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Chauvin Trial Day 4 Wrap-Up: Another Poor Day for Prosecution, Advantage Defense

Chauvin Trial Day 4 Wrap-Up: Another Poor Day for Prosecution, Advantage Defense

Medics fled angry mob, Fire was late and in wrong place, MPD Sergeant was uninformed

Welcome to our ongoing coverage of the Minnesota murder trial of Derek Chauvin, over the in-custody death of George Floyd.  I am Attorney Andrew Branca for Law of Self Defense, providing guest commentary and analysis of this trial for Legal Insurrection.

Anyone interested in a free podcast version of our daily legal commentary and analysis of the Chauvin trial can access the Law of Self Defense News/Q&A Podcast, available on most every podcast platform, including PandoraiHeartSpotifyApple PodcastGoogle Podcastsimple RSS feed, and more.

Before I jump into the substance of today’s testimony, I’d like to make a concession, or at least a change of opinion, with respect to Defense Counsel Nelson.  During jury selection there were numerous instances in which it appeared to me that he was being overwhelmed not just by the quantity of prosecution counsel—there are 10 or 12 prosecutors working this case, and only one Nelson—but also by the quality of prosecution counsel.  The concern I had was that perhaps Nelson was simply not up to this case.

My concession is that after watching Nelson working in the trial proper, I’ve been extremely impressed by his performance.  While it’s hard to score the lawyer until the very end of the case, because you never know what they might be intentionally delaying as part of trial strategy, or how they’ll perform when it is time for them to be on offense during their case in chief rather than on defense while the state calls witnesses, I’m pleased to be able to say that Nelson is performing at a level vastly greater than I’d feared might be the case.

So, Counselor Nelson, I tip my hat.  With that out of the way …

Overview

Today’s court proceedings brought us five more state witnesses. Once again, none of today’s state witnesses appeared to substantively advance the state’s narrative of guilt—never all that clearly stated even in opening statements—and all provided gems useful to the defense narrative of innocence (or, at least, and more technically accurate, of non-guilt).

Today’s witnesses consisted of one Courteney Ross, Floyd’s co-addict lady friend, Seth Bravender, the driver of the ambulance that arrived on scene and a paramedic, Derek Smith, the second paramedic on the ambulance, Jeremy Norton, a Captain on the Minneapolis Fire Department, and David Pleoger, the now retired MPD Sergeant who was in charge of the officers involved with Floyd’s arrest.

State’s Witness: Courteney Ross, Co-Addict, Lady Friend

The first of the state’s witnesses today was Courteney Ross, who shared Floyd’s drug addiction with him (they met as addicts), and who has been variously characterized as Floyd’s girlfriend or fiancé.

I’ll note that it’s been my experience in these politically charged cases that often the most tenuous of romantic relationships may get recast as a formal betrothal, to provide some social credit that might otherwise not exist, and it’s impossible to really determine the true nature of the relationship. Accordingly, I’m falling back to my grandmother’s description of such things, and referring to Ross as Floyd’s “lady friend.”

Direct questioning was conducted by Prosecutor Matthew Frank, and of course cross by Defense counsel Eric Nelson.

At this point it perhaps goes without saying that Ms. Ross also had a catastrophic emotional breakdown on the witness stand, complete with sobbing and gasping and tears.  She partly explained her reaction by noting how devastated Floyd had still been over the loss of his mother, appealing to the video of Floyd calling out “Mama!” as he died. This whole bucket of emotional appeal would take on a very different air once Ross was subject to cross-examination, as we’ll see.

Generally speaking, Ross testified with the kind of evasiveness we’ve come to expect from state witnesses, including telling part rather than the whole truth in response to defense questioning, claiming she couldn’t recall what she’d previously told investigators and compelling the defense to refresh her recollection with transcripts—and this only goes one way, it seems, the only forgotten prior testimony is that which would be helpful to the defense—and so on.

I already covered two of the most notable aspects of Ross’ testimony in our BREAKING post this morning, which you find here: Chauvin Trial BREAKING: “Mama” Was George Floyd’s Nickname For His Drug-Sharing Girlfriend

In that blog post I wrote about the revelation, disclosed on cross-examination by the defense, that Floyd’s pet name for Ross, and the moniker under which he had her listed in his cell phone was “Mama.”  Was she the “Mama” he was calling for while restrained on the street.

I also wrote about Ross recounting that Floyd had experienced a previous overdose in March 2020 taking pills similar or identical to those he took on May 25, during which she had to bring him to the hospital because he was experiencing intense stomach pain—much as he was experiencing on May 25 when restrained by police after self-ingesting a bunch of these pills in an effort to avoid their discovery by police.

Further, Ross herself had back in March taken some of these same pills and reported to investigators that she thought they were going to make her die—much like Floyd was saying he felt he was going to die while restrained on May 25 after his self-ingestion of similar pills.

She noted that her “normal” opioids were relaxing and took her pain away, but these strange pills acted as a stimulant, such that she was jittery and couldn’t sleep all night. She had also told investigators that in that March overdose she observed foam around Floyd’s mouth—just as his mouth was foaming on May 25.

This is important evidence, because of the state’s argument in opening that it couldn’t have been the fentanyl in Floyd’s system that killed him, because fentanyl (an opioid) makes people sleep when they overdose on it, and Floyd was clearly not sleeping.

To the extent the drugs ingested by Floyd also contained methamphetamine, however (and we know that the found pills contained both), then they also contained a stimulant, which could explain Floyd’s energized state in forcibly resisting lawful arrest against multiple officers for some 10 minutes.

The meth would also explain why Floyd’s pupils didn’t demonstrate the pin-prick constrictions of fentanyl overdose, but were instead dilated—a condition the state used to argue, again, that it could not have been fentanyl that killed Floyd–the dilation would be induced by the meth component of the drugs.

All of this, of course, suggests an alternative cause of death other than Chauvin’s knee, and that is the self-induced overdose of Floyd via that pill ingestion on May 25.

Cross-examination also revealed that Ross had told investigators that she believed Floyd to have been “clean” (off drugs) for a substantial period of time leading up to May 25, perhaps right up until just two weeks prior to his death.

This “clean” period suggests all kinds of considerations with respect to the question of tolerance, which in turn touches on whether Floyd had such a high tolerance to his drugs of choice that even a three-fold fatal dose might not be able to kill him.

I hesitate to dive into these issues in depth, because I claim no expertise in the medicine of illicit drugs, drug addiction, or tolerance, other than that gained by interaction with addicts and those who treat them.

That said, I don’t believe tolerance works to make an addict more resilient against death by overdose, but merely makes it harder to get the desired high.  The mechanism of death by overdose and the mechanism of the high are fundamentally different. The brain develops tolerance to the drug and so requires a greater concentration of drug to get the same high. But that has nothing to do with how the drug kills. In the case of fentanyl, death is usually the result of the drug achieving a level sufficient to stop respiration—and I don’t believe the body develops any tolerance to that biological mechanism.

In other words, if an addict first needs 2 units of drug to get high, he’ll eventually need 4, then 8, then 10, etc.  But if a fatal dose is 20 units, then whenever the addict hits 20, he dies, and it matters not a whit how much tolerance he’s developed in the context of getting high. Indeed, one of the great dangers to addicts is that they grow ever closer to fatal overdose as their increasing tolerance to achieve a high demands doses that approach ever closer to fatal levels.

Again, however, that’s a layman’s understanding of these issues. I look forward to hearing expert testimony during the trial.

We also learned from Ross that the passenger in Floyd’s car, Maurice Hall, the man who had earlier tried to pass a bad $20 bill to the clerk in Cup Food and been rebuffed, was apparently Floyd’s drug dealer, or at least one of them.

This provides some insight to why that man’s legal counsel suddenly announced yesterday that if his client was called to testify in Chauvin’s trial he would refuse to provide testimony and would plead the 5th.  If I were the drug dealer involved with a fatal overdose of a client, I suppose I’d be pleading the 5th, as well, as I’d be liable to a murder conviction.

Interestingly, the pills that caused Floyd’s hospitalization because of intense stomach pain, and that acted as a stimulant on Ross, back in March, were essentially identical to the pills consumed by Floyd on May 25, 2020, the day of his death.

Note that if the state wanted Hall to testify, that is if Hall’s testimony was going to be favorable to the state and increase the prospects of convicting Chauvin, the state could simply immunize Hall and compel him to testify. The fact that the state is not doing so strongly suggests that they have reason to believe Hall’s testimony would be favorable to the defense and decrease the prospects of convicting Chauvin.

Justice, much?

Re-direct of Ross by Prosecutor Frank came across as particularly weak.

He asked Ross if Floyd had died in his March overdose taking essentially the same pills—obviously he hadn’t—as if this meant that it was physically impossible for Floyd to have died of the same pills on May 25. After all, the overdose in March merely hospitalized him, surely that means they can’t kill him, right?

Oofah.

Unfortunately for Frank, Ross’ response to this line of inquiry only helped the defense—how often does that seem to happen with these state witnesses?  When he asked her, in effect, he took the pills in March and they didn’t kill him then, right, she answered: “No. In fact, he had a lot of energy.”  Again, driving home the role of the stimulant methamphetamine component of the drug cocktail in all of this.

Here’s the video of Ross’ testimony on direct, cross, and re-direct:

Ross Direct Questioning

Ross Cross-Examination

Ross Re-Direct Questioning

State’s Witness: Seth Bravender, Paramedic, Hennepin EMS

The second of the state’s witnesses today was Seth Bravender, the driver of the ambulance that responded to the Floyd scene, and a paramedic who helped provide care to Floyd as well as driving him to Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC).

Direct questioning was conducted by Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge, apparently one of the few of Attorney General’s Keith Ellison’s actual staff attorneys whom he trusted to participate in the case (most of the other prosecutors on the case are high-end private attorneys brought in specifically for the purpose).  Cross examination was, of course, conducted by Defense Counsel Eric Nelson, the only attorney on the defense “team.”

An early interesting reveal in Bravender’s direct testimony arose when Eldridge asked him to describe his training. He noted that he’d first been an EMT, and that required relatively little training, a 6 credit college course, but that now he was a paramedic, and that took a year-long course of instruction.

This is notable because while MPD officers will have had some first aid training, they are not trained to even the level of an EMT (the standard for the Minneapolis Fire Department).  That means that the first-aid training of MPD is way, way below that of the paramedics who were en route to the Floyd scene with code 3 lights and sirens.

Would it be reasonable for a police officer, trained below EMT standards, to simply wait the mere couple of minutes he expected it to take for the highly trained paramedics to arrive, rather than attempt to provide basic first aid in a busy street and in the presence of an angry and hostile mob threatening imminent physical violence?

I would think so.

It’s also notable that Bravender noted that the time interval between receiving the code 2 (non-emergency medical call) and the code 3 (emergency medical call, lights and sirens) was only about a minute and a half.  It wasn’t as if the officers on scene waited 10 minutes before escalating the call from code 2 to code 3.  They saw that Floyd had bloodied his nose in resisting arrest, called the code 2, then within 90 seconds escalated that to a code 3 when they realized Floyd was in greater distress than a bloody nose could explain.

That strikes me as pretty prompt.

Bravender also provided important testimony that buttressed the defense argument that the angry, hostile, and imminently threatening crowd was an important factor in decision-making at the scene.  Bravender and his paramedic partner Smith both quickly decided to do a “load and scoot” on Floyd, rather than attempt to treat him on site, in part (I expect in whole) because of the presence of the angry mob.

The state tried to undercut this view of the mob in two rather dishonest respects.

First, they kept asking if anyone in the mob had actually attacked the officers or paramedics.  Of course, that’s not the point.  The mere presence of a threatening mob is sufficient to influence decision making, without having to experience an actual attack.

Second, Eldridge repeatedly conflated the matter of “moving” Floyd into the ambulance, where the paramedics; equipment was located, and “moving” Floyd three long blocks away from the scene before providing care so that the mob could be escaped.

By conflating these two, she suggested that the reason for the move was to better provide Floyd with care, and by implication not to escape the mob.

Providing better care is certainly the reason to move Floyd into the ambulance. It’s clearly not the motivation for providing him only limited (one paramedic) care until the ambulance has driven three long blocks away.

A key theme hit by Eldridge repeatedly through her direct of Bravender was the notion that Floyd’s death was the result of a delay in beginning chest compressions, and by implication therefore the death was a result of the police not beginning chest compressions earlier.

After all, however limited their medical training, anybody can do simple chest compressions. This failure constitutes an unlawful killing!

Of course, this begs the question that the officers knew chest compressions were appropriate and necessary, and likely to make a life-saving difference.

First I question whether they had this subjective awareness. We heard repeated testimony today, or saw it on video footage, of the various officers attempting to assist the paramedics in helping Floyd.  Chauvin himself helped get Floyd onto the gurney and helped guide the gurney to the ambulance.  Another of the four officers, I forget now which but whose body camera ID ended in 5Z7, joined Floyd in the ambulance at Chauvin’s direction, and provided chest compressions to Floyd while the ambulance drove those three long blocks away from the mob and until the fire department arrived at the ambulance.

Unlikely conduct for racist police murderers, I think.

The direct questioning of Bravender by Eldridge further provided support for the defense narrative of the angry mob when body camera footage of the paramedics on the scene was played.  The voice of MMA “expert” Williams as well as that of 1-year off-duty firefighter Hansen can be clearly heard calling the officers “b!tch.”

Once again, overall I thought the direct questioning of Bravender was more helpful to the defense than it was to the prosecution.

On cross-examination by Nelson, more points were scored for the defense.  In particular, Nelson did a good job on cross in getting Bravender to acknowledge the very different roles of the police on the one hand and EMS on the other.  For example, it’s the police who have to deal with the danger of the scene—EMS will stage some distance off and wait for a code 4 (all safe) before coming in to provide care.

Bravender also recounted frequently coming upon scenes in which police were struggling with a suspect.

On another important issue, Nelson asked Bravender if sometimes people who overdose become violent when they are resuscitated or regain consciousness. Although the state objected, Cahill allowed the question, and Bravender answered in the affirmative. Indeed, Bravender testified, he’d personally seen it happen.

Further, Bravender testified that when they were called out on an overdose call, it was standard practice for them to be accompanied by police—precisely because of the heightened danger of such circumstances.

Bravender also agreed that he’d told earlier investigators that when he arrived on scene Floyd was on his left side.  This is important because the state is in part arguing that Floyd died of positional asphyxia because he was kept prone on his stomach, and should instead have been in the “recovery position.” Well, the recovery position is to be up on one side of the body, and the left side suits this purpose just fine. Thus Bravender’s description placed Floyd in precisely the recovery position the state argues was appropriate.

Nelson also asked Bravender if the ambulance carried ketamine, and when the answer was affirmative Nelson asked why. The answer, of course, is that ketamine is a powerful sedative that can be used to calm violently resisting suspects, many of whom are violent because of drug overdose.

This both highlights the risk police officers face in handling overdose calls, but also provides a subjectively reasonable basis for the officers to want to wait on the ketamine paramedics believed to be moments away rather than provide care to the apparently overdosed Floyd themselves.

Here’s the direct, cross, and re-direct of Bravender:

Bravender Direct Questioning

Bravender Cross-Examination

Bravender re-Direct

Bravender re-Cross

State’s Witness: Derek Smith, Paramedic, Hennepin EMS

Next up was Derek Smith, who was Bravender’s paramedic partner on the ambulance (Bravender was the driver and paramedic, and Smith came across as the senior of the two.

I’ll jump right to the money on Smith, and this occurred during his cross examination by Nelson, when Smith expressed the belief that “there was no reason the cops couldn’t have started chest compressions on Floyd sooner.”  I’m sure those on the “lynch Chauvin now!!!!” bandwagon will take this statement as some kind of definitive proof that Chauvin is criminally responsible for Floyd’s death.

Of course, it’s nothing of the sort. First of all, there’s no way to know if providing chest compression earlier would have been of any use to a badly overdosed Floyd with existing serious hypertensive and cardiac disease, and a three-fold fatal overdose of meth/fentanyl drug cocktail in his system.

Absent Narcan, which the officers didn’t have, they would have been doing chest compressions on a patient likely already dead or who was otherwise beyond saving.

Further, Smith’s comment is from the perspective of a paramedic with the narrow mission of saving the life of his patient. He knew nothing about what had gone on before he arrived on scene, nor of the many policies and tactical considerations relevant to the police but not to himself.

After all, Smith had the option to “load and scoot” Floyd and immediately evacuate the presence of the angry, threatening mob, all the while able to rely on being defended by the officers if things went bad.  Chauvin and the officers did not have the option to simply run away.

To put it another way, just because Smith would have preferred that the officers had provided chest compressions in the presence of the angry, threatening mob, even if would have added as little as 1% better chance of survival for Floyd, that opinion is completely detached from the broader context with which the officers were obliged to deal.  It’s merely an opinion, not an authoritative conclusion, and a poorly informed opinion, at that.

Otherwise, Smith’s testimony was rather boring.  In essence the entirety of his testimony was that Floyd was apparently dead when Smith got on scene, he was dead when the ambulance fled the three blocks, he was dead when the fire department joined him, and he was still dead when the ambulance dropped Floyd off at Hennepin County Medical Center.

As with Bravender, in direct of Smith Prosecutor Eldridge pushed hard on the notion that Floyd’s death could be attributed to the transient delay of the officers in providing earlier care to Floyd, but again all this ignores the tactical environment in which the officers were making their decisions.

Smith was subject to only direct examination by Eldridge and cross by (of course) Nelson, and here are those videos:

Smith Direct Questioning

Smith Cross-Examination

State’s Witness: Jeremy Norton, Captain, Minneapolis Fire Department

The next state’s witness was Jeremy Norton, a Captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department.

Bottom line with Norton was I really didn’t see his testimony as being at all helpful to the state—except, perhaps in acting as a “white knight” for off-duty firefighter and bystander witness Hansen—and to the contrary chunks of his testimony struck me as favoring the defense.

Yes, again, another state’s witness whose net testimony appeared to benefit the defense more than the state.

(It’s hard to overemphasize how familiar this pattern is to me based on my experience covering the George Zimmerman trial—probably because of similar drivers, both being apparently politically-motivated prosecutions lacking the substance necessary for an evidence- & law-based finding of guilt.)

Again, Eldridge led direct here, and it was just boring, boring, boring.  If anything, it made the fire department look bad.

First the department received a code 2 for a mouth injury, just like the paramedics, then it was upgraded to a code 3 for lights and sirens, just like the paramedics.  When the fire department actually got to Cup Foods, however, the ambulance had already fled the angry mob.

As a result, the fire department personnel basically looked around, saw nothing, entered Cup Foods looking for a patient, again saw nothing, and finally came across a police officer in the back of the store who told them they were supposed to be meeting the ambulance three long blocks away. So they loaded back up in their truck and took off to find the ambulance.

Not exactly a sterling example of professional performance.

Now, perhaps this wasn’t the fault of the fire department—maybe they did everything perfectly.  But it certainly was not the fault of the police officers, whose only role is to make the medical calls to dispatch. After that the call is out of the officer’s hands.  And the more it looks like fault might lay in hands other than the police, the weaker the prosecution’s narrative of guilt looks.

On cross-examination Nelson again scored important points, this time walking Norton through the timeline of events involving when the police placed their medical calls and when the fire department actually showed up. That time interval was approximately 12 minutes, vastly greater than off-duty firefighter Hansen had claimed was typical, and presumably much longer than the officers on the scene could reasonably have expected.

Again, maybe this 12-minute response time was no fault of the fire department, who knows. But it certainly wasn’t the fault of the officers, and accordingly again diminishes the prosecution’s narrative of guilt.

On re-direct, Eldridge tried to do damage control by conflating the time interval between when the police made the medical call and when the fire department arrived, on the one hand, and when the fire department received that call and arrived, on the other.  The latter interval may be important in determining fire department performance, but it’s irrelevant to the reasonable perceptions of events by the officers on scene—all they knew was that they’d made the call for code 3 medical, and the fire department wasn’t there yet, and when fire did show up, it was too late.

Norton was subject to direct by Eldridge, cross by (of course) Nelson, and re-direct by Eldridge, and here are the videos of that:

Norton Direct Questioning

Norton Cross-Examination

Norton Re-Direct

State’s Witness: David Pleoger: Retired MPD Sergeant

The last witness of the day was David Pleoger. Now retired, on May 25, 2020 Pleoger was the MPD Sergeant responsible for the precinct zone in which the Floyd event took place, and the supervisory sergeant over Chauvin, Thau, King, and Lane.

Pleoger was questioned on direct by Prosecutor Schleiter, and on cross by (of course) Nelson.

Pleoger struck me as testifying with no particular bias, although of course he exists within the larger political dynamic of Minneapolis and a year’s worth of propaganda around the case, and it would be difficult for that to have zero impact.  Still, he struck me as giving pretty much “just the facts” testimony.

It appeared to me, however, that the prosecution had placed a large bet on Pleoger. Specifically, the state wanted Pleoger to testify before the jury, unequivocally, that Chauvin’s continued use of the knee restraint in the three minutes or so between when Floyd appeared to stop moving and the paramedics arrived, was an excessive use of force, period.

Because of his even-handed testimony, I expect people watching Pleoger will draw from his testimony whatever it is they most want to see.

When asked by the prosecution if it wasn’t true that sometimes police officers used more force than the circumstances called for, Pleoger answered in the affirmative.

Conversely, when asked by the defense if it wasn’t true that sometimes police officers were compelled by circumstances to use more force than might otherwise be the case, Ploeger again answered in the affirmative.

Both of these answers are correct—the appropriate amount of force is determined by the totality of the circumstances, and it’s both true that greater force than necessary under the circumstances is excessive and unlawful and that the circumstances may require a greater degree of force than might otherwise be the case.

In the case of Prosecutor Schleiter, he was looking for Pleoger to make a blanket statement that Chauvin’s knee restraint was excessive, period.  Schleiter wanted this opinion to be based on Pleoger’s experience doing use-of-force reports as part of his job as a police sergeant.

Nelson, of course, wanted to emphasize the circumstantial dynamic of use-of-force situations. Further, he objected to the state’s efforts to extract a definitive use-of-force opinion specific to this event because Pleoger had not comprehensively reviewed the use-of-force evidence in this case.

Specifically, although Pleoger as a sergeant would routinely review, in a comprehensive manner, routine use of force events involving his officers, once an event was escalated to a so-called critical incident—such as the death of a suspect, as in the case of Floyd—the use-of-force investigation was escalated out of his hands to higher authority.

As a result, Pleoger never did anything like a thorough use-of-force investigation in this case. At most, he’d reviewed the body camera footage, and even that only at the late request of the prosecutors.

As a result, the defense argued in a period during which the jury had been removed from the courtroom, precisely to allow this argument out of the jury’s hearing, Pleoger might be able to provide the jury with a use-of-force opinion, but only an uninformed opinion, not an informed opinion, much less an authoritative decision.

After this argument outside the hearing of the jury, the jury was called back in and Cahill allowed Schleiter to ask Pleoger a very narrow use-of-force question.  Schleiter got the answer he wanted, but the context was so tightly constrained that I don’t see it as having caused much harm to the defense.

That said, were I the judge in this case, I’d not have permitted the question, given Pleoger’s relatively uninformed state on the use-of-force facts of this particular case. In any case, of course, we have a great deal of additional use-of-force testimony to come in this trial.

Because of the jockeying between the state’s efforts to drag a purportedly authoritative use-of-force call out of Pleoger, and the defense efforts to foil this, poor Ploeger was subject to direct by Schleiter, then cross by Nelson, then re-direct by Schleiter, then re-cross by Nelson, and finally a re-re-direct by Schleiter.

The videos of all that, plus the argument between counsel that occurred outside the hearing of the jury, can be enjoyed here.

Pleoger Direct Questioning

Legal Argument Outside Hearing of Jury

Pleoger Direct Questioning (completion)

Pleoger Cross-Examination

Pleoger Re-Direct

Pleoger Re-Cross

Pleoger Re-re-Direct

OK, folks, that’s all I have for all of you today.

Join us again tomorrow morning for our LIVE coverage of the court proceedings in Minnesota v. Chauvin, and for our end-of-day wrap-up commentary and analysis, both right here at Legal Insurrection.

Until next time, stay safe!

–Andrew

Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

Attorney Andrew F. Branca’s legal practice has specialized exclusively in use-of-force law for thirty years.  Andrew provides use-of-force legal consultancy services to attorneys across the country, as well as near-daily use-of-force law insight, expertise, and education to lawyers and non-lawyers alike in the form of blog posts, video, and podcasts, through the Law of Self Defense Membership service.  If this kind of content is of interest to you, try out our two-week Membership trial for a mere 99 cents, with a 200% no-question- asked money-back guarantee, here:  Law of Self Defense Membership Trial.

[Featured image is a screen capture from video of today’s court proceedings in MN v. Chauvin.]

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Comments

Hope your right,but I just feel these jurors will buy the prosuctions case today

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to RyanJ34. | April 2, 2021 at 11:59 am

    I think all but perhaps two jurors already own what the prosecution is selling, are satisfied customers, and would like more.

    This case is likely flipped in the basis or presumption. The story book says the accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In this case, the accused is guilty until proven innocent beyond a reasonable doubt.

    Prosecution does not need to prove anything, hence their emotive strategy.

Also thoughts on norton saying”killed in police custody” statement (also I might be paraphrasing)

Johnny Weissmuller | April 1, 2021 at 11:49 pm

Local media still confident of conviction but the large angry crowds around the courthouse seem uneasy. Govertment buildings baracaded, triple fence. National Guard planes overhead. So far, we know a lot more about Mr. Floyd’s tweaking behavior, but little in the way statistics, examples & expert testimony helping prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt.

Really appreciate these wrap ups! Is there anyway you could maybe timestamp things you’re referencing in text to the corresponding videos? it would be greatly appreciated.

    Of course there’s a way. Send me your mailing address, and I’ll send you a retainer agreement.

    I caution that I’m a bit pricey.

      Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Andrew Branca. | April 2, 2021 at 9:18 am

      A man goes to a lawyer and asks, “How much do you charge?” The lawyer says, “I charge $1,000 per question.” The man then asks, “Why so much?” The lawyer says, “Because good legal advice is expensive. What’s your next question?”

      willie3169 in reply to Andrew Branca. | April 2, 2021 at 4:11 pm

      I don’t get the joke. If it’s not possible I understand. I’ll still enjoy the commentary.

        Brave Sir Robbin in reply to willie3169. | April 2, 2021 at 9:06 pm

        Oh my. They attorney starts to bill you the moment you meet. You have been billed $2,000 before you even realize it. The first $1,000 for the question, “How much do you charge.” The second $1,000 is for “Why so much.” Then, after telling you his terms and reasons, he fishes for more billing.

        OK, I’m no Kid Rock, or even Larry the Cable Guy. Not even a Shecky Green. And no one has ever mistaken me for Phyllis Diller. But unlike legal advice, comedy on an internet blog is free. You get what you pay for, not what you deserve.

      lurker9876 in reply to Johnny Weissmuller. | April 2, 2021 at 9:22 am

      I am surprised at the home prices near the hot block and the riots and looting with high crimes the past year.

      Given an angry crowd outside the court house and a possible acquittal/dismissal of other cases, will the riots resume?

        Johnny Weissmuller in reply to lurker9876. | April 2, 2021 at 10:10 am

        One day after the death of Floyd, cops attacked with rocks, bottles & bricks. Next few nights after that cops did not go out on patrol, refused calls, thus riots.

I haven’t seen any comments about, not just the belligerent crowd heckling the police, but of, as far as the officers s knew, the real possibility that the crowd of twelve might double in minutes.

What is the critical mass that transforms a crowd exhibiting mobbish behavior, and a crowd going full on mob?

I really wonder what could have happened if a few more male thugs had appeared, all with the same vitriol the TitWit MMA dwarf, Williams?

It should be noted that, when Ms Ross recounted “the classic story” of how people get prescribed opioids and get addicted as a result, that while this certainly is “the classic story” as told by addicts, it is in fact hogwash. The idea that ordinary people, naive about opioids and previously unacquainted with substance abuse, get transformed into addicts because they took opioids as prescribed is very rarely true.

Almost always, we’re talking about people with a previous history of substance abuse, who get their hands on a legitimate prescription and proceed to take doses far higher than prescribed, crush the pills and snort them, etc. Anyone who’s familiar with addiction and addicts should know better than to take their narrative about themselves at face value.

    ctgarric in reply to Flatworm. | April 2, 2021 at 9:15 am

    I am not suggesting that you aren’t right that addicts use this as an excuse to make themselves look better.

    But I will say that I personally know two people that this exact road to addiction happened to.

      GWB in reply to ctgarric. | April 2, 2021 at 11:22 am

      I personally know one for whom it was trending that way – in the hospital (after surgery). Once the docs realized it, they metered his meds better (and capped them) and they didn’t release him from the hospital until he was off them.

    bigskydoc in reply to Flatworm. | April 2, 2021 at 9:20 am

    That is what Purdue Pharma tried to tell us for years about Oxycontin, but it was complete rubbish.

    People who are prescribed opiates for acute pain can, and do, go on to become addicted. Most that do will be highly functioning addicts, who limit themselves to prescribed opiates, but some will get deeper into their addiction.

    Yes, it requires some innate propensity toward abuse and addiction, but let’s not pretend that pharmaceutical companies and prescribers have no hand in the process.

      Midfiaudiophile in reply to bigskydoc. | April 2, 2021 at 9:32 am

      I was given intravenous fentanyl when suffering appendicitis in the mid-2000s (Note: I’ve never been entirely sure why, except that I had had negative reactions to morphine during previous surgeries). I can easily see how it could become habit-forming. Feel the fluid entering your arm and feel a warm relaxed euphoria enveloping your entire body. Scary as hell.

        Joe-dallas in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 2, 2021 at 9:55 am

        I morphine intraveously once for kidney stones. – My thought was “this was good shit”

        I have had 4 knee surgeries, 1 shoulder surgery ( acl’s meniscus, , all athletic injuries). Two of the knee surgeries, I took no pain medication (except during surgery) and the other 3 surgeries, I was off pain med within 24-48 hours.

        on the other hand I have (step) relatives who take pain meds for “supposedly chronic pain.

        Based on my experience, a high percentage on opiod addiction for the “chronic pain” already had addictive traits, so it wasnt the opiod prescriptions that caused them to become addicted to as much as a body in search of something to become addicted to .

        Char Char Binks in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 2, 2021 at 10:06 am

        You were prescribed fentanyl for acute pain because that is what it’s for. Fentanyl is stronger than morphine, so it relieves pain better.

        I got the same a few years ago for something similar, and hydrocodone (same as Vicodin) to take home. They felt great when they alleviated my excruciating pain, but I had no desire to take them after my condition improved, because I’m not a drug-addicted lowlife like Floyd.

          healthguyfsu in reply to Char Char Binks. | April 2, 2021 at 4:20 pm

          This is exactly it. I had morphine for the first time recently for a gall stone and GI obstruction. It was probably one of the best physical feelings I’ve ever experienced to go from waves of pain and extreme discomfort that I could not alleviate at all no matter what to extreme relaxation and euphoria. It was an amazing feeling.

          That said, I recognized it right away, laughed and smiled during the “trip”, and realized that this is exactly what leads people to become addicted. An addict that takes this route knows that the high they experienced is not appropriate for every day functionality and a good life but doesn’t care. The myth of the naive addict is just that.

          DaveGinOly in reply to Char Char Binks. | April 2, 2021 at 6:11 pm

          During my first migraine headache (at about age 46), my condition and symptoms were so extreme, the doctors thought I had had a stroke. Once they CT scanned me and ruled out stroke (I had to wait for about two hours for the scan) I was given morphine. The pain was gone in 20 seconds all my symptoms alleviated. Bloody amazing, but no euphoria, the pain just went away and I was, once again, my amazing self. That was my only experience with an opioid, AFAIK. I have also had two hernia operations and an appendectomy, but to my knowledge did not receive any opioids during or immediately after the operations. (I don’t recall if any were prescribed to me for use at home, because I don’t fill such prescriptions. When recuperating from operations, pain tells me I’m not healed yet, so I don’t like to cover it up lest I blow a gasket.)

          thetaqjr in reply to Char Char Binks. | April 2, 2021 at 11:06 pm

          I understand addicted describes him, but what makes George a lowlife?

          I’m pretty sure you don’t mean he was a lowlife because he was a healthy, mature, black male?

          Why is he a lowlife?

          In a way, he killed himself..

          I bet you he believed in Jesus. I bet he truly believed.

          Even so, how much higher the stench of men in God’s nostrils is your stench compared to George’s?

          Faulkner somebody.

          Would committing a home invasion robbery by pointing a gun at the belly of a pregnant woman to compel her compliance qualify as being a “lowlife”? Asking for the pregnant woman.

        bigskydoc in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 2, 2021 at 3:46 pm

        Fentanyl is probably the most commonly used medicine for procedures. It provides intense analgesia that wears off quickly, and it provides a very smooth, stable anesthesia, when combined with other agents. In the last year or two, there have only been a half dozen or so of my patients that I haven’t given it to (colonoscopies and upper endoscopies excepted)

Thank you Andrew for these calm, objective, & insightful reviews of the trial proceedings. Much appreciated.
One question – can the jurors see each other, and when they deliberate will it be face to face with each other? I am wondering how much the race of the jurors will play a role in the deliberations and in how they treat each other? I assume they will all be doxxed at some point, so is it possible they will be afraid to state their true thoughts about guilt or not?

What about Ploeger comments about Floyd’s condition once he arrived at the hospital? Ploeger was initially told Floyd wasn’t doing well, then someone told him Floyd had died. This conflicts with EMT saying Floyd was dead at the scene.

    Midfiaudiophile in reply to Lynn. | April 2, 2021 at 9:04 am

    Doctor is required to certify death. According to Paramedic Smith, Floyd had no pulse for the duration of their journey in the ambulance, and pulse was never reestablished. Using more advanced technology and techniques at the hospital, they continued to attempt to revive him, but were unable to do so, eventually leading to a death certificate.

    That said, the timeframe is a bit muddy. Paramedics removed Mr. Floyd from the scene at about 8:30 at which point Mr. Chauvin went back to his car, discussing with Mr. McMillan along the way, and received a call from Pleoger, who asked him to turn off his body camera. Pleoger then made his way to Cup Foods, had a brief conversation with Chauvin and told him to collect witness statements, and made his way to the hospital which took, apparently, less than ten minutes. At that point, doctors were continuing to attempt to revive Mr. Floyd for a couple minutes before finally giving up.

    How long was the ambulance stopped at the safe spot 3 blocks away before Fire personnel arrived to assist paramedics?

Midfiaudiophile | April 2, 2021 at 8:48 am

Given how exhausting it has been to merely watch the trial over the last several days, being able to take breaks at my leisure, I’m a bit concerned for Mr. Nelson’s stamina, particularly as prosecution has been able to tag-team in at least 3 different lawyers to take testimony. Now, clearly Mr. Nelson’s assistant and Mr. Chauvin have been helping to some degree with the note-taking process, but it must still be very tiring.

Just wanted to touch on the question of fentanyl, and overdose threshold. By way of foundation, I’m an anesthesiologist, who administers fentanyl to multiple patients every day. In my career, I have treated many individuals with opiate addiction from mild to quite severe.

In addicts, the threshold for both the desired effects (pain control, getting high), and undesired effects, like apnea (stopping breathing) go up significantly. Where those new thresholds lie, can be somewhat unpredictable, however.

Addicts regularly require, and tolerate, doses that absolutely would be lethal to all opiate naive individuals, I’ve had heavily addicted individuals who required 5 to 10 times the dose that a opiate naive patient could tolerate.

The tricky part is figuring out where their thresholds currently lie. As little as a few weeks of being sober can bring the thresholds low enough that a previously well-tolerated dose becomes fatal.

I suppose it is also reasonable to point out that the mechanism of death from fentanyl overdose is that it stops people from breathing. If someone is there to take over breathing for the recipient, otherwise lethal doses are well tolerated.

    rabid wombat in reply to bigskydoc. | April 2, 2021 at 10:01 am

    Hi Bigskydoc,

    Thank you! Please help me understand this and the possible root causes:

    “RESPIRATORY SYSTEM: The right and left lungs weigh 1085 and 1015 g, respectively. The external surfaces are pink only on the most anterior aspects, and deep red-purple in all other areas. The pulmonary parenchyma is diffusely congested and edematous. No mass lesions or areas of consolidation are present. The pulmonary vascular tree is free of thromboemboli. The tracheobronchial tree is free of blood, edema fluid, or foreign material.”

      bigskydoc in reply to rabid wombat. | April 2, 2021 at 1:59 pm

      I am not a pathologist, but I find the lung examination to be unhelpful. The findings are consistent with bith death due to opiate intoxication, and death due to positional asphyxia. The findings here are not sufficient to blame the fentanyl as the sole causative agent.

      IMHO, Mr Floyd died of a rrspiratory compromise resulting from the combination of fentanyl intoxication with positional asphyxia. Absent the fentanyl, the position would not have killed him. Absent the position, the fentanyl might not have killed him.

      The state is prosecuting the wrong officer, however. If, I reiterate IF, any of the officers have culpability in this situation, it is the officer(s) who were putting weight on his chest and abdomen, potentially impairing his breathing.

      The knee to the neck is non-contributory to Mr Floyd’s death. It wasn’t a choke, it did not restrict breathing, and it was likely the safest restraining hold of all the restraining holds that were applied.

    Joe-dallas in reply to bigskydoc. | April 2, 2021 at 10:13 am

    Bigskydoc – please comment

    For alcohol – My understanding with alcohol, the body doesnt really develop “tolerance ” to the alcohol . What we think of as tolerance is really the body developing social skills / coping skills to behave less drunk – which gives the impression of “tolerance”

    The level of impairment is really just a function of blood/alcohol content.

    The third point is that as the liver deteriorates, the drunkeness is acheived much more quickly which is why long term drunks get passed out drunk after only one or two beers.

    Please comment on what is correct or incorrect. Thanks

    Joe

      bigskydoc in reply to Joe-dallas. | April 2, 2021 at 4:00 pm

      Apologies as I’m traveling and have been typing on my phone. Somehow my response to this went missing.

      The “tolerance” you mention regarding alcohol is quite different from the true tolerance we see with opiates. There are demonstrable changes in the opioid receptors, and their sensitivity to opiates, following exposure.

    Andy in reply to bigskydoc. | April 2, 2021 at 10:19 am

    Missed opportunity by defense on the Floyd surviving the earlier OD was that no record of dosage was known, that could have been 1/10 of what was taken the day he died.

    Also hadn’t Floyd swallowed drugs before to avoid arrest? Where’s the toxicology on that? Seems relavant since one may have killed him and the other almost killed him. If he’s trying to avoid arrest, he sure as hell wasnt concerned about OD… he was banking on medics saving him if the trip went badly… or not, he was an addict of course.

claiming she couldn’t recall what she’d previously told investigators and compelling the defense to refresh her recollection with transcript
I’m curious, Mr Branca, if this would be evidence of why you do NOT talk to the police until you’ve spoken with an attorney if you’re involved in a self-defense incident? Things said in the immediate aftermath might not be how you would say them after a bit of calmer, rational thought? And you’ll never have to explain away things you didn’t say?

(And, again, thank you for this. It’s truly informative.)

Char Char Binks | April 2, 2021 at 9:36 am

Court TV called every syllable out of the mouth of every witness so far “damming” for the defense. Every expert, or “expert” on the channel is exuberantly pro-prosecution, and doesn’t even try to be objective. Only Vinnie Politan is willing to temporarily play devil’s advocate, and he is clearly hoping for a conviction.

From what I’ve heard, the rest of MSM is much the same. If Chauvin doesn’t get convicted, or convicted enough, expect riots that will make Ferguson seem like a Sunday school picnic.

    Fat_Freddys_Cat in reply to Char Char Binks. | April 2, 2021 at 2:31 pm

    I’ve noted that my local TV stations only show brief clips of witness testimony, taken during prosecution questioning. You wouldn’t even know there was a defense attorney doing cross examinations.

Looks like the state is doing a great job proving that Floyd died of an overdose. When they call the medical examiner, that should become certain. So far their case to the jury is based on threats by the media-riot alliance and that the police on scene did not provide optimal care. I believe I read in the autopsy report that Floyd had pulmonary edema that stopped his breathing (thus the foaming) and commentary that this was usually caused by drug overdose and there was not a thing the police could have done about it short of calling in the professionals, which they did.
The wrong person is on trial here. The drug supplier is the one who should be on trial, which is why he took the 5th. That should become more obvious as the trial proceeds.
My law experiences consists of numerous Law and Order episodes. But I wonder if it is possible that a motion to dismiss for failing to prove any element of murder – a perfunctory motion in a big percentage of Law and Order episodes – would be granted. I mean a case for murder that working men didn’t start chest compressions on a dying man when they should have or move him to the fetal position soon enough is ludicrous.

Thank you midfiaudiophile….and I think that 10 prosecuting attorneys against one defense attorney is symbolic to anyone paying attention, as well as a misuse of public funds.

TY Mr. Branca,

I have been distracted (more than usual) and I appreciate coming to your posts to catch up.. I saw this gem, right away:

My concession is that after watching Nelson working in the trial proper, I’ve been extremely impressed by his performance.

Well, that made my day… seriously…

Thanks for the wrap up. After listening and reading about this case, I am thinking that the cops should just not response to these calls and they will all die off to drug over doses. It is a serious problem and the dems don’t want to do anything about it. I think it is more serious that people dying in nursing homes from mass murder covid procedures.

I think my county along has about 15 OD deaths a year. If this is what the cops have to put up with, we are in really trouble after millions of illegals with their drugs come in to this country.

No matter how good Nelson is, the system is broken. OJ trial was just the start.

Why did paramedic #2 (Smith) have such a bad attitude on the stand?

“Note that if the state wanted Hall to testify, that is if Hall’s testimony was going to be favorable to the state and increase the prospects of convicting Chauvin, the state could simply immunize Hall and compel him to testify. The fact that the state is not doing so strongly suggests that they have reason to believe Hall’s testimony would be favorable to the defense and decrease the prospects of convicting Chauvin.”

Not a lawyer here. It seems to me if the State gives Hall immunity and the fact (supported by the autopsy) is that Floyd Died of a drug overdose–or the drug overdose contributed to the death–that the State immunized Hall for murder? Seems an iffy thing–a stretch even for the situational ethics of the typical prosecution team.

Methamphetamine can cause mesenteric ischemia, thus explaining Floyd’s severe abdominal pain. This condition can be fatal.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28724276/

The female prosecutor (Erin Eldridge?) is terrible at questioning.

Fat_Freddys_Cat | April 2, 2021 at 2:35 pm

Not being familiar with how criminal trials progress (thankfully!) I’m curious about something: isn’t the state trying Chauvin for Murder (2nd degree)? To succeed don’t they have to prove that Chauvin meant to kill GF? I wonder which witnesses they could possibly call to prove that.

The idea that Floyd couldn’t have died from a fentanyl overdose based on his apparent state of agitation is as stupid as arguments I heard during the defense of OJ Simpson. Floyd had taken a potentially (and possibly ultimately) lethal dose of fentanyl. Merely displaying behavior that is inconsistent with that fact wouldn’t prevent death if the dose was lethal, it would only confound a field assessment of Floyd’s medical condition.

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