Derek Chauvin trial: Jury finds the former officer guilty

By: Alyssa Wilson

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began on Monday, March 29. 

Chauvin was initially charged with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the death of George Floyd. The third-degree murder charge was reinstated during the start of the jury selection process. 

RELATED: Derek Chauvin trial: Full jury selected, opening arguments set for March 29

While jurors were being selected, the city of Minneapolis reached a $27 million settlement with Floyd’s family. 

After the announcement, Chauvin’s lawyers requested that the trial be moved or delayed. 

RELATED: George Floyd: Derek Chauvin’s lawyers ask for trial delay, cites $27M settlement

Tuesday, April 20

A verdict has been reached in the trial. It will be delivered between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m.

He faces the possible charges of second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder.

The jurors found Chauvin guilty of second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder, Judge Peter Cahill announced.

RELATED: Derek Chauvin verdict: Jury finds the former officer guilty on all counts

Monday, April 19

Court began with Judge Peter Cahill explaining to jurors what their duty is after closing arguments.

After the arguments are heard, the jury will be sequestered so they can deliberate.

According to the Star Tribune, Minneapolis Public Schools will switch to remote learning this week as school and police officials prepare for a verdict in the trial.

BNC Chief Legal Expert Dr. Laura McNeal said Cahill has implemented changes as he anticipates civil unrest.

Closing arguments began with Steve Schleicher, an attorney with the State of Minnesota, reiterating the state’s case.

He asked for help with his very last breath,” the prosecution said. The Minneapolis Police Department’s motto is “To Protect with Courage, To Serve with Compassion!” and the prosecution said Chauvin did not show compassion to George Floyd as he died.
“What George Floyd needed was some oxygen. He needed to breathe,” Schleicher said. He also reiterated that Chauvin heard Floyd beg for more than nine minutes.
Calling Chauvin’s actions “an assault,” the prosecution reiterated to the jury that it took place for more than nine minutes. “What the defendant did to George Floyd killed him,” Schleicher said.
To combat bias for those on the jury who may support the police, Schleicher said the trial is against Chauvin and not against the police.

Following the prosecution’s closing arguments, the defense wrapped its case.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, began closing arguments by urging jurors to be “intellectually honest” about the evidence presented to them.

If the state is “missing any one single element, it’s a not guilty verdict,” Nelson stated.

The defense also focused on different officers’ bodycam footage to highlight that Floyd was overpowering several officers, how law enforcement viewed the incident, and that Chauvin was reasonable in the force he used.

“A reasonable officer would understand this situation. That Mr. Floyd was able to overcome the efforts of three police officers while handcuffed, with his legs and his body strength,” Nelson added.

The defense argued that Floyd’s death resulted from a combination of Floyd’s intoxication, poor health, complications from law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.

The fate of the verdict is now in the hands of the jurors.

After closing arguments, Judge Cahill reacted to comments made by Congresswoman Maxine Waters to protesters telling them to “stay on the street” and “get more active.”

Cahill and Chauvin’s lawyer said her comments interfered with the “sanctity of the jury process” and that it could affect the outcome in the trial, the New York Times reported.

Friday, April 16

Trial is not in session. It will resume Monday for closing arguments.

Thursday, April 15

Day 14 resumed Thursday.

At the opening, Derek Chauvin decided to use his rights under the Fifth Amendment and he will not testify in the trial.

The prosecution opened with a request to submit new evidence in the case.

On Wednesday, defense witness Dr. Fowler, testified that carbon monoxide played a role in Floyd’s death.

The new evidence the prosecution is aiming to present is the carboxyhemoglobin readings that they say would show carbon monoxide did not play a part in Floyd’s death.

Chauvin’s lawyer argued that the issue of carbon monoxide was raised back in February and the state had enough notice to test Floyd’s blood and submit evidence prior to day 14.

Pretrial discussions ended and the jury will be brought in to hear the defense rest its case and the prosecution present Dr. Tobin as a rebuttal witness.

After his brief testimony, the state finished its case.

Closing arguments will begin Monday.

Wednesday, April 14 

As the trial resumed Wednesday, the defense filed a motion for acquittal.

Judge Peter Cahill denied the motion and the trial will continue.

Morries Hall, who was with Floyd on the day of his death, was present in court. His lawyer said that he could not answer any questions presented by the defense because they could be incriminating.

Hall testified before Judge Cahill and said he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right and not answer questions.

The first witness called to the stand was David Richard Fowler, a retired forensic pathologist, who started his career in 1986.

He is being paid for his testimony.

Fowler testified that Floyd suffered from sudden cardiac arrhythmia. He also said that Floyd’s face being near the car’s exhaust pipe played a role.

Citing multiple factors including the exhaust pipe, Floyd’s medical conditions and fentanyl, Fowler said, “The heart exhausted its reserves of metabolic supply and went into arrhythmia and stopped pumping blood.”

Although Fowler’s testimony is that carbon monoxide poisoning from the exhaust pipe was a factor, Floyd’s blood was never tested for carbon monoxide and no evidence was admitted supporting the claim, NBC News reported.

During cross-examination, Fowler was challenged on his claims and the prosecution was able to get him to admit that he did not know if the squad car was running while Floyd’s face was near the exhaust pipe.

Tuesday, April 13

Day 12 resumed Tuesday and Chauvin’s legal team began making its case.

The first witness called to the stand was retired Minneapolis Police Officer Scott Creighton.

He testified about the arrest of George Floyd on May 6, 2019. According to CNN, Judge Cahill informed jurors that the testimony was “limited” and solely for the purpose of showing the effects ingesting opioids may or may not have had on Floyd.

Body-camera footage from the incident was shown to the jurors and during cross-examination, Creighton testified that he approached Floyd with his gun drawn, told him to put his hands on the dashboard and forcibly put them there.

Michelle Moseng, a retired paramedic who worked for the Hennepin County EMS, was the second witness called by the defense.

She treated George Floyd after the May 2019 arrest. She testified that on that day, Floyd told her he took an opioid every 20 minutes and another before the officer approached him.

During cross-examination by the prosecution, she testified that Floyd said he was addicted to opioids and he did not want to go to the hospital. Floyd, who was alert and walking, did not have any medical emergencies during the May 2019 arrest.

The third witness called to the stand was George Floyd’s friend Shawanda Hill. She was with Floyd on the day he died.

She testified that she ran into him at Cup Foods and he offered to give her a ride home.

According to her testimony in court, Floyd fell asleep while they were in sitting in the car and when she woke him up and he saw police, he begged for officers not to shoot or kill him.

After Hill, Minneapolis Park Police Officer Peter Chang was called to testify.

Chang responded to the scene outside of Cup Foods on May 25, 2020.

Video from his body camera was shown in court. It showed Chang across the street from Cup Foods questioning Shawanda Hill and the car’s other occupant.

During cross-examination, Chang testified that the four officers who detained Floyd did not call for backup.

After a brief recess, Officer Nicole Mackenzie returned to the stand. She originally testified on April 6.

Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, questioned Mackenzie on training officers received in the academy.

The term “excited delirium” was questioned and discussed in court in a “limited purpose” regarding Officer Thomas Lane who recently attended the academy and used the phrase.

After a brief cross-examination, Mackenzie was dismissed and the jury took a break for lunch.

When the trial resumed, the defense called Barry Brodd, a use-of-force expert, to the stand.

Brodd is a former police officer who runs a consulting firm and he has been paid $11,400 for his testimony, CNN reported.

He testified that Derek Chauvin’s actions were “justified” and that they did not qualify as a use of deadly force.

Throughout the trial, Chauvin’s defense team has tried to indicate that the former officer was distracted by the bystanders on the scene.

During cross-examination, the prosecution challenged Brodd on his idea that use of force was not used because Floyd was not in pain by showing videos of Floyd verbalizing that he was in pain.

Brodd maintained his argument that George Floyd was resisting arrest while handcuffed on the ground and the prosecution continued to challenge him on that theory.

The jurors were dismissed after Brodd’s testimony.

The trial will resume on Wednesday morning.

Monday, April 12

Day 11 of the trial resumed Monday.

The prosecution is set to wrap up its case this week and then the defense will call its witnesses to testify.

Before the jurors were brought into the courtroom, Chauvin’s legal team filed a motion asking the jurors to be sequestered after the death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Minnesota on Sunday night.

Judge Cahill denied the request.

Jonathon Rich, a cardiologist, was the first witness called to the stand.

According to USA Today, Rich, who is being paid by the prosecution for his testimony, said he has published more than 200 medical papers on cardiac subjects.

He acknowledged Floyd’s medical problems of high blood pressure, anxiety and a struggle with substance abuse, but said there was no evidence to show Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose.

Rich also testified that Floyd’s death was “absolutely preventable,” and he thinks Floyd would be alive if officers didn’t restrain him the way they did.

Seth Stoughton, a law professor and former police officer was called to the stand as a use-of-force expert.

He testified that Floyd did not appear to have the intention to assault the officers and that “no reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force,” the New York Times reported.

Floyd’s younger brother Philonise also made an emotional testimony on his brother’s character. The 39-year-old told the jury how his brother was the leader of the household and described him as a “big momma’s boy.”

After the testimony, Judge Peter Cahill told jurors that the prosecution has finished their arguments and the trial could be over by next Monday.

Friday, April 9

Day 10 of the trial resumed Friday.

The first person called to the stand by the prosecution was forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas.

She testified that George Floyd died from low oxygen.

Dr. Thomas is an expert in forensic pathology with decades of experience in the field.

She said she agreed with the medical examiner’s finding that Floyd’s death was a homicide, the New York Times reported.

“Mr. Floyd was in a position, because of the subdual, restraint and compression, where he was unable to get enough oxygen in to maintain his body functions,” Dr. Thomas said.

For the first time since the trial began, someone came to sit in support of Derek Chauvin.

Photos of Floyd’s autopsy were shown to the jury, but they were not shown publicly due to the graphic nature, NBC News reported.

BNC Chief Legal Correspondent Dr. Laura McNeal said the person was a woman who matched the description of Chauvin’s estranged wife, but it has not been confirmed if it was her who was present.

Dr. Andrew Baker, the medical examiner for Hennepin County, was also called to the stand.

He performed the autopsy on George Floyd after his death.

While the defense argued that Floyd’s death was caused by a drug overdose and heart disease, the medical examiner rules it was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”

When Chauvin’s team asked Baker if drugs and heart disease played a part in his death, Baker said no.

“Mr. Floyd’s use of fentanyl did not cause the subdual or neck restraint, his heart disease did not cause the subdual or the neck restraint.”

Citing heart disease as a “significant condition” in his ruling, Baker said the encounter with police was just too much for Floyd.

“In my opinion, the law enforcement subdual, restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions,” he said.

Court will resume on Monday morning.

Thursday, April 8

Day nine of the trial resumed Thursday.

BNC Legal Correspondent Candace Kelley joined Start Your Day with Sharon Reed and Mike Hill to discuss how Reyerson’s conflicting testimony on Wednesday will impact the jury.

Dr. Martin Tobin, a physician with expertise in pulmonary and critical care medicine, was called to the stand.

He said, “Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen.”

Dr. Tobin testified that the way officers pressed the handcuffs into Floyd’s back and his body pressed against the street were contributing factors, according to CNN.

BNC Chief Legal Correspondent Dr. Laura McNeal said Tobin “was a gift to the prosecution.”

The next witness called to the stand was Daniel Isenschmid, a forensic toxicologist who analyzed Floyd’s hospital blood and urine collected from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s autopsy.

According to USA Today, he found fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s blood, but the amount of meth was consistent with a prescribed dose.

After Isenschmid, Dr. Bill Smock was called to the stand. He was called by the prosecution as an expert on drug tolerance.

He testified that Floyd died from positional asphyxia and not a fentanyl overdose.

Court will resume Friday morning.

Wednesday, April 7 

Day eight of the trial resumed Wednesday with continued testimony from Jody Stiger.

Jody Stiger being questioned by Chauvin’s legal team.

As a use-of-force expert called by the prosecution, Stiger was questioned intensely by Chauvin’s legal team.

BNC host Yodit Tewolde said Stiger’s testimony didn’t help the prosecution.

The next witness called to testify was James Reyerson, a senior special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, CNN reported.

Reyerson was shown body cam and bystander footage of Chauvin on top of Floyd.

Reyerson testified that Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck while the defense has tried to establish that Chauvin’s knee was on other parts of Floyd’s upper body, NBC News reported.

Chauvin’s legal team showed a video alleging Floyd said “I ate too many drugs.”

Stiger said he could not understand what was being said in the audio. Reyerson first said he heard Floyd say “I ate too many drugs,” but when played a longer clip by the prosecution he said he heard Floyd say “I ain’t do any drugs.”

BNC Chief Legal Correspondent Dr. Laura McNeal said this change will hurt his credibility.

The next witness called to the stand was McKenzie Anderson who is a forensic scientist for the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.

She was the agent in charge of searching Floyd’s car and a police car taken into evidence on May 26, 2020.

After her testimony, the state called Breahna Giles, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, to the stand.

She tested items related to the investigation including pills found in the car Floyd was driving and the back of a squad car, NBC News reported.

After Giles, Susan Neith, a forensic chemist at NMS Labs was called to testify.

She tested and analyzed the drugs found on the scene.

After Neith’s testimony, court wrapped for the day.

Tuesday, April 6

Day seven of the Derek Chauvin trial resumed Tuesday.

Judge Peter Cahill heard a motion from Adrienne Cousins, the public defender representing Morries Hall.

Hall was an acquaintance of Floyd’s who sought to avoid taking the stand as a witness, Courthouse News reported.

Hall was in the car with Floyd on the day of his death in May 2020.

Chauvin’s lawyers want to ask Hall why he fled the state and about Floyd’s drug use on the day he died.

Hall’s attorney said he would use his Fifth Amendment right and not testify about Floyd’s drug use and their relationship.

After the discussion, the jury was invited in and testimonies began.

Sergent Ker Yang with the Minneapolis Police Department was the first person to testify.

According to CNN, Yang is a crisis intervention training coordinator who has been with the department for about 24 years.

He defined a crisis as “any event, situation that is beyond a person’s coping mechanism,”

Yang testified that if a person who has been arrested needs medical attention then it would be an “immediate goal.”

“If somebody is needing attention, then we give them medical attention,” he said.

Minneapolis Police Lieutenant Johnny Mercil was the next person to take the stand.

He serves the department as a use-of-force instructor and testified that he provides training on Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

“It’s a form of martial art that focuses on leverage and body control, deemphasizes strikes and true Brazilian jiu-jitsu, there aren’t strikes – there’s no punching and kicking – it is using body weight. Kind of like wrestling and joint lock manipulation, neck restraints. Things that, you know, pain compliance as well as physical body control to get people to comply,” Mercil said.

Mercil also said Chauvin’s use of his knee on Floyd’s neck would not be authorized and that officers are trained to use body weight to pin a suspect’s shoulder and not their neck.

The third witness called by the state was Minneapolis Police Officer Nicole Mackenzie. She provides medical training to officers.

Derek Chauvin’s legal team continued their plan to convince the jury that Floyd died as a result of the drugs in his system and that Chauvin was distracted by the bystanders on scene.

Jody Stiger, a sergeant with the Los Angeles Police Department, was the next witness called by the prosecution.

Stiger was called to testify as an outside expert on police training and use of force, NBC News reported.

He said he has trained thousands of officers in a course he developed on de-escalation, firearms manipulation, basic control tactics and arrest-control techniques.

Stiger will continue his testimony on Wednesday morning.

Monday, April 5

Day six of the trial resumes Monday morning in the Hennepin County Courthouse.

Dr. Bradford Lagenfeld was the first person to take the stand.

He is the doctor who examined Mr. Floyd and pronounced him dead.

Dr. Lagenfeld, the doctor who pronounced George Floyd dead, was the first person to take the stand on Monday, April 5.

The second person called to testify was Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo.

Arradondo, the city’s first Black police chief, said Chauvin’s behavior was not consistent with the city’s police training.

Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo being questioned by Eric Nelson in the Derek Chauvin trial.

According to CNN, Arradondo said Chauvin should have stopped restraining Floyd when he was motionless.

“But once there was no longer any resistance and clearly when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that in no way shape or form is anything that is by policy. It is not part of our training, and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.”

Minneapolis Police Officer Katie Blackwell was the third person called to testify before the jury.

Inspector Katie Blackwell with the Minneapolis Police Department testified on day six of the Derek Chauvin trial.

Friday, April 2

The fifth day of the trial is set to begin Friday morning and will be a half-day of testimony.

According to CNN, Judge Peter Cahill said the trial is ahead of schedule and legal matters pertaining to the case will be addressed once the jury leaves.

Jon Edwards, a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department, took the stand.

Edwards was called to the location outside of the Cup Foods store by Sgt. David Pleoger who testified on Thursday.

Edward testified that when he arrived only officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were there. Their body cameras were not on and he instructed the pair to turn them on.

Chauvin’s legal team did not cross-examine Edwards.

The next witness called to the stand was Minneapolis Police Lt. Richard Zimmerman.

The officer, with more than 30 years of police experience, said he’s never been trained to kneel on a suspect’s neck.

Lt. Zimmerman being questioned by Derek Chauvin’s legal team.

Zimmerman testified that he did not think the bystanders on scene were a threat which the defense has tried to use as justification for Chauvin’s actions.

“It doesn’t matter. The crowd. As long as they’re not attacking you,” Zimmerman said.

After his testimony, day five of the trial was dismissed for Easter weekend. It will resume on Monday morning.

Thursday, April 1 

Day four of the trial began on Thursday with Courtney Ross, George Floyd’s girlfriend, taking the stand.

Ross became emotional on the stand after being asked how she met Floyd in 2017.

George Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney Ross, testified on day four in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

The two met while Floyd worked as security for the Salvation Army Harbor Light shelter where Ross was meeting her son’s father, the Star Tribune reported.

The prosecution went on to question Ross about her and Floyd’s opioid addiction, which she says was sparked by chronic pain.

The next witness to take the stand was Seth Bravidner who was one of the EMTs who responded on scene.

He testified that officers remained on top of Floyd even after paramedics arrived to render medical aid.

Bravinder said he noticed blood near Floyd’s mouth, but his focus was on resuscitating Floyd who had no heartbeat when he was placed in the ambulance.

A second paramedic, Derek Smith, said he thought Floyd was dead when he arrived on scene and he did not feel Floyd’s pulse.

The next person to take the stand was Jeremy Norton, a caption with the Minneapolis Fire Department, NBC News reported.

After Norton, Sgt. David Pleoger, a retired Minneapolis police sergeant, took the stand.

He was supervising Chauvin and the other officers on the day of Floyd’s death.

While being questioned by the protection, he said that if a person is handcuffed, they must be rolled on their side so they don’t get deprived of oxygen, per police policy.

Wednesday, March 31

Day three of the trial is set to begin Wednesday with witness testimonies.

Christopher Martin, a former cashier at Cup Foods, took the stand first.

The 19-year-old testified about what he witnessed and the alleged counterfeit $20 bill given by Floyd was discussed.

BNC Legal Correspondent Dr. Laura McNeal said the defense was attempting to justify Chauvin’s actions by panting the community out to be violent and full of crime.

The teen said he felt guilty and that the situation could have been avoided if he didn’t take the bill.

Charles, McMillian, a man who witnessed the officers detain Floyd, said he told Floyd to comply with police as they were trying to get him into the police car, CNN reported.

While on the stand watching a video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, McMillian broke down in tears.

Body-camera footage from the day was seen in court for the first time.

In it, you can hear Chauvin say “We got to control this guy because he’s a sizable guy, and it looks like he is probably on something,”

The final witness for the day was Lt. James Rugel of the Minneapolis Police Department. According to KSTP-TV, Rugel has worked for the department for over 30 years and he manages the tech equipment.

The jury was dismissed just after 4:30 p.m. EST.

Tuesday, March 30

Day two of the trial is set to begin Tuesday morning.

The first day concluded after hours of opening arguments and witness testimony.

BNC Legal Correspondent Candace Kelley joined Start Your Day with Sharon Reed and Mike Hill to discuss the key takeaways from day one.

Tuesday’s witnesses testified to what they saw play out outside of the Cup Foods store where Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck.

Donald Williams II, a mixed martial artist, was one of the people outside of the store who witnessed what happened to George Floyd.

According to NBC News, he is the second witness to testify that he called the police on the police.

Chauvin’s legal team continued with the theme of placing some blame on bystanders who took video and surrounded police during the incident.

The next witness the teenager who recorded the video of Floyd’s death that went viral. She was emotional as she testified about what she witnessed.

Several of the next witnesses were not shown on camera because of their age, including a 9-year-old.

BNC Chief Legal Correspondent Dr. Laura McNeal is in Minneapolis covering the trial. She spoke to the Floyd family attorney, Ben Crump, about the significance of the trial.

Crump said the death of Floyd was a “modern-day lynching” and that the family is searching for civil, criminal and legislative justice.

Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter, also testified.

“I had already assessed that he had an altered level of consciousness,” she said. “What I needed to know was whether or not he had a pulse anymore.”

Hansen told the court that she felt that she could have saved Floyd’s life if the officers would have allowed her to give him medical assistance, which they refused.

An emotional Hansen said not being able to help Floyd left her “totally distressed” and frustrated.

Monday, March 29

Opening arguments are set to begin inside the Hennepin County courthouse. 

BNC Legal Correspondent Candace Kelley joined Start Your Day with Sharon Reed and Mike Hill to discuss what can be expected. 

Kelley said the theme the lawyers use will be very important. 

George Floyd’s family, their attorney Ben Crump and Reverend Al Sharpton held a pretrial press conference.

“Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how America has come on its quest for equality and justice for all,” Crump said.

At the end of the press conference, participants kneeled for 8 minutes and 46 seconds to signify how long Chauvin is accused of kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

George Floyd’s brothers spoke about how the video still impacts them.

During the prosecution’s opening argument, attorney Jerry Blackwell spoke about the people who witnessed George Floyd’s death and the viral video of George Floyd’s death was shown to jurors as evidence.

The prosecution’s witnesses include a first responder who tried to stop Chauvin, experts in police training and people who witnessed Floyd’s death.

Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s attorney, began his opening arguments saying there are two sides to every story and that it will come down to the evidence in the case. He urged the jurors to let “common sense” guide them.

Nelson said bodycam footage from the officers involved will be shown during court proceedings.

After a quick break, testimony from witnesses began.

BNC Chief Legal Correspondent Dr. Laura McNeal spoke to BNC host Charles Blow about the significance of the trial for Black America.

The witnesses that testified were Minneapolis 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry who testified she was worried when her monitors showed the interaction with Chauvin and the other officers. According to NPR, she told the court she thought the screen was frozen at first, but then she learned that was not the case.

 

The second witness, Alisha Oyler, was a cashier at a store across the street and she recorded seven different videos. She said she did not see Floyd resisting arrest. She also said she began filming because of the police. “…they’re always messing with people. And it’s wrong and it’s not right,” she said.

 

The final witness was a martial arts-trained fighter, Donald Williams, who was standing near the scene of the crime. Williams said he told Chauvin his actions were a “blood choke” and he described the moments Floyd gasped for air and begged for his life.

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