MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — The prosecutors in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin wrapped up their last full day of testimony on Monday and the defense is expected to start calling witnesses on Tuesday.
Judge Peter Cahill said Monday that the defense team is expected to wrap up their work by the end of the week and closing arguments could come as early as the beginning of next week.
Monday, state witness testimony continued as prosecutors called a use-of-force expert and a cardiologist to the stand. With these testimonies, prosecutors further explored the medical cause of Floyd’s death as well as the police practices.
Floyd’s younger brother also took the stand to describe his sibling’s character. Prosecutors were likely hoping to humanize him in the jury’s eyes. During his testimony, the brother became emotional while childhood photos of Floyd and their mother were shown.
Also on Monday, the judge denied a request from the defense team to sequester the jury. The attorney for Chauvin made the request after the fatal shooting of a Black man near Minneapolis led to unrest in the city over the weekend. The attorney argued that jurors could be influenced by the prospect of what might happen as a result of their verdict in the case.
“There must be a greater threat to our security," said the judge.
Monday marked the start of a third week of testimony in the case. In the first week, prosecutors called several eyewitnesses to the stand, many of whom delivered emotional and moving accounts of what they saw on the night of May 25, 2020. Several witnesses shed tears on the stand as they remembered watching Chauvin kneel on Floyd’s neck.
Last week, prosecutors shifted to more technical testimony, focusing on police use of force policies and the medical cause of Floyd’s death.
Below are updates on the trial from throughout the day:
UPDATE, 3 p.m. p.m. ET: Seth Wane Stoughton, a use-of-force expert from the University of South Carolina, took the stand after George Floyd’s brother.
During his testimony, Stoughton said the knee placed on Floyd’s neck and the prone restraint used on him were "unreasonable, excessive and contrary to generally accepted police practices.”
When asked when he believed the unreasonable force began, Stoughton said when Floyd was initially put into the prone restraint and when Chauvin put his knee on his neck. He believes it ended when the defendant’s knee was lifted off Floyd’s neck and he was taken out of the prone restraint position.
“No reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force,” said Stoughton.
Stoughton said he doesn’t think Floyd presented a threat to those around him before his death.
“He was not a threat of harm to the officers. Even to the extent that he had physical ability, he didn't have much in the way of opportunity to assault or harm the officers,” said Stoughton. “And just as importantly, there's no specific and articulable facts that an officer or a reasonable officer in the defendant's position could use to conclude that he had the intention of causing physical harm to the officers or others."
Watch coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial here.
UPDATE, 2:30 p.m. ET: Philonise Oneil Floyd, George Floyd's younger brother, took the stand following a lunch break.
While on the stand, Philonise described his relationship with George and what the man was like when he was alive. Prosecutors were hoping to humanize the 46-year-old.
When he was young, Philonise said George loved sports, would cook him "banana mayonnaise" sandwiches and he was a "big momma's boy."
As prosecutor Steve Schleicher presented childhood photos of George to the court, Philonise got emotional. When he was shown a photo of George and their mother, Philonise shed tears and said "I miss both of them."
The defense team chose not to question Philonise.
UPDATE, 11 a.m. ET: Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist at Northwestern Medicine, began testifying for the state on how George Floyd died.
“In this case, Mr. George Floyd died from a cardiopulmonary arrest," said Dr. Rich. "It was caused by low oxygen levels and those low oxygen levels were induced by the prone restraint and the positional asphyxiation that he was subjected to.”
Dr. Rich said he reviewed Floyd’s medical records, his autopsy report and videos from the scene before determining the cause of death. He said the medical records didn’t show Floyd had any cardiac issues. They showed Floyd had hypertension (high blood pressure), anxiety and appeared to struggle with substance abuse.
“After reviewing all the facts and evidence in the case, 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,” said Dr. Rich.
When asked if Floyd had a strong heart, Dr. Rich said “every indicator is that Mr. Floyd had an exceptionally strong heart, because he was able to generate pressures of upwards to 200 milliliters of mercury on some occasions.”
UPDATE, 10:30 a.m. ET: Judge Peter Cahill denied a request from the defense team to sequester the jury. The judge said he won’t sequester the jury until next Monday, when he anticipates closing arguments will begin.
The attorney for Derek Chauvin made the request after the fatal shooting of a Black man in Minneapolis led to unrest in the city over the weekend. The attorney argued that jurors could be influenced by the prospect of what might happen as a result of their verdict in the case of George Floyd’s death.
“There must be a greater threat to our security," said Judge Cahill. "I think the better way is to just continue with the trial as we’ve been going. That as a separate issue, they should treat it as such."
The judge said it would be a different story if there civil unrest following another verdict, where the jury can see what the consequence of a certain verdict might be in a similar case. But that’s not the case.
"The jurors were all aware and were concerned about their safety, because of what happened in May of 2020, the civil unrest that followed there," said Judge Cahill. "Not a big surprise that there is now civil unrest in response to this case, but I don’t think that should heighten the jurors’ concern. I think it’s probably the same as it was before. They all have a concern that they expressed and were very honest about. And so, I’m not going to sequester them. We’ll sequester them on Monday, when we anticipate doing closings.”
Watch coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial here.
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