The prosecution in Derek Chauvin's murder trial in the death of George Floyd rested its case Tuesday morning, allowing the defense to begin to present its side. Chauvin's attorney called six witnesses, including a park police officer who was called to the scene at Cup Foods and a woman who was in the car with Floyd when police arrived.
Defense use-of-force expert, Barry Brodd, testified that he believed Chauvin acted reasonably.
The defense is expected to finish presenting its case this week, with closing arguments slated for Monday.
Court recesses for the day
Court recessed a bit earlier than usual Tuesday after use-of-force expert Barry Brodd testified for almost three hours.
Brodd, who was called by the defense, said Chauvin was justified in his use of force against George Floyd.
“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interaction with Mr. Floyd,” Brodd said.
But he did appear to contradict some of his initial testimony during cross-examination. When questioned by the prosecution, he conceded several points, crucially that the prone position can cause pain. Initially, Brodd said he doesn’t consider “prone control” to be a use of force, saying it doesn’t cause pain. But prosecutor Steve Schliecher got Brodd to agree Floyd could have been in pain — a result of use of force.
The trial will continue on Wednesday at 9:15 a.m. local time as the defense is expected to call more witnesses.
Prosecution attempts to dismantle defense use-of-force expert testimony
The prosecution attempted to dismantle the arguments of a defense use-of-force expert Tuesday, getting the witness to agree to a number of points that were contrary to his testimony on direct questioning.
Barry Brodd, a former police officer and use-of-force expert for the defense, conceded several points under questioning from prosecutor Steve Schleicher, including that the prone position can cause pain and that the actions of bystanders don't justify using force on another person.
Brodd testified earlier he believed Chauvin’s actions against George Floyd were “justified” and “objectively reasonable” because he was resisting and that he did not consider a "prone control" to be a use of force once Floyd was held on the ground.
Brodd conceded when asked by the prosecution that the prone position Floyd was in could cause pain, and that if Floyd was in pain it would constitute use of force. Brodd also agreed that use of force must be reasonable from the beginning of an encounter to its end and that use of force was not appropriate if a subject was compliant and no longer resisting.
Schleicher also got Brodd to agree that any "reasonable officer" should take into consideration a subject's medical condition when considering how much for force to use, especially if the subject is exhibiting signs of distress, losing consciousness, is unable to breathe or has lost their pulse.
Defense expert says Chauvin ‘was justified’ in restraint of Floyd, acted reasonably
A former police officer and use-of-force expert for the defense testified Tuesday he believed Derek Chauvin “was justified" in his actions and acted reasonably during his fatal encounter with George Floyd.
“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified, was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interaction with Mr. Floyd,” Barry Brodd said Tuesday afternoon.
Brodd said when reviewing such an incident, one needs to view a situation through the eyes of the officers on the scene based on what circumstances they were dealing with at the time.
"It's easy to sit and judge in an office on an officer's conduct, it’s more a challenge to again put yourself in the officer’s shoes to try to make an evaluation through what they’re feeling, what they’re sensing, the fear they have and then make a determination,” he said.
Brodd later added he believed the officers actions against Floyd were justified because he was resisting and he did not consider "a prone control" to be a use of force once Floyd was held on the ground. He added subjects under the influence of drugs may not feel pain in the same way, or exhibit "super human" strength, a defense commonly heard in previous cases with officer-involved deaths.
Former police officer and use-of-force expert Barry Brodd takes stand
Barry Brodd took the stand after the court recessed for a lunch break on Tuesday.
Brodd is a defense use-of-force expert who does consulting work and is a former police officer.
He was an expert witness for the defense in the trial of Jason Van Dyke, a Chicago cop found guilty of second-degree murder in the 2014 death of 17-year-old Laquan McDonald. During that trial, he told the jury he believed Van Dyke was justified in his shooting of McDonald.
Defense calls Minneapolis police medical support coordinator back to stand
Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the Minneapolis Police Department's medical support coordinator, was called back to the witness stand Tuesday after previously testifying for the prosecution.
The defense called Mackenzie to testify about “excited delirium,” a contested mental condition that Mackenzie said is sometimes associated with drug use or mental illness. Some signs of the condition are said to be removal of clothing and extreme strength, Mackenzie testified. The prosecution last week called a doctor who testified that Floyd did not meet any of the criteria of the condition.
Mackenzie said officers dealing with someone potentially experiencing “excited delirium” should get more resources and have Emergency Medical Services staged nearby until the situation is under control. She added someone experiencing “excited delirium syndrome” can “rapidly go into cardiac arrest.”
During cross-examination, prosecutors said officers are trained to put someone they believe may be experiencing “excited delirium” in a side-recovery position in order to facilitate breathing.
“Because excited delirium, if it exists, could compromise proper breathing,” Prosecutor Matthew Frank said. Mackenzie agreed.
Defense calls park police officer to testify about bystander actions
The defense called Peter Chang, a Minneapolis Park Police officer who was present at the scene of George Floyd’s arrest, to the stand to testify about the behavior of nearby bystanders watching the interaction.
Chang said the tone of the bystanders was “very aggressive” towards the officers.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson introduced Chang’s body-worn camera footage at the trial Tuesday. Chang had been stationed at a nearby park when he heard a call for assistance.
Chang's body-worn camera, which was entered as evidence, did not provide a clear view of the bystanders near the scene as he remained across the street guarding the vehicle Floyd and his passengers had been in.
He said he paced back and forth, observing any onlookers.
"I was concerned for the officers’ safety because of the crowd," he said.
The defense has sought to portray the crowd of onlookers who witnessed Floyd's death as a distraction and potential threat that made the responding officers worry for their safety and diverted their attention from Floyd.
Shawanda Hill, passenger in car at time of George Floyd’s arrest, called to the stand
Shawanda Hill, the friend of George Floyd who was in the back seat of the car when they were approached by officers on May 25, 2020, was called to the stand by the defense Tuesday morning.
Hill testified that she ran into Floyd at the Cup Foods convenience store and he offered to give her a ride home. She said they talked in the parked car for a while and at one point, while she was on the phone, she noticed that Floyd had fallen asleep. Hill said Floyd had previously told her he was tired. At one point, some of the young store employees came to the car but Floyd was still asleep.
She told prosecutors during cross-examination that in the store Floyd was friendly and alert, “talking” and “hugging.” She said he nodded off in the car but was able to be awakened when the officers walked up.
Hill said Floyd began pleading with the officer after he drew his gun upon approaching them at the car window. She added that Floyd did not complain of shortness of breath or chest pain during the interaction.
Defense calls former paramedic who attended to Floyd in 2019
The defense called Michelle Moseng as a witness on Tuesday, a former paramedic who interacted with Floyd after a 2019 arrest.
Moseng, who is retired and worked for Hennepin County, was summoned to the Minneapolis Police Department’s 4th percent on May 6, 2019 to attend to Floyd.
Answering the defense's questions, Moseng said it was hard to assess Floyd, who told her he taken “multiple” drugs that day and had substance use issues. She said Floyd had high blood pressure and he said had not been taking his blood pressure medication.
When questioned by the prosecution, Moseng explained that Floyd was compliant and coherent. The prosecution emphasized in their questions that he did not have heart issues and was released shortly after being taken to the hospital.
Defense calls first witness to stand
The defense in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin called its first witness Tuesday morning after the prosecution rested its case.
Scott Creighton, a retired officer with the city of Minneapolis Police Department, responded to the scene of a previous arrest of George Floyd in May 2019.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill told the jurors the evidence presented from the previous arrest was not to be used “as evidence of the character of George Floyd,” but for the limited purpose of showing what effects the ingestion of opioids may or may not have had on Floyd.
Prosecution rests its case after testimony from nearly 40 witnesses
Prosecutors in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd have rested their case.
Derek Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors have said he knelt on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, during an arrest last May.
Prosecutors sought to prove to the jury that Floyd died from asphyxia, or insufficient oxygen, from Chauvin kneeling on his neck. The trial will now be in the hands of the defense, which has argued Floyd's use of illegal drugs and his underlying health conditions caused his death.
Almost 40 witnesses were called to the stand, including the Minneapolis police chief and other experienced officers, who openly condemned Chauvin's treatment of Floyd, as well as bystanders and medical experts.