George Floyd’s Brother Tearfully Joins The Final Prosecution Testimonies
The final testimonies of prosecution witnesses in the Derek Chauvin trial completed on Monday (April 12) without prosecutors formally resting after 11 days of witnesses taking the stand, describing what happened to George Floyd, or explaining that Floyd was the victim of overzealous police restraint, despite drug use and health problems.
During the afternoon, there was brief testimony from Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother. He gave what’s called “spark of life” testimony to jurors, simply talking about his brother’s background, his life circumstances, his family and painting an overall humanizing picture of him.
“He was a big mama's boy,” Philonise Floyd said after describing his brother in tears. “Every mother loves all of her kids but it's so unique how they were. He would lay up on her like in the fetus position like he was in the womb."
The defense did not question him.
Afterward, the rest of the afternoon was taken up by the testimony of the final witness, Seth Staughton, a use of force expert and criminal law professor at the University of South Carolina.
He said that the cameras of the officers responding gave a better perspective on the incident than in other cases he’s consulted on. Criteria including, the severity of the crime a suspect is being arrested for, whether that suspect poses an immediate threat and whether that suspect is actively resisting arrest.
“While threat can justify use of force, risk can't,” said Staughton under questioning from special prosecutor Steve Schleicher. “The idea is the officer cannot use more force than the situation justifies.”
In viewing the videos of George Floyd’s arrest, Staughton said he was exhibiting “active resistance” but in a “non-aggressive” way, so a reasonable officer should not have looked at iot as “active aggression.” Floyd didn’t seem to be intending to attack the officers. He was not a threat, even though he physically could have been aggressive, he had no intention to do so.
Staughton said that one of the officers noted that Floyd seemed to be losing consciousness and that one of the officers, Thomas Lane saw that he was not responding so, the indication was that the police restraint was “having deleterious effects on Mr. Floyd's health."
The use of force that Chauvin undertook, based on national police standards, was excessive and “no reasonable officer would have believed that that was appropriate, acceptable or reasonable force,” Staughton said.
Under cross examination from defense attorney Eric Nelson, Staughton testified that it is true that an officer may at times have to suspend a suspect in the prone position, but their shin should be placed across the suspect’s upper back, not their neck. He also said the prone position is intended to be transitory. A suspect should be turned 90 degrees onto their side.
“Both the knee across Mr. Floyd’s neck and the prone restraint were unreasonable, excessive, and contrary to generally accepted police practices,” Stoughton said.
The defense is expected to begin presenting its case Tuesday morning. Judge Peter Cahill notified jurors that it could be as short as three days, with his preference being that they have Friday off before closing arguments, then deliberations get underway possibly next Monday.
Medical Expert Agrees With Prior Witnesses That George Floyd Died Due To Police Restraint
An expert medical witness brought in by the prosecution at the Derek Chauvin trial on Monday said that George Floyd had high blood pressure, anxiety and a drug problem, but none of those were contributing factors to his death last May.
“I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary heart event and he did not die from a drug overdose,” said Dr. Jonathan Rich, an associate professor of medicine at Northwestern University and cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago.
What Floyd did die of, in his opinion, was cardiac arrest caused by the restraint he was under when Chauvin pinned him to the ground with his knee on his neck. The testimony repeated that of other medical and forensic experts that have already testified. Others, including Dr. Andrew Baker the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, who performed the autopsy on Floyd testified Friday, that the physical stress Floyd was under when he was arrested was what killed him.
When looking at his medical records, Rich said he noted no heart problems and that in watching the video, he exhibited no chest pains and no sign of a heart attack. The defense has argued that heart disease or drug use was what was culpable for Floyd’s death.
There was "no evidence at all to see that a fentanyl overdose caused Mr. Floyd's death," said Rich, who made it clear that his opinion was that Floyd would have lived if he had not been restrained by Chauvin in the manner that he was.
On brief cross examination, Chauvin defense attorney Eric Nelson asked if Floyd would have survived if he had gotten into the police car when officers arrested him, to which Rich agreed. He also acknowledged Nelson pointing out that Floyd’s medical records only went back three years.
Prosecution Begins To Wind Down Its Case in Derek Chauvin Trial
April 12, 2021
10: 10 a.m.
The third week of the Derek Chauvin murder trial is set to get underway Monday morning in Minneapolis after a dramatic week in which several experts testified that George Floyd died from oxygen being cut off as a result of Chauvin kneeling on his neck.
It also comes amidst unrest over the death of a 20-year-old man in suburban Brooklyn Park, MN, after he was shot by police in a traffic stop.
Prosecutors in the Chauvin trial are expected to wrap up their case early this week and the defense begins to present its case. It is still unclear if Floyd’s friend, Morries Hall, will testify but has said through his attorney that he is invoking his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Hall was in the car with Floyd when he was arrested May 25, 2020, but soon after his death, he fled to Texas and was taken into custody and extradited on unrelated charges.
On Friday (April 10), Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, who performed the autopsy on Floyd testified that despite the multiple medical issues that he dealt with and the small amount of opioids found in his system, the law enforcement restraint that he experienced was “just more than Mr. Floyd could take.”
Click here for details fom Week 2 of the Derek Chauvin Trial.