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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12:00 p.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Use-of-force expert testifies that he did not perceive crowd as a threat

Los Angeles Police Sergeant Jody Stiger, a use-of-force expert who analyzed the Floyd incident after his death, testified that the crowd gathered at the scene was not a threat.

Stiger was asked by the prosecuting attorney to define a "hostile crowd" based on his own experience as a police officer.

"I would define hostile crowd in the situations I've been in where the crowd or members of the crowd were threatening and/or throwing bottles and rocks at the police," he said. 

Stiger was asked if "name calling" and "foul language" directed at police by the bystanders factored into his analysis of the Floyd incident. He said it did not because "I did not perceive them as being a threat."

He added, "they were merely filming and they were – most of it was their concern for Mr. Floyd." 

Stiger is a paid expert witness for the prosecution. He testified yesterday that he has reviewed more than 2,500 use of force incidents during his career.

Watch:

11:06 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Chauvin used "deadly force" on Floyd, LAPD use-of-force expert says

Pool
Pool

Los Angeles Police Sergeant Jody Stiger, a use-of-force expert, testified that former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin used "deadly force" when he kneeled on George Floyd's neck for a restraint period of 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

Asked why Chauvin's actions constituted deadly force, Stiger said:

"Because he was in the prone position, he was not resisting, he was handcuffed, he was not attempting to evade, he was not attempting to resist. And the pressure that he was –that was being caused by the body weight could cause positional asphyxia which could cause death." 

"Is positional asphyxia a known risk in law enforcement?" the prosecutor asked.

"Yes, it is," Stiiger said, adding that the dangers of positional asphyxia have been known for at least 20 years.

"And the risk or the danger of positional asphyxia is the outcome of death?" the prosecution continued. 

"Yes, sir," Stiger confirmed.

10:58 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Use-of-force expert: "No force should have been used" once Floyd was handcuffed and prone on the ground

LAPD Sergeant Jody Stiger, a use-of-force expert, testified today that "no force should have been used" by former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin once George Floyd was handcuffed and lying on his stomach on the ground.

Stiger, who is a paid expert witness for the prosecution, was asked by prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher for his opinion to a degree of how much force was reasonable for Chauvin to use on Mr. Floyd after Mr. Floyd was handcuffed, placed in the prone position and not resisting.

"My opinion is that no force should have been used once he was in that position," Stiger said.

10:35 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Use-of-force expert: Chauvin's knee was "pushing down" on Floyd's neck

Los Angeles Police Sergeant Jody Stiger testifies on Wednesday, April 7.
Los Angeles Police Sergeant Jody Stiger testifies on Wednesday, April 7. Pool

Los Angeles Police Sergeant Jody Stiger, a use-of-force expert, is testifying this morning at the Derek Chauvin trial.

While viewing a series of still photos taken from various video feeds from the scene on May 25, 2020, Stiger testified that the majority of Chauvin's weight "would be on his knees" while he was on top of Floyd.

Stiger added that it is his assessment that Chauvin was "pushing down from his knee area from his body." 

Stiger is a paid expert witness for the prosecution. He testified yesterday that he has reviewed more than 2,500 use of force incidents during his career.

10:20 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

NOW: Trial resumes for ex-cop charged in Floyd's death

The court is in session, and day eight of testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin has begun.

Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jody Stiger is resuming his testimony.

The use-of-force expert testified yesterday that Chauvin and his fellow officers used excessive force in arresting Floyd last May.

The focus on police policy this week is a shift from the first week of the trial, which centered on what happened to Floyd on his last day.

9:34 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

A use-of-force expert will continue his testimony this morning. Here's what he told the court yesterday.

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

LAPD Sgt. Jody Stiger testifies on Tuesday, April 6.
LAPD Sgt. Jody Stiger testifies on Tuesday, April 6. Court TV/Pool/AP

A Los Angeles Police Department sergeant hired by the prosecution as a use-of-force expert testified Tuesday that Derek Chauvin and his fellow officers used excessive force in arresting Floyd last May. His testimony will continue this morning.

LAPD Sgt. Jody Stiger, who said he has conducted over 2,500 use-of-force reviews, said officers were initially justified in using force when George Floyd actively resisted arrest and refused to get into the squad car.

Floyd also kicked at officers when he was first taken to the ground, body camera video shows. The circumstances then changed.

"However, once he was placed in a prone position on the ground, he slowly ceased resistance and at that point the ex-officers, they should have slowed down or stopped their force as well," Stiger said.

He said his opinion was based on the standard of what an "objectively reasonable" officer would do. The opinion took into account the low-level seriousness of Floyd's underlying crime — allegedly using a $20 counterfeit bill — as well as his actions, MPD policies and what officers knew at the time.

"They should have de-escalated the situation, or attempted to," Stiger said. Instead, "they continued the force that they were utilizing from the time that they first put him on the ground."

9:17 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

The passenger in Floyd's car plans to plead the Fifth. His testimony could be key for the defense.

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

Morries Hall appears in front of a judge via Zoom on Tuesday.
Morries Hall appears in front of a judge via Zoom on Tuesday. Court TV/Pool/AP

Morries Hall, who was in the car with George Floyd when police first confronted them last May, appeared in front of a judge via Zoom on Tuesday to discuss his intention to plead the Fifth if he is called to testify.

Both the prosecution and defense have called Hall as a witness in the trial.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson said he planned to ask Hall about his interactions with Floyd that day, their suspected use of a counterfeit bill, whether he gave Floyd drugs and his statements to police about Floyd's behavior in the vehicle.

Hall's attorney, Adrienne Cousins, argued that he planned to use the Fifth Amendment's right against self-incrimination, and she asked Judge Peter Cahill to quash his subpoena to testify. Cousins said she was concerned Hall's testimony could be used in a drug or third-degree murder charge against him.

"This leaves Mr. Hall potentially incriminating himself into a future prosecution for third-degree murder," Cousins told Cahill, noting the murder statute allows for prosecution of someone who provided drugs leading to an overdose.

Judge Cahill said that any questions about potential wrongdoing would not be allowed, yet he said he would be open to allowing specific questions about Floyd's behavior in the vehicle that day.

He asked the defense attorney to draft specific questions on that point, which will be passed to Hall and his attorneys and discussed in a future hearing.

Hall's testimony could be key for the defense, who has argued that Floyd's cause of death was a mix of drug use and preexisting health issues.

Remember: Hall is currently in custody on unrelated charges of domestic abuse, domestic assault by strangulation and the violation of a protective order.

9:10 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

Catch up on what has happened in the Derek Chauvin trial so far

From left, defense attorney Eric Nelson and former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin.
From left, defense attorney Eric Nelson and former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin. Court TV/Pool/AP

The trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin has now entered day eight of testimony. We're expecting the prosecution to call more witnesses.

Here's a recap of what's happened so far at the trial:

  • Day 1: Trial proceedings started with opening statements from the prosecution and defense. Prosecutors revealed that Chauvin was on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds — an update on the initially reported 8 minutes and 46 seconds. After opening statements, jurors heard from three witnesses, including a 911 dispatcher, an employee from a nearby gas station and a professional mixed martial arts fighter who stumbled upon the scene.
  • Day 2: Six bystanders testified on the second day of Chauvin's criminal trial: a 9-year-old girl, three high school students, a mixed martial arts fighter and a Minneapolis firefighter. They described their feelings of horror and fear as they watched Floyd slowly die under Chauvin's knee.
  • Day 3: The third day of Chauvin's trial featured testimony from several bystanders who interacted with Floyd as well as graphic excerpts of police body camera footage showing his arrest and final moments. In the videos, Floyd gasps that he's claustrophobic, repeatedly says he can't breathe and calls for his mother.
  • Day 4: Floyd's girlfriend spoke about Floyd's struggles with opioid addiction, and several first responders said that Floyd appeared dead when they arrived on the scene. A former police shift supervisor testified that Chauvin's use of force should have ended earlier. The jury also heard Chauvin explain his version of what happened in a call captured on body-camera footage.
  • Day 5: Two high-ranking Minneapolis police officers testified on Friday. Lt. Richard Zimmerman, who leads the Minneapolis Police's homicide unit, told the court that the use of force by Chauvin against Floyd was “totally unnecessary.” Zimmerman said the restraint should have “absolutely” stopped once Floyd was handcuffed and on the ground. Sgt. Jon Curtis Edwards described how he secured the crime scene and made contact with J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, who were the only two officers there. Edwards said he had his body camera activated when he arrived, but neither officer had their body camera on when he met them.
  • Day 6: Three witnesses took the stand. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin's kneeling on Floyd's neck is not a trained tactic and was a violation of the policies around de-escalation, objectively reasonable use of force and requirement to render aid. Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld treated Floyd and said the "more likely possibility" of Floyd's cardiac arrest was hypoxia, or lack of oxygen. Minneapolis Police Inspector Katie Blackwell, who recently served as commander of the department's training division, looked at a photo of Chauvin on Floyd’s neck and told the court that it was not in line with department training. “I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is,” she said. “It’s not what we train.” 
  • Day 7: Four police officials testified in court. Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jody Stiger, a use-of-force expert, testified that the force used by Chauvin on Floyd was excessive. Minneapolis Police Lt. Johnny Mercil, a use-of-force instructor with the department's training unit, said Chauvin's kneeling on Floyd's neck is not a trained neck restraint tactic. Minneapolis Police Officer Nicole Mackenzie, a medical response coordinator, testified that officers are required to render first aid and request emergency services when someone needs medical help. Chauvin took a 40-hour course on crisis intervention training in 2016 in which actors portrayed people in crisis and officers had to de-escalate the situation, said Minneapolis Police Sgt. Ker Yang, the department's crisis intervention training coordinator.
8:42 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

What we know about the jury in Derek Chauvin's trial

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

The jury in Derek Chauvin's trial has heard from multiple witnesses so far, and they've been shown bystander and police footage of George Floyd's final moments. 

If convicted, Chauvin could face up to 40 years in prison for second-degree murder, up to 25 years for third-degree murder, and up to 10 years for second-degree manslaughter. The charges are to be considered separate, so Chauvin could be convicted of all, some or none of them.

While the jurors are unnamed and unseen on camera, we do know basic details about them.

Here's what we know about the jury:

  • Five men and nine women were chosen to serve on the jury during the trial in Minneapolis. 
  • Of the 14 jurors, eight are White, four are Black and two are mixed race, according to how the court says the jurors identified themselves.
  • The jury selection process began March 9 at the Hennepin County Government Center and wrapped up exactly two weeks later. 
  • The panel is made up of 12 jurors and two alternates, Judge Peter Cahill said.
  • The jurors all come from Hennepin County, which is demographically about 74% White and 14% Black, according to census data.
  • The prospective jurors previously completed a 16-page questionnaire that asked for their personal thoughts on Black Lives Matter, policing and other topics.
  • In court, each person was sworn in and then questioned one-by-one in a process known as voir dire. The juror's name, address and other information are kept anonymous.
  • Eric Nelson questioned the prospective jurors for the defense, while Steve Schleicher questioned them for the prosecution.

Read more about about the jury here.