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Chauvin trial hears force expert

He says ex-officer’s weight on Floyd’s neck full 9½ minutes by AMY FORLITI, STEVE KARNOWSKI AND TAMMY WEBBER THE ASSOCIATED PRESS | April 8, 2021 at 4:18 a.m.
Protesters hold signs across the street from the Hennepin County courthouse Tuesday in Minneapolis where testimony continues in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (AP/Jim Mone)

MINNEAPOLIS -- Officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd's neck area -- and was bearing down with most of his weight -- the entire 9½ minutes that the Black man lay facedown with his hands cuffed behind his back, a use-of-force expert testified Wednesday at Chauvin's murder trial.

Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant serving as a prosecution witness, said that based on his review of video evidence, Chauvin applied pressure on Floyd's neck or neck area from the time officers put Floyd on the ground until paramedics arrived.

"That particular force did not change during the entire restraint period?" prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked as he showed the jury a composite of five still images.

"Correct," replied Stiger, who testified Tuesday that the force used against Floyd was excessive.

Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson countered by pointing out what he said were moments in the video footage when Chauvin's knee did not appear to be on Floyd's neck but on his shoulder blade area or the base of his neck. Stiger did not give much ground, saying the officer's knee in some of the contested images still seemed to be near Floyd's neck.

[Video not showing up above? Click here to watch » https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WMHT3TZeZgM]

In other testimony, the lead Minnesota state investigator on the case, James Reyerson, agreed with Nelson that Floyd seemed to say in a police body-camera video of his arrest, "I ate too many drugs."

But when a prosecutor played a longer clip of the video, Reyerson said he believed what Floyd really said was "I ain't do no drugs."

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death May 25. Floyd, 46, was arrested outside a neighborhood market after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill. Floyd struggled and claimed to be claustrophobic as police tried to put him in a squad car, and they pinned him to the pavement.

Bystander video of Floyd crying that he couldn't breathe as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off him sparked protests and scattered violence around the U.S.

Nelson has argued that the now-fired white officer "did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career," and he has suggested that Floyd's drug use and his underlying health conditions are what killed him, not Chauvin's knee, as prosecutors contend. Fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in Floyd's system.

Breahna Giles, a state forensic scientist, testified Wednesday that pills found in the SUV that Floyd was driving contained methamphetamine and fentanyl. Remnants of pills discovered in the back of the squad car also were found to contain methamphetamine. Earlier testimony revealed that one of those pills contained DNA from Floyd's saliva.

Earlier, Nelson asked Stiger about uses of force that are commonly referred to by police as "lawful but awful." Stiger conceded that "you can have a situation where by law it looks horrible to the common eye, but based on the state law, it's lawful."

Nelson has argued, too, that the officers at the scene were distracted by what they perceived as an increasingly hostile crowd of onlookers.

But Stiger told the jury, "I did not perceive them as being a threat," even though some bystanders were name-calling and using foul language. He added that most of the yelling was because of "their concern for Mr. Floyd."

Nelson asked Stiger how a reasonable officer would be trained to view a crowd while dealing with a suspect, "and somebody else is now pacing around and watching you and watching you and calling you names and saying [expletives]." Nelson said such a situation "could be viewed by a reasonable officer as a threat."

"As a potential threat, correct," Stiger said.

Chauvin's lawyer noted that dispatchers had described Floyd as between 6 feet and 6-foot-6 and possibly under the influence. Stiger agreed that it was reasonable for Chauvin to go to the scene with a heightened sense of awareness.

Stiger further agreed with Nelson that an officer's actions must be judged from the point of view of a reasonable officer at the scene, not in hindsight. Among other things, Nelson said that given typical emergence medical response times, it was reasonable for Chauvin to believe that paramedics would be there soon.

Prosecutors stopped and started videos during the testimony from Reyerson, the state investigator, to show the jury how long Chauvin held his position. Reyerson testified that Chauvin's knee was on Floyd's neck for two minutes after Floyd stopped talking, and for two minutes after he ceased moving.

Stiger was asked by prosecutors whether Chauvin had an obligation to take Floyd's distress into account as the officer considered how much force to use.

"Absolutely," Stiger replied. "As the time went on, clearly in the video, you could see that Mr. Floyd's ... health was deteriorating. His breath was getting lower. His tone of voice was getting lower. His movements were starting to cease."

"So at that point, as a officer on scene," he continued, "you have a responsibility to realize that, 'OK, something is not right. Something has changed drastically from what was occurring earlier.' So therefore you have a responsibility to take some type of action."

In this image taken from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin watches as defense attorney Eric Nelson questions witness Los Angeles police department Sergeant Jody Stiger, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, during Chauvin's at the trial at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image taken from video, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin watches as defense attorney Eric Nelson questions witness Los Angeles police department Sergeant Jody Stiger, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, during Chauvin's at the trial at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
A protesters waves a Black Lives Matter flag across the street from the Hennepin County Government Center, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Minneapolis where testimony continues in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues. Chauvin is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
A protesters waves a Black Lives Matter flag across the street from the Hennepin County Government Center, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in Minneapolis where testimony continues in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues. Chauvin is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
In this image taken from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson questions witness Los Angeles police department Sgt, Jody Stiger, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image taken from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson questions witness Los Angeles police department Sgt, Jody Stiger, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image from video, witness Senior Special Agent James Reyerson of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image from video, witness Senior Special Agent James Reyerson of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, with defendant former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, prepares to question a witness as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, with defendant former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, prepares to question a witness as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides, Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image from video, witness Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image from video, witness Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image from video, prosecutor Steve Schleicher questions witness Los Angeles police department Sgt. Jody Stiger, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image from video, prosecutor Steve Schleicher questions witness Los Angeles police department Sgt. Jody Stiger, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image taken from video, McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image taken from video, McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testifies as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image taken from video, prosecutor Matthew Frank interviews witness Senior Special Agent James Reyerson of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
In this image taken from video, prosecutor Matthew Frank interviews witness Senior Special Agent James Reyerson of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Wednesday, April 7, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)
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