The defense has begun in the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd.
The charges against Derek Chauvin are 2nd degree murder, 3rd degree murder and 2nd degree manslaughter. For a conviction on 2nd degree murder, the state would have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Derek Chauvin caused George Floyd’s death whilst committing an intentional assault resulting in George Floyd’s unintentional death, for a conviction on 3rd degree murder the state would have to prove extreme recklessness resulting in unintentional death, for 2nd degree manslaughter that state would have to prove culpable negligence. Derek Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson has already argued that George Floyd died as a result of drug problems and underlying health issues, not due to being restrained by Derek Chauvin.
Taking the stand at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, Barry Brodd, a former Santa Rosa, California, officer, steadfastly defended Chauvin’s actions, even as a prosecutor pounded away at the witness, banging the lectern at one point during cross-examination and growing incredulous when Brodd suggested Floyd was struggling because he wasn’t “resting comfortably” on the pavement. “It’s easy to sit and judge … an officer’s conduct,” Brodd testified. “It’s more of 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.” Brodd also likened Chauvin’s situation to when officers are forced to use a taser and the suspect falls, hits their head and dies. “That isn’t an incident of deadly force. That’s an incident of accidental death.”
Several Minneapolis police officers have testified that Derek Chauvin used excessive force and violated his training. Brodd defended Derek Chauvin by saying “I felt that Mr Chauvin’s interactions with Mr Floyd were following his training, following current practices in policing and were objectively reasonable.” Scott Creighton, a retired Minneapolis police officer, said he arrested Mr Floyd on 6 May 2019 and said Mr Floyd was “unresponsive and non-compliant to my commands.” Derek Chauvin’s defence team did enquire about whether George Floyd swallowed any drugs, but Scott Creighton confirmed he did not see anything.
Another witness, paramedic Michelle Moseng, said she responded to the same call and that Mr Floyd had told her he’d been taking opioids about every 20 minutes. “I asked him why and he said it was because he was addicted,” said Ms Moseng, who described Mr Floyd’s behavior as “elevated and agitated” before the judge struck that remark from the record. Ms Moseng stated that she asked Mr Floyd to go to hospital due to his high blood pressure, but he resisted. After further questions from the prosecution, Ms Moseng did confirm that Mr Floyd’s heart rate, pulse, respiratory output and heart rhythms were normal.
Another defense witness Tuesday was Shawanda Hill, who was in the SUV with Floyd before his encounter with Derek Chauvin. When he saw an officer at the window with a gun, Floyd “instantly grabbed the wheel and he said, ‘Please, please, don’t kill me. Please, please, don’t shoot me. Don’t shoot me. What did I do? Just tell me what I did,'” Hill testified. Minneapolis Park police officer Derek Chang also testified. Derek Chang helped at the scene for a day. Chang reported that he saw a “crowd” growing across the street that “was becoming more loud and aggressive, a lot of yelling across the street.” Eric Nelson asked if this caused any concern to Mr Chang, which Mr Chang responded “concerns for the officers’ safety, yes.” Eric Nelson has not confirmed whether or not Derek Chauvin will take the stand in his own defence.
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ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: STAR TRIBUNE