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Apr. 9 highlights for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin Day 10

Highlights from Day 10 of the trial of Derek Chauvin. The Hennepin County medical examiner took the stand in the trial for the death of George Floyd.
Image: Chauvin trial
Demonstrators hold signs honoring George Floyd during a protest outside Hennepin County Government Center on March 28, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn.Kerem Yucel / AFP - Getty Images file

Live coverage on this blog has ended, please click here for latest on Derek Chauvin trial.

Testimony continued in Derek Chauvin's murder trial on Friday with two medical examiners discussing the cause of George Floyd's death.

Hennepin County Medical Examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, was last to testify and said the interaction with police was "was just more than Mr. Floyd could take."

542d ago / 9:08 PM UTC

Second week of testimony ends after medical examiner in Floyd's death

A second full week of witness testimony ended Friday with the medical examiner who determined George Floyd’s cause of death and other medical experts testifying. 

Dr. Andrew Baker, the medical examiner for Minnesota’s Hennepin County, said Friday that fentanyl and heart disease did not directly cause Floyd's death.

"Mr. Floyd’s use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint, his heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint," Baker said.

The trial will resume on Monday, around 9:30 a.m. local time.

542d ago / 7:55 PM UTC

George Floyd medical examiner: Interaction with police 'was just more than Mr. Floyd could take'

The medical examiner who determined George Floyd’s cause of death testified Friday that fentanyl and heart disease did not directly cause his death.

"Mr. Floyd’s use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint, his heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint," Dr. Andrew Baker, the medical examiner for Minnesota’s Hennepin County, said Friday afternoon.

Baker ruled George Floyd’s cause of death was "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." The manner of death was ruled a homicide. 

Baker broke down his ruling of the cause of death Friday, saying "cardiopulmonary arrest” referred to the heart and lungs stopping and clarifying the term “complicating” meant “in the setting of.”

Baker listed under "other significant conditions" that Floyd suffered from hypertensive heart disease, and listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.   

But he said Friday that other factors that are believed to have played a role in the death but “didn’t directly cause the death,” get relegated to the “other significant conditions” section of a death certificate. 

Baker said given the conditions of Floyd's heart disease and condition on the day of his encounter with police: “In my opinion, the law enforcement subdual, restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions.”

Unlike previous medical professionals who have testified, Baker did not directly attribute Floyd's cause of death to lack of oxygen or asphyxia.

542d ago / 6:32 PM UTC

Medical examiner in Floyd’s death testifies

The medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on George Floyd and ruled on his cause of death took the stand Friday. 

Dr. Andrew Baker, the medical examiner for Minnesota’s Hennepin County, was called by the prosecution Friday afternoon.

Baker ruled George Floyd’s cause of death was "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." The manner of death was ruled a homicide. Under "other significant conditions" it said Floyd suffered from hypertensive heart disease, and listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.  

The defense has argued Floyd’s death was caused by a drug overdose and his health conditions such as heart disease, not by Chauvin’s restraint.

542d ago / 4:31 PM UTC

Someone in seat reserved for a family member of Derek Chauvin for first time since trial began

For the first time since the trial began, there is someone in the seat reserved for a family member of Derek Chauvin, according to a reporter in the courtroom, who described the person as a woman of Asian descent.

Seats are reserved in the back for just one Floyd family member and just one Chauvin family member because of the coronavirus pandemic. A member of George Floyd's family has been in the courtroom each day. This week the seat for a member of Chauvin's family member was removed because it had not been used. A court official said at the time that it would be returned if need be.

Only two pool reporters are allowed in at a time, plus a member of the Court TV team that is providing the feed.

542d ago / 3:40 PM UTC

Autopsy photos shown to jurors, but not publicly

Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, explains to jurors what she sees in autopsy photos of George Floyd that are being shown to the jury, but not publicly. 

Thomas said she helped train Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner who performed an autopsy on Floyd. She said she is a friend of his.

Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender of Hennepin County, where Chauvin's trial is being held, provides context as to what jurors are likely being shown:

542d ago / 3:38 PM UTC

Forensic pathologist ruled out drug overdose as Floyd’s cause of death

Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, testified Friday that she ruled out a drug overdose as George Floyd’s cause of death. 

Thomas said based on the extensive videos she had seen in the death of Floyd and what she knew about fentanyl deaths, this was “totally different than what is seen in Mr. Floyd.” 

She added in regards to the level of methamphetamine found in his system, which she described as a low level, “looking from what I know about Mr. Floyd’s death, because it’s so well documented, that does not fit with a methamphetamine death.”

Thomas agreed with prosecutors that she ruled out drug overdose as the cause of Floyd’s death. The defense has argued Floyd’s death was caused by a drug overdose and health complications rather than Chauvin’s actions.

542d ago / 3:36 PM UTC

Forensic pathologist: 'This was not a sudden death'

Forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas testified Friday that George Floyd's death was "not a sudden death," a conclusion she reached based on watching a plethora of surveillance, bystander and body-camera videos of Floyd's final moments. 

Thomas said she agreed with earlier testimony that it was law enforcement officers' actions that led to his death — adding that there was not evidence from his autopsy or toxicology reports that he died of a heart attack or drugs.

"What I observed from all of these videos is this was not a sudden death," Thomas said, contrasting it to something like cardiac arrest induced by shoveling snow, in which "someone comes in and collapses, clutches their chest and falls over."

"There was nothing sudden about his death," she continued. "It was not the type of death that has been reported in fentanyl overdoses, for example, where somebody becomes very sleepy, and then gradually, calmly, stops breathing." 

Fentanyl, an opioid, was found in Floyd's system, and an attorney for Derek Chauvin has argued that the fentanyl and an underlying heart condition may have contributed to his death. 

542d ago / 3:03 PM UTC

Forensic pathologist agrees officers' actions ‘resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death’

A Minnesota forensic pathologist agreed Friday morning that law enforcement’s activities in restraining George Floyd led to the man’s death.

When asked how she interpreted the medical examiner’s cause of death, Dr. Lindsey Thomas said it meant, the activities of officers resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death. 

“Specifically, those activities were the subdual, the restraint and the neck compression,” she said.

Thomas added she agrees with that conclusion.

The Hennepin County medical examiner has ruled Floyd’s cause of death was "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.

Earlier in testimony Thomas said she believed that "the primary mechanism of death is asphyxia or low oxygen."

“The point is that it’s due to law enforcement subdual, restraint and compression,” she said.

542d ago / 2:34 PM UTC

Prosecutors call forensic pathologist to the stand

Prosecutors called a Minnesota forensic pathologist to the stand Friday morning.

Dr. Lindsey Thomas was the first witness to take the stand Friday in the Derek Chauvin murder trial ahead of other expected medical experts, including the county medical examiner.

In his opening statement, attorney Jerry Blackwell said Thomas helped train Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner who ruled on George Floyd’s cause of death. Blackwell added that Thomas will testify that physical signs are not always present when someone dies from asphyxia or lack of oxygen.

The prosecutor also said Thomas will agree in part with Baker’s findings, but she will disagree with other conclusions including his findings about the role that drugs may have played in Floyd’s death.

Baker ruled George Floyd’s cause of death was "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." Under "other significant conditions" it said Floyd suffered from hypertensive heart disease, and listed fentanyl intoxication and recent methamphetamine use.

542d ago / 11:30 AM UTC

The Derek Chauvin trial is ‘opening old wounds’ for police violence victims

Even though it has been nearly four years since a jury acquitted Tulsa, Oklahoma, Police Officer Betty Shelby in the killing of Terence Crutcher, a 40-year-old father of four, his twin remembers the trial like it was yesterday. 

“What was mainly heart-wrenching was to hear her, see her, the person who killed my brother. She showed no remorse,” Tiffany Crutcher recalled.  

Today, George Floyd’s family is enduring this retraumatization during former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin’s trial. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, after kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes last year. 

Mental health professionals have, in recent years, highlighted the emotional and psychological toll racist violence can have on Black people. From videos of police brutality to watching criminal trials with bated breath, the stress of such experiences is well-documented. But for the families of victims of police violence, emotional stressors are heightened, said Maysa Akbar, chief diversity officer of the American Psychological Association and the author of “Urban Trauma: A Legacy of Racism.”

While the world watches the attempt to serve legal justice for another person killed by police, Akbar notes that for the family involved, justice in court doesn’t always amount to healing.

Click here to read the full story.

542d ago / 11:27 AM UTC