Facts Emerging from Derek Chauvin’s Trial Contradict Media’s Account of the Incident

The excerpts below are from Anastasia Katz’s detailed report on Derek Chauvin’s Trial through Day 5.  You can read the entire 11,600 word report here.

“Under cross-examination, defense lawyer Eric Nelson asked if drug use could cause hypoxia, and the doctor said it could. Mr. Nelson inquired about Floyd’s high carbon dioxide levels, and whether that could be caused by Fentanyl. Dr. Langenfeld said that it could; the “primary reason” Fentanyl is so dangerous is that is depresses the lungs. A high carbon dioxide level causes shortness of breath, even without stress. The doctor also said that Fentanyl causes sleepiness, and Mr. Nelson said in his Opening Statement that he would produce a witness to testify that Floyd was very sleepy before the police showed up.”

“Next on the stand was Lt. Johnny Mercil, a MPD use-of-force instructor who knows martial arts, particularly Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. Jiu Jitsu often uses body weight instead of striking to apply force. Documents shown in court prove that Officer Chauvin took training from Lt. Mercil in 2018. . . . 

Mr. Nelson showed the lieutenant a photo of a paramedic checking George Floyd’s carotid pulse by feeling the side of Floyd’s neck while Officer Chauvin still had his knee on him. “In your experience, would you be able to touch the carotid artery if the knee was on the carotid artery?” Lt. Mercil replied, “No, sir.”

The defense then showed a screenshot from one of the officers’ body cameras, that showed Officer Chauvin holding Floyd down. Lt. Mercil agreed that Officer Chauvin’s shin appeared to be across Floyd’s shoulder blade, not on his neck. There were two other screenshots with different time stamps that also showed Officer Chauvin’s shin across Floyd’s shoulder blade.

When he looked at a fourth photo that showed Officer Chauvin’s knee, the lieutenant said this seemed to be a “hold,” not a neck restraint. He conceded that it’s possible he had to hold someone down for 10 minutes in his own police career, and that he had held people down while waiting for Emergency Medical Services. He has trained officers to do this.

The court viewed photos from a training manual that show an officer putting a knee on a subject’s shoulder, with his shin across the neck. This is a technique for handcuffing someone in a prone position. An officer may need to stay in that position for a while, but Lt. Mercil said that officers must be mindful of the neck. He also testified that he had been taught that if someone can talk, he can also breathe.”

Testimony also brought out that  when apprehended, Floyd already under the influence of drugs had ingested more drugs to avoid being caught with them and the doctor who led the effort to save Floyd testified that there was no report from EMS that Floyd had overdosed on a specific drug, so the doctor did not consider drug antidotes.

Testimony also brought out that “Mama” was Floyd’s name for his girlfriend and that he might have been calling for her as his mother died in 2018.

Chief Arradondo said “neck restraints and choke holds are taught and authorized by MPD policy, and he classified the neck restraint he saw Officer Chauvin using in video footage as a “conscious” neck restraint, one that was not intended to render someone unconscious. An unconscious neck restraint is authorized only if an officer is in fear of bodily harm.”

“In cross examination, Eric Nelson asked an intriguing question: Was Chief Arradondo familiar with “Camera Perspective Bias.” The chief said he was not. Camera Perspective Bias refers to the fact that the point of view from which you see an event can change your opinion of it.

Two videos were shown in court, both separately and side-by-side. The side-by-side version matched the timing of the two videos, so you could see the same event from two points of view. One video was taken by 17-year-old Darnella Frazier with her phone and the other was video from Officer J. Alexander Kueng’s body camera. From Darnella Frazier’s perspective, it looks like Officer Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck — but Police Chief Arradondo agreed that from the perspective of Officer Kueng’s body cam, Officer Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s shoulder blade. Up until that moment, the chief said he thought the knee had been on Floyd’s neck.”

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