Fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, stands trial in the alleged murder of George Floyd, 46. As seen on the footage, the defendant kneeled on the victim’s neck for minutes until after the man became unresponsive during an arrest over an alleged counterfeit $20 bill on May 25, 2020. Jurors must determine under the law if Floyd died because of Chauvin’s actions, or if it was really something else. The medical examiner noted that he also had arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease, and also fentanyl, and evidence of recent meth use. Opening statements are scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m. CT / 10:30 a.m. ET. You can watch in the player above.
Both sides jockeyed over evidence amid jury selection. Judge Peter Cahill ruled jurors can hear evidence Chauvin once told another officer in a separate arrest to apply a Hobble restraint–a kind of a restraining belt used by law enforcement–in a “hog-tie” position although a woman allegedly did not put up much resistance. The state can also show evidence that the defendant knew how it was dangerous to kneel on the neck of the prone Floyd.
“So long as the State presents evidence that Chauvin heard medical professionals making the statements about the potentially fatal risks to the man in those circumstances had he not been immediately placed into the rescue position by officers after being handcuffed and emergency medical professionals summoned, evidence of this incident is relevant to proving Chauvin’s knowledge about the importance and propriety of moving a handcuffed person from the prone position to the ‘rescue position’ and obtaining immediate medical attention,” Cahill wrote. “That evidence would be relevant to establish Chauvin’s knowledge of the limits of reasonable force in analogous circumstances to those Floyd was manifesting on May 25, and thus could be relevant to the jury’s assessment of whether Chauvin’s conduct on May 25 constituted an assault when Chauvin chose to maintain his position kneeling on Floyd’s upper back and the back of his neck for some four minutes and forty seconds after Floyd had ceased resisting and uttering any sounds, had become motionless and non-responsive, and even after it appeared Floyd had stopped breathing and had no pulse.”
Prosecutors succeeded in getting the judge to allow one of the witnesses–a college wrestler with MMA training–to testify about his understanding of the “blood choke” Chauvin applied to Floyd. Cahill did say he would stop the man from testifying about anything that could become a “medical opinion.”
The judge also allowed some evidence about a May 6, 2019 traffic stop in which Floyd was suspected of using drugs. It was determined to be relevant that the victim allegedly tried to hide the substances.
“What is relevant in the May 6, 2019 case that goes to cause of death or medical condition is essentially the video of the body-worn camera . . . from the time the one officer approaches Mr. Floyd on the passenger side of the vehicle, the subsequent behavior with regard to eating drugs — or not — [and] his delay in complying,” Cahill wrote.
A paramedic can also testify that Floyd suffered a “hypertensive emergency” from high blood pressure, and had to immediately go to a hospital.
Jurors will not hear that Chauvin was fired the day after Floyd’s death. Co-defendants J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao are set for a separate trial scheduled for August.
Aaron Keller contributed to this report.
[Mugshot via Minnesota Department of Corrections]
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