The jury in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with the murder of George Floyd, heard testimony on Wednesday from several investigators who handled evidence in the case and a national use-of-force expert. Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee into the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in handcuffs, for about nine minutes on May 25, 2020, a scene that ignited global protests against police brutality.
The county medical examiner has ruled Floyd’s death a homicide at the hands of the police. Chauvin’s lawyers have argued Floyd’s death was from a drug overdose, although prosecutors have said medical evidence would contradict that. Here are some of the important moments from the eighth day of testimony on Wednesday:
Stiger told jurors that the handcuffed Floyd posed no immediate threat and was not actively resisting when Chauvin used deadly force on him. “My opinion was that no force was reasonable in that position,” Stiger testified. He said pressure caused by Chauvin’s body weight could have led to asphyxia and death.
Questioned by defense lawyer Eric Nelson, Stiger agreed that a police officer needed to take into account various factors during a fluid situation when considering how much force to use. “It has to be proportional,” Stiger said. “You are constantly reassessing during the time frame.”
Nelson showed Stiger photographs taken at different times of the incident and asked whether Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s shoulder blades rather than his neck. “It appears to be more above the shoulder blades than on the shoulder blades,” Stiger testified.
JAMES REYERSON, SENIOR SPECIAL AGENT, MINNESOTA BUREAU OF CRIMINAL APPREHENSION Prosecutors called Reyerson, an expert on the use of force and the lead investigator in the case.
Reyerson testified that six months after the incident, Chauvin’s lawyers found what was later determined to be pills that had Floyd’s DNA on them in the police squad car into which officers tried to put Floyd. Chauvin’s defense has said the pills contained methamphetamine and fentanyl. Reyerson agreed with Nelson that it sounded on one video of the incident as if Floyd said he “ate too many drugs.” But during further questioning from the prosecution, Reyerson testified that it sounded as if Floyd said: “I ain’t do no drugs.”
MCKENZIE ANDERSON, MINNESOTA BUREAU OF CRIMINAL APPREHENSION FORENSIC SCIENTIST Anderson told the jury that she found suboxone, which is used to suppress cravings for opioid, in Floyd’s Mercedes Benz.
When she initially processed the police squad car, Anderson said her focus was on blood in the vehicle. She noticed a pill on the floor, but did not attribute any forensic significance to it at the time. Anderson said she was instructed to re-examine the Mercedes Benz in December 2020 when she photographed and collected two white pills.
A month later, she re-examined the squad car and collected the same pill she had seen when she initially inspected the vehicle, as well as other pieces of pills. DNA testing on those pills along with blood found in the vehicle matched Floyd, she testified. BREAHNA GILES, MINNESOTA BUREAU OF CRIMINAL APPREHENSION FORENSIC SCIENTIST
Giles testified for the prosecution that she tested two of the pills and determined they contained methamphetamine and fentanyl. She also said that a pipe found in the Mercedes Benz vehicle contained THC, the psychoactive compound of cannabis. SUSAN NEITH, FORENSIC CHEMIST AT NMS LABS IN PENNSYLVANIA
Neith, from NMS, a forensic toxicology and criminology laboratory, was the last witness to take the stand for the prosecution on Wednesday. She told the jury that she tested three pills collected from the squad car and Floyd’s Mercedes Benz and concluded that they contained methamphetamine and fentanyl. (Compiled by Brendan O’Brien in Chicago; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Peter Cooney)