Takeaways From Day 8 of the Derek Chauvin Trial

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Takeaways From Day 8 of the Derek Chauvin Trial

A use-of-force expert called by prosecutors testified on Wednesday that Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, used

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A use-of-force expert called by prosecutors testified on Wednesday that Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with murdering George Floyd, used “deadly force” when it was appropriate to use none.

The expert, Sgt. Jody Stiger, who works with the Los Angeles Police Department Inspector General’s Office, also said that Mr. Chauvin put Mr. Floyd at risk of positional asphyxia, or a deprivation of oxygen. His testimony could corroborate one of the prosecution’s primary assertions: That Mr. Floyd died from asphyxia because Mr. Chauvin knelt on him for more than nine minutes.

Senior Special Agent James D. Reyerson of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, whose agency investigates police use of force, told jurors about the bureau’s investigation into Mr. Floyd’s death, and said that Mr. Chauvin shouted “I ain’t do no drugs,” while he was handcuffed. Here are the highlights from Wednesday.

  • Sergeant Stiger testified that “no force should have been used” once Mr. Floyd was subdued, handcuffed and facedown on the pavement. “He was in the prone position, he was handcuffed, he was not attempting to resist, he was not attempting to assault the officers — kick, punch, or anything of that nature,” Sergeant Stiger said. The prosecution has argued that Mr. Chauvin’s force continued for far longer than necessary; in all, Mr. Chauvin pinned Mr. Floyd with his knee for about nine and a half minutes.

  • Responding to questions from the defense, Sergeant Stiger said that Mr. Floyd resisted arrest when the responding officers tried to put him in the back of a squad car. In that moment, Mr. Chauvin would have been justified in using a Taser, Sergeant Stiger said. The defense has suggested that people who do not appear to be dangerous to officers can quickly pose a threat. The line of questioning appeared to be an attempt to establish that Mr. Floyd had been combative at first, and therefore could have become so once again. Sergeant Stiger pushed back on the argument, saying that officers should use force that is necessary for what suspects are doing in the moment, not what they might do later.

  • Asked to interpret footage from a police body camera, Mr. Reyerson initially said Mr. Floyd appeared to say, “I ate too many drugs.” But in later testimony, Mr Reyerson changed his assessment and said that Mr. Floyd had actually shouted, “I ain’t do no drugs.” His revised judgment could chip away at Mr. Chauvin’s defense, which has tried to argue that Mr. Floyd died from complications of drug use, not the actions of Mr. Chauvin. A toxicology report found methamphetamine and fentanyl in Mr. Floyd’s system. Sergeant Stiger told the jury that he could not make out what Mr. Floyd said in that moment.

  • Much of Wednesday’s proceedings focused on Mr. Floyd’s drug use. The jury heard testimony from McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who processed the squad car that Mr. Floyd was briefly placed in on the night he died. An initial processing found no drugs in the vehicle, but during a second search requested by Mr. Chauvin’s defense team in January, the team discovered fragments of pills. Judge Peter Cahill has called the oversight “mind-boggling.” Ms. Anderson said she was not looking for pills during the initial search, and simply passed over them. In testing the fragments, Ms. Anderson said a lab found D.N.A. that matched Mr. Floyd’s.

  • Breahna Giles, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified that some of the pills recovered at the scene were tested and found to contain methamphetamine and fentanyl. The pills were marked with letters and numbers that seemed to indicate that they were pharmaceutical-grade Acetaminophen and Oxycodone, though illicit pills are sometimes marked by drug dealers to give the false impression that they came from a pharmacy.

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