MINNEAPOLIS — The prosecution rested it case Tuesday and the defense began calling its witnesses to the stand in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged in George Floyd’s death.
A former police officer and a retired Hennepin County paramedic were the first two witnesses for the defense Tuesday morning, who spoke about Floyd’s drug-related arrest in 2019 in Minneapolis.
As court wrapped up Monday, Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill told jurors “we’re getting close to the end” of the trial. He said he expects the defense to finish its evidence by the end of the week, with closing arguments expected Monday.
That’s when the jury would be sequestered. “So, pack a bag,” he told them.
Where the trial stands: Over the course of 11 days, prosecutors called 38 witnesses to the stand and played dozens of bystander, surveillance and police body-cam videos in a bid to prove Floyd died due to Chauvin’s knee on his neck for more than nine minutes.
The defense, meanwhile, argues Floyd’s hypertensive heart disease and ingestion of meth and fentanyl, together with the struggle with police, led him to suffer from heart strain and ultimately die. But prosecutors headed-off those defense arguments by openly discussing Floyd’s health issues and the drugs present in his system and the car he was in that day.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death in police custody on May 25, 2020.
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- Shawanda Hill testified Tuesday about what she observed about George Floyd’s physical condition before the police struggle last May.
- The first two witnesses called by the defense were Michelle Moseng, a retired Hennepin County paramedic, and Scott Creighton, a former police officer, who both spoke about Floyd’s drug-related arrest in 2019 in Minneapolis.
- Tuesday morning, Judge Cahill allowed the defense to introduce limited video taken by a Minneapolis Park Police officer but he ordered part of the video to be deleted or obscured that showed information about Floyd that popped up on the screen when the officer ran a computer check on his name.
- About 40 people were arrested Monday night in Brooklyn Center, about 10 miles north of Minneapolis, after a second night of protests over the fatal police shooting of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop.
Retired paramedic testifies about Floyd’s drug use in 2019 arrest
Michelle Moseng, a retired Hennepin County Medical Center paramedic, testified that she spoke to Floyd after he was taken into custody in a 2019 drug-related arrest. Her testimony is being introduced to show the effect that drug use may or may not have had on George Floyd.
“It was quite hard to assess him. He was confused,” Moseng said of the 2019 arrest. She said Floyd told her he’d taken multiple opioid-based pills every 20 minutes and then another pill as former police officer Scott Creighton and other officers apprehended him. She added that Floyd told her he “was addicted.”
Moseng said she took Floyd’s vital signs; defense attorney Eric Nelson showed her a copy of her records from time to refresh her memory. His blood pressure was 216 over 160.
Based on that reading of high blood pressure and other medical issues, she said he needed to go to the hospital. It took some time to convince Floyd to go to the hospital, Moseng testified.
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge questions led Moseng to agree that while Floyd’s blood pressure had been high, all his other vital signs were normal.
The first witness for the defense on Tuesday was retired Minneapolis police officer Scott Creighton who testified so the defense could show a prior police stop of a car in which Floyd was a passenger.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson introduced video from Creighton’s body camera that showed Floyd in 2019 resisting Creighton’s commands to show his hands and keep them on the dashboard. Floyd repeatedly asked police officers not to shoot or beat him up, the video showed.
Creighton and other officers ultimately got Floyd out of the car and handcuffed him. Responding to cross-examination questions by prosecutor Erin Eldridge, Creighton said Floyd seemed incoherent.
Jurors have repeatedly heard George Floyd’s last words and seen images of him dying on a Minneapolis street. But on Monday, they got a different picture of him: Family photos taken throughout his life, narrated by the memories of his younger brother, Philonise.
A baby nestled on his mother’s chest. A teen leaning over a textbook. A basketball player on the South Florida Community College basketball team. A father holding up his daughter.
Philonise Floyd, 39, told jurors stories about growing up with his “big brother” as prosecutors showed the old photos. He choked up seeing the image of George – nicknamed “Perry” after his father – and his mother. “I miss both of them,” he said.
He testified as a “spark of life” witness to give jurors a better sense of who George was. A 1985 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling allows prosecutors to humanize deceased subjects. “The victim was not just bones and sinews covered with flesh, but was imbued with the spark of life,” the court said. Read more about his testimony here.
Judge won’t sequester jury amid Brooklyn Center protests, Minneapolis curfew
Protests erupted Sunday night in Brooklyn Center, about 10 miles north of Minneapolis, after Daunte Wright, 20, was shot and killed by police during a traffic stop. The city of Minneapolis declared a state of emergency and a 7 p.m. CDT curfew in response to the protests.
One juror in the Chauvin trial lives in the city, and others have “connections” to the area, defense attorney Eric Nelson said Monday morning, arguing the unrest could bias the jury’s decision in Chauvin’s case.
Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill denied the motion. “This is a totally different case,” he said, adding, “That’s a separate issue, and (the jury) should treat it as such. It’d be a different story if it was civil unrest following a different verdict.”