Defense in Derek Chauvin Trial Presents its Case

On Tuesday, the defense team for defendant Derek Chauvin began to present its case. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter after video footage showed him kneeling on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes before Floyd died. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty.

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It became instantly clear that the defense was framing its arguments on the medical details of Floyd’s death. Defense attorney Eric Nelson claims that Floyd’s underlying heart disease, adrenaline, and the fentanyl and methamphetamine he had taken before he was arrested resulted in his death. However, medical experts brought by the prosecution have already presented evidence that the weight of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck blocked the flow of oxygen to his body and caused his heart to stop.

Scott Creighton, a retired Minneapolis officer who had pulled Floyd over in 2019 testified for the defense. Creighton claimed that when Floyd was pulled over, he didn’t show his hands and refused to place them on the dashboard. Body camera footage reveals that Creighton demanded that Floyd show him his hands and Floyd can be heard asking the officer not to shoot him. During that incident, Floyd was handcuffed outside the car. A paramedic testified that he told her he had been ingesting opioids through the day. Another witness for the defense was Barry Brodd, a former police trainer, who was a witness. Brodd testified that Floyd was resisting the officers at the scene and that Chauvin’s use and method of restraint did not qualify as deadly force.

The defense testimony is set to come to a close by the end of the week. Judge Peter Cahill explained that the jury might have to be sequestered after the closing arguments, slated for April 19th. The expectation of sequestering the jury comes after another black man, Duane Wright who was fatally shot by police officers in nearby Brooklyn Center. Wright’s death, which the police claim as a result of an accidental discharge, has resulted in protests, public anger, and civic unrest.