The defense launched its case Tuesday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis cop charged in George Floyd’s death.
In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, speaks in court as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, right, looks on April 12 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is standing trial for murder and manslaughter in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd.
Court TV, via AP, Pool
Prosecutors rested their case Tuesday morning following more than two weeks of testimony, encompassing bystanders, medical experts, use-of-force experts, and police officials. The first witness called to the stand by defense attorney Eric Nelson was a retired Minneapolis officer who pulled Floyd over in 2019. Scott Creighton said he pulled his weapon when Floyd wouldn’t show him his hands. In body camera video played in court, Creighton raises his voice and uses an expletive as he commands Floyd, a passenger in a car he pulled over, to show him his hands. Floyd can be heard asking the officer not to shoot him. “I’m not going to shoot you if you put your hands on the dash, it’s the last time I’m going to tell you, it’s simple,” Creighton says on the video. “He keeps moving his hands around, he won’t listen to what I have to say.”Floyd is taken out of the car and handcuffed. Later, a paramedic testified Floyd told her he had been taking opioids throughout the day and had taken pills while he was being arrested. The paramedic also testified Floyd had elevated blood pressure and that she recommended he go to the hospital.The defense case centers around how Floyd died, which has been a key point of dispute at trial. A string of medical experts have testified for the prosecution, saying the police restraint restricted oxygen to Floyd’s body and caused his heart to stop. But defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued a combination of Floyd’s underlying heart disease, adrenaline and the fentanyl and methamphetamine he had ingested prior to the arrest amounted to a fatal combination.Nelson has also portrayed the crowd of bystanders near Floyd as unruly, and he is expected to call a policing expert to testify that the crowd distracted Chauvin to the extent that he was unable to perform his law enforcement duties.Judge Peter Cahill said testimony is likely to wrap up by the end of the week, possibly with Friday off. He told jurors to expect to be sequestered following closing arguments on April 19. He had earlier denied a defense request for the jury to be further questioned and immediately sequestered in light of the fatal police shooting Sunday of a driver in nearby Brooklyn Center, which led to protests.Chauvin, who was seen in disturbing videos kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.Chauvin has pleaded not guilty. The other three officers involved are charged with aiding and abetting, and are expected to be tried jointly in August.