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Witness testimony in Derek Chauvin's murder trial in the death of George Floyd concluded on Wednesday with a string of testimony from forensic scientists who collected, photographed and tested evidence found at the scene. A senior special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension also testified about his investigation of Floyd's death.
The first witness of the day was Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department. He testified as an outside expert on police training and use of force.
This week has also included testimony from several Minneapolis police officers, including the police chief and experts in use of force, crisis intervention training and emergency medical response.
Outside expert says Chauvin could have used Taser while Floyd was resisting
An outside expert testified Wednesday that Derek Chauvin could have used a Taser on George Floyd while he was resisting arrest based on the use-of-force continuum employed by Minneapolis police.
The defense asked Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and use-of-force expert for the prosecution, whether Chauvin could have used a Taser when he saw Floyd resisting being put in the back of a police car. Stiger agreed that based on the department’s use-of-force continuum, officers are within their right to use a Taser on a subject who is actively resisting.
Stiger also agreed the officers were reasonable in their use of force when trying to put Floyd in the back of the car.
But Stiger, along with other officers, have previously testified that an acceptable level of force can change throughout an incident. Stiger has said Chauvin used "excessive" force on Floyd in the more than nine minutes he was pinned to the ground under Chauvin's knee and not resisting.
LAPD use-of-force expert testifies he did not perceive onlookers to be a threat
Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant serving as a prosecution use-of-force expert, testified that he did not perceive the crowd of onlookers as "threatening."
Derek Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, has argued that the bystanders who observed Chauvin and other Minneapolis police officers restrain George Floyd were "angry" and distracted officers from assessing Floyd's condition.
Stiger disagreed Wednesday.
"They were merely filming, and most of it was their concern for Mr. Floyd," he said.
The prosecution showed an image of the bystanders, some of them with cellphones in hand, to argue that they did not pose a threat.
Stiger said he would define such actions as throwing bottles or rocks — which he said he has experienced on duty — as hostile.
Under questioning by prosecutor Steve Schleicher, Stiger acknowledged that loud noise and name calling can be distracting but said that Chauvin, a 19-year-veteran of the force, had had sufficient training to prepare himself for distractions.
Stiger testified that he did not believe the crowd prevented Chauvin from being attentive to Floyd because in videos from police body cameras, you can hear Floyd expressing his pain and Chauvin responding.
Outside expert says Chauvin used deadly force
A use-of-force expert testified Wednesday that Derek Chauvin’s restraint of George Floyd and his use of a knee on Floyd’s neck for as long as long as he did was “deadly force.”
Prosecutors asked Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and use-of-force expert, whether Chauvin’s restraining of Floyd for nine and a half minutes constituted deadly force, which Stiger agreed with.
Stiger said the actions counted as deadly force because at the time Floyd was not resisting and was handcuffed in the prone position.
“He was not attempting to evade. He was not attempting to resist and that pressure that was being caused by the body weight could cause asphyxia, which could cause death,” he said.
Stiger said positional asphyxia has been a known risk among police officers for at least 20 years.
Deadly force is defined by the Minneapolis Police Department as force that an actor uses with the purpose of causing death or which the actor should reasonably know creates a substantial risk of causing death or great bodily harm.
LAPD sergeant returns to witness stand to testify about use of force
Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant, has returned to the witness stand. He is a use-of-force expert for the prosecution.
Stiger testified Tuesday that he has trained thousands of police officers in use-of-force tactics. He said he had reviewed the case and had come to a conclusion about Derek Chauvin's actions during the arrest of George Floyd last May.
"My opinion was that the force was excessive," he said.
Stiger was the last witness to testify Tuesday before the judge abruptly adjourned an hour earlier than usual.
Floyd's family takes its seat in ex-officer's murder trial
MINNEAPOLIS — A member of George Floyd's family often occupies a reserved seat in the back corner of the Minneapolis courtroom where former police Officer Derek Chauvin is on trial in Floyd's death. The seat reserved for Chauvin's family goes unclaimed.
Floyd's younger brother Philonise Floyd, of Houston, has attended several days of the trial to bear witness on behalf of his family. He has watched the often-excruciating bystander, police body camera and security videos of his brother's fatal encounter with Chauvin on May 25, and listened to testimony from eyewitnesses and police.
“This is life-changing,” Philonise Floyd said during a break in the proceedings. “All this testimony is so hard on everyone.”