Witness Testifies George Floyd's Death Was "Absolutely" Preventable as Prosecution Rests Case
Outside the Hennepin County Government Center the past two days has been one of collectively community grief and anger at the tragic and unwarranted police murder of Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center.
Inside the courtroom, insulated by concrete, steel fences, razor wire, and the rules of court, the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd continued unabated, as the prosecution completed witness testimony for its case on Monday and rested early in the day today.
The final witnesses for the prosecution—two experts separated by George Floyd’s brother Philonise—reiterated and hammered home the prosecution’s case and were especially resistant to defense attorney Eric Nelson’s cross examination. The first witness of the day, cardiologist and professor Dr. Jonathan Rich, testifying in a criminal trial for the first time, was especially engaging to the jury, who took copious notes as Rich testified extensively about medical details, summarizing that "George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event and he did not die from a drug overdose.”
Philonise Floyd openly wept as he offered “spark of life” testimony—permitted by Minnesota law to give jurors information about who the victim was as a person—about his brother, his role in their family, and his relationship with their mother. Nelson opted not to cross-examine Floyd.
In motions in the morning, Nelson attempted to exclude testimony from the final witness for the prosecution’s case, Seth Stoughton, is a former police officer, use of force expert, lawyer, and professor in Criminal Law at South Carolina School of Law. Stoughton’s testimony was limited to testifying about national police standards as a distinction from the previous use of force experts, to resolve Nelson’s objection. As Dr. Rich served to finalize the prosecution’s case that Floyd’s death was absolutely due to Chauvin’s knee on his neck, Stoughton stated in no uncertain terms that Chauvin’s actions were an abuse of force.
Judge Peter Cahill opted not to subject the fourteen jurors to voir dire about their knowledge about anything regarding Duante Wright’s death and subsequent community protests and police actions against them, ruling that it was not relevant to the case, but did make a point of telling the jury not to watch the news at all. It’s impossible to imagine, given the deployment of National Guard troops and the curfew Governor Tim Walz imposed, that the jury could avoid being aware. From the outside looking in, however, one must ask if Minnesota Police can’t wait to kill an unarmed black man until a cop is tried for the last murder of an unarmed black man, what exactly the point of a trial is in the first place.
Summary and assessment of the first day of the defense’s case to come, hopefully before tomorrow morning.