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Three theories of Derek Chauvin's defense to acquit him of the charges

2021-04-12T23:43:47.443Z

Dereck Chauvin's defense centers on three theories for which the ex-cop would be acquitted for the murder of George Floyd.



Heartbreaking testimony from Floyd's neighbors at Chauvin 3:48 trial

(CNN) -

After two weeks of testimony and 35 witnesses, Minnesota prosecutors are nearing the end of their case against former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin over the death of George Floyd. A doctor and family members are still expected to of Floyd's testify as prosecution witnesses before giving the defense a chance to call witnesses, which could happen earlier this week.

Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to charges of second degree murder, third degree murder and second degree murder.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson has not explicitly stated who will testify, but witnesses are likely to advance the general issues of his case to acquit Chauvin.

In opening statements and cross-examination, Nelson has focused on three main arguments: the "other causes" theory, the "force is unattractive" theory, and the "hostile crowd" theory.

These arguments and the way in which the testimonies of the witnesses so far have been adapted and contradicted are analyzed below.

The "other causes" theory

What does it consist of?

The main argument of the defense is that Floyd's death was not due to Chauvin's actions, but occurred for other medical reasons.

The defense has highlighted Floyd's drug use, his initial resistance to the agents, and his pre-existing heart problems.

“The tests will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, his coronary artery disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl, and the adrenaline that flowed through his body, all of which acted to further compromise plus an already committed heart, "Nelson said in opening remarks.

Because it is important?

To get a conviction on any of the three charges, prosecutors have to show that Chauvin's actions were a "substantial cause" of Floyd's death.

The defense hopes to undermine that causal link.

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What are the tests?

The defense argument is based largely on the testimony of the doctor who performed the autopsy, as well as testimony about Floyd's drug use.

Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed Floyd's autopsy in May 2020, stated on Friday that Floyd's death was a "homicide."

He identified the cause of death as cardiopulmonary arrest - Floyd's heart and lungs stopped.

This occurred during "the subjugation, restraint and compression of the neck by the police officers."

However, he said Floyd had other "significant conditions" that played a role in his death, including hypertensive heart disease and his use of fentanyl and methamphetamine.

He noted that some of Floyd's blood vessels were severely narrowed, and he found no evidence at autopsy to support a finding of asphyxia.

Baker acknowledged that the level of fentanyl in Floyd's blood, about 11 nanograms per milliliter, was higher than in some cases of overdose he has recorded.

The defense has also tried to highlight other drug tests in the case.

Several white pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in Floyd's vehicle, and a smaller pill containing Floyd's saliva was found in the back of the police patrol car, according to testimony from three coroners.

The defense said in opening statements that it planned to request the testimony of two passengers in the car who were accompanying Floyd and that they would describe their reaction to drug use.

One of those passengers, Morries Hall, has said he plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment if called to testify.

What does the prosecution say?

Despite pointing out these health concerns, Dr. Baker defended his main conclusion that the death was a homicide due to the actions of the police.

"In my opinion, the subjugation by law enforcement, immobilization and compression of the neck were more than Mr. Floyd could bear due to his heart problems," he said.

In addition, the prosecution preemptively refuted parts of Baker's testimony by providing the testimony of several doctors who explained that the signs of suffocation would not be evident in an autopsy.

Dr. Martin Tobin, a renowned pulmonary critical care physician;

Dr. Lindsey Thomas, forensic pathologist;

and Dr. Bill Smock, a police surgeon for the Louisville Metropolitan Police Department, testified that Floyd died of asphyxia due to lack of oxygen due to Chauvin's restraint.

Based on their review of the video, the autopsy, and other documents, they rejected theories that Floyd died of a drug overdose or due to his other health problems.

"A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died," Tobin said.

Prosecutors have also acknowledged that Floyd struggled with opioid addiction and suggested that he may have created a tolerance to higher doses of the drug.

The 'force is not attractive' theory

What does it consist of?

This theory holds that the use of force by the police may appear hideous in videos of bystanders, but that it is a necessary part of their job.

"They will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do throughout his 19-year career," Nelson said in opening remarks.

"The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of police work."

Because it is important?

Prosecutors have argued that he used "excessive and unreasonable force" and engaged in "eminently dangerous" behavior when he put his knees on the neck and back of a handcuffed Floyd, immobilizing him on the street in a prone position for more than 9 minutes.

What are the tests?

The defense has presented Chauvin's kneeling over Floyd as a police-sanctioned control move.

Lt. Johnny Mercil, the Minneapolis Police Force instructor, said Chauvin's position could be seen as "using body weight to control," a tactic in which officers place one knee on the legs. shoulder blades of a suspect in prone position to handcuff him.

Still images from police body cameras show Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's shoulders, he said.

"However, I will add that we direct officers to stay away from the neck whenever possible, and if they are going to use body weight to restrain, put it on the shoulder and be aware of the position," he said.

Mercil said the position is transitory and destined to end once the suspect is under control.

It is unclear if Chauvin will testify, but in May 2020 he defended his performance as necessary containment moments after Floyd's inert body was transported in an ambulance.

"We had to control this guy because he is a sizeable man," Chauvin told a passerby, according to audio captured by his own body camera.

Looks like he's probably high on something.

Soon after, he offered a similar defense to his police supervisor in a phone call.

"We had to hold a guy down," said Chauvin.

He was going crazy.

I didn't want ... I didn't want to get into the back of the patrol ... »

Then the audio was cut off.

In the rest of the phone call, Chauvin said that he and his colleagues tried to get Floyd into the car, that he became combative and that, after a struggle, he had a medical emergency, according to Sgt. David Pleoger.

What does the prosecution say?

A number of police supervisors and coordinators in charge of the training have harshly criticized the way in which Chauvin restrained Floyd.

According to them, their actions constituted a violation of policies regarding the de-escalation of a situation, the objectively reasonable use of force and the obligation to provide assistance.

Among the criticisms, the chief Medaria Arradondo stands out.

“That is not, in any way, something that is in politics.

It is not part of our training, and it certainly is not part of our ethics or our values, ”said Arradondo.

In addition, Chauvin's direct supervisor said his use of force should have ended sooner, and the department's chief homicide detective testified that Chauvin's actions were "inappropriate" and "totally unnecessary."

The 'hostile crowd' theory

What does it consist of?

A third defense theory is that bystanders frantically asking Chauvin to get away from Floyd were potential threats and distracted him from Floyd's care.

Chauvin may not have done exactly what he was taught, according to this theory, but the hostility of the crowd offers a non-criminal explanation as to why.

"They yell at them, causing officers to divert their attention from Mr. Floyd's care to the threat that was growing in front of them," Nelson said in opening remarks.

Because it is important?

Chauvin's mindset and intention is key to each of the charges in the case.

The second-degree murder charge says Chauvin intentionally assaulted Floyd, resulting in his death.

The third-degree murder charge says Chauvin perpetrated an "eminently dangerous" act that shows a "depraved mind."

And the second-degree murder charge says Chauvin's "culpable negligence" caused Floyd's death.

What are the tests?

In the controversial interrogations, Nelson pushed several passersby to admit that they were "angry" and that the crowd turned threatening when Chauvin knelt over Floyd.

Nelson repeatedly cited some of his insulting comments, including that of MMA fighter Donald Williams II calling Chauvin "lazy" and "tough guy."

Both Williams and off-duty Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hansen directly rejected Nelson's theory.

Hansen said she was desperate, distraught and upset, but not angry.

Williams also fought back.

«I turned professional.

I stayed in my body.

You can't paint me as if I'm angry, ”he said.

In other testimony, Nicole Mackenzie, Minneapolis Police Medical Support Coordinator and CPR instructor, said a hostile crowd can make it difficult for one to focus on a patient.

"If you don't feel safe around you, if you don't have enough resources, it's very difficult to focus on what's in front of you," he said.

The defense plans to call her back to the stand during her testimony this week.

What does the prosecution say?

Passersby stated that no one threatened the officers and that they only raised their voices because Floyd appeared to be in an increasingly serious condition.

Prosecutors also requested the testimony of three high school students, a 9-year-old girl and a 61-year-old man to prove that they were not a threatening group.

Several passersby said they felt threatened by the officers, especially when Chauvin and former police officer Tou Thao put their hands on his baton.

"They were really hostile," said a 17-year-old high school student.

The simple act of filming an arrest or insulting the officers does not constitute a threat, according to several police experts.

Additionally, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and prosecution expert on the use of force stated that he does not believe Chauvin was distracted.

"In the body video, Mr. Floyd can be heard showing his discomfort and pain, and the defendant can also be heard responding to him," said Sgt. Jody Stiger.

CNN's Aaron Cooper, Brad Parks and Dakin Andone contributed to this report.

George Floyd Trial

Source: cnnespanol

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