13 Key Moments That Shaped the Trial of Derek Chauvin

In testimony from 45 witnesses over three weeks, attorneys returned to the trial’s central questions: what caused George Floyd’s death, and were Mr. Chauvin’s actions justified and lawful.

The Hennepin County Government Center, where Derek Chauvin is on trial.
Credit...Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

In the three weeks of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, who a jury found guilty on Tuesday afternoon, dozens of witnesses testified; hours of video of George Floyd’s arrest were played, paused and replayed; and two sides of the courtroom presented opposing narratives to a jury tasked with determining the fate of a former police officer charged with murder in one of the most watched trials in decades.

Through witness testimony, several distinct themes emerged as the most crucial points of contention: whether Mr. Chauvin violated policy when he knelt on George Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes; what role, if any, drugs played in Mr. Floyd’s death; and what kind of impact the arrest may have had on the people who witnessed it.

These themes became clear almost immediately, in tearful testimony from bystander witnesses and criticism of Mr. Chauvin from experts called by the prosecution. In the final days of the trial, the defense brought the opposite account to the stand, giving the former police officer some support after more than two weeks of almost entirely critical testimony.

The trial, and its verdict, attracted more attention than almost any other criminal proceeding in decades, and as it moved into the final phase — closing arguments on Monday, followed by jury deliberations and the verdict on Tuesday — these key moments illustrate some of the most important themes jurors considered.

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‘He Was Suffering’: Teenager Who Filmed Floyd’s Arrest Testifies at Trial

Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old when she filmed video of George Floyd’s arrest, testified during the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in Mr. Floyd’s death.

“And is this as you are approaching Cup Foods on May 25?” “Yes.” “Now see, there, your cousin goes into the store. Why did she go into the store, and then you turned around and then came back toward the squad cars?” “I wanted to make sure she got in.” [inaudible] “When you walk past the squad car there, did you see anything happening there on the ground as you were walking towards Cup Foods with your cousin?” “Yes, I see a man on the ground and I see a cop kneeling down on him.” “Was there anything about the scene that you didn’t want your cousin to see?” “Yes” “And what was that?” “A man terrified, scared, begging for his life.” “Is that why you directed your cousin to going into Cup Foods?” “Yes.” “And, and then when you saw what was happening there, at the scene, what was it about the scene that caused you to come back?” “He wasn’t right. He was he was suffering. He was in pain.” “So tell the jury what you observed, what you heard when you stopped to look at what was happening there at the scene.” “I heard George Floyd saying, ‘I can’t breathe. Please get off of me. I can’t breathe.’ He he cried for his mom. He was in pain. It seemed like he knew. It seemed like he knew it was over for him. He was terrified.”

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Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old when she filmed video of George Floyd’s arrest, testified during the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in Mr. Floyd’s death.CreditCredit...Still image via Court TV

In the first week of the trial, many of the witnesses who were called by the prosecution had seen the arrest of George Floyd in person. Their testimony gave jurors a clearer view of the final moments of Mr. Floyd’s life, and demonstrated just how jarring seeing the arrest firsthand had been. Several witnesses cried as they recounted the arrest; some said they felt guilty for not intervening, and that they knew Mr. Floyd had been in grave danger. Their accounts set the tone for the rest of the trial and showed how widespread the impact of Mr. Floyd’s death has been.

Darnella Frazier was 17 when she took a video of the arrest that helped prompt a wave of protests across the country. Ms. Frazier was one of a handful of young witnesses who testified off camera. On May 25, she arrived at the Cup Foods convenience store with her 9-year-old cousin. “It seemed like he knew it was over for him,” she said of Mr. Floyd. “He was terrified.”

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Witness Breaks Down During Testimony in Chauvin Trial

On Wednesday, Charles McMillian, who was driving by Cup Foods at the time of George Floyd’s arrest and stopped to see what was happening, grew emotional in the courtroom when describing what he saw.

“Mr. McMillian, do you need a minute?” [crying] “Oh my God. I couldn’t help but feel helpless. I don’t have a mama either, but I understand him. My mom died June 25. Basically what I’m saying, I became aware because, like I said before, once the police get the cuffs on you, you can’t win. So I’m trying to tell him, just cooperate with them. Get up — get in the car, go with them, you can win.” “And did he say, ‘I can’t’ to you?” “Yes, ma’am.” “OK, did you understand him to be talking to you?” “Yes, ma’am.”

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On Wednesday, Charles McMillian, who was driving by Cup Foods at the time of George Floyd’s arrest and stopped to see what was happening, grew emotional in the courtroom when describing what he saw.

Charles McMillian, another bystander witness, talked with Mr. Floyd as he was being pinned by Mr. Chauvin. Mr. McMillian told the jury that he had urged Mr. Floyd to get up and get in the police cruiser. “Once the police get the cuffs on you, you can’t win,” he said during his testimony. Mr. Floyd, held to the ground by Mr. Chauvin, replied that he couldn’t.

Mr. McMillian, 61, broke down in tears on the stand, and the court took a short break as he recovered. His testimony, perhaps more than any other, showed just how painful it was to see the arrest in person. Particularly traumatic for Mr. McMillian was the fact that Mr. Floyd called out, “Mama,” in the few minutes before he lost consciousness.

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George Floyd’s Girlfriend Recalls Relationship in Emotional Testimony

Courteney Ross, who was dating George Floyd for nearly three years before his death in May, delivered tearful testimony on Thursday about their shared struggle with an opioid addiction.

“He asked me if he could get my number, and we had our first kiss in the lobby. And that’s when our relationship started.” “And after that, how close did you become?” “We were very close. We went out to eat a lot.” “Why?” Because Floyd loved to eat a lot. He’s a big man and it’s, you know, it took a lot of energy to keep him going. And he loved food.” “I have to ask you if your drug use was a part of that relationship?” “Yes.” “And what kind of drug use was a part of that relationship?” Floyd and I both suffered with an opiate addiction. We, we got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction many times.” “And were you each aware of each other’s struggles with opioids?” “Yes, eventually in our relationship, we shared that.” “And did you work together on that?” “Absolutely.”

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Courteney Ross, who was dating George Floyd for nearly three years before his death in May, delivered tearful testimony on Thursday about their shared struggle with an opioid addiction.CreditCredit...Court TV still image, via Associated Press

Courteney Ross, who dated Mr. Floyd for nearly three years before his death, gave the jury and the public a rare glimpse into the life and personality of Mr. Floyd. Ms. Ross talked about their relationship, their first kiss, how Mr. Floyd loved to eat and how he helped her explore the city of Minneapolis. Both sweet and tragic, her testimony humanized Mr. Floyd in a way that jurors had not heard up to that point. Ms. Ross also talked about a primary issue in the case: Mr. Floyd’s drug use.

The defense has argued that Mr. Floyd died largely from complications of drug use, rather than as a result of being held down by Mr. Chauvin. Ms. Ross said the couple had struggled with opioid addiction. She said that, like many Americans, their drug use began with legal prescriptions for chronic pain. “We got addicted,” she said, “and we tried really hard to break that addiction many times.”

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George Floyd Died Before Medics Arrived, Paramedic Says

Derek Smith, one of the paramedics called to the scene of George Floyd’s arrest, testified in court on Thursday that when he arrived it appeared that Mr. Floyd was already dead.

When you approached, he said he was in handcuffs as you approached him to inspect further, were the officers still on top of him? The officers were still on him when I approached. And what did you do when you approached? I was assessing the scene, running through what? No cure may be needed. And did you take some initial steps, like checking for a pulse? I checked for a pulse. And did you also check with the individual, Mr Floyd’s pupils? I did. And what did you determine at that point? They were large, dilated. So you determined that his pupils were larger, dilated? What about a pulse? I did not get a pulse. When you say pop, it is that you didn’t feel or detect a desire to take the pulse. And what did his condition appear to be to you overall in lay terms? I thought he was dead. So what did you do next? I kind of get a look for my partner and told them. I think he’s dead. And I want to move this out here, ok? And I will begin caring about.

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Derek Smith, one of the paramedics called to the scene of George Floyd’s arrest, testified in court on Thursday that when he arrived it appeared that Mr. Floyd was already dead.CreditCredit...Still image via Court TV

By the time paramedics arrived, Mr. Floyd had been unresponsive for several minutes, still pinned under the knee of Mr. Chauvin. Derek Smith, one of the paramedics who responded to the scene, testified that he looked for Mr. Floyd’s pulse almost as soon as he arrived, but found none. “In lay terms, I thought he was dead,” Mr. Smith said.

His testimony gave jurors a clearer understanding of what happened in the minutes after the arrest, and of the efforts made to save Mr. Floyd’s life on the way to the hospital. Despite his efforts, which included using a defibrillator and a machine that provides chest compressions, Mr. Smith said he could not revive Mr. Floyd. The police officers who arrested Mr. Floyd provided no medical care at the scene, even after one officer failed to detect a pulse.

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Minneapolis Police Chief Says Chauvin Violated Policy

Chief Medaria Arradondo testified Monday that the former officer Derek Chauvin should have halted his use of force to restrain George Floyd after Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting.

“Is what you see in Exhibit 17, in your opinion, within the Minneapolis Police departmental policy 5-300, authorizing the use of reasonable force?” “It is not.” “Do you have a belief as to when this restraint, the restraint on the ground that you viewed should have stopped?” “Once Mr. Floyd, and this is based on my viewing of the videos, once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that — that should have stopped. And clearly, when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive, and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back, that, that in no way, shape or form is anything that is by policy, it is not part of our training and it is certainly not part of our ethics or our values.” “And based these observations, do you have an opinion as to whether the defendant violated M.P.D. departmental policy 7-350 by failing to render aid to Mr. Floyd?” “I agree that the defendant violated our policy in terms of rendering aid.”

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Chief Medaria Arradondo testified Monday that the former officer Derek Chauvin should have halted his use of force to restrain George Floyd after Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting.CreditCredit...Still image, via Court TV

In a rare condemnation of an officer by an acting police chief, Chief Medaria Arradondo of the Minneapolis Police Department testified that Mr. Chauvin violated police policy when he knelt on Mr. Floyd for more than nine minutes. “Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” the chief said.

Chief Arradondo said Mr. Chauvin also violated policy by not providing medical aid to Mr. Floyd once he became unresponsive. Whether Mr. Chauvin violated policy will most likely be a central question for the jury, and a rebuke from the acting police chief may prove a substantial blow to Mr. Chauvin’s defense.

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Medical Support Coordinator Testifies in Chauvin Trial

Officer Nicole Mackenzie, who trains Minneapolis police officers on providing medical care, said at the trial of Derek Chauvin that bystanders could make it easier for officers to miss signs that a detainee is in distress.

“You talked about how sometimes E.M.S. will stage off site until the scene is clear and safe, correct?” “Correct.” “And have you heard the term load-and-go?” “Yes.” “Can you describe for the jury what that is?” “Load-and-go, that would be, I think it’s more like an informal term that’s used with first responders. That essentially means that as soon as they’re going to be arriving, it’s a priority to get that person into the ambulance as soon as possible and get en route to the hospital as soon as possible.” “And what about people in the area? Could that affect an E.M.T.’s decision to load-and-go?” “Yes.” “How so?” “If you had a very hostile or volatile crowd, I know it sounds unreasonable, but bystanders do occasionally attack E.M.S. crews. So sometimes just getting out of the situation is kind of the best way to defuse it.” “And have you ever had to perform emergency services in a just not even a hostile crowd, just a loud, excited crowd?” “Yes.” “Is that, in your experience, more or less difficult?” “It’s incredibly difficult.” “Does it make it more likely that you may miss signs that a patient is experiencing something?” “Yes.” “And so the distraction can actually harm the potential care of the patient?” “Yes.”

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Officer Nicole Mackenzie, who trains Minneapolis police officers on providing medical care, said at the trial of Derek Chauvin that bystanders could make it easier for officers to miss signs that a detainee is in distress.CreditCredit...Still image, via Court TV

Throughout the trial, Eric J. Nelson, the defense attorney for Mr. Chauvin, has suggested that the crowd of bystanders may have made it more difficult for Mr. Chauvin to render aid or to move Mr. Floyd from the prone position. Police Officer Nicole Mackenzie, who trains Minneapolis police officers on providing medical care, conceded during cross-examination that bystanders can make it harder for officers to see signs of distress in people who are in custody.

Officer Mackenzie’s testimony could lend support to the defense’s argument that other factors were at play, and that jurors should view the situation in context. The crowd of about a dozen people yelled at the officers and urged Mr. Chauvin to move his knee, though they were otherwise peaceful and did not attempt to intervene.

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Expert: ‘No Force’ Should’ve Been Used Once Floyd Was Restrained

Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department and an expert on the use of force, testified on Wednesday about reasonable force in the arrest of George Floyd.

“Now, are you familiar with the concept of proportionality?” “Yes, I am.” “Can you please explain the concept of proportionality as it relates to the use of force to the jury?” “Yes, so proportionality basically means that an officer is only allowed to use a level of force that’s proportional to the seriousness of the crime or the level of resistance that a subject is using towards the officers.” “Sir, do you have an opinion to a degree of reasonable and professional certainty to how much force was reasonable for the defendant to use on Mr. Floyd after Mr. Floyd was handcuffed, placed in a prone position and not resisting?” “Yes.” “What was that opinion?” “My opinion was that no force should have been used once he was in that position.” “Cameras can’t, they don’t have a feeling or a sensation right? You can’t determine what someone — the tension in their body, right, based on a camera?” “Specifically are you —” “If someone is, if someone is struggling, right, and you’ve got them handcuffed, they can still be tense, but not really look very tense, right?” “I would disagree with that.” “OK, so the camera would be able to pick up whether someone is having a particular sensory experience?” “Yes, it can.” “OK.”

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Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department and an expert on the use of force, testified on Wednesday about reasonable force in the arrest of George Floyd.CreditCredit...Still image, via Court TV

Several law enforcement officials testified that Mr. Chauvin acted outside the bounds of normal policing by restraining Mr. Floyd in a prone position for more than nine minutes. Sgt. Jody Stiger, a use of force expert with the Los Angeles Police Department, told jurors that Mr. Chauvin should have ceased using force once Mr. Floyd was restrained.

Sgt. Stiger said Mr. Chauvin may have been justified in using some force, like a Taser, earlier in the arrest, when Mr. Floyd resisted as officers tried to put him in a squad car. But once he was on the ground, the force should have stopped, the sergeant said, further bolstering prosecutors’ claim that Mr. Chauvin’s force was excessive. He added that being handcuffed and in a prone position can make it harder to breathe, and that the weight of an officer “just increases the possibility of death.”

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Pulmonologist Says George Floyd Died From a ‘Low Level of Oxygen’

Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a world-renowned expert on breathing, testified on Thursday that George Floyd died from a “low level of oxygen.” His testimony also highlighted how force from Derek Chauvin’s knee and Mr. Floyd’s position on the concrete obstructed Mr. Floyd’s airways.

“So let’s talk about your opinions with respect to this case, have you formed an opinion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty on the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death?” “Yes, I have.” “Would you please tell the jury what that opinion, or opinions, are?” “Yes, Mr. Floyd died from a low level of oxygen, and this caused damage to his brain that we see. And it also caused a P.E.A. arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop. The cause of the low level of oxygen was shallow breathing, small breaths, small tidal volumes, shallow breaths that weren’t able to carry the air through his lungs, down to the essential areas of the lungs that get oxygen into the blood and get rid of the carbon dioxide — that’s the alveoli at the bottom of the lung. The main forces that are going to lead to the shallow breath are going to be that he’s turned prone on the street, that he has the handcuffs in place combined with the street, and then that he has a knee on his neck, and then that he has a knee on his back and on his side. All of these four forces are ultimately going to result in the low tidal volume, which gives you the shallow breaths that we saw here. And so the air will not be able to reach those air sacs — we just saw in the video where the oxygen is exchanged and the carbon dioxide is removed. What you’re seeing is the orientation of Officer Chauvin, his body build is quite erect here. But in particular, what you’re seeing is that the toe of his boot is no longer touching the ground. This means that all of his body weight is being directed down at Mr. Floyd’s neck.”

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Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a world-renowned expert on breathing, testified on Thursday that George Floyd died from a “low level of oxygen.” His testimony also highlighted how force from Derek Chauvin’s knee and Mr. Floyd’s position on the concrete obstructed Mr. Floyd’s airways.CreditCredit...Still image, via Court TV

Arguably the most important question in this case is what caused Mr. Floyd’s death. The prosecution has maintained that Mr. Floyd died from asphyxia, or the deprivation of oxygen, and has called several expert witnesses to support that notion. Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist and a world-renowned expert on breathing, agreed, saying that Mr. Floyd died from a lack of oxygen imposed by the restraint.

In his testimony, Dr. Tobin broke down the arrest in vivid detail, even identifying what he believed to be the exact moment that Mr. Floyd died.

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Pulmonologist Testifies Fentanyl Did Not Impact George Floyd’s Breathing

Dr. Martin Tobin, an expert pulmonologist, said that George Floyd’s breathing rate in the moments before he died indicated that the fentanyl in his system was not having any effect on his breathing, despite the argument by Derek Chauvin’s legal team.

“One, two, three, four … … five, six, seven.” “So that was roughly a 17-second clip?” “Right.” “Is that number, the respiratory rate of 22, significant to this case?” “It’s extremely significant.” “Why is that?” “Because one of the things in this case is the question of fentanyl. And if fentanyl is having an effect, and is causing depression of the respiratory centers, the centers that control breathing. That’s going to result in a decrease in the respiratory rate. And it’s shown that with fentanyl, you expect a 40 percent reduction in the respiratory rate. So with fentanyl, his respiratory rate should be down at around 10. Instead of that, it’s right in the middle, at normal, at 22.”

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Dr. Martin Tobin, an expert pulmonologist, said that George Floyd’s breathing rate in the moments before he died indicated that the fentanyl in his system was not having any effect on his breathing, despite the argument by Derek Chauvin’s legal team.CreditCredit...Still image, via Court TV

Dr. Tobin said he saw no evidence of an overdose, striking a blow to the defense’s contention that drugs played a primary role in Mr. Floyd’s death. In nuanced testimony, Dr. Tobin counted Mr. Floyd’s breaths and said that he was breathing at a regular rate in the minutes before he died. Had he been suffering an overdose, Dr. Tobin said, the rate of breath should have slowed.

Though regular in interval, the breaths were not deep enough to sustain life, Dr. Tobin said. He was one of several expert witnesses who testified they saw no evidence of an overdose.

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Police Surgeon Says George Floyd Died of Asphyxia

Dr. Bill Smock, a surgeon for the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, testified on Thursday that he had found no evidence to support claims that George Floyd died of an overdose.

“Mr. Floyd died from positional asphyxia, which is a fancy way of saying he died because he had no oxygen left in his body. When the body is deprived of oxygen — and in this case, from his chest, pressure on his chest and back — he gradually succumbed to lower and lower levels of oxygen until it was gone. And he died.” “Have you ever encountered a situation of a fentanyl overdose where a person was in the overdose displaying air hunger and essentially crying out for their life or crying out in pain?” “No, sir.” “Based on your experience in training police officers and your experience accompanying police officers to various arrest locations, you have observed police officers use a prone handcuffing technique.” “Yes, I have, for short periods of time, sir.” “And you’ve observed them place their knee in the posterior of the base of the neck, right?” “Yes, again, for short periods of times.”

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Dr. Bill Smock, a surgeon for the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, testified on Thursday that he had found no evidence to support claims that George Floyd died of an overdose.

Dr. Bill Smock, a surgeon for the Louisville Metro Police Department, also testified that Mr. Floyd died from a lack of oxygen. “He gradually succumbed to lower and lower levels of oxygen till it was gone and he died,” Dr. Smock said.

Though a toxicology report found fentanyl and methamphetamine in Mr. Floyd’s system, Dr. Smock said Mr. Floyd’s behavior did not correspond with that of a typical fentanyl overdose victim. Had he overdosed on fentanyl, Dr. Smock said, Mr. Floyd most likely would have slipped out of consciousness without a fight. Instead, Mr. Floyd yelled and begged for air.

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Defense’s Medical Expert Testifies Chauvin’s Knee Did Not Injure Floyd

Dr. David Fowler, an expert for Derek Chauvin’s defense team, testified that the weight of Mr. Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck did not injure him. Several experts for the prosecution said it was enough to asphyxiate him.

“In terms of the placement of Officer Chauvin’s, excuse me, knee to Mr. Floyd, is it your opinion that Mr. Chauvin’s knee in any way impacted the structures of Mr. Floyd’s neck?” “No, it did not. None of the vital structures were in the area where the knee appeared to be from the videos.” “And what injuries did you observe in the photographs of Mr. Floyd?” “All of his injuries were in areas where the knee was not. In other words, they were on the front of his body, his face, his — places where he was restrained. But there was absolutely no evidence of any injury on the skin to the subcutaneous tissue or the deeper structures of the back or the neck.” “You reference the back of Mr. Floyd. Did you see any bruising to the skin?” “I did not see bruising or abrasion to the skin.” “Did you see any bleeding into the subcutaneous tissues of the neck and back?” “Not on the autopsy photographs, nor was it documented in the autopsy.” “How about to the muscles?” The same.” “So in your opinion, the absence of such injury, how does that speak to the cause of death?” “It speaks to the amount of force that was applied to Mr Floyd was less than enough to bruise him.”

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Dr. David Fowler, an expert for Derek Chauvin’s defense team, testified that the weight of Mr. Chauvin’s knee on George Floyd’s neck did not injure him. Several experts for the prosecution said it was enough to asphyxiate him.CreditCredit...Still image, via Court TV

Mr. Nelson, the attorney leading Mr. Chauvin’s defense, has argued throughout the trial that other factors, including drug use and an underlying heart condition, led to Mr. Floyd’s death. But witness after witness called by the prosecution disputed that claim, saying they saw no evidence of a drug overdose and that Mr. Chauvin’s restraint of Mr. Floyd was potentially life-threatening.

One witness, called by the defense, said the opposite. Dr. David Fowler, the former chief medical examiner for the state of Maryland, said he saw no evidence that Mr. Chauvin’s knee hurt Mr. Floyd in any way. His testimony followed that of another expert witness for the defense, who testified that Mr. Chauvin acted within the bounds of normal policing when he held Mr. Floyd in the prone position for nine-and-a-half minutes.

Dr. Fowler and Barry Brodd, a use-of-force expert called by the defense, were the first and only witnesses to offer Mr. Chauvin such unequivocal support.

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Forensic Pathologist Says Floyd Should Have Received Medical Aid

Dr. David Fowler, a medical expert called by Derek Chauvin’s defense team, said under cross examination on Wednesday that George Floyd might have survived if he received immediate medical attention.

“You referred to this as a sudden-death event, but in your report, in your findings, you don’t record a time, do you, sir, for when the sudden death supposedly occurred, do you?” “I don’t specifically remember doing that, correct.” “It’s OK if you don’t know the specific time, but where in this continuum did the sudden death occur from the time he is on the ground saying he can’t breathe to the point in time he’s found not to have a pulse? Are you able to generally characterize where the sudden death took place?” “So what you’re referring to as a sudden death, and I may well have misinterpreted, I’m referring to as a sudden cardiac arrest. There’s a difference between death and cardiac arrest. Cardiac arrest is not absolutely irreversible and not synonymous with a person always passing away. So there’s going to be a period of time between.” “Are you suggesting that, though Mr. Floyd may have been in cardiac arrest, there was a time when he may have been revived because he wasn’t dead yet?” “Immediate medical attention for a person who has gone into cardiac arrest may — may well reverse that process, yes.” “Do you feel that Mr. Floyd should have been given immediate emergency attention to try to reverse the cardiac arrest?” “As a physician, I would agree.” “Are you critical of the fact that he wasn’t given immediate emergency care when he went into cardiac arrest?” “As a physician, I would agree.”

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Dr. David Fowler, a medical expert called by Derek Chauvin’s defense team, said under cross examination on Wednesday that George Floyd might have survived if he received immediate medical attention.CreditCredit...Still image, via Court TV

Both men faced tough cross-examination, though, and prosecuting attorneys scored several key points during their testimonies. Dr. Fowler admitted Mr. Floyd should have been given medical attention, and said that the sudden cardiac arrest that he believes killed Mr. Floyd could have been reversible.

The use-of-force expert called by the defense faced similar struggles during cross-examination. Mr. Brodd, a former police officer, at first said Mr. Chauvin’s restraint did not even qualify as a “use of force,” but then conceded that, under the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department, it did. He also agreed when prosecutors asked whether the level of force should change depending on how much a suspect is resisting; Mr. Chauvin continued to hold his knee on top of Mr. Floyd for several minutes after he became unresponsive.

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Derek Chauvin Declines to Testify in Murder Trial

Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd, invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in his own defense on Thursday.

“You understand that you have a Fifth Amendment privilege to remain silent. Do you understand that?” “Yes.” “You understand that if you choose to exercise that right to remain silent, neither the state nor the court can comment on your silence as a sign or an indication of your guilt? Meaning they can’t say he didn’t get up and defend himself, so equate your silence with guilt. You understand that?” “Yes.” “All right. Now, you also understand that you can waive that right and testify?” Do you understand that?” “Yes, I do.” “Have you made a decision today whether you intend to testify or whether you intend to invoke your Fifth Amendment privilege?” “I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today.” “Mr. Chauvin, I’m going to address you directly because the decision whether or not to testify — I’m going to take this off — is entirely yours. In other words, it’s a personal right. Mr. Nelson makes a lot of the decisions in trial, but one he cannot make for you is whether or not you testify, and he can give you advice and you can take that advice or reject that advice. But the decision ultimately has to be yours and not his. Is this your decision not to testify?” “It is, your honor.” “All right. Do you have any questions about your right to remain silent or to testify on your own behalf?” “Not at this time, I don’t.” “Has anyone promise anything or threatened you in any way to keep you from testifying?” “No promises or threats, your honor.” “Do you feel that your decision not to testify is a voluntary one on your behalf?” “Yes, it is.”

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Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd, invoked his Fifth Amendment right not to testify in his own defense on Thursday.CreditCredit...Still image, via Court TV

One of the most important questions in the trial was answered on Thursday, when Mr. Chauvin said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right not to testify. Though his actions set off a national reckoning over the intersection of race and policing, the public has heard little from the former officer.

Testifying could have been a risk for Mr. Chauvin. Prosecutors showed their prowess during cross-examinations of Mr. Brodd and Dr. Fowler, the two expert witnesses called by the defense. Had he taken the stand, Mr. Chauvin could have opened himself up to a similar level of criticism.

During opening statements, the defense told jurors that this case was about much more than the videos. Yet, witness after witness returned to the videos as they recounted their experiences, debated the details of Mr. Floyd’s last moments, and weighed the question of what caused his death. In closing arguments on Monday, both sides had one final chance to persuade the jury of their version of the story. In the end, the jurors sided with the prosecution and found Mr. Chauvin guilty on all charges. He could face up to 40 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced in several weeks.