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Chauvin trial: Defense calls first witnesses, expert says Chauvin's use-of-force was 'justified'

Derek Chauvin
Posted at 9:08 AM, Apr 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-13 17:33:31-04

The jury hearing the case against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd heard from several defense witnesses Tuesday. This was the first day of testimony for the defense, after just over two weeks of witnesses called by the prosecution.

WARNING: Video shown during the trial and descriptions of situations may be considered graphic or disturbing at times.

Chauvin is facing second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter charges for the May 25, 2020 death of Floyd. Widely-shared video shot by a bystander outside the Cup Foods store shows Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's neck and back for nearly nine minutes. Witnesses for the prosecution said the maneuver used by Chauvin is not taught to officers during training, and is not safe. The state argues Chauvin's knee and pressure on Floyd's neck and back suffocated him, stopping his heart and brain from a lack of oxygen.

The defense argues Floyd's health conditions and drug use contributed to his death.

During testimony Tuesday, a retired officer and use-of-force trainer for police departments said he believed Chauvin's use-of-force in the situation with Floyd was "justified."

“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified and was acting with objective reasonableness," Barry Brodd said.

Other witnesses called Tuesday included an officer and paramedic who were involved in a stop with Floyd in 2019.

Trial will resume Wednesday morning at 10:30 a.m. ET. Judge Peter Cahill indicated closing arguments could come Monday, April 19.

Court TV will be the only network with cameras in the courtroom and will provide live, gavel-to-gavel coverage.

The entire trial will be on live TV as well as available online at CourtTV.com, and the Court TV app for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android and Apple devices.

Find Court TV's full coverage of MN v. Derek Chauvin here.

UPDATE, 4:30 p.m. ET: Prosecutors cross examined Barry Brodd after a short afternoon break. Brodd is a defense witness who is a retired police officer and long-time use-of-force police trainer.

WARNING: Video shown during the trial and descriptions of situations may be considered graphic or disturbing at times.

Prosecutors played clips from the body worn cameras from the scene on May 25, 2020 and asked Brodd about certain bystanders and officers' reactions.

Brodd said at one point George Floyd showed that he was not being compliant with officers and was still struggling with them.

The prosecutor showed another angle, from another officer's camera, "would you agree ... that Mr. Floyd was not resisting arrest at that moment?" Brodd responded yes.

Brodd also agreed that Floyd was not resisting once paramedics arrived and officers, including the defendant, Derek Chauvin, got off of him.

Under questioning from defense attorney Eric Nelson, Brodd offered his opinion about a moment when the prosecution says Chauvin increased his pressure on Floyd's neck and back.

Brodd said a moment when Chauvin is seen on video lifting his toe off the ground was caused by Floyd moving underneath him. And that as Floyd and Chauvin were moving around, and the level of pressure on Floyd would have adjusted.

Prosecutors presented witnesses that said the moment Chauvin lifted his toe off the ground indicated the former officer was putting more pressure on Floyd's neck.

Court TV will be the only network with cameras in the courtroom and will provide live, gavel-to-gavel coverage.

The entire trial will be on live TV as well as available online at CourtTV.com, and the Court TV app for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android and Apple devices.
Find Court TV's full coverage of MN v. Derek Chauvin here.

UPDATE, 2:15 p.m. ET: After an hour-long lunch break, the court resumed, and the defense called Barry Brodd to the stand. He’s a retired police officer and a long-time use-of-force police trainer. He now works as a consultant on police practices and use-of-force.

Since 2016, Brodd said he has testified in court 10 times. As a consultant, he charges $350 an hour in the courtroom and $275 for case review. Brodd's been paid $11,400 so far in the Chauvin case.

Brodd said he spent about 60 hours reviewing the Chauvin case before testifying on Tuesday. He said he focused his review on videos and use-of-force policies.

Based on his training, his experience in use-of-force matters and the materials provided to him, Brodd said he has formed opinions in the Floyd case. When asked to share those opinions, Brodd said he believes Chauvin was “justified” in how he handled Floyd.

“I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified and was acting with objective reasonableness, following Minneapolis Police Department policy, and current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with Mr. Floyd,” said Brodd.

Use-of-force consultant believes Chauvin was justified in Floyd case

WARNING: Video shown during the trial and descriptions of situations may be considered graphic or disturbing at times.

UPDATE, 12:45 p.m. ET: Officer Nicole Mackenzie was called to the stand. She’s a medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department.

Mackenzie testified about what officers are taught about excited delirium in the police academy. The judge said the testimony was meant to explain why the issue of excited delirium was raised by an officer at the scene.

Mackenzie said excited delirium is a combination of a variety of different medical issues happening at the same time, including psychosis, agitated delirium, hypothermia, and incoherent speech. She said it could be caused by a variety of issues, including drug use. She said people experiencing excited delirium may rapidly go into cardiac arrest.

The defense has raised the concept of excited delirium in the trial as testimony examines whether reasonable force was used on George Floyd.

Last week, a forensic medicine expert named Dr. Bill Smock testified that he believes excited delirium is real, but he said Floyd didn’t meet any of the 10 criteria developed by the America College of Emergency Physicians. He said at least six of the signs are required for a diagnosis.

UPDATE, 9:41 a.m. ET: The defense called Minneapolis Park Police Officer Peter Chang as a witness. He responded to the Cup Foods where other officers were on the scene with George Floyd.

When Chang arrived, he said the officers at the scene asked him to identify Floyd on the computer in his vehicle. He then turned his attention to Floyd's vehicle. The officer testified that the crowd at the scene was "very aggressive," specifically towards the officers.

The court then showed Chang's body camera footage from the scene on May 26, 2020. The clip showed Chang monitoring the two people who were in Floyd's vehicle when police approached them, including Shawanda Hill who testified today.

In the video, Hill can be heard asking why Floyd was being taken to the hospital after the confrontation with police.

UPDATE, 11:30 a.m. ET: The defense called Shawanda Hill to the stand.

Hill said she ran into George Floyd inside Cup Foods, where he offered to give her a ride to her home. While in the car, she said Floyd fell asleep and employees of the store approached the car. At some point, police officers approached both sides of the car and Floyd woke up, according to Hill.

Hill said Floyd seemed “very” startled when an officer pulled out a gun.

Witness Shawanda Hill describes George Floyd before his arrest

UPDATE, 9 a.m. ET: The defense called Michelle Moseng to the stand to also testify for the defense regarding the arrest of George Floyd on May 6, 2019. Moseng is a retired paramedic who worked in Hennepin County for 34 years. She was on the scene during Floyd’s arrest.

Moseng testified that Floyd told her he had been taking opioids about every 20 minutes and he took one when officers approached him. She also took a set of vitals at the scene. Moseng said Floyd told her he was addicted to opioids and testified that he was resistant to going to a hospital.

Moseng testified that Floyd was alert, he obeyed commands, he had an appropriate response to stimulation, his respiratory effort was normal, and he was not in reparatory distress.

The defense is bringing up Floyd's drug use as it attempts tie it to his death, but multiple experts have testified that Floyd died of cardiac arrest caused by low levels of oxygen in his body, not an overdose.

UPDATE, 10:41 a.m. ET: The defense team representing former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin called its first witness, Scott R. Creighton, a retired Minneapolis police officer.

Creighton began testifying about a traffic stop he made on May 6, 2019 involving George Floyd. Body camera footage was then shown of the incident. In the video, armed officers are seen approaching a vehicle, where Floyd was sitting in the passenger seat. He was then arrested.

“This evidence is being admitted solely for the limited purpose of showing the effects the ingestion of opioids may or may not have had on the physical well-being of George Floyd. This evidence is not to be used as evidence of the character of George Floyd,” said Judge Peter Cahill.

Responding to questioning, Creighton said he had his gun drawn as he approached the vehicle on the passenger side and gave commands to Floyd, who was “unresponsive” and “non-compliant.” Creighton said Floyd was nervous and anxious. Creighton said he ended up grabbing the man’s hand sand putting them on the dashboard before he took him away in handcuffs.

Original story is below:

Judge Peter Cahill said on Monday that he believes the defense could wrap up their witness testimony by the end of the week, meaning closing arguments could occur early next week.

Proceedings on Tuesday will come a day after Cahill denied a request from the defense to sequester the jury amid the unrest caused by the fatal police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright. Chauvin's attorney argued that jurors could be influenced by the prospect of what might happen as a result of their verdict in the case.

“There must be a greater threat to our security," Cahill said.

Later on Monday, the state called Philonise Oneil Floyd, the brother of George Floud, to the stand. Philonise Floyd grew emotional as he described his relationship with his brother and viewed photos of them as children.

Also on Monday, the state heard testimony from a cardiologist, who testified that Floyd died of cardiac arrest caused by low levels of oxygen in his body.

“After reviewing all the facts and evidence in the case, I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event and he did not die from a drug overdose,” Dr. Jonathan Rich testified Monday.

Jurors also heard from Seth Wane Stoughton, a use-of-force expert from the University of South Carolina, who called Chauvin’s decision to kneel on Floyd’s neck "unreasonable, excessive and contrary to generally accepted police practices.”

Testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin will continue Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Watch coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial here.

Court TV will be the only network with cameras in the courtroom and will provide live, gavel-to-gavel coverage.

The entire trial will be on live TV as well as available online at CourtTV.com, and the Court TV app for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android and Apple devices.

Find Court TV's full coverage of MN v. Derek Chauvin here.