Derek Chauvin Trial: What Happened and Why


George Floyd’s Brother, Philonese Floyd, wipes his eyes during a press conference on Tuesday. Photo Credit: Associated Press

Sajina Jacob – Staff Writer

George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis while being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit bill, May 25, 2020. In March, the month-long trial for Derek Chauvin began. Chauvin was a police officer who, while arresting Floyd, knelt on his neck for nine and a half minutes. He was charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, all of which he was found guilty of on Tuesday.

The Counseling Center and the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Benedictine will be partnering with both cultural and spiritual-focused student clubs to create virtual process groups to aid any stress and frustration students may be feeling. Liz Sodaro, Interim Director of the Counseling Center, noted these virtual spaces will be facilitated by a mental health professional and will allow students to “unpack thoughts or feelings about current racial events specifically impacting their communities.”

On April 6, four witnesses testified in court, one of which included Sgt. Jody Stiger of the LAPD, a use-of-force expert who found the force used to be excessive. The three other witnesses were police officers from the Minneapolis police. Lt. Johnny Mercil, a use-of-force instructor, noted that Chauvin’s kneeling on Floyd’s neck was not a trained neck restraint tactic.

On April 9, Forensic Pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas testified that the primary cause of Floyd’s death was low oxygen and upon cross-examination told the court she had ruled out drugs as a factor. She also stated that physiological stress was a secondary mechanism in the death.

According to CNN, she stated, “Mr. Floyd was already in a position where he was experiencing difficulty breathing and getting enough oxygen in his body. And on top of that, now, there’s this physiologic stress that is putting increased demand on his heart, increased demand on his lungs, increased demand on his muscles… it’s kind of a double whammy to his heart and lungs and muscles and his whole system.”

The defense attorney Eric Nelson has focused on three main arguments during his statement, these being that Floyd died of drug overdose and other health-related problems, Chauvin’s use of force was necessary, and the crowd of bystanders distracted Chauvin by becoming hostile.

On April 13, Witnesses for the defense were questioned on George Floyd’s prior arrest on May 6, 2019. Retired Minneapolis police officer Scott Creighton and retired paramedic Michelle Monseng were among them as they had both interacted with Floyd during that time, according to CBS News.

Another Minneapolis officer, Peter Chang, testified saying he was concerned for the other officers’ safety after the crowd of bystanders on May 25 became aggressive. However, bodycam footage revealed Chang was not near the crowd during the incident but was instead watching Floyd’s car and its occupants during the investigation.

Defense expert Barry Brodd testified that Chauvin’s actions were justified and not use of deadly force, according to CBS Minnesota. When asked to explain, Brodd provided an example equating the case to accidental death. Upon cross-examination, he agreed that placing pressure on someone’s neck in a prone position could result in asphyxia and could be considered a use of force.

The defense’s first witness, a retired forensic pathologist named David Fowler, testified that Chauvin’s knee did not impact any of Floyd’s vital structures. He stated that that Floyd likely died from sudden cardiac arrhythmia due to his hypertensive heart disease and that carbon monoxide poisoning from exhaust fumes may have played a role. Upon cross-examination it was revealed Fowler had not seen any data or results of carbon monoxide poisoning in Floyd’s autopsy report, CNN reported.

Derek Chauvin invoked his 5th amendment right not to testify in court.