Chauvin trial closing arguments may start Monday
Judge Cahill has revealed that closing arguments in Chauvin’s trial might begin Monday.
This revelation has emerged after Nelson unsuccessfully requested that Cahill sequester jurors. Nelson has asked for them to be sequestered because of the fatal police shooting of a Black man in a Minneapolis suburb Sunday.
The death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, sparked clashes between protesters and police that continued late into the night.
“As a result of that, there was some fairly extensive civil unrest that occurred,” Nelson has said, noting that “at least one juror” resides there.
“Given that this is obviously a high-profile case, this is a case that evokes a lot of emotion for a lot of people, ultimately your honor, the question becomes: will the jury be confident to make a decision regardless of the potential outcome of the decision?”
Cahill has refused, pointing out that Chauvin’s trial and this shooting are different cases, and then said: “We’ll sequester them on Monday when we’re doing closings.”
The jury has just returned and prosecutors have called their first witness, Dr Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist.
Prosecutors and Chauvin’s defense lawyers have just squared off over an upcoming state witness: University of South Carolina professor Seth Stoughton, an expert on use-of-force standards.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, has asked to exclude Stoughton’s testimony, saying it was “cumulative”; he has argued that it’s more of the same information, considering that so many Minneaoplis police officers have already testified about this.
Prosecutors say that Stoughton, an academic, will testify about the national standards for use-of-force, not departmental policies. Judge Peter Cahill has decided that Stoughton can testify, but that his statements must be limited to national use-of-force standards.
Cahill has also decided that Stoughton cannot weigh in on his interpretation of whether Floyd was recorded saying he “ate too many drugs” during his arrest, as the defense contends, or whether Floyd said “I ain’t do no drugs”, as the prosecution maintains.
“The video is what it is,” Cahill says. “The jury can listen to it. They can make up their own mind.”
Cahill also says that he’s going to put Morries Hall, who was with Floyd at the time of the arrest, on the stand Tuesday, to see whether Hall invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. If Hall does invoke his Fifth Amendment interest, it could mean that he doesn’t answer any questions.
The jury has not been brought in yet as both sides are still discussing witness issues.
Good morning, everyone. Welcome to the Guardian’s ongoing coverage of the Derek Chauvin trial. The witness testimony against Chauvin is scheduled to resume after 9 am CT this morning in Minneapolis. Chauvin’s trial is entering its 11th day of witness testimony.
These proceedings are taking place against the backdrop of another Minneapolis-area police killing – which has heightened tensions in a community that’s already on edge about the Chauvin trial outcome.
Police in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, fatally shot a 20-year-old man during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon. The death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright prompted confrontations between hundreds of protesters and police. Officers donned riot gear and deployed teargas and flash bangs, as well as other devices, at the protesters.
Chauvin, a white onetime officer with the Minneapolis police department, faces charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, in the death of George Floyd during his May 2020 arrest. Floyd, who is Black, died after Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Chauvin has entered a not guilty plea to the charges.
Friday marked the second day that prosecutors elicited extensive testimony about Floyd’s cause of death, a new phase in their case. The prosecution’s witnesses have now repeatedly said that Floyd died from a lack of oxygen – not drugs or underlying heart illness, as the defense argued.
Here are some of the main takeaways from Friday’s proceedings:
- Dr Andrew Baker, chief medical examiner for Hennepin county, who conducted the only autopsy of Floyd, was firm in his finding that the cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression”, insisting: “That was my top line then [ it’s] “my top line now”.
- It makes sense that a medical examiner would stand by his cause of death determination, but Baker’s insistence was key for prosecutors. One possibly problematic issue for the prosecution was that Baker’s cause of death determination stood at odds with their position that Floyd died from “asphyxia” – which was repeatedly backed up by expert witness testimony. Following Baker’s testimony, however, it seemed like this inconsistency might be a semantic issue. Baker made clear that he thought Floyd died due to his encounter with officers, saying “In my opinion, the law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression was just more than Mr Floyd could take, by virtue of those heart conditions.”
- Dr Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, was also called to testify as an expert witness for the prosecution. Thomas was adamant in stating that Floyd did not die because of heart problems or drug use. “There’s no evidence to suggest that he would have died that night, except for the interactions with law enforcement.” She also stated: “The activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr Floyd’s death, and that specifically those activities were the subdual, the restraint, and the neck compression.”
- Thomas’ testimony also marked a savvy strategic move for prosecutors involving the asphyxia issue, helping to further dispel potential “asphyxia” problems. Thomas actually trained Baker and testified that she agreed with his assessment that he died because of “cardiopulmonary arrest.” She seemed to show that these two causes of death aren’t mutually exclusive. She explained that “the primary mechanism is asphyxia, low oxygen,” which cause the heart and lungs to stop working.
That’s all for now. We will have more breaking news and analysis soon.