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Derek Chauvin trial: Judge tells jury state will rest its case Tuesday, deliberation to begin next Monday

The state called three witnesses Monday: a cardiologist, George Floyd's brother Philonise, and a final use-of-force expert who called Chauvin's actions unreasonable.

MINNEAPOLIS — Editor's note: Some of the images depicted in the video and testimony are graphic. If you or someone you know have been affected by the content of recent broadcasts and are looking for mental health resources, contact the National Alliance on Mental Illness. NAMI provides guidance to those who are trying to navigate the mental health system. Please know you are not alone. 

Have a question you'd like to hear our trial experts answer? Send it to lraguse@kare11.com or text it to 763-797-7215.

Monday, April 12

  • Use-of-force expert: 'No reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force'
  • George Floyd's brother, Philonise, took stand as 'spark of life' witness
  • Expert cardiologist: 'George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die from a drug overdose'
  • Judge Peter Cahill said he expects closing arguments Monday
  • Judge denied Chauvin defense request that jury be sequestered and questioned again after police shot Black man in Brooklyn Center

As the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin enters its third week, the judge has said that the jury will likely be sequestered and begin deliberating next Monday.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. Bystander video and body camera footage showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

The jury heard from a cardiologist Monday morning, who testified as an expert witness that Floyd's cardiopulmonary arrest was due to low oxygen, caused by the prone restraint from Chauvin and other officers.

"I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die from a drug overdose," Dr. Jonathan Rich said.

Monday afternoon, George Floyd's 39-year-old brother, Philonise Floyd, took the stand. He testified as a "spark of life" witness to speak to the jury about who Floyd was as a person.

"He just was like a person that everybody loved around the community," Philonise said. "He just knew how to make people feel better."

Next, the state called national use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton to the stand. He testified that Chauvin's use of force was both deadly and excessive. 

"No reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force," he said of both the knee on Floyd's neck, and the prone restraint.

After the prosecution rests its case, defense attorney Eric Nelson will begin calling his own list of witnesses. Judge Peter Cahill told the jury that will happen Tuesday, and that he expects closing arguments on Monday, April 19.

"Expect that when you report for duty on Monday that it will be followed by sequestration," Cahill said. "So pack your bag."

As the trial continues to unfold, the greater Twin Cities community is reacting to the death of another Black man shot by police in Brooklyn Center Sunday night: 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Monday, the judge denied a defense request to further question and sequester the jury due to his concern that the civil unrest will affect their ability to deliver an impartial verdict.

RELATED: Medical examiner: Chauvin's restraint tipped Floyd 'over the edge' given heart conditions

Monday, April 12

4:30 p.m.

Judge Peter Cahill told the jury Monday afternoon that the defense is expected to start presenting witnesses Tuesday, and all testimony should be done by the end of the week. Cahill said he may even give the jury Friday off, with closing arguments Monday.

"Expect that when you report for duty on Monday that it will be followed by sequestration," Cahill said. "So pack your bag."

3:40 p.m.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson cross-examined a use-of-force expert who may be the prosecution's last witness of the trial.

Nelson asked Seth Stoughton to confirm that an officer's force has to be evaluated using the "totality of the circumstances."

The defense asked Stoughton to confirm that an officer can rely on their training to determine how much force to use. Stoughton agreed that an officer should rely on their training generally, but said that he evaluates use of force based on nationally accepted police standards.

Stoughton agreed that a reasonable police officer has to have a "general situational awareness."

Nelson brought up a Washington Post op-ed Stoughton wrote about the Chauvin case, in which he said officers may need to hold a person down in the prone position but should not put pressure on the neck. Nelson asked if he had with limited information decided that Chauvin's use of force was excessive.

Stoughton said he believes that except in "absolutely unbelievably rare circumstances," a knee on a person's neck is an inappropriate use of force. He said whether Chauvin's knee was on Floyd's neck for the entire 9 minutes and 29 seconds is not relevant.

Stoughton agreed that the use of force is sometimes "not very pretty."

Nelson asked Stoughton to confirm that he does not analyze use of force in a dangerous environment.

"You have the luxury of slow motion, enhancement, looking at things from multiple perspectives," Nelson said.

Stoughton said that officers can do a "range of things to mitigate risk and prevent it from becoming a threat. They can't use force to address risk."

1:45 p.m.

The prosecution called what could be their last witness Monday afternoon, national use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton.

Stoughton said he has testified as an expert witness approximately 60 times, and that he received about $25,000 in compensation from the state for his review of the case. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked him if he always reaches a conclusion that favors the party that hires him, and he said no.

"My credibility is very important to me, and if I am retained and develop an opinion that does not favor the attorney that retains me, that's still my opinion," Stoughton said.

He wrote a report of over 100 pages documenting his opinion of Derek Chauvin's use of force. He used the "Graham vs. Connor factors" identified by the U.S. Supreme Court in his analysis: The severity of the crime at issue, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of the officers or others, and whether they are actively resisting arrest or attempting to flee.

Stoughton said there are two elements to Derek Chauvin's use of force: First, the knee on George Floyd's neck and second, the prone restraint itself.

He said a "reasonable officer" would have realized that Floyd was already in handcuffs, and that there were four officers on the scene. He said it was not "necessary" to put Floyd in the prone position at that point.

Stoughton also testified that a reasonable officer would have known the risk factors of the prone position, and of a knee on someone's neck while they were in that position.

Stoughton highlighted the points he saw as key moments, when former officer Thomas Lane asked if they should roll Floyd over and Chauvin said no, and when Kueng could not find a pulse.

"Someone without a pulse does not present a threat in any way," Stoughton said.

Stoughton also answered the prosecutor's questions about the crowd of bystanders, which he described as a "handful." Stoughton pointed out that former officer Tou Thao made a comment to the crowd saying, "This is why you don't do drugs, kids." He said an officer would not be likely to make a comment like that, which does not help to build "rapport," if they were concerned about a threat from the crowd.

"They did not present a threat to the officers," Stoughton said of the bystanders.

Schleicher asked Stoughton about Chauvin's explanation of his use of force, caught on body camera in a conversation with bystander Charles McMillian.

"It was something akin to describing Mr. Floyd as a pretty big guy, possibly under the influence or on drugs, and that officers needed to keep control over him," Stoughton said.

He said while all of those individual statements are true, a reasonable officer would have concluded that they could keep control over Floyd without the position they put him in, and without a knee on his neck.

Stoughton said officers have a responsibility to render medical aid to a person in their custody, and they cannot assume the person is lying.

"You have to take that seriously," he said.

In conclusion, Stoughton told the jury that he believes Chauvin's use of force against Floyd was "deadly," and that it was not reasonable.

"Both the knee across Mr. Floyd's neck and the prone restraint were unreasonable, excessive and contrary to generally accepted police practices," he said.

"No reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force," he added.

Stoughton said the "failure to render aid" was also unreasonable.

1:30 p.m.

Philonise Floyd, the 39-year-old brother of George Floyd, was called as a "spark of life" witness for the state Monday afternoon. In this role, he can speak to the jury about who George Floyd was as a person.

"He was so much of a leader to us in the household," he said of their childhood. Philonise said George Floyd made sure his siblings got to school on time and had a snack for the day.

"He just was like a person that everybody loved around the community," Philonise said. "He just knew how to make people feel better."

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher showed the jury photos showing George Floyd with his family and with his college basketball team, asking Philonise to talk through each memory. The jurors also saw a photo of George Floyd holding his daughter Gianna, who is now 7 years old.

Schleicher asked Philonise about George Floyd's relationship with his mother, who died before Floyd's arrest and death.

"It was one of a kind," Philonise said. "He showed us how to treat our mom and how to respect our mom. He just, he loved her so dearly."

1:15 p.m.

Judge Peter Cahill said Monday afternoon that he has looked over defense attorney Eric Nelson's list of questions for Morries Hall, who was with George Floyd when he was arrested.

The judge ruled that none of the questions are admissible based on Hall's invocation of his Fifth Amendment right. That is the right of a defendant to avoid testifying if it could incriminate them.

11:50 a.m.

The judge told the jurors that they will have a lunch break until 1:30 p.m., followed by two more witnesses.

The other witnesses expected to be called by the state are use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton, and Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd.

The judge and attorneys will go over legal issues at 1 p.m.

11:30 a.m.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson cross-examined Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist who testified that George Floyd's cardiopulmonary arrest was caused by low oxygen. Rich said it is his opinion that Chauvin and other officers' restraint caused that low oxygen.

Nelson asked Rich to confirm that methamphetamine, vigorous activity and adrenaline can make the heart work harder. He also confirmed that Floyd had a history of high blood pressure.

The defense also asked Dr. Rich if he would prescribe methamphetamine to someone who had a 90% blocked artery.

"I would never recommend that anybody take a methamphetamine off the street for any reason," he said.

Nelson asked Rich if he believes Floyd would have survived if he had gotten into the squad car when officers tried to place him there.

"Anything other than that scenario he was subjected to, I have no reason to think from a medical perspective that he would not have survived that day, correct," he said.

9:50 a.m.

The prosecution called Dr. Jonathan Rich to the stand Monday morning, likely one of their last expert witnesses. Rich is a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and an associate professor at Northwestern University.

Dr. Rich told the jury he is an expert in heart failure and heart transplant. As part of his work, he looks at all the deaths and near deaths in the cardiac care unit at Northwestern to determine what could have been done differently.

Rich was paid $1,200 per day to testify at the trial, but said he did not accept any further compensation from the state because he believes it is a "duty" of his field. He looked through Floyd's medical records, autopsy report, interviews about the case and videos of the officers' restraint of Floyd.

Rich gave the jury his professional opinion on cause of death: "In this case, Mr. George Floyd died from a cardiopulmonary arrest. It was caused by low oxygen levels, and those low oxygen levels were induced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxiation that he was subjected to."

In his analysis, Dr. Rich said he also considered and ruled out a "primary heart event" or drugs as the causes of death.

"I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die from a drug overdose," he said.

Rich said he identified three conditions Floyd had before his death: hypertension, anxiety and substance abuse. He said he went through all of Floyd's medical records from his past for further clues about his heart.

"I noted no cardiac problems in the medical records," he said.

Dr. Rich said a cardiac PEA (pulseless electrical activity) arrest is almost always caused by something specific, and the most common cause is hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. He said he excluded coronary artery disease as a cause of death "with a high degree of medical certainty."

Rich told the prosecution he believes Floyd's death was "absolutely preventable." First, he said police could have decided not to subject Floyd to the prone restraint. Secondly, he said Floyd could have been turned into a recovery position when he was passing out. Rich also said that once the officers did not find a pulse on Floyd, there was a "significant opportunity" to save his life with immediate CPR.

If not for Chauvin's restraint of Floyd, Rich said, "I believe he would have lived."

8:55 a.m.

Judge Peter Cahill heard motions from the attorneys before the jury entered Monday morning.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson asked the judge to exclude testimony from another use-of-force expert, Seth Stoughton, because he said it is "essentially the same analysis" that several other witnesses have already gone through.

Nelson also asked the judge to eliminate further testimony about what exactly George Floyd is saying in one body camera video clip. Nelson brought in the clip last week, suggesting that Floyd said "I ate too many drugs." The prosecution then asked a witness to view the video a second time, and at that point he said he believed Floyd was saying "I ain't do no drugs."

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher argued that Stoughton is different from the others, in that he will take an academic approach.

Cahill ruled that the prosecution can call Stoughton to testify somewhat narrowly on national use-of-force standards, and whether Chauvin violated them. 

Cahill also denied a prosecution request for an expert witness to talk about what Floyd might be saying in the video. He said that he was "surprised" that there was no objection when Nelson first brought it up.

"Both sides got their point across, anyway," he said.

The judge also addressed the issue of Morries Hall, a potential witness who was with Floyd when he was arrested. Hall wants to plead his Fifth Amendment right to not testify because it could incriminate him. Cahill said he will bring Hall in Tuesday to determine which questions he can answer without violating that right.

Nelson asked the judge to allow him to introduce a previous statement Hall made to law enforcement if he refuses to answer any questions. In that statement, Nelson said Hall "paints a picture" of Floyd's demeanor before the arrest.

The judge said he will take the issue under advisement.

Nelson renewed his request for sequestration of the jury due to the death of a 20-year-old Black man shot by Brooklyn Center police during a traffic stop. Nelson pointed out that at least one juror lives in Brooklyn Center.

Nelson said the case is different but the question is, "Will the jury be confident to make a decision regardless of the potential outcome of their decision?"

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher argued that the jurors have already indicated they can put aside other events and judge the case fairly, and they should be taken at their word.

The judge denied both requests from the defense.

"This is a totally different case and I realize that there's civil unrest and maybe some of the jurors did hear bout that," he said.

Cahill said a sequestration order may have the opposite effect of making the jury think, "there must be a greater threat to our security."

"I don't think that should heighten the jurors' concern," Cahill said. "We'll sequester them on Monday when we anticipate doing closings."

Friday, April 9

On Friday, a witness considered to be critical to both the prosecution and the defense took the stand. Chief Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker performed the autopsy on Floyd. 

Dr. Baker ruled Floyd's cause of death to be "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression." 

When prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked him to explain the cause of death, Baker said Floyd had an enlarged heart that already needed more oxygen and was limited by partially blocked arteries.

"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," Dr. Baker said. In another statement, he said the restraint "tipped him over the edge."

When Baker was cross-examined by Nelson, he testified that he believed Floyd's heart disease, hypertension and drugs in his system "played a role" in his death.

Prior to testimony from Dr. Baker, the court heard from forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas, who helped to train Dr. Baker for his current position. 

On the witness stand, prosecutor Blackwell questioned her about the results of Floyd's autopsy. 

"The point is that it's due to law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression," she said. "What it means to me is that the activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. Floyd's death."

Thomas said she ruled out drug overdose and heart issues as causes of death in her analysis.

She told the jury there's no evidence George Floyd would have died that night "except for the interactions with law enforcement."

During Dr. Baker's cross-examination by the defense, he also clarified a statement he made to federal authorities in which he said, "Had Mr. Floyd been home alone in his locked residence with no evidence of trauma, and the only autopsy finding was that fentanyl level, then yes, I would certify his death as due to fentanyl toxicity." 

Court adjourned early on Friday afternoon, with Judge Peter Cahill telling the court that they would not have time to hear complete testimony from the next witness, a medical doctor.

The prosecution may also call members of George Floyd's family to the stand as "spark of life" witnesses. Minnesota is one of only a few states with this doctrine. The testimony reflects who the victim was in life, and would be given by people who did not witness firsthand the events that transpired in front of Cup Foods when Floyd was arrested. 

RELATED: What to expect during Week 3 of the Derek Chauvin Trial

RELATED: Medical examiner who performed Floyd's autopsy testified in 'the most important day' of the Chauvin trial

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