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LIVE: Chauvin Trial Day 5 – Hoping for More Technical, Less Emotive, State Testimony

LIVE: Chauvin Trial Day 5 – Hoping for More Technical, Less Emotive, State Testimony

With weeping bystander testimony behind us, hoping for more substantive testimony today

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.

Based on yesterday’s testimony from state’s witnesses, it looks like we may have moved past the state’s bystander witnesses, with the weeping and gnashing of teeth and their very limited personal knowledge surrounding Floyd’s arrest and in-custody death.  The first witness was Floyd’s lady friend Courteney Ross, who also had an emotional breakdown on the witness stand, but then we moved on to more professional witnesses, including the responding paramedics, fire department personnel, and the retired MPD sergeant who had oversight of the officers involved in Floyd’s arrest.

So, here’s hoping that we’re now moving away from the largely emotive, but relatively uninformed, testimony of early bystander witnesses, and will begin to see more substantive, expert, and professional testimony moving forward.

Whether such testimony will be any more helpful to the prosecution than have been the state’s first round of witnesses is, of course, an open question.

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>.]


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does this mean the comedy portion of the trial has ended ?

no more laughs ??

c’mon man

I was just casually watching the body cams and it seemed that Floyd repeatedly lied to the police. I counted at least 10 before they got him across the street. And they were obvious lies. So why should the cops believe anything he said ?

Is this Edwards testimony headed towards the same foundation argument that the defense raised with Ploeger? A SGT generally responsible for use of force review, but not involved in this specific review?

Midfiaudiophile | April 2, 2021 at 10:48 am

I don’t see what the purpose is of this theatrical “Let the record show that the witness identified the defendant”. Is it just a soundbite for the news cameras, since usually we laypeople hear that phrase in the context of revealing a culprit?

    Midfiaudiophile in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 2, 2021 at 11:02 am

    Are they trying to intentionally confuse the jury about the security of the scene after crimescene at the time of the altercation and the crime-scene afterwards during investigation?

      The Packetman in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 2, 2021 at 11:12 am

      I don’t think the state is trying to confuse the jury specifically, but generally.

      Edwards’ testimony didn’t seem to be anything more than a narrative of any change-of-shift during an investigation, something that likely happens every day across the country.

        Midfiaudiophile in reply to The Packetman. | April 2, 2021 at 11:19 am

        I would agree, if it weren’t for that bizarre “move the patient into ambulance” vs. “move the ambulance to different location” confusion that the state intentionally fostered.

          ConradCA in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 2, 2021 at 4:16 pm

          A key question is how likely was it that Floyd would have died from the drugs he took if the officers had him sitting on the ground?

          The answer = 100%.

Johnny Weissmuller | April 2, 2021 at 10:54 am

Ann Coulter’s column. Many private law firms helping state, pro bono.

This is a snow job on the jury. “Oooh, look at these professionals! OOOH, listen to their terminology!! OMG! Watch them narrate a boring, unrelated video that has nothing to do with the events directly related to Floyd’s death.” YOU MUST CONVICT!!!

I’m not seeing the live blog, anyone else having this issue?

“It’ll be interesting to see cross of Zimmerman.”
That’s an understatement. The State is finally starting to put up some other officers against Chauvin and talk about use of force and providing care. Will be very important to dissect and deflate these witnesses in preparation for defense’s experts, I assume.

    fogflyer in reply to foospro86. | April 2, 2021 at 12:20 pm

    Yep, the cross better be really good, because no two-ways about it, the direct was a BIG win for the prosecution.

Has the prosecution established that Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck? The video looks more like shoulder/back and the other evidence seems to support that. The media and some prosecution questioning still seems focused on the neck (some prone asphyxia questioning notwithstanding)

    ConradCA in reply to f2000. | April 2, 2021 at 5:25 pm

    The autopsy found no damage to Floyd’s neck or throat and no strangulation. So what did the officer do that killed Floyd?

LegallyBlonde | April 2, 2021 at 11:58 am

Did Zimmerman really say threat goes all the way down when suspect is cuffed? Layup questions on cross. Why do you have ankle restraints? Why do yo hobble? Why do you ever need more than one officer to escort a cuffed individual?

    Observer in reply to LegallyBlonde. | April 2, 2021 at 1:23 pm

    Yes, and Floyd was a huge man, 6 and a half foot tall, over 220 pounds, and under the influence of methamphetamine at the time. Even in cuffs, he was still potentially a serious threat. Suspects in cuffs, especially drugged-up suspects, can still head-butt cops, body-check them, kick them, bite them, etc.

“Mr Zimmerman, have you ever watched a Bruce Lee movie?” “Would you feel safe if you had a martial arts practitioner wearing handcuffs in your custody?” “Would it be easy, as you have testified, to avoid his kicks?” “Is it possible that someone in custody would feign compliance, only to strike at you when you relaxed your guard?” – which was the object of his temporary compliance. “Did you observe the video of Mr Floyd, handcuffed and on the ground, kick at the officers?”

Any police officer who testified for the prosecution is a traitor

Mr Zimmerman, what time of the day do you normally start drinking ?

Zimmerman: what do you mean “start” ? hahahhahaha

Midfiaudiophile | April 2, 2021 at 12:30 pm

Redirect is going to be “Did Mr. Nelson give you any new information of which you were previously unaware?” “No” and that whole cross-examination will be largely useless.

TheHumbleHotshot | April 2, 2021 at 12:55 pm

What happened to the question “was it MPD policy” at the time to control a combative suspect who was out of their control, with a knee on the neck? My understanding was that was department policy and how officers were trained?

“Zimmerman: The crowd doesn’t matter, as long as they are not attacking you, shouldn’t have an effect on your actions.”

This one surprised me, I call bullshit. Only a guy who hasn’t been on the street in 20 years could make this assertion. Especially with BLM and Antifa pig piling on during arrests. To be honest it cratered his credibility significantly.

A couple of observations and how I think they will influence the jury

1) second paramedic Smith – provided strong comment that “any one could perform chest compressions – Implication is that Chauvin could have initiated first aid. –
2) Zimmerman gave strong comments that use of force should end almost immediately upon handcuffing & definitely when on ground handcuffed. I dont think Nelson did good job of countering Zimmerman

3) State hasnt provided the mechanical / explanation of how he stopped breathing. However the line of questioning from the witnesses implies then mere presence of Chauvin caused the death & the manner of testimony is compelling enough that the jury is going to assume that is why he died.

That being said, most of here are analytical types, engineers, mechanics, etc so we want to know how something works .

One issue is under the Minnesota statutes is the wording of the 2nd degree murder statute and (3rrd degree ?) is that the failure of release the decedent once on the ground would be considered to have contributed to his death even if only 1% of Chauvin’s actions contributed to his death.

    “One issue is under the Minnesota statutes is the wording of the 2nd degree murder statute and (3rrd degree ?) is that the failure of release the decedent once on the ground would be considered to have contributed to his death even if only 1% of Chauvin’s actions contributed to his death.”

    The conduct in question would need to be wrongful. Otherwise a surgeon who lost a patient on the operating table would have committed a murder. That’s the crux of the case–was Chauvin’s conduct wrongful, or reasonable under the totality of the circumstances.

      carriemae16 in reply to Andrew Branca. | April 2, 2021 at 1:53 pm

      This may be a silly question, but in the context of this particular case/the specific charges, is there any middle or neutral ground between wrongful and reasonable conduct?

      fogflyer in reply to Andrew Branca. | April 2, 2021 at 1:58 pm

      Wait a second here…
      Are you saying that is the jury finds that it was “wrongful” of Chauvin to keep Floyd retrained after he was unresponsive, that can be enough for a conviction of 2nd degree murder? Even if the jury thinks the drugs were the primary cause of death, if they find Chauvin’s “wrongful” restraint somewhat contributed to his death, that meets the elements of the charge?

      If that is in fact the case, I think Chauvin is done for.
      I was under the impression that the jury had to be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin’s actions were the primary cause of death, which is a hurdle I don’t think can be met.

        It is confusing as to where “beyond a reasonable doubt” comes in on a charge like this. If it must be beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin’s (even wrongful) actions contributed to the death then I don’t see how a conviction is possible. If it must be shown beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin took wrongful actions which could have contributed to the death (or at least hastened it) then it would be extremely hard to not convict because “could have” is as low a hurdle as is possible to imagine.

        Maybe Andrew would be kind enough to clear that up for us at some point.

        Mike Wilson in reply to fogflyer. | April 2, 2021 at 3:35 pm

        No. 2nd degree murder requires intent to kill.
        3rd degree murder requires reckless conduct that could have been known in advance to have caused death.

        Those are both very high hurdles. Zero chance they can get 2nd degree murder (meaning the jury must be convinced beyond a reasonable doubt Chauvin MEANT to kill floyd.)
        3rd degree would also be tough, again proving beyond a reasonable doubt that Chauvin knew that a knee held to the back of the shoulder/neck of a large man very recently fighting would kill him. Not much chance here.
        Manslaughter certainly possible with this jury, but not in a sane world.

          None of the charges against Chauvin require an intent to kill. The 2nd degree murder charge comes in various flavors, the particular flavor brought against Chauvin is effectively a felony murder charge, the predicate felony being the 3rd degree assault charge.

        fishstick in reply to fogflyer. | April 2, 2021 at 5:00 pm

        I think when the defense presents evidence of Floyd’s more plausible cause of death will be Chauvin’s only silver lining in getting off the two murder charges

        but the “wrongful” part you touched on here is where I think the jury will likely convict on the 3rd degree assault and 2nd degree manslaughter ones

        because the prosecution won’t have to prove the officers actually killed the perp, only that their actions were a contributing factor

        I got hate on a previous thread about this but you touched on why I think the assault and manslaughter convictions are basically a given… unless various footage of the lead-up to that final 10 minute video is enough to sway a jury into believing Floyd did enough to warrant such treatment

        like he would really have to be resisting the officers, even after being cuffed, because ALL they are gonna remember is him dying there at the end while being pinned down by five officers

        I mean honestly – even I would convict Chauvin on the 3rd degree charge and am still leaning towards 2nd degree manslaughter… barring new footage coming out showing the cops’ actions were reasonable given the situation

          ConradCA in reply to fishstick. | April 2, 2021 at 5:33 pm

          Your forgetting that they attempted and failed to put Floyd in a patrol car and he was in handcuffs.

          fishstick in reply to fishstick. | April 3, 2021 at 8:56 am

          but is ‘that’ enough to sway a jury that later sees same guy pinned down and dying on the ground?

          the question will then become, was there enough bad behavior on Floyd’s part to warrant such treatment there at the end

          I keep saying it but there is gonna have to be more evidence shown and in video form to combat those last 10 minutes captured

      Joe-dallas in reply to Andrew Branca. | April 2, 2021 at 4:27 pm

      Branca – following up on my comment – I do agree with you statement.

      My point which was poorly made is that the jury is not likely to grasp the difference in that “the conduct would have to be “wrongful” “.

      My apologies for my inability to correctly articulate my concerns

Zimmerman: The crowd doesn’t matter, as long as they are not attacking you, shouldn’t have an effect on your actions.

That’s a hell of a claim, not sure if the jury will buy it.

If the State wants a conviction, I think they have to go the “neglected to provide care” route. I don’t see how anything else is going to stick, assuming certain evidence presented in the defense’s case. The knee on the “neck” and asphyxia claims are weak, if not outright false.

It likely would have been better and more prudent though for the officers, after Floyd went limp and pulseless (one officer checked), to try CPR and fail to revive him. If he then came back violently, they could have handled it.
But does “neglected to provide care” rise to the level of a manslaughter charge? Maybe in some situations. But if CPR does not normally prevent someone from dying of a drug overdose, then I can’t see how manslaughter would stick either. What could the officers have reasonably and knowingly done to stop the overdose death?

    foospro86 in reply to foospro86. | April 2, 2021 at 1:59 pm

    Didn’t the paramedics uncuff Floyd before applying CPR??
    Is it recommended or safe to do CPR on someone handcuffed behind their back? Would the officers be required to take the handcuffs off him to do CPR? If so, then that changes everything and that does NOT seem reasonable or prudent to demand the officers do. If he became violent/resistant again after being revived and did not have handcuffs on, the officers would be putting themselves and others in danger.

      carriemae16 in reply to foospro86. | April 2, 2021 at 2:05 pm

      That’s a great point about the paramedics uncuffing Floyd before beginning CPR

      Midfiaudiophile in reply to foospro86. | April 2, 2021 at 2:12 pm

      That’s one of the arguments being made by Nelson. They had paramedics en route, and so didn’t want to apply the hobble device, since it would have made it much more time-consuming to transfer him into the ambulance, delaying necessary care.

      As it turns out, the ambulance had to wait 3 blocks away for the Fire team to show up, determine they were in the wrong place, and provide assistance with more involved medical procedures than simple chest compressions, so it was a moot point, but that was outside of Chauvin’s control.

        foospro86 in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | April 2, 2021 at 2:29 pm

        If handcuffs needs to be removed before CPR is applied, then Nelson should have asked both paramedics that, no? And when Nelson asks a really important question, shouldn’t he change his tone to signal the importance to the jury? Or ask again in a different way?
        Seems to me some important questions and answers can get lost on the jury (sometimes the questioning is very tedious) if the lawyers do not change their tone for emphasis or if the lawyers don’t ask the same question in a different way from emphasis.

      BillyHW in reply to foospro86. | April 2, 2021 at 3:41 pm

      This was answered yesterday during paramedic #2’s (Smith) testimony. He has a handcuff key and took the handcuffs off before starting treatment.

    carriemae16 in reply to foospro86. | April 2, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    I believe some of the officer body worn camera video footage showed Officer Lane checking Floyd’s pulse using his thumb (not an accurate technique for checking a pulse because the thumb itself is a pulse point) and mistakenly indicating to the other officers that he detected Floyd’s pulse. I may be mistaken, but I believe this is why Nelson asked one of the paramedics on cross about why it’s not recommended to use your own thumb when checking someone else’s pulse.

      fogflyer in reply to carriemae16. | April 2, 2021 at 2:42 pm

      I believe that is exactly correct.
      In addition, there was a point when you could hear one of the officers say, “He’s breathing”
      It could have been a question, but I believe it was a statement. Also, we don’t know that the pulse felt by Lane was a false pulse. We have no idea when Floyd’s heart stopped, only that it was stopped when the paramedics checked.

    stacytracy in reply to foospro86. | April 2, 2021 at 3:09 pm

    My thoughts too…..why didn’t they initiate CPR when the one officer found no pulse? That seems like indifference to me…..

      ConradCA in reply to stacytracy. | April 2, 2021 at 5:44 pm

      They had just spent 10 minutes fighting with Floyd while attempting to put him in the patrol car. They had know way of knowing what he would do if they uncuffed him and revived him.

Another State Supreme Court decision has come down affecting the 3rd degree murder charge.

    foospro86 in reply to paralegal. | April 2, 2021 at 2:34 pm

    What a mess. Both sides going to argue over the jury instructions now, I assume.

    Midfiaudiophile in reply to paralegal. | April 2, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    That’s… extremely interesting. Based on what we’ve heard so far, I don’t think it quite matches the mindset of Chauvin and the other officers on the scene (They called for medical help, expedited it to code 3 when it became clear that something life-threatening was occurring, clearly didn’t want Mr. Floyd to perish), but the jury is going to be reminded of that still frame of Chauvin looking directly at Williams who was, at the time, shouting about a “blood choke”. And the proposal specifies the mindset of the action rather than the mindset of the perpetrator of said act.

    That said, that’s the proposed guidance from the state and top-signed by AG Keith Ellison, not a new court decision.

broomhandle | April 2, 2021 at 2:29 pm

Does this fairly summarize the State’s argument:

“When Floyd went unconscious, it was plainly obvious to the officers that this was now a medical situation and Chauvin was required by departmental policy to get off him, flip him over and administer CPR.”

I don’t see how Chauvin can be guilty of breaking any law if that is not provable.

Additionally, can Chauvin be convicted of any charge if he is found to have used excessive force that did not injure or kill Floyd?

    fogflyer in reply to broomhandle. | April 2, 2021 at 2:36 pm

    Actually, I think that is the states ‘back-up’ argument.
    Their primary argument still seems to be that Chauvin’s placement and pressure of his knee cut off Floyd’s blood supply rendering him unconscious and eventually led to his death.

If ambulance had to remove Floyd due to hostile crowd and go 3 blocks away to do CPR, and risk fire truck not knowing where to go, would police not be held to same standard of not doing CPR due to crowd? Wouldn’t prosecution need to prove restraint was a “substantial cause of death” as opposed to lack of care since ambulance had same reason for not doing CPR as police, namely crowd?

    carriemae16 in reply to Samantha. | April 2, 2021 at 3:38 pm

    You make an excellent point, Samantha. The fact that the paramedics felt the scene was so risky they needed to move 3 blocks away before fire had arrived is very compelling for the defense, IMO.

Question about Maurice Hall, the drug dealer. The state isn’t calling him because he’s going to plead the 5th. That’s fine. A jury is not allowed to use a pleading of the 5th to determine guilt or innocence of someone pleading the 5th. On the other hand, my understanding is if a witness refuses to answer taking the 5th, and the answer if given would implicate the person being questioned and exonerate the person on trial- the jury can draw inferences. Couldn’t the defense call him as a hostile witness, and get him on record pleading the 5th to such questions as “Did you supply Floyd with drugs that were found on him?”

I’m wondering about Dershowitz’ comments about this. He said starting with reasonable doubt is an admission of guilt and that the emotional testimony is gold for any prosecutor.

Considering his history I am wondering if these posts are underrating the emotional aspects of the case and therefore overstating the defense?