2, 2021)

Walsh & Sayle, What happened Friday in the Derek Chauvin trial (April 2, 2021)

Olson, Walsh & Xiong, Minneapolis homicide chief: force used on George Floyd by Derek Chauvin was dangerous, ‘uncalled for’ (April 2, 2021)

Groves, EXPLAINER: Analyzing use of force by police officers (April 2, 2021)

Walsh, Olson & Xiong, Minneapolis police lieutenant: Derek Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd ‘totally unnecessary’ (April 3, 2021)

Washington Post Articles

Reuters, Young Bystander Testifies in Derek Chauvin trial (Mar. 30, 2021)

Dewar, Charles McMillian, who say the police pin George Floyd, breaks down on the stand (Mar. 31, 2021)

Bella & Hauslohner, Senior officer rejects Chauvin’s ‘totally unnecessary’ use of force against George Floyd (April 2, 2021)

Bella, Zimmerman: Chauvin should not have kept knee on Floyd’s neck until paramedics arrived (April 2, 2021)

Hauslohner, Defense: Police can use ‘improvisation’ in use of force when lives are at stake (April 2, 2021)

Bella, Zimmerman rejects Chauvin’s use of force against Floyd: ‘totally unnecessary’ (April 2, 2021)

Hauslohner, Minneapolis Police Department senior officer: ‘We don’t want people to get hurt’ (April 2, 2021)

Hauslohner, Minneapolis Police Lt. Zimmerman, A knee on the neck is a ‘deadly force’ (April 2, 2021)

Bella, Officer testifies he responded to Cup Foods not knowing Chauvin was involved (April 2, 2021)

Bailey & Knowles, Derek Chauvin should not have knelt on George Floyd’s neck after he stopped resisting, former sergeant testifies (April 2, 2021)

Kornfield & Knowles, Former sergeant says Chauvin did not initially say he had his knee on Floyd’s neck (April 2, 2021)

Knowles, Policy requires rolling prone, restrained people into ‘recovery position,’ retired sergeant says (April 2, 2021)

Knowles. Fire captain says he understood off-duty firefighter’s distress after seeing ‘severity’ of Floyd’s condition (April 2, 2021)

Bella, ‘I was trying to give him a second chance at life,’ paramedic recalls (April 2, 2021)

Baranowski & Forliti (AP), Witnesses: onlookers anger increases as Floyd stopped moving (Mar. 30, 2021)

New York Times Articles

Bogel-Burroughs, What we learned from the opening statements (Mar. 29, 2021)

Bogel-Burroughs, A 911 dispatcher said officers pinned down George Floyd for so long she thought the camera had frozen (Mar. 29, 2021)

Wright, Takeaways from the first day of the Derek Chauvin trial (Mar. 29, 20210

Wright, Takeaways from the second day of the Derek Chauvin trial  (Mar. 30, 2021)

Bogel-Burroughs, An outspoken off-duty firefighter testified: ‘There was a man being killed’ (Mar. 30, 2021)

Fazio & Martinez, In the first signs of tension, Chauvin’s defense takes aim at a mixed martial artist who witnessed Floyd’s death (Mar. 30, 2021)

Bogel-Burroughs, Prosecutors say Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd for 9 minutes 29 seconds, longer than originally reported (Mar. 30, 2021)

Astor, ‘Don’t shoot me.’ Body camera video shows the fatal encounter between police officer and George Floyd (Mar. 31, 2021)

Wright, Takeaways from the third day of the Derek Chauvin trial (Mar. 31, 2021)

Wright, Scenes from Minneapolis on Day 4 of the Chauvin trial (April 1, 2021)

Fazio, Just tuning into Day 4 of the Derek Chauvin trial? Here’s what happened this morning (April 1, 2021)

Wright,Taeaways from Day 4 of the Derek Chauvin trial (April 1, 2021)

Bogel-Burroughs, Officers should have stopped restraining Floyd sooner, a former supervisor of Derek Chauvin’s testified (April 1, 2021)

Bogel-Burroughs, Lawyers for George Floyd’s family say jurors should look past his drug use after hearing testimony about his addiction (April 1, 2021)

Bogel-Burroughs, George Floyd’s girlfriend described their relationship, shared struggle with addiction, their first kiss, a ‘daddy selfie’ (April 1, 2021)

Bogel-Burroughs, George Floyd was dead by the time medical help arrived, a paramedic testified (April 1, 2021)

Fazio & Arango, What we know about Courtney Ross, George Floyd’s girlfriend (April 1, 2021)

Wright, Takeaways from Day 5 of the Derek Chauvin trial (April 2, 2021)

Bogel-Burroughs, ‘Totally unnecessary’: the longest-serving Minneapolis police officer says Chauvin violated police policy (April 2, 2021)

Walker & Astor, The officer who secured the crime scene after George Floyd’s death is the first witness on Day 5  (April 2, 2021)

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[1] Derek Chauvin Trial: Week Four, dwkcommentaries.com (April 2, 2021).