Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd's death

By Melissa Macaya, Mike Hayes, Melissa Mahtani, Veronica Rocha and Fernando Alfonso III, CNN

Updated 2:23 AM ET, Thu April 8, 2021
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4:07 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Lead investigator changes answer about what he heard George Floyd saying in video

Pool
Pool

James Reyerson, senior special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified today that he could hear George Floyd saying he "ate too many drugs" in a video of the May 25, 2020 incident, but later acknowledged in redirect that Floyd could have said something different.

Reyerson was shown video of the incident and asked by defense attorney Eric Nelson, "Did it appear that Mr. Floyd said, 'I ate too many drugs?'"

"Yes, it did," Reyerson said during the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin.

During redirect questioning, prosecuting attorney Matthew Frank asked Reyerson if he ever tried to listen to this piece of audio and figure out what Floyd was saying.

"I did not, no," Reyerson said.

"That was an exercise Mr. Nelson asked you to do for the first time sitting there," Frank followed up. "Yes, sir," he responded.

After a short break, Reyerson was recalled to the stand by the prosecution and played him a longer video that included the same audio. Frank asked him again if he was able to tell what Floyd was saying.

"Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd is saying, 'I ain't doing no drugs,'" Reyerson said, contradicting his earlier answer.

Frank followed up, "That's a little different than what you are asked about when you're only saw a portion of the video, correct?"  

"Yes, sir," Reyerson said.

Some more context: Earlier today, while cross-examining use-of-force expert LAPD Sgt. Jody Stiger, Nelson showed similar body camera video of the Floyd incident.

Nelson asked Stiger if he could interpret what Floyd was saying at that time, saying, “Does it sound like he says ‘I ate too many drugs’?” Stiger said he could not make out what Floyd was saying.

This post has been updated with new testimony from BCA special agent James Reyerson to prosecutors about Floyd's remarks in a May 25, 2020 video.

3:56 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

A forensic scientist is now testifying

Pool
Pool

McKenzie Anderson, a forensic scientist at the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, has taken the stand to testify.

James Reyerson, senior special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, just wrapped his testimony.

2:20 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Testimony has resumed in the Chauvin trial

The testimony of James Reyerson, senior special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, has resumed following a short lunch break.

He was the lead case agent for the agency's investigation into the Floyd incident.

1:24 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

The court is in a lunch break

The court has taken a break for lunch.

The testimony of James Reyerson, senior special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, will resume after the break.

1:14 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Lead investigator is now testifying at the Chauvin trial

Pool
Pool

James Reyerson, senior special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, has taken the stand to testify in the Derek Chauvin trial.

Reyerson said he is currently assigned to the newly formed use-of-force investigation group at the BCA. 

"We cover criminal investigations and use-of-force incidents," he testified.

He was the lead case agent for the agency's investigation into the Floyd incident.

1:10 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Use-of-force expert: Floyd's "health was deteriorating" as time went on

LAPD Sgt. Jody Stiger, a use-of-force expert, testified that former police officer Derek Chauvin had an obligation to take into consideration whether George Floyd was in distress when considering to continue the type of force he was applying.

"As the time went on, clearly in the video you could see that Mr. Floyd's medical — his health was deteriorating," Stiger said.

He continued: "His breath was getting lower and his tone of voice was getting lower and his movements were starting to cease, so as the officer on scene, you have to see that something is not right and something has changed drastically to what was occurring earlier so you have a responsibility to take some type of action."

Watch:

12:47 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Use-of-force expert: Officers are trained they can put their knee on the shoulder blade area of a suspect

Pool
Pool

During cross-examination, LAPD Sergeant Jody Stiger testified that officers are trained that they can put their knee in between the shoulder blades at the base of the neck of a suspect to hold them on the ground.

Asked by defense attorney Eric Nelson if this was standard police practice to his knowledge, Stiger, a use-of-force expert, said yes.

Later in Stiger's testimony, Nelson showed him an image of an officer holding a suspect down, Stiger added, "officers are always cautioned to stay away from the neck as much as possible." 

12:34 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

CNN legal analyst: Prosecution should've objected to defense's question about what Floyd said

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

From left, LAPD Sgt. Jody Stiger and defense attorney Eric Nelson.
From left, LAPD Sgt. Jody Stiger and defense attorney Eric Nelson. Pool

While cross-examining use-of-force expert LAPD Sgt. Jody Stiger, defense attorney Eric Nelson showed body camera video of George Floyd. Nelson asked Stiger if he could interpret what Floyd was saying at that time, saying, “Does it sound like he says ‘I ate too many drugs’?” Stiger said he could not make out what Floyd was saying. 

The prosecution should’ve immediately objected to Nelson’s questioning, according to CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates. 

“The idea that you’re going to introduce testimony through the actual attorneys is not what you’re entitled to do,” Coates said to CNN’s Kate Bolduan.

By including his interpretation of what Floyd was saying, “it lingers,” Coates said. “And again, prosecutors have to be very careful about what lingers,” she said.

“If you’re the jury and that’s out there, on redirect, it’s got to be addressed immediately,” she added. 

Watch:

12:11 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

8 current or former police officers have testified against Chauvin. This expert says it's not rare.

From CNN's Aditi Sangal

Eight current or former officers have testified against former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin in his trial over George Floyd's death.

While it may seem rare, CNN law enforcement analyst Charles Ramsey, a former Philadelphia Police Commissioner, says officers speak against their colleagues "more often than you would think." The difference, he says, is that most of those hearings are not televised.

"This is a televised criminal trial. We don't get many of those just in general," Ramsey explained. "Most testimony occurs in policing during an arbitration hearing. That's when a chief would testify if they fired or suspended an individual, a commander would testify, someone from internal affairs would testify. But that's all behind closed doors. So it happens all the time. But it is just not public when it happens. So this notion that no one ever talks or speaks against another police officer is just simply not true."

He added: "Now, it doesn't happen as often as it should. Granted. There are times when cops see things and they do not report it. There's no questions about that. But I think in terms of testifying, it happens more often than you would think."