Derek Chauvin is on trial for George Floyd's death

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

Updated 7:00 PM ET, Fri April 9, 2021
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11:16 a.m. ET, April 9, 2021

"Activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. Floyd's death," forensic pathologist says

Dr. Lindsey Thomas.
Dr. Lindsey Thomas. Source: Pool

Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, said the "subdual, restraint and compression" of law enforcement of George Floyd was "ultimately" the immediate cause of death.

"This is a death were both the heart and lung stopped working. And the point is that it's due to law enforcement subdual, restraint and compression. That is kind of what ultimately is the immediate cause of death. It's the subdual, restraint and compression," Thomas said. 

Asked by the prosecution to explain what the terms "subdual restraint and neck compression" mean, Thomas said:

"Those were activities by the law enforcement agency officers involved. Subdual is subduing someone, trying to restrain them. In Mr. Floyd's case, involved handcuffing him, his positioning on the ground, the prone position. The people kneeling on him. And the net compression is the knee on the neck specifically. Additionally, there was some back and other things being compressed by the officers." 

If you put all of those together, she continued, "what it means to me, is that the activities of the law enforcement officers resulted in Mr. Floyd's death. And that specifically those activities were the subdual, the restraint and the neck compression." 

11:16 a.m. ET, April 9, 2021

Forensic pathologist: "Primary mechanism" of Floyd's death was "low oxygen"

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Dr. Lindsey Thomas.
Dr. Lindsey Thomas. Source: Pool

Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, said the "primary mechanism" of George Floyd's death was "asphyxia or low oxygen." 

Thomas said she agrees with the determination from Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker — who performed Floyd's autopsy — on the cause of death, which was "cardiopulmonary complicating law enforcement subdual restraint and neck compression."

"This is not a sudden cardiac death, a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. This is a death where both the heart and lungs stopped working. And the point is that it's due to law enforcement subdual, restraint and compression. That is kind of what ultimately is the immediate cause of death," she said.
12:18 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021

A forensic pathologist is testifying now

Pool
Pool

Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a forensic pathologist, is now testifying.

Asked by the prosecuting attorney to describe her field of expertise, she said:

"Forensic pathologists, is a branch of pathology, branch of medicine, where medicine and law overlap. So, it could be anything with a medical and legal component, could be toxicology, in some cases, it may involve living patients. But as I practice, and as most forensic pathologists practice, involves what's called, medical legal, death investigation." 

"We don't directly treat patients. But we provide information to doctors who then do treat patients," she added later on in questioning.

Thomas noted that she is not being paid for her time and service in this case.

"I knew this was going to be important. And I felt like I had something to offer. I wanted to do what I could to help explain what I think happened," she said.

She said she was asked to review "a lot of material and come to an independent conclusion about what I thought the cause and manner of death were and the mechanism for that cause."

10:25 a.m. ET, April 9, 2021

NOW: Testimony resumes in trial of ex-cop charged in Floyd's death

Day 10 of testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin, who has been charged in the death of George Floyd, just began.

A forensic pathologist has taken the stand.

Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed the autopsy of George Floyd, is also expected to testify today.

Baker ruled that Floyd's death last May was a homicide, identifying the cause as "cardiopulmonary arrest" that occurred during "law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression."

Jurors heard testimony yesterday from three expert witnesses for the prosecution, including a pulmonologist who said Floyd died from a "low level of oxygen."

9:36 a.m. ET, April 9, 2021

The chief medical examiner set to testify today ruled Floyd's death last May a homicide 

From CNN's Dakin Andone

Crucial testimony in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is expected today when the medical examiner who performed George Floyd's autopsy takes the stand.

Prosecutors intend to call Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker. He ruled Floyd's death last May a homicide, identifying the cause as "cardiopulmonary arrest" that occurred during "law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression."

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's official autopsy made no mention of asphyxiation as a cause of death, which has been a key pillar of prosecutors' case.

Baker's testimony will come on the 10th day of Chauvin's trial, the culmination of a week filled with expert testimony by not only medical experts, but also policing experts who testified Chauvin violated policy and used excessive force on Floyd.

A pulmonary critical care doctor testified Thursday that Floyd died from a "low level of oxygen" when Chauvin pinned him to the street with his knee, restricting Floyd's ability to breathe. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder, third-degree murder and third-degree manslaughter charges.

Why these testimonies matter: The medical analysis is important to the prosecution's case that Chauvin was a substantial cause of Floyd's death when he put his body weight on Floyd's neck and back for over nine minutes – causing death by "positional asphyxia."

Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that Floyd died of a drug overdose and preexisting health conditions.

10:18 a.m. ET, April 9, 2021

A pulmonary expert yesterday identified 4 main reasons why Floyd died 

From CNN's Eric Levenson and Aaron Cooper

Pool
Pool

We expect another big day of testimony today, with the medical examiner who performed George Floyd's autopsy taking the stand.

A renowned pulmonary critical care doctor testified Thursday morning that George Floyd died from a "low level of oxygen" when former police officer Derek Chauvin pinned him to the street and restricted his ability to breathe.

"This caused damage to his brain that we see, and it also caused a PEA arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop," Dr. Martin Tobin of Chicago testified, referring to pulseless electrical activity, a type of cardiac arrest.

"The cause of the low level of oxygen was shallow breathing," he added. "Small breaths. Small tidal volumes. Shallow breaths that weren't able to carry the air through his lungs down to the essential areas of the lungs that get oxygen into the blood and get rid of the carbon dioxide."

He identified four main reasons why Floyd died:

  • The handcuffs and the street acting as a "vise"
  • Chauvin's left knee on his neck
  • Floyd's prone position
  • Chauvin's right knee on Floyd's back, arm and side

Combined, these limited Floyd's ability to expand his lungs and narrowed his hypopharynx, a part of the throat that air passes through.

Floyd's preexisting health conditions and drug use were not relevant to his death, Tobin said.

"A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died," he said.

Tobin's testimony came on the ninth day of the trial as prosecutors shifted into the third phase of their case, focusing on the medical analysis of Floyd's cause of death. 

Read more about how the trial unfolded yesterday here.

5:24 p.m. ET, April 9, 2021

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

A protester holds a sign across the street from National Guard soldiers guarding the Hennepin County Government Center Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Minneapolis where testimony continues in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. 
A protester holds a sign across the street from National Guard soldiers guarding the Hennepin County Government Center Tuesday, April 6, 2021, in Minneapolis where testimony continues in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.  Jim Mone/AP

The trial of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin will enter day 10 of testimony today. We're expecting the prosecution to call more witnesses.

Here's a recap of what's happened so far this week:

  • Monday: Three witnesses took the stand. Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd's neck was 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.” 
  • Tuesday: 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 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.
  • Wednesday: Several investigators and forensic scientists testified about what they found at the crime scene, including Floyd's blood stains and a few white pills containing fentanyl and methamphetamine. A Los Angeles Police Department use-of-force expert hired by the prosecution testified that Chauvin had used excessive and deadly force on Floyd when none was needed. The special agent who led the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigation into Floyd's death also struggled to make sense of a short phrase Floyd said last May as Derek Chauvin kneeled on him.
  • Thursday: Prosecutors shifted into the third phase of their case and focused on the medical analysis of Floyd's cause of death. A renowned pulmonary critical care doctor testified Floyd died from a "low level of oxygen" when Chauvin pinned him to the street and restricted his ability to breathe. Also on Thursday, another doctor seconded Tobin's conclusion and a forensic toxicologist discussed the drugs found in Floyd's system.

8:44 a.m. ET, April 9, 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.

9:09 a.m. ET, April 9, 2021

Chief medical examiner who performed Floyd autopsy expected to testify today

A general view outside the Hennepin County Government Center on April 8, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Derek Chauvin murder trial continues today. 
A general view outside the Hennepin County Government Center on April 8, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Derek Chauvin murder trial continues today.  Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed the autopsy of George Floyd, is expected to testify this morning.

Jurors heard testimony yesterday from three expert witnesses for the prosecution, including a pulmonologist who said Floyd died from a "low level of oxygen."

An emergency medicine physician with specialized training in forensic medicine, also testified and told the court that there was no evidence that Floyd had a heart attack. He said Floyd died because of a lack of oxygen in his body.