Motions and Emotions
The third week of testimony began Monday in the Derek Chauvin murder trial in Hennepin County District Court, with the prosecution continuing to bring more medical and law enforcement experts.
Along with calling witnesses, the prosecution called on Floyd’s brother Philonese Floyd who served as a “Spark of Life” witness to give jurors a fuller and largely sympathetic view of Floyd as a son, brother, father, and friend.
In the wake of Brooklyn Center police fatally shooting a man, defense attorney Eric Nelson asked to have jurors sequestered and to question them regarding what they might have learned about the civil unrest. Judge Peter Cahill rejected that motion.
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Later Mayor Frey declared a state of emergency in Minneapolis and a 7 pm-6 am curfew in the city.
Understandably, Nelson also voiced concerns (again) that jurors may avoid a “not guilty” verdict because they are worried about the potential for violence in response.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher opposed the request.
“I understand that it’s not this case, I understand it’s not the same parties, but the problem is the ultimate response sets the stage for the jury to say ‘I’m not going to vote not guilty because I’m concerned about the outcome,'” Nelson said.
Dr. Jonathan Rich
Cardiologist Dr. Jonathan Rich from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago countered the defense that Floyd died from health problems and illegal drugs.
“I believe that Mr. George Floyd’s death was absolutely preventable.”
Rich testified he believed Floyd’s cause of death was cardiopulmonary arrest caused by low oxygen levels. Those oxygen levels, he said as have others before him, were induced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxia that he was subjected to.
“I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a cardiac event and he did not die from an overdose.”
Based on the bystander and another video from the scene, he said there was no evidence that Floyd was having difficulty with his heart until being pinned on the pavement by Chauvin and two other officers.
Rich seemed certain that if this was linked to an ongoing heart condition, Floyd would have immediately become unconscious.
In Floyd’s case, low oxygen sent him into cardiopulmonary arrest “much more gradually and slowly,” he said. He pointed to his speech that became less forceful until his speech became absent and his muscle movements were absent.
Rich minimized Floyd’s heart conditions. Despite seeing coronary artery blockage in Floyd’s heart, the doctor said he saw nothing in the medical records to suggest that played a role in the death.
“I see no evidence to suggest that a fentanyl overdose caused Mr. Floyd’s death,” said Rich who treats patients who have used fentanyl.
He noted that CPR should have been administered when no pulse was detected.
Blackwell wrapped up by asking Rich whether Floyd could have survived his encounter with police if not for his 9 minutes and 29 seconds on restraint on the pavement. “Yes, I believe he would have lived.”
On cross-examination, Nelson shot back and asked whether Floyd would have survived if he had followed police orders and gotten into the squad car upon arrest.
Rich ignored Nelson’s true point here of stressing Floyd’s resistance to cops but did state that his life could have been spared.
During prosecution, Rich had stated that he’d reviewed all of Floyd’s medical records but clarified to Nelson that those records went back only three years.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the killing of George Floyd.
To be continued (this is 1 of 2)
You can read reports from past trial days at Maryam Henein’s article archive HERE.
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