The lawyer for the former officer Derek Chauvin began calling witnesses to the stand this week, including an associate of George Floyd’s who was in the car with him when the police arrived, and a Minneapolis Park Police officer on the scene. The defense is trying to build a case that Mr. Floyd was affected by drugs he had taken, and that the bystanders were a threat to the officers who pinned Mr. Floyd to the ground.
Here are some key moments from recent testimony.
A use-of-force expert says Mr. Chauvin’s actions were justified.
Barry Brodd, a former police officer and use-of-force expert, testified for the defense that Mr. Chauvin’s use of force against Mr. Floyd was justified — countering two weeks of prosecution witnesses who argued the opposite.
“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,” he said.
Mr. Brodd, who has nearly 30 years of law enforcement experience and specializes in police and civilian defense cases, referred to Graham v. Connor, a 1989 Supreme Court case in which the justices ruled that an officer’s use of force must be “objectively reasonable,” but that “police officers are often forced to make split-second judgments — in circumstances that are tense, uncertain and rapidly evolving — about the amount of force that is necessary in a particular situation.”
Officers must respond to imminent threats, Mr. Brodd said, which require a police officer to have a “reasonable fear that somebody is going to strike you, stab you, shoot you.”
To judge use-of-force cases, Mr. Brodd said he considered whether an officer had justification to detain a person, how the person responded to the officer — with compliance or varying degrees of resistance — and whether the officer’s use of force correlated with the level of resistance.
Mr. Brodd said that Mr. Chauvin’s use of force was appropriate for the level of resistance from Mr. Floyd, and that the officers would have been justified in using even more force.
“Police officers don’t have to fight fair,” he said. “They’re allowed to overcome your resistance by going up a level.”
Mr. Brodd said that officers had used force when they pulled Mr. Floyd from the police car and onto the ground, but that he did not consider keeping Mr. Floyd in a prone position, with his wrists handcuffed behind his back, to be a use of force. When questioned later by the prosecution, he amended this claim, saying the position and the officers on top of Mr. Floyd could have caused him pain and therefore qualified as use of force.
New body camera footage shows George Floyd handcuffed on the street.
In new body camera footage shown to jurors, Mr. Floyd is seen handcuffed and sitting on the street near a Chinese restaurant, giving his name and birth date to one of the first police officers who arrived at Cup Foods after a clerk called to report that Mr. Floyd had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
The footage was from the body camera of Peter Chang, a Minneapolis Park Police officer who arrived to back up the two rookie officers who first responded to the scene, before Mr. Chauvin and his partner arrived. Officer Chang’s testimony was the first in the trial from an officer who responded to the incident before Mr. Floyd had died.
During Mr. Chang’s testimony before the body camera video was shown, Mr. Nelson asked about one of the key points of his defense: that the group of vocal bystanders who gathered around the officers as they struggled on the ground with Mr. Floyd became increasingly angry and represented a threat to the officers. “They were very aggressive,” Mr. Chang agreed.
Yet on cross-examination by Matthew Frank, a prosecutor, Mr. Chang seemed to undercut the defense’s point about the angry crowd. Mr. Chang said that while he remained across the street to watch Mr. Floyd’s friends, he assumed the officers struggling with Mr. Floyd had things under control and said they did not ask for help.
Shawanda Hill, an associate of George Floyd’s, said he was ‘normal, talking, alert,’ before the arrest.
Ms. Hill, an associate of Mr. Floyd’s who was sitting in the back seat of the car when he was first approached by officers and arrested, testified for the defense on Tuesday, giving more insight into his demeanor before the arrest.
Ms. Hill said she ran into Mr. Floyd in Cup Foods, where he appeared “happy, normal, talking, alert,” she said. He offered to give her a ride home, so she went with him to the car and sat in the back seat.
Ms. Hill said she chatted for a few minutes with Mr. Floyd, and then took a phone call from her daughter, during which time Mr. Floyd fell asleep.
She said she tried to rouse him, and that he would “nod, do a gesture,” and then fall back asleep. He was asleep when the store clerk approached the car about the counterfeit $20 bill, she said.
When police officers approached the vehicle, Ms. Hill again tried to rouse Mr. Floyd.
“I kept telling him, ‘Baby get up,’” she said. The approaching officers, one with his gun already drawn, startled him, she said.
Ms. Hill told jurors Mr. Floyd’s behavior was normal, other than being sleepy.
A retired paramedic and a former officer testified for the defense.
The first two defense witnesses on Tuesday were on and off the stand very quickly, in line with the judge’s order that their testimony about Mr. Floyd’s arrest in May 2019, when he had medical issues, be strictly limited.
The first witness, Scott Creighton, a retired Minneapolis police officer, worked for the Police Department for 28 years, including 22 years as a street level narcotics investigator, he said.
The defense questioned Mr. Creighton about an incident on May 6, 2019, a traffic stop during which a passenger, whom he identified as Mr. Floyd, was not responsive to his commands.
“In my mind his behavior was very nervous, anxious,” he said, noting that he turned away continuously as he asked to see his hands.
Michelle Moseng, a former paramedic at Hennepin County Medical Center Emergency Medical Services, was also called to testify about the 2019 traffic stop. She said she was summoned to the police precinct to care for Mr. Floyd after he had been arrested.
That day, she said, Mr. Floyd told her he had been taking some form of opioid “multiple, every 20 minutes” and another as the officers approached. She recommended that he be transported to a hospital based on his elevated blood pressure.