MINNEAPOLIS – More witnesses were scheduled to appear Thursday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin, where questioning of a lawyer returned to the subject of George Floyd’s drug use.
Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross told jurors last week the two became addicted to opioids four years ago after being prescribed the chronic pain medications. Like millions of Americans, they tried to stay clean but failed, she said.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson suggested that Floyd say the words “I ate too many drugs” during his fight with the police on Memorial Day on Wednesday. He played several seconds of unintelligible police body camera audio for witnesses: one said he couldn’t understand Floyd’s words, and the other said he thought Floyd was saying “I don’t take drugs.”
In the afternoon, two forensic scientists said the pills found in Floyd’s SUV and police car that day contained methamphetamine, a stimulant, and fentanyl, a synthetic opioid.
Chauvin is charged with second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. The defense argues that Floyd died from the drugs in his system and underlying medical issues, but prosecutors say Floyd was killed by Chauvin’s knee to his neck for more than nine minutes.
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- Court is scheduled to resume at 9:15 a.m. PT on Thursday.
- So far, jurors have heard from 30 witnesses – all named by the prosecution.
- Jurors attended several days of highly technical testimony on the use of force and chains of command, and a reporter in the courtroom on Wednesday noted that a juror may have fallen asleep.
- Expert witness Sgt. Jody Stiger, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department who has conducted around 2,500 use of force reviews during his career, told jurors on Wednesday that Chauvin used “lethal” force on George Floyd and had kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes.
‘Duty of care’: prosecutors say Chauvin betrayed politics by failing to assist Floyd
The prosecution said Chauvin was not only guilty of Floyd’s death, but also failed in his duty to provide basic care when Floyd was in medical distress and then became unresponsive.
Several officials from the Minneapolis Police Department testified that Chauvin violated departmental policy by failing to move Floyd to his side to ease his breathing once he was held face down.
“When someone is in our care, we have an obligation to provide for them,” Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo told jurors. This is true even if an officer applies defensive tactics, the chief said. “They are still in our care,” he said. “They have rights.”
The defense argued that Chauvin and the other officers were unable to deal with Floyd because they were distracted and threatened by a crowd of loud and upset passers-by. “As the crowd grew in size, their anger apparently increased as well,” lead defense counsel Eric Nelson told jurors. Read more.
Expert witness Sgt. Jody Stiger says Chauvin used ‘deadly’ force
Sgt. Jody Stiger, an officer with the Los Angeles Police Department who has conducted around 2,500 use of force reviews during his career, told jurors on Wednesday that Chauvin used “lethal” force on George Floyd and had kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes.
Stiger said the initial force used on Floyd was appropriate because Floyd resisted arrest as officers attempted to get him into their patrol car. However, after the officers forced Floyd to the ground, “they should have defused the situation,” Stiger said. Instead, the officers continued to escalate the situation, he said.
Stiger said the number of officers at the scene outweighed any threat posed by Floyd, who was not actively resisting while in the prone position. He said “that no force should have been used after being in this position.” But the pressure continually exerted by Chauvin “raised the possibility of death,” he said. More here.