A short video clip taken by a Minneapolis cop’s body camera last spring became a flashpoint in the trial against Derek Chauvin on Wednesday after a defense attorney and witness suggested the late George Floyd had told the cops he was “eating too many drugs” shortly before. his death.
The same witness later changed his statement, stating that he believed Floyd had really said, “I don’t do drugs.”
Chauvin has been charged with three counts of homicide for his chosen method of restraint against Floyd: pinning Floyd’s neck to the sidewalk with his knee.
The conflict arose when defense attorney Eric Nelson asked witness James Reyerson if he had heard Floyd say “I ate too many drugs” in one of the body camera videos he saw. had examined.
Reyerson – a senior special agent with the Minneapolis Criminal Apprehension Bureau who was part of a team investigating Chauvin’s use of force – said no.
Nelson then released a video clip for the courtroom showing Floyd lying on his stomach near a police vehicle, with officers above him. Floyd screams in the footage, saying something that can’t be heard distinctly.
After watching, Reyerson agreed with Nelson that it sounded like Floyd had said he “ate” drugs.
It was not the first time that Nelson brought up the clip; he asked the sergeant of the Los Angeles Police Department. Jody Stiger earlier today to find out if Stiger thought that was what Floyd had said. Stiger said he couldn’t understand Floyd’s words.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank addressed the clip after Reyerson agreed with the defense, playing a longer version which revealed that prior to Floyd’s unclear statement, officers had discussed among themselves the possibility that he took drugs.
“Having heard that in context, are you in a position to say what Mr. Floyd is saying over there?” Frank asked Reyerson.
“Yeah, I think Mr. Floyd was like, ‘I don’t do drugs,’” Reyerson replied.
While an autopsy report indicated Floyd tested positive for fentanyl after his death, his cause of death is described as “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating subdual law enforcement restraint and neck compression” . The doctor who treated him in hospital on the night of May 25, 2020, said earlier that he believed Floyd died of asphyxiation or oxygen depravity.
Police did not arrive at the scene where Floyd ultimately died to investigate his suspected drug use. Instead, they were called after a convenience store clerk suspected him of using a fake $ 20 bill.
Drugs, however, are key to the defense strategy in the trial that began last week with witness testimony: Nelson attempted to establish that drug use could have caused Floyd breathing difficulties.
Chauvin pleaded not guilty to all three charges against him. If found guilty, he could face 11 to 15 years in prison.
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