Chang’s testimony has ended, and the court is taking another quick break.
As Chauvin’s trial continues, tensions in Minneapolis are increasing still more following the death of Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, at the hands of police in a nearby suburb on Sunday.
Former president Barack Obama has issued a statement on Wright’ s death, saying on Twitter: “Our hearts are heavy over yet another shooting of a Black man, Daunte Wright, at the hands of police. It’s important to conduct a full and transparent investigation, but this is also a reminder of just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country.”
Nelson has played Chang’s body-worn camera footage for the jury. One portion of the video shows Hill and Hall standing on the sidewalk across the street from Floyd.
“He’s making it more difficult,” Chang can be heard saying. At one point, Chang tells Hill and Hall that if they don’t have any warrants, they can leave when everything is “settled.” It appears that Hall gave the police a fake name.
Floyd’s companions are following Chang’s orders.
“Something happened…” one of them says at one point as the situation progresses. “Can I just see what y’all did to him?”
Toward the end of Chang’s video, they ask to get Floyd’s phone from the SUV.
“He’s already gone. He doesn’t need his phone. He went to the hospital,” Chang says.
Floyd was ‘very’ startled when police pointed gun at him, witness tells Chauvin jury
Things are moving very quickly. Hill’s testimony has already ended. Nelson has tried to establish that Hill, who ran into Floyd in Cup Foods on 25 May, saw him behave in a way that indicated drug use. Remember: Floyd’s fatal interaction with police stemmed from store employees claiming he had used a counterfeit $20 bill.
Hill has testified that Floyd was “normal, talking, alert” in the store. When they got into the car, she recalls, he “suddenly fell asleep.” He was still asleep when Cup Foods employees approached their car.
Hill says that she tried to wake him up. Floyd would, but he would “nod back off.
“He already told me in the store that he was tired because he had been working—” she tries explaining, before being cut off.
Nelson’s intent was clear—he wants to show that Floyd was tired and falling asleep, to indicate that he was under the influence of a sleep-inducing opioid.
On cross, though, prosecutors pressed Hill on Floyd’s general behavior. When asked if Floyd was “alert”, “friendly”, and “talking”, she responded in the affirmative.
“Did a little dance as he went out to the car?” the prosecution asks.
Hill says that while he nodded off, she was able to wake him, although “he wasn’t that coherent at times.”
Her description of his reaction to the police when they approached conveyed alertness.
“The man had the gun at the window,” she says.
“So, he instantly grabbed the wheel and was like ‘please, please, please, don’t kill me…please don’t shoot me’”.
“Did he complain of shortness of breath at all?” the prosecution asks.
“Did he complain of chest pains at all?”
“Did he seem startled when the officer pulled a gun on him?”
“Very,” she says.
Now Minneapolis park police officer Peter Chang is on the stand. Nelson is asking Chang—who came to the scene—about the crowd. Nelson has tried to establish that the crowd posed a threat.
“I guess the crowd was becoming more loud and aggressive,” Chang says.
He also says he had concern for the officers.
Nelson has called his next witness for the defense, Shawanda Hill, who was in the car with Floyd on 25 May before his fatal interaction with police.
Moseng has completed her testimony, and the court is now on a quick break. Nelson will resume presenting his case when court returns.
What’s interesting here is watching Nelson’s defense strategy play out with seemingly mixed results. Nelson wants to establish that Floyd was high and agitated during the 2019 arrest. He wants to establish a pattern that Floyd has repeatedly engaged in behavior that is risky given his health conditions.
However, through cross examination of both witnesses, the prosecution seems to have established that Floyd was not suffering medical distress in a similar circumstance. That is, Floyd wasn’t reeling from acute cardiac issues during a stressful, intense arrest. So, this might well undermine Nelson’s premise.
Nelson, on direct, used his questions to try showing that Floyd was resistant to police commands in May 2019. Thoroughout the trial, Nelson has been trying to elicit testimony that will support his position that Floyd died from health problems, not the officers’ actions during the May 2020 arrest.
“I approached the vehicle on the passenger side. The passenger window was down. I start giving the individual that was in the passenger seat commands several times”, recalls Creighton, who is now retired, of the May 2019 arrest.
“The passenger was unresponsive and non-compliant to my commands”.
Creighton testifies that he had “to physically reach in… ‘cause I wanted to see his hands.” Floyd was removed from the vehicle and handcuffed.
“In my mind his behavior was very nervous, anxious”.
“Did you draw your service weapon?” Nelson asks.
“Yes, I did.”
Nelson introduces Creighton’s body-worn camera footage from that day. He says “I don’t plan on shooting you” and his service weapon is visible in the frame.
“Keep your hands where I can f—-n’ see them!” Creighton says at one point while telling Floyd to put his hands on the dashboard.
“I’m not going to shoot you,” he also says.
This video does show Floyd resisting.
On cross, the prosecution asks Creighton questions to indicate that Floyd was not in medical stress during this arrest, in an effort to undermine Nelson’s health problem-oriented defense.
“Was he awake during this incident?” the prosecution asks.
“Was he conscious?
“Yes,” Creighton says, later noting, “He was incoherent in my mind.”
Cahill told jurors that Creighton’s testimony was not about Floyd’s character.
With Creighton’s testimony completed, Nelson has called the defense’s next witness, Michelle Moseng. She is a retired Minneapolis paramedic who was called to assist Floyd following his May 2019 arrest.
“It was quite hard to assess him,” Moseng testifies. “He was upset and confused.” Nelson then asks her whether Floyd told her he had taken drugs.
“He told me that he had been taking multiple, like every 20 minutes, and it was, I don’t remember if it was oxy or Percocet, but it was opioid-based,” she says.
The Chauvin prosecution rests
“The state of Minnesota rests,” prosecutors have just told Cahill.
Nelson has called his first witness to the stand, Scott Creighton. According to The Washington Post’s Holly Bailey, Creighton is the Minneapolis police officer who arrested Floyd two years ago.
Cahill has decided that most of the video can be presented to jurors, but ordered that Nelson redact the portion where the officer looks up Floyd on his squad car computer.
Nelson is now removing that portion of the video. The jury will be brought into the courtroom at 930 CT.
The prosecution, Chauvin’s lawyer, and judge Peter Cahill have appeared in court and are now discussing the admissibility of body camera video from an officer on the scene. Jurors are not present for this discussion.
One issue prosecutors have with this video is that part of it shows the screen when an officer looks up Floyd’s name in the squad car. This reveals personal information about Floyd, they contend. They are not opposed to this segment being admitted if this information is obscured somehow.
Prosecutors are opposing a later portion of the video, claiming audio on there contains heresay statements. Nelson wants this admitted, saying it will show that the crowd surrounding Floyd’s death presented a distraction and a threat.
The Guardian’s Oliver Laughland is in Minnesota reporting on the police killing of Daunte Wright and protests that have followed. Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, was fatally shot during a traffic stop Sunday in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center. He was unarmed.
Wright’s death has heightened tensions across the area, which have run already high as Chauvin’s trial nears a close. Laughland reports that the second night of protests started hours after Brooklyn Center police released body camera video of the deadly incident on Monday.
The city’s police chief, Tim Gannon, claimed that this shooting was an “accidental discharge,” saying footage seemed to show an officer, 26-year force veteran Kim Potter, threatening to use her Taser before she opened fire. Gannon claimed that Wright was pulled over for an alleged traffic violation, and that he was shot following a brief scuffle with police on the scene.
Police have clashed with protesters for a second night in the suburbs of Minneapolis after the officer-involved death of 20-year-old Daunte Wright on Sunday.
Multiple law enforcement agencies swarmed the suburb of Brooklyn Center on Monday, deploying teargas, flash bangs and other non-lethal force to disperse hundreds of people who gathered outside the police headquarters.
The Minnesota governor, Tim Walz, issued a 7pm curfew in the wake of Sunday night’s unrest but the large crowd of protesters defied verbal orders by police to go home. Police fired volleys of teargas, smoke and pepper-balls, initially from behind a newly erected fortified fence, before advancing in formation and pushing the remaining protesters back.
Some protesters responded by launching fireworks towards police as drum beats pounded and people chanted Wright’s name.
Laughland also reports that Brooklyn Center’s mayor, Mike Elliot, called for Potter’s firing, and described the shooting as “deeply tragic.”
“We cannot afford to make mistakes that lead to the loss of life of other people,” he had said.
Elliott, the town’s first Black mayor, announced that the city council had voted to give his office “command authority” over their police department to “streamline things and establish chain of command and leadership”.
Late last night, Elliott stood alongside the Minnesota attorney general, Keith Ellison, in front of the protesters who remained after police dispersed crowds following curfew.
“I’m going to do everything I can in my power to make sure justice is done,” Elliott, dressed in a suit and wearing a protective helmet, said.
Proceedings to resume in Chauvin murder trial
Good morning, readers. Welcome to the Guardian’s coverage of the Derek Chauvin murder trial.
Trial proceedings will resume resume after 9 am CT this morning in Minneapolis. Chauvin’s trial is entering its 12th day of witness testimony.
Chauvin’s trial is taking place in the wake of another Minneapolis-region police killing—which has spurred two nights of protests and ramped up tensions in a community that has been on edge over the Chauvin trial’s conclusion.
A police officer in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, shot and killed Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, during a traffic stop Sunday afternoon.
Chauvin, a white officer formerly with the Minneapolis police department, is facing charges of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, in George Floyd’s death during his May 2020 arrest. Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes during this encounter.
Floyd, who is Black, died after being restrained prone on the ground while Chauvin kept his knee against his neck. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty plea to the charges.
Here are some key points from Monday’s proceedings:
- Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, took the witness stand. Although Philonise’s testimony was brief, he emotively painted a portrait of George as a devoted family man who careed deeply for his siblings and family. “He would always make sure that we had our clothes for school,” Philonise testified. “He made sure that we all were going to be to school on time”.
- One of the most gripping parts of Philonise’s testimony was his portrayal of George’s bond with their mother. “He was a big momma’s boy,” Philonise recounted. When their mother died three years ago, Philonise recalled, George “would just say ‘mama, mama,’ over and over again”. Philonise’s testimony was incredibly important for prosecutors. Chauvin’s defense repeatedly discussed up George’s drug use, but Philonise’s words stressed that George was a multidimensional person—someone “everybody loved”.
- Dr Jonathan Rich testified about Floyd’s heart and cause-of-death, repeatedly saying that he would have lived had he not been subdued and restrained. “In this case, Mr George Floyd died from a cardiopulmonary arrest that was caused by low oxygen levels, and those low oxygen levels were induced by the prone restraint and positional asphyxiation that he was subjected to”, he recalled. “It was truly the prone restraint and positional restraints that led to his asphyxiation”.
- Seth Stoughton, a law professor and expert on use-of-force, who had served as a police officer, repeatedly stated that Chauvin’s actions were not those of a “reasonable officer”. Stoughton stated: “The use of force had the foreseeable effect and substantial likelihood of resulting death” or bodily harm. He also testified: “Both the the knee across Mr Floyd’s neck, and the prone restraint, were unreasonable, excessive, and contrary to generally excepted police practices”.
- Judge Peter Cahill announced that closing statements would likely begin on Monday, in six days. This news about the trial’s schedule initially emerged after Chauvin’s lawyer made an unsuccessful request to sequester jurors. He asked to do so because of protests surrounding Daunte Wright’s death. Cahill explained to jurors they can expect to be sequestered when closings start. “Expect that when you report for duty on Monday, that it will be followed by sequestration. So, pack a bag”, he remarked when court ended.
As for today’s proceedings, Cahill said yesterday that he will call Morries Hall, who was with Floyd during his deadly arrest, to the stand. Cahill wants to see whether Hall will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. If Hall does so, it might mean that he doesn’t answer any questions.
Cahill also said that Chauvin’s lawyer is expected to start calling defense witnesses today.
That’s it for the time being. We will have updates on breaking news as they happen.