Derek Chauvin was found guilty of two counts of murder on Tuesday in the death of George Floyd, whose final breaths last May under the knee of Mr. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, were captured on video, setting off months of protests against the police abuse of Black people.
After deliberating for about 10 hours over two days following an emotional trial that lasted three weeks, the jury found Mr. Chauvin, who is white, guilty of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter for the killing of Mr. Floyd, a Black man, on a street corner last year on Memorial Day.
Mr. Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced in the coming weeks but is likely to receive far less time. The presumptive sentence for second-degree murder is 12.5 years, according to Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines, although the state has asked for a higher sentence.
The verdict was read in court and broadcast live to the nation on television, as the streets around the heavily fortified courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, ringed by razor wire and guarded by National Guard soldiers, filled with people awaiting the verdict.
For a country whose legal system rarely holds police officers to account for killing on the job, especially when the victims are Black people, the case was a milestone and its outcome a sign, perhaps, that the death of Mr. Floyd has moved the country toward more accountability for police abuses and more equality under the law.
The city has been on edge for weeks as the trial progressed and the city awaited the verdict, with many worrying that a not guilty ruling would bring renewed social unrest and chaos to a city that saw buildings set ablaze and widespread looting last year following the death of Mr. Floyd.
After the verdict was read, Judge Peter A. Cahill ordered that Mr. Chauvin, who has been free on bail since last fall, be immediately taken into custody by sheriff’s deputies. Mr. Chauvin was taken out of the courtroom in handcuffs and will be sentenced in eight weeks following the completion of a pre-sentencing report about his background.
The lawyer for Derek Chauvin argued on Monday that the former officer had acted reasonably when he knelt on George Floyd for more than nine minutes, imploring jurors to also consider the moments before officers took Mr. Floyd to the ground as they begin to debate whether to convict or acquit Mr. Chauvin.
Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, said in his closing argument that there was much more to the case than the moments that had been captured on a cellphone video and seen by the world. Mr. Nelson argued that there was at least reasonable doubt about two vital issues: whether Mr. Chauvin’s actions were allowed under Minneapolis Police Department policies and whether Mr. Chauvin had caused Mr. Floyd’s death. Jurors must believe that prosecutors have proved their case beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict.
The prosecution made its closing argument earlier on Monday, and another prosecutor will have a chance to rebut Mr. Nelson’s argument later in the day, after which the 12 jurors who have listened to three weeks of testimony will begin to deliberate over a verdict. They must be unanimous to convict Mr. Chauvin of any of the three charges he faces: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
For nearly three hours, Mr. Nelson focused on Mr. Chauvin’s decision-making and on what factors may have caused Mr. Floyd’s death. He emphasized that the jury instructions say that no crime has been committed if a police officer was justified in using reasonable force and that jurors should determine what is justified by considering what “a reasonable police officer in the same situation would believe to be necessary.”
Determining what is necessary, Mr. Nelson argued, requires paying close attention to the moments before officers put Mr. Floyd face down on the ground, when they tried to get a handcuffed Mr. Floyd into the back of a police car, which he resisted, saying he was claustrophobic. Prosecutors have repeatedly noted the exact amount of time — nine minutes and 29 seconds — that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd, but Mr. Nelson said that was but one piece of evidence.
“It’s not the proper analysis, because the nine minutes and 29 seconds ignores the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds,” Mr. Nelson said. He added: “A reasonable police officer would, in fact, take into consideration the previous 16 minutes and 59 seconds.”
Mr. Nelson has argued throughout the trial that a group of bystanders who were yelling for officers to get off Mr. Floyd and check his pulse had actually taken officers’ attention away from Mr. Floyd’s declining health. On Monday, he highlighted the moment in which experts have said Mr. Floyd took his last breath, pointing out that at the same time, an off-duty firefighter and another bystander had moved closer to Mr. Chauvin, prompting the officer to pull out his mace.
“Human beings make decisions in highly-stressful situations that they believe to be right in the very moment it is occurring,” Mr. Nelson said.
Mr. Nelson also criticized the prosecutors’ medical experts, many of whom had testified that Mr. Chauvin’s actions were the main cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, saying their testimony “flies in the absolute face of reason and common sense.” He particularly singled out the testimony of Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, who he said had selectively chosen screenshots that clouded the context of full videos.
“Do not let yourselves be misled by a single still frame image,” Mr. Nelson said. “Put the evidence in its proper context.”
Mr. Nelson said he was not arguing that Mr. Floyd had died of an overdose, but that jurors must consider a broad range of factors about what could have caused Mr. Floyd’s death, including the poor health of his heart and the fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system.
Mr. Nelson said that when jurors considered all of the evidence, they would conclude that prosecutors have not reached their burden.
“The state has failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore Mr. Chauvin should be found not guilty of all counts,” he said.
In his last comments to jurors before they begin deliberating over a verdict in the Derek Chauvin trial, a Minnesota prosecutor argued that Mr. Chauvin had acted with cruelty and indifference unbefitting of a police officer and should be convicted of murder in George Floyd’s death.
The prosecutor, Steve Schleicher, tried to walk a fine line in his closing argument as he sought to describe Mr. Chauvin as a police officer who had not followed the department’s policies while making it clear that prosecutors were not criticizing policing as a whole.
“Imagining a police officer committing a crime might be the most difficult thing you have to set aside, because that’s just not the way we think about police officers,” Mr. Schleicher told the 12 jurors who will decide the verdict. “What the defendant did was not policing. What the defendant did was an assault.”
Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, will also make a closing argument on Monday, after which another prosecutor will have an opportunity for a rebuttal. Then the jury will be sequestered and will begin discussing the evidence that they have heard over the last three weeks of the trial. The jurors can deliberate for as long as they want before coming to a decision on the three charges that Mr. Chauvin faces: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They must be unanimous to convict him on any count.
For nearly two hours on Monday, Mr. Schleicher summarized the prosecution’s evidence and tried to raise doubt about the evidence offered by Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, peppering his arguments with portions of the jury instructions and the law. It was Mr. Chauvin’s knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes that killed him on May 25, Mr. Schleicher said, not any heart condition or drug overdose. Mr. Schleicher referenced the length of time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd — nine minutes and 29 seconds — 22 times in his closing argument.
“George Floyd struggled, desperate to breathe, to make enough room in his chest to breathe, but the force was too much,” Mr. Schleicher said. “He was trapped. He was trapped with the unyielding pavement underneath him, as unyielding as the men who held him down.”
Throughout the closing argument, Mr. Chauvin, dressed in a gray suit, blue tie and blue shirt, continued to take notes on a legal pad, as he has done for much of the trial.
Mr. Floyd’s death set off a wave of protests against police brutality last summer and led to fresh calls from activists across the country to divert public funds from police departments. But Mr. Schleicher tried to distance the prosecution from any broad criticism of the police, instead focusing jurors’ attention on Mr. Chauvin alone. “This is not an anti-police prosecution,” Mr. Schleicher said. “It’s a pro-police prosecution.”
The prosecutor also sought to humanize Mr. Floyd, showing photographs from his childhood and describing a loving family. And Mr. Schleicher also referenced Mr. Floyd’s struggles with drug addiction and the accusation that he had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes before the police arrived, saying jurors should remember that Mr. Floyd is not the man on trial.
“He didn’t get a trial when he was alive, and he is not on trial here,” Mr. Schleicher said. Throughout the trial, prosecutors have tried to get ahead of arguments from the defense that Mr. Floyd had resisted arrest and could have overdosed on the fentanyl and methamphetamine that were found in his system.
Mr. Schleicher said that Mr. Floyd had, at many times, complied with police officers’ commands, even as one of the officers first approached Mr. Floyd’s car with a handgun pointed at his head. The prosecutor said Mr. Chauvin had shown “indifference” to Mr. Floyd’s life by ignoring his repeated complaints that he could not breathe, as well as demands by bystanders to get off of Mr. Floyd and an officer’s question about whether the police should move Mr. Floyd to another position.
“He could have listened to bystanders; he could have listened to fellow officers; he could have listened to his own training,” Mr. Schleicher said. “He knew better, he just didn’t do better.”
Mr. Schleicher emphasized to jurors that they were the only ones who had the power to convict Mr. Chauvin and said that they had a duty to do so. As he concluded his argument, he showed a photograph of Mr. Floyd one more time for the jurors.
“This case is exactly what you thought when you saw it first, when you saw that video,” Mr. Schleicher said. “It is exactly that. You can believe your eyes. It’s exactly what you believed; it’s exactly what you saw with your eyes; it’s exactly what you knew. It’s what you felt in your gut. It’s what you now know in your heart.”
“This wasn’t policing, this was murder,” Mr. Schleicher continued. “The defendant is guilty of all three counts. All of them. And there’s no excuse.”
The presentation of evidence in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged with murder in the death of George Floyd, concluded on Thursday without testimony from Mr. Chauvin himself.
Lawyers will give their concluding arguments on Monday, and then the jury will begin its own deliberations. Whether Mr. Chauvin would testify was a major question in this trial, one of the most-viewed in decades. Though the death of Mr. Floyd sparked a national reckoning around the intersection of race and policing — and ignited a wave of protests that rocked big cities and small towns across America — the public has heard very little from the former officer.
Throughout the trial, Mr. Chauvin displayed little, if any, emotion. (With a face mask, it can be more difficult to see a person’s expressions.) He listened and took notes as people who watched the arrest in person broke down in tears on the stand, and as numerous expert witnesses from the prosecution placed the blame of Mr. Floyd’s death squarely on his shoulders.
Mr. Chauvin’s defense team called two expert witnesses to the stand this week, along with a handful of other witnesses, most of whom spoke only briefly. A use-of-force expert testified that he acted within the bounds of normal policing when he knelt on Mr. Floyd for nine minutes and 29 seconds, and a medical expert said the restraint was not a contributing factor in Mr. Floyd’s death.
Both witnesses faced dogged cross-examination from prosecuting attorneys. And on Thursday, prosecutors called back to the stand Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist, who refuted a notion pushed by the defense’s medical expert that carbon monoxide from vehicle exhaust contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death. Here are the takeaways from Mr. Chauvin’s defense.
Mr. Chauvin told the judge on Thursday that he would not testify, invoking his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination. He faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges for the death of Mr. Floyd. Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s attorney, said they had several discussions about whether he should testify, including one lengthy meeting on Wednesday. Judge Peter A. Cahill told Mr. Chauvin that the jurors would be instructed to not hold his decision to avoid testifying against him.
Prosecutors called Dr. Tobin, the pulmonologist, back to the stand on Thursday to rebut the notion that vehicle exhaust contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death. One of the two expert witnesses from the defense, Dr. David Fowler, a former chief medical examiner of Maryland, testified on Wednesday that carbon monoxide from the exhaust of the police cruiser that Mr. Floyd was pinned next to might have been a contributing factor. He placed more emphasis on drug use and pre-existing heart conditions, saying there were likely many factors at play. Ultimately, he said Mr. Floyd’s manner of death was “undetermined.”
Dr. Tobin said the carbon monoxide argument was “simply wrong.” He said tests performed by Hennepin County showed that Mr. Floyd had a normal level of oxygen saturation in his blood, and that his level of carboxyhemoglobin — something formed in the blood during by carbon monoxide poisoning — could not have been more than 2 percent; Dr. Fowler said it might have been as high as 10 to 18 percent, though he acknowledged he had not seen any tests to confirm his assumption.
One of Dr. Fowler’s primary assertions was that the prone position where Mr. Floyd was kept for nine and a half minutes was safe. He cited several studies to support this notion, and said there was no hard evidence that putting someone in a prone position with their hands cuffed behind their backs for an extended period of time could be dangerous. Some prosecution witnesses criticized the studies that Dr. Fowler cited, saying they do not reflect real-world policing. They also said that it is well-known among police officers that suspects should not be kept in the prone position for too long because it can make it harder to breathe, particularly when the suspect is being pinned down under the weight of an officer. In a win for the prosecution, Dr. Fowler said Mr. Floyd should have been given medical aid.
The other primary witness from the defense was Barry Brodd, an expert on the use of force whose testimony contradicted that of several witnesses called by the prosecution, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department. Mr. Brodd testified that the officers who arrested Mr. Floyd had acted appropriately every step of the way, and even said that the restraint used by Mr. Chauvin did not constitute a “use of force” at all.
During cross-examination, though, he conceded that the restraint did qualify as a use of force under the policies of the Minneapolis Police Department. He also said that the prone position does not typically hurt suspects and that it was an accepted way to control someone during an arrest. But he faced tough cross-examination on this point, when a prosecutor played body camera footage from the arrest which captured Mr. Floyd saying, “Everything hurts,” and crying out in pain. Mr. Brodd said that he had heard these exclamations during his review of the tapes, but that he didn’t “note it.”
While the two expert witnesses gave testimony that supported Mr. Chauvin, it is unclear what impact they will have on jurors. Cross-examination from prosecutors was effective in that it drew some concessions from both witnesses on the stand. And the defense was less thorough than the prosecution. The prosecution called several medical specialists to the stand, including a cardiologist and a pulmonologist, and allowed its experts to walk through the arrest moment by moment, identifying key points and breaking down the video tapes in meticulous detail. The defense witnesses spoke more broadly, and appeared less knowledgeable about the particulars of the arrest.
The first week of the Derek Chauvin trial was marked by emotional accounts from bystanders who witnessed the nine and a half minutes that the police pinned George Floyd to the ground. But the second week struck a different chord, highlighting testimony from medical and law enforcement experts that centered on the conduct of Mr. Chauvin and the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death.
Those witnesses hit on the key issues of the trial: what exactly killed Mr. Floyd, and whether Mr. Chauvin violated police policies on use of force. The answers to those two questions will be crucial for Mr. Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murdering Mr. Floyd in Minneapolis last May.
Several medical witnesses testified that Mr. Floyd died from a deprivation of oxygen — contradicting claims by the defense lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, who has sought to tie Mr. Floyd’s death to complications from drug use and a heart condition. Law enforcement officials, including the chief of the Minneapolis Police Department, said Mr. Chauvin violated police policy when he used his knee to keep Mr. Floyd pinned to the street.
Here are five key takeaways from the second week of the trial.
An unusual rebuke of police conduct.
On Monday, Chief Medaria Arradondo of the Minneapolis Police Department said Mr. Chauvin “absolutely” violated the department’s policies during the arrest. His statements represented an unusual rebuke of a police officer by an acting chief.
“Once Mr. Floyd had stopped resisting, and certainly once he was in distress and trying to verbalize that, that should have stopped,” Chief Arradondo said. The chief’s statement was one of the most clear-cut and significant on the issue of Mr. Chauvin’s use of force, though several other witnesses also suggested that Mr. Chauvin acted outside the bounds of normal policing.
Still, Mr. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, may have made some headway with other witnesses on the question of force. Officer Nicole Mackenzie, the medical support coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department, agreed with Mr. Nelson’s assertion that a crowd of vocal bystanders could make it difficult for an officer to render medical aid during an arrest. And Lt. Johnny Mercil, a veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department and a use-of-force instructor, also said that hostile bystanders can raise alarm with officers.
Mr. Nelson has suggested throughout the trial that the crowd of bystanders outside the Cup Foods convenience store, some of whom yelled at Mr. Chauvin during the arrest, may have hindered the former officer from providing help once Mr. Floyd became unresponsive.
‘Deadly force’ instead of none.
Sgt. Jody Stiger, who works with the Los Angeles Police Department Inspector General’s Office, continued to explore the use-of-force issue by saying that Mr. Chauvin used “deadly force” when he should have used none. He also teed up another aspect of the trial that came into focus later in the week: whether Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by “asphyxia,” or a lack of oxygen.
“He was in the prone position, he was handcuffed, he was not attempting to resist, he was not attempting to assault the officers — kick, punch or anything of that nature,” Sergeant Stiger said. Responding to questions from the defense, Sergeant Stiger said that Mr. Floyd resisted arrest when the officers tried to place him in the back of a squad car. In those early moments of the arrest, Mr. Chauvin would have been justified if he had decided to use a Taser, Sergeant Stiger said.
The defense has argued that people who do not appear to be dangerous to officers can quickly pose a threat. The sergeant pushed back on that argument, saying that officers should use force that is necessary for what suspects are doing in the moment, not what they might do later.
Physical evidence of drug use.
Mr. Floyd’s drug use was a recurring point of discussion throughout the week. On Wednesday, the jury heard testimony from McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who processed the squad car that Mr. Floyd was briefly placed in on the night he died. An initial inspection found no drugs in the vehicle, but during a second search, requested by Mr. Chauvin’s defense team in January, the team discovered fragments of pills. In testing the fragments, Ms. Anderson said a lab found DNA that matched Mr. Floyd’s.
Breahna Giles, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified that some of the pills recovered at the scene were found to contain methamphetamine and fentanyl. Mr. Chauvin’s defense has suggested that Mr. Floyd died from complications of drug use. Later in the week, the medical examiner who performed the official autopsy of Mr. Floyd said he found no fragments of pills in Mr. Floyd’s stomach contents.
‘The moment the life goes out of his body.’
Two medical witnesses on Thursday testified that they saw no evidence that Mr. Floyd died from a drug overdose. The first, Dr. Martin J. Tobin, a pulmonologist and critical care physician from the Chicago area, said that any normal person could have died from being pinned under Mr. Chauvin’s knee for nine and a half minutes.
His testimony gave a moment-by-moment breakdown of the arrest of Mr. Floyd, identifying what he believed to be “the moment the life goes out of his body.” Responding to Mr. Nelson’s suggestion that Mr. Floyd died from complications of fentanyl use — a toxicology report found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system — Dr. Tobin said Mr. Floyd’s behavior did not correspond with that of a person who was overdosing.
He also pushed back on the idea that simply because Mr. Floyd was speaking, he was getting enough oxygen. Dr. Tobin said that a person might be taking in enough oxygen to speak but not enough to survive. The person can be alive and talking one moment, and dead just seconds later, he said. Dr. Bill Smock, the surgeon for the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, also testified, saying he saw no evidence of an overdose.
“That is not a fentanyl overdose,” Dr. Smock said. “That is somebody begging to breathe.”
Testimony from the medical examiner.
The second week ended with testimony from Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner who performed the official autopsy of George Floyd. Dr. Baker testified that while drug use and a heart condition contributed to Mr. Floyd’s death, police restraint was the main cause.
Leading up to the trial, Dr. Baker had made several statements that could have complicated the arguments of the prosecution, particularly in relation to Mr. Floyd’s drug use. During testimony on Friday, he said that the level of fentanyl found in Mr. Floyd’s system could have been fatal for some people.
Still, Dr. Baker said that, in Mr. Floyd’s case, it was less likely than other potential causes of death. He added that Mr. Floyd had an enlarged heart for his size, which would require more oxygen to pump blood through his body. High-intensity situations — like the one Mr. Floyd experienced during his arrest — could exacerbate that problem.
“In my opinion, the law enforcement subdual, restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions,” he said.
The first week of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis was marked by emotional accounts from bystanders who watched Mr. Chauvin pin George Floyd to the ground for more than nine minutes in May.
The prosecution presented testimony, often accompanied by tears and shaking voices, from people who were there during the fatal arrest of Mr. Floyd, along with hours of video evidence and additional testimony from paramedics and law enforcement officials who said that Mr. Chauvin’s use of force was unnecessary.
Prosecutors also introduced the issue of Mr. Floyd’s drug use, which is expected to be a crucial part of Mr. Chauvin’s defense; Mr. Chauvin’s lawyers are expected to argue that Mr. Floyd’s death was a result of his drug use. The trial, one of the most viewed in decades, comes with the memory of last summer’s protests for racial justice fresh in people’s minds.
Here are six key points from the first week of the trial.
Lawyers outlined their opposing strategies.
On Monday, each side laid out its strategy in opening statements.
Eric J. Nelson, the lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, made clear on Monday that he would attempt to convince jurors that the videos of Mr. Floyd’s death did not tell the full story. The case “is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” Mr. Nelson said, referring to the time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd. He signaled that he planned to argue that Mr. Chauvin had been following his training, that his knee was not necessarily on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and that Mr. Floyd’s death may have been caused by drugs.
One of the prosecutors, Jerry W. Blackwell, urged jurors to “believe your eyes, that it’s homicide — it’s murder.” Prosecutors call all of their witnesses before the defense begins to lay out its case, so the week was heavily weighted toward the prosecution’s arguments, but the strategies of both sides began to come into view.
Witnesses revealed a sense of shared trauma.
The trial began with powerful testimony from a series of witnesses to the arrest, many of whom broke down in tears while recounting what they saw. They included several women who were under 18 at the time of the arrest, as well as a 61-year-old man who spoke with Mr. Floyd while he was pinned to the ground. From the convenience store clerk at the Cup Foods where Mr. Floyd bought cigarettes to an off-duty firefighter who yelled at the officers as Mr. Floyd became unresponsive, they conveyed a shared sense of trauma from what they saw that day.
By highlighting the emotional trauma Mr. Floyd’s arrest caused witnesses, prosecutors seemingly hoped to convince jurors that Mr. Chauvin’s actions had been clearly excessive to people who saw them in real time. One witness, Darnella Frazier, now 18, testified that she has been haunted by what she saw, sometimes lying awake at night “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”
The fateful arrest was replayed from every angle.
For the first time, the final moments before Mr. Floyd’s arrest were shown in detail. Surveillance video from Cup Foods, along with testimony from the store clerk, showed Mr. Floyd walking around the store, chatting and laughing with customers, and eventually buying a pack of cigarettes with a $20 bill that the clerk suspected was fake.
Footage from police body cameras then replayed the arrest from beginning to end. It showed an officer approach Mr. Floyd with his pistol drawn, and captured audio of Mr. Floyd’s fearful reaction: “Please, don’t shoot me,” he said. Mr. Floyd appeared terrified, first of the pistol, then of being held in a police car. As Mr. Chauvin pinned him to the ground, the footage captured the moments when the officers checked for a pulse and found none, but took no action.
The pivotal issue of drug use is directly addressed.
On Thursday, jurors heard from Courteney Ross, Mr. Floyd’s girlfriend at the time of his death. Through stories of their first kiss, their dates and his hobbies, prosecutors used Ms. Ross’s testimony to show Mr. Floyd’s humanity as a father, partner and friend.
Ms. Ross’s testimony also brought one of the most important aspects of the trial to the forefront: Mr. Floyd’s drug use. The role that drugs did or did not play in Mr. Floyd’s death is expected to be a crucial element of Mr. Chauvin’s defense, and prosecutors called Ms. Ross to the stand to get in front of the claims of Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer.
Ms. Ross said that she and Mr. Floyd had first been prescribed painkillers to ease chronic pain, but that when the prescriptions ran out, they continued to buy the pills from others. They had begun a battle for sobriety, sometimes avoiding the drugs before they relapsed again. In the weeks before Mr. Floyd’s death, Ms. Ross said, she suspected that he had begun using again.
Prosecutors sought to show that Mr. Floyd had built up a high tolerance of the drugs, making it less likely that he died of an overdose; Mr. Floyd had methamphetamine and fentanyl in his system at the time of his death, according to a toxicology report.
At the scene, there were no signs of life.
Two paramedics who responded to the scene both testified that they saw no signs of life from Mr. Floyd upon their arrival. One of them, Derek Smith, felt Mr. Floyd’s neck while police officers were still on top of him, and said he found no pulse. Mr. Smith’s attempts to revive him, including the use of a defibrillator and a machine that provides chest compressions, did nothing to improve Mr. Floyd’s condition. Though the paramedics did not address what exactly killed Mr. Floyd, their testimony seemed to support prosecutors’ claim that Mr. Chauvin’s actions resulted in his death.
A tactic that was called ‘deadly force.’
On Friday, Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the longest-serving officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, offered scathing condemnation of Mr. Chauvin’s use of force. He said Mr. Chauvin violated police policy and called his actions “totally unnecessary.” Putting a knee on someone’s neck while they are handcuffed in a prone position, he said, qualifies as “deadly force.”
“If your knee is on a person’s neck, that can kill them,” Lieutenant Zimmerman said, adding that people who are handcuffed generally pose little threat to officers. Mr. Zimmerman’s testimony, bolstered by his more than 35 years on the force, could be a major setback for a crucial aspect of Mr. Chauvin’s defense — that his actions were not only legal, but within the bounds of his training.