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Apr. 1 highlights for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin Day 4

Highlights from Day 4 of the trial of Derek Chauvin. Paramedics and a retired sergeant describe their experiences surrounding the death of George Floyd.
A woman protests outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is being held, on March 31, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn.A woman protests outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of
A woman protests outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is being held, on March 31, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn.Kerem Yucel / AFP - Getty Images

Live coverage of this blog has ended, please click here for the latest coverage of Derek Chauvin's trial.

A former Minneapolis police sergeant who was Derek Chauvin's supervisor on the day of his encounter with George Floyd was the final witness to take the stand Thursday during the fourth day of witness testimony in Chauvin's murder trial. David Pleoger testified that the officers' restraint of Floyd should have ended after he was handcuffed, on the ground and no longer resisting.

The two paramedics who treated Floyd and a captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department, who responded to the scene, also testified, along with Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross.

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Court adjourned, Friday set to be just a half-day of testimony

The fourth day of testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin ended on Thursday, in a session highlighted by accounts from his supervisor, two paramedics and George Floyd's girlfriend.

Friday's proceedings are scheduled to end earlier than usual with Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill expecting to adjourn no later than 12:30 p.m. CDT. 

Chauvin should have ended force against Floyd, after he was cuffed and on the ground, supervisor said

Derek Chauvin's former supervisor said force used against George Floyd should have ended when he was handcuffed and on the pavement.

"When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance," that should have ended use of force against him, retired Sgt. David Pleoger told jurors.

Pleoger, who recently retired from the Minneapolis Police Department, testified that he reviewed all of the body-worn cameras of Chauvin and the three other responding officers and that their restraint of Floyd should have ended much earlier than it did.

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked Pleoger: "Based upon your review of this incident, do you believe that the restraint should have ended at some point in the encounter?

Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, objected and the attorneys had a private sidebar with Judge Peter Cahill.

Cahill ordered the jury out of the courtroom and Nelson argued that Pleoger had not reviewed all of the evidence, such as witness accounts.

The debate was primarily over how extensive of an opinion Pleoger would be allowed to give. 

Once Floyd died on May 25, the matter was deemed a "critical incident," and that triggered a review by internal affairs, taking the matter out of Pleoger's hands.

Nelson argued that Pleoger shouldn't be allowed to make a judgment on Chauvin's use of force.

"This officer, Sgt. Pleoger, did not make this determination. He has not done a use of force review," Nelson argued, outside the ears of jurors. "He has not reviewed the entirety of this particular case."  

Cahill ultimately directed Schleicher to withdraw his earlier question but said he could ask Pleoger: "Do you have an opinion as to when the restraint of Mr. Floyd should have ended in this encounter?" which he did after the jury was called back into the courtroom. 

Pleoger responded: "When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint." 

"And that was after he was handcuffed and on the ground and no longer resisting?" Schleicher asked.

"Correct," Pleoger said.

This gets at the heart of the prosecution's argument that Chauvin did not follow proper protocol in his restraint of Floyd.

Restrained prisoner should be rolled on his side, Chauvin's supervisor said

A restrained prisoner, handcuffed and feet secured, must be rolled on their side so they're not deprived of oxygen, Derek Chauvin's former supervisor told jurors.

David Pleoger is now retired but last year he was a sergeant and Chauvin’s supervisor on May 25 when the officer encountered George Floyd outside of Cup Foods.

A prosecutor and Pleoger went over Minneapolis police policies and what officers should do when a suspect is put in the "hobble position," when both their feet and hands are cuffed. Former Sgt. Pleoger said officers are instructed to roll a suspect on their side.

“It gets them on their side so they can breathe easier," Pleoger said. “So they don’t suffer breathing complications." 

Pleoger noted that this is the policy even if no officers are putting their weight on a prisoner, as was the case when Floyd was taken into custody.

 

State asks about Minneapolis Police Department's policies on when to alert supervisor about an officer's use of force

Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender of Hennepin County, explains that the prosecution is walking through the Minneapolis Police Department's policy on when a supervisor must be told about an officer's use of force. 

David Pleoger, who recently retired as a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department, is testifying about the proper protocol. Pleoger was supervising Derek Chauvin and the three other officers who arrested George Floyd last May 25. 

Minneapolis police sergeant who 911 dispatcher called after seeing officers restrain George Floyd takes stand

The prosecution has called recently retired Minneapolis police Sgt. David Pleoger to the stand.

Pleoger was supervising Derek Chauvin and the three other responding officers last May 25. A 911 dispatcher testified Monday that she called Pleoger after she watched the officers pin George Floyd to the ground live in a security video.

The dispatcher, Jena Scurry, said the officers restrained Floyd for so long that she asked someone whether her "screens had frozen because it hadn't changed" and "was told that it was not frozen."

Minneapolis fire captain takes the stand

Jeremy Norton, a captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department, took the witness stand Thursday afternoon in the trial against Derek Chauvin. He was the fourth witness called to the stand on Thursday.

Norton was among the first responders who arrived at the scene of Floyd’s arrest.

Paramedic: Any lay person can do chest compressions

During a testy exchange, Derek Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, asked Derek Smith, a Hennepin County paramedic who responded to the scene of George Floyd's arrest, about his actions in the ambulance.

Smith testified that his colleague who was driving the ambulance had pulled over to assist him in performing chest compressions on Floyd in the back of the vehicle.

Nelson questioned why Smith didn't ask Officer Thomas Lane, who was fired a day after Floyd's arrest and is charged in his death, to perform chest compressions instead. Lane had traveled in the ambulance with the paramedics and Smith testified he had directed Lane to deliver chest compressions on Floyd en route to the hospital, where Floyd was pronounced dead.

"Why didn't you just have the officer continue to help you?" Nelson asked.

"That's not what we do," Smith said.

"Is it because he's not an EMT," Nelson asked?

"Any lay person can do chest compressions," Smith responded. "There is no reason Minneapolis [police] couldn't have started chest compressions."

"That's not my question," Nelson shot back. "My question is: He's not an EMT, correct?"

Smith said he did not know the level of certification the officer in the ambulance had.

Paramedic says he thought Floyd 'was dead' when he assessed him at scene

A paramedic who responded to the scene of George Floyd’s arrest said in testimony Thursday that he thought Floyd “was dead” when he assessed his condition at the scene.

The Hennepin County paramedic, Derek Smith, said Thursday afternoon that he arrived to see three officers on top of Floyd. When he inspected the man he said he did not detect a pulse from Floyd.

“I thought he was dead,” he told prosecutors.

Smith said he looked to his partner and told him, “I think he’s dead, I want to move this out of here.”

He then said he would begin care at the back of the ambulance.

Trial resumes with testimony from a second paramedic

The trial has resumed after a lunch break with a second Hennepin County paramedic on the witness stand. 

The paramedic, Derek Smith, who was on duty last May 25, said when he arrived on the scene, he believed George Floyd was dead. 

Attorneys for George Floyd's family say jurors should look past his drug use

Two attorneys for George Floyd's family said jurors should look past his drug use after his girlfriend testified Thursday about their shared opioid addiction.

In a joint statement, the lawyers Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci said they "fully expected the defense" to put Floyd's "character and struggles with addiction on trial because that is the go-to tactic when the facts are not on your side." 

Crump and Romanucci said they "are confident the jury will see past that to arrive at the truth — that Floyd would have lived to see another day if Derek Chauvin hadn't brutally ended his life in front of a crowd of witnesses pleading for his life." 

"We want to remind the world who witnessed his death on video that George was walking, talking, laughing and breathing just fine before Derek Chauvin held his knee to George's neck," they said.

Prosecutors called Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, to the stand and questioned her about Floyd's drug use in an apparent effort to head off the argument from Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, that drugs could have caused Floyd's death.

 

On Monday, before opening statements, Crump said the defense's strategy relied on "the same old playbook."

"They're going to try to assassinate his character — the fact that they found trace amount of drugs in his system is just a distraction," Crump said. "The thing that killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force."

Paramedic says Floyd's heart was 'not pumping blood' when they tried to resuscitate him

A paramedic who was dispatched to the scene of George Floyd’s arrest testified Thursday that Floyd’s heart was “not pumping blood” as they tried to resuscitate him a few blocks away from the site where he was restrained.

Seth Zachary Bravinder, a Hennepin County paramedic, said Thursday that Floyd’s heart wasn’t “really doing anything in that moment” as they began the process of trying to resuscitate him following the incident in front of Cup Foods. 

“It's not a good sign for a successful resuscitation,” he said. 

“Basically just because your heart isn't doing anything at that moment, it's not pumping blood so it's not a good sign for a good outcome,” he added.

The paramedics in the ambulance then used a LUCAS device to do mechanical chest compressions on Floyd as his heart was not beating. Bravinder testified that Floyd was not revived at any point. Floyd was ultimately pronounced dead.