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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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.

8:22 a.m. ET, April 7, 2021

The Chauvin trial resumes this morning. Here's what happened yesterday in court.

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

It is day eight of testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged in the death of George Floyd.

Four police officials took the stand in court yesterday during the prosecution's portion of the trial.

If you're just reading in, here's what happened in court yesterday:

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. While neck restraints may be allowed on suspects actively resisting, they are not to be done with the knee and they would not be authorized on a suspect who is handcuffed and under control, he said. Officers are taught to only use force that is proportional to the threat. He also testified that handcuffed suspects can have difficulty breathing on their stomachs. He said officers are trained to move suspects into a side recovery position — "the sooner the better."

However, Mercil said in cross-examination that Chauvin's position might be considered "using body weight to control," a tactic in which officers place a knee on a prone suspect's shoulder blades to handcuff them. He acknowledged that some screen grabs of police body-camera footage show Chauvin with his knee on Floyd's shoulders.

"However, I will add that we tell officers to stay away from the neck when possible, and if you're going to use body weight to pin, to put it on their shoulder and be mindful of position," he said.

Minneapolis Police Sgt. Ker Yang, the crisis intervention training coordinator for the department's training unit, testified about the importance of recognizing when someone is in crisis and de-escalating the situation. Officers are trained in a critical decision-making model to address people in crisis that calls on them to continually assess and reassess what is needed in the situation, he said. 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, Yang testified.

In cross-examination, Yang said that the crisis intervention model can potentially apply to the suspect as well as nearby observers. The training advises officers to appear confident, stay calm, maintain space, speak slowly and softly and avoid staring or eye contact, he said.

Minneapolis Police Officer Nicole Mackenzie, a medical response coordinator and CPR instructor, testified that officers are required to render first aid and request emergency services when someone needs medical help. The department teaches officers to determine the level of responsiveness for a person needing help. If the person is unresponsive, then the officer is required to check their airway, breathing and circulation, and if the person has no pulse, the officer should start CPR immediately. She also said it's not accurate to say if someone can talk then they can breathe. In cross-examination, she said that a hostile crowd could make it difficult to focus on a patient.

Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jody Stiger, a use-of-force expert, testified that the force used by Chauvin on Floyd was excessive. "My opinion was that the force was excessive," he told the court. Stiger reviewed materials from the incident after Floyd's death and has conducted approximately 2,500 use-of-force reviews during his career.