MINNEAPOLIS, MN- The Derek Chauvin trial appears to be going in a direction which the prosecution was hoping it wouldn’t.
Earlier Wednesday, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson asserted that George Floyd can be heard admitting on video that he had taken “too many drugs” before his arrest.
This comes after another angle of the now-famous video shows Chauvin appear to be kneeling not on Floyd’s neck but on his shoulder.
The New York Post reported the testimony in a Wednesday afternoon trial update.
Nelson made the allegation while questioning Sgt. Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department use-of-force expert who was paid for his testimony by state prosecutors.
During cross examination, Nelson asked Stiger, “Did you hear what he said?” referring to Floyd’s comments on the video.
“No, I couldn’t make it out,” Stiger replied.
“Does it sound like he says, ‘I ate too many drugs?’ Listen again,” Nelson urged Stiger, who replied he still couldn’t make out what Floyd was saying.
Nelson added, “In the chaos of a situation, things can be missed, right?”
Nelson just played a portion of the body camera video and asked "does it sound like he said 'I ate too many drugs?'"
Stiger said he couldn't make it out. Here I clipped that part of the video. pic.twitter.com/luMybVw50l
— Lou Raguse (@LouRaguse) April 7, 2021
The Daily Wire noted that a police transcript which corresponds to the videos does not include Floyd’s comments which are featured in the clip.
The defense is arguing that Floyd’s use of drugs and a pre-existing heart condition were crucial factors in Floyd’s death.
They are also trying to show that Chauvin’s actions of kneeling on Floyd’s shoulder area adjacent to his neck for nearly nine minutes would not have resulted in death without complications such as drug and heart problems.
Stiger has testified that the use of force employed by Chauvin and the other Minneapolis police officers at the scene last May 25 displayed unnecessary force, however conceded that the officers’ initial use of force was “reasonable.”
Nelson reminded Stiger that there were already two Minneapolis PD officers on scene when Chauvin arrived.
“You would agree that from the time Officer Chauvin gets on scene until the time that Mr. Floyd is prone on the ground, Mr. Floyd was actively resisting efforts to go into the back seat of the squad car?” Nelson asked.
“Yes sir, Stiger replied.
Nelson asked if it was Stiger’s opinion that the officers had used reasonable force against Floyd when trying to get him into the back of the police cruiser.
“Agreed,” he replied.
The issue was revisited when Nelson was conducting a cross-examination of Special Agent James Reyerson, who was the lead investigator for Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.
“Did you hear Mr. Floyd say, ‘I ate too many drugs?’” Nelson asked Reyerson.
“No,” he replied.
Nelson played the video a second time.
“Did you hear that?” Nelson asked, to which Reyerson replied in the affirmative.
“Yes I did,” Reyerson, a former NYPD cop said.
“Did it appear that Mr. Floyd said, ‘I ate too many drugs?’”
“Yes it did,” Reyerson replied.
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Unless I missed it, the prosecution did not even address the video clip during re-direct questioning.
Now MN BCA Special Agent James Reyerson is on the stand. pic.twitter.com/kvOe2oydi8
— Lou Raguse (@LouRaguse) April 7, 2021
Later on, Reyerson was called back to the stand by the prosecution, at which time he said he had listened to the video an additional time, and also the comments of police officers which came before Floyd’s alleged admission.
“Having heard it in context, can you tell what Mr. Floyd is saying here?” asked assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank.
“Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd is saying, ‘I ain’t do no drugs,’” Reyerson replied, changing his mind from his earlier testimony.
Stiger also testified that it was his belief that Chauvin and the other officers had used “deadly force” while restraining Floyd, who was handcuffed, and had kept him pinned down for too long.
“He was in the prone position. He was handcuffed, he was not attempting to resist, he was not attempting to assault the officers—punch, kick, anything of that nature,” Stiger told prosecutor Steve Schleicher.
It is important to note that as a paid “expert witness,” Stiger is being paid nearly $13,000 for his testimony.
The LAPD sergeant also said that Chauvin was seen on the video employing a tactic known as “pain compliance”—in essence squeezing Floyd’s fingers and bending back his wrist against the handcuffs while Floyd was down and not resisting.
Stiger noted that pain compliance is a tactic often used by police officers when suspects refuse to follow their orders.
“What if there’s no opportunity for compliance?” Schleicher asked.
“Then at that point, it’s just pain,” Stiger replied, giving the prosecution the answer he was being paid to give.
Stiger was appearing on the stand for a second day Wednesday, having also testified Tuesday.
On that day, he testified that the Minneapolis PD used a Supreme Court-established standard in police use of force, which uses several factors, including the severity of the crime an individual is accused of violating.
Floyd was being arrested for passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a local convenience store.
“Typically in a normal situation where you’re dealing with someone who is a counterfeiter or someone who is using a counterfeit bill, typically you wouldn’t even expect to use any kind of force,” Stiger testified, discounting the fact that Floyd was at least initially resisting arrest and being non-compliant.
In addressing Chauvin’s use of force, Nelson referred to the Supreme Court’s use of force case, Graham v. Connor, which said that “the reasonable use of force must be judged by the perspective of the officer on the scene,” and “not in hindsight.”
It should be noted that an autopsy report issued by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner noted three were “no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation.”
It noted that the “combined effect of Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions, and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”
Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease, hypertensive heart disease and was also suffering from COVID-19 at the time of his death.
Traces of fentanyl and methamphetamine were discovered in Floyd’s body after his death, The Hill reported.
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