At this time last year, it would be hard to find an American citizen outside of the state of Minnesota who knew where Hennepin County was. This week, it is ground zero fo the nation's ongoing battle against racism and police brutality. As the Judge Peter Cahill prepares to oversee day twelve of the State V. Derek Chauvin trial, demonstrators in nearby Brooklyn Center are taking to the streets after another police officer killed another unarmed Black person. Now, news networks are not only covering the trial, but also covering local police's handling of the shooting of Daunte Wright. Unfortunately, Wright's death highlights the reality that Chauvin's trial is not the first and will not be the last trial of its kind.
What Happened Yesterday
Dr. Jonathan Rich
The third week of the State v. Chauvin trial kicked off by presenting the final pieces of the prosecution's case. Leading the way, Dr. Jonathan Rich offered further medical expertise regarding what led to the death of George Floyd. Specifically, he refuted the defense's argument that Floyd died of a drug overdose. Rich testified that had Floyd “not been restrained in the way that he was, I believe he would have survived that day." He went on to explain that Floyd's death was "absolutely preventable."
“There was one moment in the video where I heard one of the officers saying I think he’s passing out. That would have been an opportunity to quickly relieve him from that position of not getting enough oxygen," he explained.
Adding to the prosecution's case, Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd, took the stand to offer a bit of background about his brother's life. As Courteney Ross state previously, Floyd was very close to his mother and often described as mama's boy.
“He was so much of a leader to us in the household. He would always make sure that we had our clothes for school. He made sure that we all were going to be to school on time. And like I told you, George couldn’t cook. But he will make sure you have a snack or something to get in the morning," he told the court.
"But he –– he was one of those people in the community that when they had church outside, people would attend church just because he was there. Nobody would go out there until they seen him. And he was just like a person that everybody loved around the community. He –– he just knew how to make people feel better."
Ending the day's proceedings, the prosecution called law professor and use-of-force expert Seth Stoughton to the stand. As Jody Stiger had stated previously, Chauvin's use-of-force on May 25 fell out of what is recommended by other law enforcement officers.
“It’s clear from the number of officers and Mr. Floyd’s position and the fact that he’s handcuffed and has been searched, he doesn’t present a threat of harm,” Stoughton told the court.
A major development has been made in the State v. Chauvin trial. Judge Pete Cahill has ruled that Morries Hall, the man who was with Floyd when the police approached him, will not have to testify.
What Happened Today
The twelfth day of the State v. Chauvin trial marks a shift in the proceedings. The prosecution has ran through all of its scheduled witnesses and the defense will now present its case. Former Minneapolis Police Officer Scott Creighton was the first witness for defense that was called to the stand. While testifying, Creighton said that he stopped Floyd for suspected opioid use and felt the need to pull his gun during the stop. He went on to claim that he asked Floyd to show his hands and he refused to do so.
“The passenger was unresponsive and non-compliant to my commands,” he told the court.
From there, Creighton alleges that he threw Floyd's hands on the dashboard of a nearby car. During the stop, Creighton says that Floyd began asking him not to shoot him. Creighton and another officer took Floyd into custody where he was examined by a medical professional.
After being taken into custody in May 2019, Floyd met with a paramedic by the name of Michelle Monseng. While examining Floyd for any potential health issues, Monseng claims he admitted to being addicted to opioids. During the examination, Monseng said that Floyd could walk, speak and had a normal heart rate. However, Monseng said that his blood pressure had risen and she recommended that he go to a hospital.
Following Monseng's testimony, Shawanda Hill took the stand to testify. Hill told the court that she was a friend of Floyd's who ran into him at Cup Foods shortly before his death. While with Floyd, Hill says that he offered her a ride home. She accepted the offer, but while they were in the car, Floyd fell asleep twice. During his second nap, Hill says that police approached the car and tried to wake him up.
"So when I tried to wake him up, he woke up the second time ... I kept saying, 'Baby, get up. The police is here.' So he looked, and we look to the right, and the police tapped on the window with the flashlight. And I said Floyd, he turned back again...and I said, 'Baby, that's the police, open the door, roll down the window, whatever,'" she told the court.
"So he looked back, and he instantly knew, when you see the man had a gun at the window. He looked back to him. So he instantly grabbed the wheel, and he was like, 'please please, don't kill me! Don't shoot me! Don't shoot me!'"
Minneapolis Park Police Officer Peter Chang was called down to Cup Foods on May 25. He said that his role was to wait around the corner and watch Floyd's car along with its to passengers. As Chang waited around the corner with the vehicle, Chang said that the crowd was becoming "very aggressive" and he was concerned for the safety of the officers involved. However, body camera footage shows him a good distance away from the court and Floyd. At one point, Chang told the prosecution that he could not clearly see Floyd or the crowd from where he was stand.
Taking the stand for the second time this month, Minneapolis Police Officer Nicole Mackenzie offered a bit of insight regarding what officers are supposed to do to help civilians breathe. During her testimony, Mackenzie said that fellow officer Thomas Lane was trained to detect excited delirium, a condition that can make it more difficult to breath. In order to combat excited delirium, officers are supposed to roll civilians on to their side in an effort to help them breathe.
After lunch, former police officer and use-of-force expert Barry Brodd took the stand to discuss the events that led to Floyd's death on May 25. Brodd opened by describing Chauvin's actions as "justified."
"I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified with acting with objective, reasonableness following Minneapolis Police Department policy. And current standards of law enforcement and his interactions with Mr. Floyd," he told the court.
As the defense continued its questioning of their paid witness, Brodd told the court that he did not classify Chauvin's actions as a use of "deadly force."
"I'll give you an example that I used to teach my academy classes, so officers respond to a domestic violence situation, and the suspect is still there, and he fights with the suspect, he fights with the officers and the officers are justified and using a taser to overcome this person's noncompliance. They tase the individual and the individual falls to the ground, strikes their head and ice. That is not an incident of deadly force, that's an incident of an accidental death, and in my review, I would like to see whether the suspect resisted and was objectively reasonable," he told the defense.
This runs contrary to what numerous expert witness told the prosecution when questioned. When questioned by the prosecution, Brodd did admit that adding additional pressure to someone's neck while they are face down could lead to asphyxia.
What The World Is Saying
What Resources Are Available
Watching the trial, taking in traumatic moments may be difficult as video is played and replayed and verbally described.
A few resources that may aid in processing the trial are below:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
The resources listed have resources including peer groups and other counseling services that may be helpful. They also offer ways to cope with stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions that are important to monitor.
The Black Information Network's trial-related content includes a nightly news special, titled "Searching for Justice for George Floyd," that airs at 7:00 pm ET Monday through Friday on all BIN 24/7 affiliates. Emmy Award-winning journalist Vanessa Tyler will anchor the daily 30-minute commercial-free recap of that day's testimony.
Additionally, BIN's Morgyn Wood will anchor live coverage of the trial on our Minneapolis affiliate BIN 93.3 FM. Tune in to Black Information Network 24/7's coverage on 31 Black Information Network affiliate stations and on the iHeartRadio app. Frequent updates and breaking news will also air on all 92 iHeartMedia Hip Hop, R&B, and Gospel music stations
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