The Journal Gazette
 
 
Thursday, April 08, 2021 1:00 am

Expert: Knee did not leave Floyd's neck

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS – Officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd's neck – and was bearing down with most of his weight – the entire 91/2 minutes 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 to 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 on Tuesday testified that the force used against Floyd was excessive.

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. A panicky-sounding Floyd struggled and claimed to be claustrophobic as police tried to put him in a squad car, and they pinned him to the pavement.

Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson 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 Floyd was driving contained methamphetamine and fentanyl. Remnants of pills discovered in the back of the squad car also were found to contain methamphetamine.

Nelson argued that the officers on 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 due to “their concern for Mr. Floyd.”

Nelson's voice rose as he 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.


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