Defense claims Prosecution to show only shortened videos, wants full-length versions
Welcome to our LIVE coverage of day 4 of the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, over the in-custody death of George Floyd. I’ll be live blogging the court’s proceedings all day in real-time!
For those who may not know, I’m Attorney Andrew F. Branca, an internationally-recognized expert in use-of-force law, providing daily real-time legal analysis of the Chauvin trial’s proceedings as a guest commentator for Legal Insurrection, as well as over at my own blog, Law of Self Defense.
Anyone interested in a free podcast version of our daily legal commentary and analysis of the Chauvin trial, you can find that available at the Law of Self Defense News/Q&A Podcast, available on most every podcast platform, including Pandora, iHeart, Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, simple RSS feed, and more.
Yesterday the prosecutors put on the witness stand Minneapolis Police Department Lieutenant Jeff Rugel. Lt. Rugel’s connection with the Floyd case is entirely tangential, but legally important–Rugel manages the MPD’s video, audio, 911, and computer information systems. That is, Rugel manages the systems that control both the MPD’s body cameras and the city’s “Milestone” surveillance camera system, as well as the city’s 911 recording system and other computer records.
As a technical legal matter, before evidence like video and audio can introduced as evidence, the side admitting that evidence must first establish foundation for that evidence. Some human being must appear on the witness stand, under oath, and testify that the evidence is what it’s claimed to be. Yesterday afternoon Lt. Rugel served that role, with his testimony providing the necessary foundation to allow the body cam, surveillance, 911, and computer records to be introduced into court.
Note that having been introduced doesn’t mean that any particular piece of this evidence will be admitted in front of the jury. Establishing foundation is a necessary first step to admission, but there can still be challenges that a particular piece of evidence is inadmissible for other reasons (e.g., irrelevant, excessively prejudicial, etc.).
Interestingly, after Lt. Rugel’s foundational testimony yesterday, the jury was excused from the courtroom, and he provided additional testimony in response to various defense counsel questions about the nature of the offered evidence, as well as the manner in which that evidence was being offered by the state. In particular, it appears that the state intends to offer only abbreviated versions of the body cam and surveillance video footage, and to do so using methods that lack features available in the MPDs own software systems (such as the ability to zoom and pan in a video).
After this additional testimony by Rugel the defense made a motion to allow the full-length body cam and surveillance videos to be offered into evidence–and provided Judge Cahill with those full-length videos on a USB stick, for his review, so we know the defense has them–as well as requested that Judge Cahill require that the videos be shown in court using the MPDs more capable software systems. Judge Cahill indicated he’d have a response to all that by Friday morning.
Interestingly, the state announced that while they would not have foundational objections to the full-length versions of the full-length videos offered by the defense–how could they, their own witness just provided the necessary foundation for all these videos!–they they would likely have separate admissibility objections.
If you’re wondering why the state would object to full-length versions of the MPD body camera and surveillance video of the Floyd in-custody death–me, too.
You can see video of this discussion outside the hearing of the jury here:
Bottom line, the appearance of Lt. Rugel to provide the foundational testimony needed to offer the MPD body cam and surveillance video into court suggests that we should expect to start seeing that video evidence argued in front of the jury shortly.
This is important, because up to now most of the jury has seen only the very worst parts of the bystander video shown repeatedly over the media, and thus don’t have anything like the full context of what occurred throughout Floyd’s arrest on May 25, 2020. As they are exposed to more video of Floyd being uncooperative and actively resisting lawful arrest, including kicking with his legs at arresting officers and thus requiring that they restrain his legs for purposes of safety, they will see that there were a great many factors that led to that day’s outcome other than Chauvin’s knee.
Meanwhile, we’ll continue live blogging today’s proceedings in court, as we have been doing since the start of jury selection, and providing commentary and analysis of those proceedings in our separate “wrap-up” post after the court has adjourned for the day.
Here’s a live video feed of the day’s proceedings:
We are using a new live blogging software. If you encounter any problems, post in the regular comment section to this post.
Here’s today’s live blogging, updated in real time throughout the day:
Enjoy the show!
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 the live video of this trial, <em>Minnesota v. Chauvin</em>.]DONATE
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