MEMORIAL POLICE (AP) – The judge in the George Floyd murder case rejected a request for defense to immediately bind the jury on Monday morning after the murder of a black man during a traffic jam triggered unrest in a suburb just outside Minneapolis.
The request came from the lawyer for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that jurors could be affected by the prospect of what might happen as a result of their verdict.
“Ultimately, your honor becomes the question of whether the jury is competent to make a decision regardless of the potential outcome of their decision,”
Judge Peter Cahill said he will not bring the jury until next Monday when he expects final arguments to begin. He also denied a defense request to ask jurors what they might have seen about the unrest following Sunday’s police shooting of 20-year-old Daunte Wright in the Brooklyn Center.
In the wake of the shooting, hundreds of protesters broke into about 20 businesses in a mall, jumped on police cars and threw stones and other objects at officers at the Brooklyn Center, about 15 miles from the heavily fortified Minneapolis courthouse. Police in riot gear fired gas and flash-bang grenades.
The Brooklyn Center police chief later called the shot unintentional, saying the officer who fired meant drawing a Taser, not a gun.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher argued against binding the Chauvin jury, saying, “I do not think it would be an effective remedy.” He also opposed questioning the jurors.
“World events are happening,” Schleicher said. “And we can not have every single world event that can affect someone’s attitude or emotional state or anything that is the reason for returning and re-voir all those jurors.”
The judge previously asked the jury to avoid the news during the trial.
The ruling came as the trial entered its third week, with the prosecution close to concluding its case and giving way to the start of the defense. Prosecutors based their case on hurtful testimony, experts condemning Chauvin’s use of a headrest, and medical authorities attributing Floyd’s death to oxygen deficiency.
When the testimony was resumed Monday morning, Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiology expert from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, previously testified by saying that Floyd died of low oxygen levels from the way he was held down by police.
He rejected defense theories that Floyd died of an overdose or a heart disease. Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system and had high blood pressure and narrowing of the coronary arteries, according to previous testimony.
“It was the really inclined restraint and positional limitations that led to his suffocation,” Rich said.
In fact, the expert said, “Any indicator is that Mr. Floyd actually had an unusually strong heart.”
Rich said he had reviewed Floyd’s autopsy report. He said some narrowing of the arteries is extremely common and that Floyd had a mildly thickened or mildly enlarged heart, but that it would be normal in a person with high blood pressure.
Rich confirmed testimony from other experts, saying Floyd was “held in a life-threatening manner” and noted, among other things, that he was standing face down on the ground, a knee was on his neck, his hands were tied behind his back and were being pushed. upward, and a knee was on the lower half of his body.
Rich said that as an officer on video noted that Floyd was going out, police could probably still have saved his life if they had relocated him so his lungs could expand again. And when an officer noticed that Floyd’s pulse had stopped, police still had a significant opportunity to save his life by administering CPR, he said.
At cross-examination, Nelson tried to shift the blame to Floyd for fighting with police as they tried to put him in their car. The defense attorney asked Rich if Floyd would have survived if he had “just gotten in the back seat of the team car.”
But Rich quickly reiterated that the death was caused by the officers’ actions: “If he had not been detained in the way he was, I think he would have survived that day. I think he would have gone home or wherever he wanted to go. ”
Nelson replied, “So in other words, if he had gotten in the team car, he would be alive.”
Derek Chauvin, 45, who is white, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death on May 25th. Police had been called to a neighborhood market where Floyd was accused of trying to pass on a counterfeit bill.
Prosecutors say Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck as the 46-year-old black man lay attached to the sidewalk for 9 1/2 minutes. Spectator video of Floyd crying “I can not breathe!” until he eventually became lethargic, sparking protests and spreading violence in Minneapolis and around the United States
Chauvin’s lawyer expected to call his own medical experts to say it was not the officer’s knee that killed Floyd. The defense has not said whether Chauvin will testify.
Find AP’s full coverage of George Floyd’s death at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd
Webber reported from Fenton, Michigan.