Crime EXPLAINER: Ex-officer on trial for Floyd death won't testify
EXPLAINER: Prosecution explores Floyd's 'spark of life'
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Prosecutors trying a white former Minneapolis police officer in George Floyd’s death put one of Floyd’s brothers on the witness stand Monday in a further effort to humanize him for the jury and counter the defense narrative that Floyd was at least partially responsible for his own death due to his use of illegal drugs. Philonise Floyd, who has frequently occupied the Floyd family's sole seat in the socially distanced courtroom, was allowed to testify under a legal doctrine called “spark of life.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder indeath said Thursday that he won't testify in his own defense, and leave the burden of proof on the state.
It was a high-stakes decision. Taking the stand could have helped humanize Derek Chauvin towho haven't heard from him directly at trial, but it could also have opened him up to a devastating cross-examination.
Defense set to take turn in ex-cop's trial in Floyd death
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The defense for a former Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd's death was set to start presenting its case Tuesday, following 11 days of a prosecution narrative that combined wrenching video with clinical analysis by medical and use-of-force experts to condemn Derek Chauvin's actions. Prosecutors called their final witnesses Monday, leaving only some administrative matters before they were expected to rest Tuesday. Once the defense takes over, Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson is expected to have his own experts testify that it was Floyd's drug use and bad heart, not Chauvin's actions, that killed him.
“'We have gone back and forth on the matter' would be kind of an understatement, right?” defense attorney Eric Nelson asked Chauvin in court, without the jury present.
“Yes it is,” Chauvin replied.
The judge in the Derek Chauvin case is orchestrating one of the nation’s most widely watched murder trials. Meet Peter Cahill.
While Judge Peter Cahill allowed cameras in the courtroom for the first time in Minnesota state history, he's also been strict on other matters.That is exactly where Hennepin County District Court Judge Peter Cahill finds himself in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, entering its sixth week and bringing daily controversy and scrutiny to every step taken in the courtroom.
Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder and manslaughter. Here's a look at some of the issues that likely went into Chauvin's decision not to take the stand:
WHY MIGHT CHAUVIN HAVE WANTED TO TESTIFY?
Images from bystander video of Chauvin pinning Floyd to the pavement, his face impassive, have been played nearly every day at trial and are likely seared into the minds of many jurors.
The face mask Chauvin has been required to wear in court because of the pandemicduring testimony. Taking the stand would have given him a chance to explain the video and show another side of himself, maybe giving the jury a reason to convict him only of manslaughter.
“He has nothing to lose, given that that video is so damaging,” Phil Turner, a former federal prosecutor in Chicago, said earlier in the week. “You’ve got to get up there and give an explanation. It’s a no-brainer. You have to.”
EXPLAINER: Why is 'excited delirium' cited at Chauvin trial?
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The attorney for the former Minneapolis police officer on trial in George Floyd ’s death revisited the disputed concept of excited delirium Tuesday in an effort to show that the force Derek Chauvin used was objectively reasonable given Floyd's resistance. Chauvin, 45, who is white, is charged with murder and manslaughter. Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, was arrested outside a neighborhood market on May 25, accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. A panicky-sounding Floyd struggled and claimed to be claustrophobic as police tried to put him in a squad car.
Multiple witnesses and video evidence have shown Chauvin pinning Floyd for almost 9 1/2 minutes, well beyond the time Floyd stopped moving and a fellow officer said he could not find a pulse.
COULD TESTIFYING HAVE HURT CHAUVIN'S CASE?
Definitely. Answering sympathetic questions from his own lawyer wouldn't have been a problem. But cross-examination could have been treacherous and increased his odds of conviction on all counts.
“They would be salivating to get him on the stand,” Minnesota defense attorney Mike Brandt said of prosecutors. “They’d have a field day with Chauvin.”
Before Chauvin announced his decision, Brandt said prosecutors could play the bystander video of Chauvin, who is white, pinning Floyd — a Black man — and pausing it every few seconds to ask why he stayed on Floyd.
EXPLAINER: Judge lets jury decide Floyd's remark about drugs
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — The judge overseeing the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd said Monday that he'll leave it up to the jury to sort out whether Floyd yelled “I ate too many drugs” or “I ain’t do no drugs” as three officers pinned him to the ground. Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill made the ruling as attorneys argued over whether to allow the testimony of a use-of-force expert for the prosecution, Seth Stoughton, a professor at the University of South Carolina Law School. Prosecutors wanted him to testify from an academic perspective on whether Chauvin used reasonable force and about national policing standards.
WAS CHAUVIN LIKABLE ENOUGH TO TESTIFY?
Most lawyers want to be sure jurors will like their clients before putting them on the stand, Brandt said, adding that nothing he has seen from Chauvin suggests he would come off as sympathetic.
“Chauvin doesn’t come across as a warm and pleasant person. And jurors want to see a caring and empathetic person. That is the one big liability: If jurors don’t like Chauvin, his fate is sealed,” Brandt said.
Chicago-based attorney Steve Greenberg agreed. If Chauvin rubbed jurors the wrong way, it could have backfired, Greenberg said.
WHAT COULD CHAUVIN HAVE SAID IN HIS DEFENSE?
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that officers' actions that lead to a suspect’s death can be legal if the officers believed their lives were at risk — even if, in hindsight, they were wrong. And only Chauvin could speak to what he was thinking that day, Turner said.
Chauvin could have told jurors he's not a doctor and couldn't have known Floyd was dying, said Turner. He could have said he kept his knee on Floyd because, from his experience, he knew larger suspects were capable of breaking free and posing a threat.
His lawyer could have had Chauvin testify that he was worried about Floyd’s well-being, and he might have said he wasn't pressing hard on Floyd's neck, despite expert testimony that calculated half his body weight plus gear was on Floyd at least part of the time.
Key takeaways from Day 8 of the Derek Chauvin trial
Key takeaways from Day 8 of the Derek Chauvin trial in George Floyd's death Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jody Stiger -- a veteran use-of-force trainer, who is testifying as a paid expert witness for the prosecution -- said his review of video evidence in Floyd's arrested indicated that Chauvin was also using a "pain compliance technique" on Floyd's handcuffed left hand.
WHAT WERE THE ODDS HE WOULD TESTIFY?
Not good. Greenberg said lawyers at murder trials typically don’t want their clients to testify. In more than 100 murder trials at which he represented clients, fewer than 10 took the stand.
“When defendants do testify, it is usually a Hail Mary pass” by a desperate defense that believes it has slim chance of acquittal on any charges, Greenberg said.
DID JURORS WANT TO HEAR FROM CHAUVIN?
Cahill questioned Chauvin to make sure he understood the ramifications of not testifying, and that the final decision was his and not Nelson's. Chauvin affirmed his decision to remain silent was voluntary.
The judge also read Chauvin the instruction he intends to give the jury on a defendant's right not to testify:
“The state must convince you by evidence beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty of the crime charged. The defendant has no obligation to to prove innocence. The defendant has the right not to testify. This right is guaranteed by the federal and state constitutions. You should not draw any inference from the fact that the defendant has not testified in this case.”
Chauvin agreed to that instruction.
But legal experts widely agree that many jurors interpret a defendant’s silence as evidence of guilt.
“They're human,” said Brandt. “Even if they know Chauvin doesn’t have to testify, in their minds they think, ’But yeah, we wanted to hear from him.'”
Tarm reported from Chicago.
Find AP’s full coverage of the death of George Floyd at:
Attorneys at Chauvin trial in Floyd death make final pitch .
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Attorneys in the trial of a former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd are set to make their closing arguments Monday, each side seeking to distill three weeks of testimony to persuade jurors to deliver their view of the right verdict. For prosecutors, Derek Chauvin recklessly squeezed the life from Floyd as he and two other officers pinned him to the street for 9 minutes, 29 seconds outside a corner market, despite Floyd's repeated cries that he couldn't breathe — actions they say warrant conviction not just for manslaughter but also on two murder counts.