FORMER Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will not testify to the jury at his murder trial for the deadly arrest of George Floyd, he told the court on Thursday.
The 45-year-old has been charged with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
Floyd died last May following an arrest during which Chauvin placed a knee on his neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds while Floyd pleaded, “I can’t breathe.”
Caught on video, those tragic final moments led to widespread protests and riots across the US against police brutality and racism.
Chauvin, along with three other police officers present during the fatal arrest, was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department the day after the death.
Almost 40 witnesses have been called to the stand in recent weeks, including the Minneapolis police chief and other officers who have openly condemned Chauvin’s actions.
But speaking in court for the first time since his trial began, Chauvin told Judge Peter Cahill on Thursday that he has decided not to testify in his own defense.
“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” Chauvin said after briefly removing his mask, referring to the constitutional right against self-incrimination.
Judge Peter Cahill questioned Chauvin about his decision, asking if he was pressured in any way in making it.
“No promises or threats, your honor,” Chauvin said.
Read our Derek Chauvin trial live blog for the latest on George Floyd’s killing…
DEREK CHAUVIN MURDER TRIAL COULD END AS SOON AS NEXT WEEK
After former Minneapolis Police Office Derek Chauvin pled the fifth on Thursday and refused to testify at his own trial, legal experts warned the historic case might come to a close at the end of next week.
With closing arguments set to begin on Monday, Judge Peter Cahill told the jury they should “plan for long, hope for short” deliberations following the lengthy arguments.
Chauvin, who is on trial for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd, faces several years in prison if convicted.
Although his charges carry with it a maximum sentence of 40 years, legal experts warn given his lack of criminal history, he likely will serve a maximum of 10 to 15 years if convicted.
WHY DIDN’T CHAUVIN TESTIFY?
Derek Chauvin opted against testifying for his defense on Thursday, instead invoking his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent and leave the burden of proof on the state.
“[To say] We have gone back and forth on the matter’ would be kind of an understatement, right?” Defense attorney Eric Nelson asked Chauvin in court, without the jury present.
“Yes it is,” Chauvin replied.
There are a number of reasons why Chauvin may have decided to stay silent.
Firstly, the defense may have been concerned that Chauvin wouldn’t come across well to jurors on the stand.
Throughout the trial, he has remained relatively emotionless, sitting up straight in his chair, or jotting down notes on a legal pad in front of him.
“Chauvin doesn’t come across as a warm and pleasant person. And jurors want to see a caring and empathetic person,” Minnesota defense attorney Mike Brandt told CBS local.
“That is the one big liability: If jurors don’t like Chauvin, his fate is sealed.”
Taking the stand could have also opened Chauvin up to treacherous cross-examination.
“They would be salivating to get him on the stand,” Brandt said of the prosecution. “They’d have a field day with Chauvin.”
JUDGE TELLS JURY TO ‘PLAN FOR LONG, HOPE FOR SHORT’ DELIBERATION
Judge Peter Cahill advised the jury in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin to prepare for a lengthy deliberation ahead of closing arguments, which are set to begin on Monday.
Cahill said jurors should “plan for long, hope for short” after both the prosecution and defense rested its cases on Thursday.
Chauvin is on trial for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
The ex-cop chose not to testify for his defense, instead invoking his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination.
Several law enforcement officials testified for the prosecution that Chauvin used excessive force – in violation of department protocol – when he knelt on the neck of George Floyd for nine minutes and 26 seconds.
DC BRACES FOR DEMONSTRATIONS AT CLOSE OF CHAUVIN TRIAL
Washington DC is said to be bracing for protests in the nation’s capital as the conclusion to Derek Chauvin’s murder trial in the fatal arrest of George Floyd nears.
Chauvin is on trial for second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd.
Floyd died under the knee of Derek Chauvin during an arrest in Minneapolis on Memorial Day last year.
His death sparked nationwide racial injustice protests, including high-profile violent clashes with police near to the White House.
Similar protests were sparked in Minneapolis this week, following the police shooting death of Daunte Wright.
In preparation for similar protests, pending the outcome of Chauvin’s trial, the District is canceling time-off requests for all DC police and civil disturbance units.
They will reportedly be mobilized starting Monday, FOX5 reported.
WERE FAMILY PRESENT FOR CHAUVIN?
A seat reserved for the family of Derek Chauvin has remained empty throughout much of the trial.
However, according to a pool report, a woman – dressed in all black – commandeered the seat this morning.
While her identity is currently unclear, she sat with “her hands balled together on her lap, leaning to the side in her chair and seems to be listening attentively as the parties discuss the state’s potential rebuttal case,” a report said.
GEORGE FLOYD’S COUSIN ATTENDED COURT TODAY
George Floyd’s cousin, Arthur Reed, attended proceedings this morning.
When asked about Floyd’s decision not to testify, Reed said he though prosecutors “would have chopped him down second by second,” about why he kept his knee on Floyd’s neck.
“We didn’t think they were going to put him on at all,” he said, unsurprised.
“We’re just ready to get this over with, make sure he gets the justice he deserves. We think the state has put on an excellent case.”
KEY POINTS FROM THURSDAY’S PROCEEDINGS
After court adjourned until Monday, here are the key moment’s from today’s proceedings:
- Chauvin decided not to testify in his defense, invoking his fifth amendment right against self- incrimination.
- Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, announced the defence was resting
- The prosecution called one witness on rebuttal, Dr. Martin Tobin, to discredit the testimony of a defense expert on Wednesday
- Tobin said Dr. Fowler’s claims Floyd’s death could have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning was “simply wrong”
- Prosecutors’ decision to recall Tobin was preceded by debate, after they told the court evidence had been found to disprove Fowler’s theory
- Judge Peter Cahill did not allow prosecutors to bring up this evidence during their questioning of Tobin, since it came to the defense so late
- After questioning Tobin, the prosecution rested
- Cahill told jurors to return Monday for closing arguments.
WATCH: DEREK CHAUVIN REFUSES TO TESTIFY
Before the court adjourned on Thursday afternoon, former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin declined to testify for his defense.
Watch the moment he invoked the Fifth Amendment below:
DEFENSE AND PROSECUTION REST IN THE TRIAL OF DEREK CHAUVIN
After the rebuttal testimony from pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin, both the defense and prosecution rested.
The trial has now been adjourned until Monday morning, when closing arguments will begin.
The jury will return to the court room on Monday at 10am ET.
REBUTTAL WITNESS: DEFENSE EXPERT ‘SIMPLY WRONG’
Dr. Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist, said during rebuttal testimony that defense expert Dr. David Fowler, who took to the stand Wednesday, was “simply wrong” by suggesting George Floyd’s death may have been caused by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Tobin said medical records showed Floyd’s oxygen saturation was 98 percent when he died, aligning with testimony he previously offered that Floyd died from low oxygen levels.
Speaking to Tobin on Thursday, Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked: “Does that tell us anything whatsoever about what the carbon monoxide content could have been at a maximum?”
Tobin responded: “Yes, it does. It tells us that if hemoglobin is saturated at 98%, it has – for others is 2%. So the maximum amount of carbon monoxide would be 2%.”
PROSECUTION RECALLS PULMONOLOGIST AS REBUTTAL WITNESS
The prosecution has called Dr. Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist, as a rebuttal witness at the Chauvin trial.
Tobin is pushing back against the testimony of defense expert witness Dr. David Fowler, a retired forensic pathologist, who suggested carbon monoxide poisoning may have played a factor in George Floyd’s death.
Tobin previously testified that it was his opinion that George Floyd died from low oxygen levels, caused by Chauvin kneeling down the 46-year-old’s neck for more than nine minutes.
JUDGE RULES PROSECUTION CANNOT BRING UP NEW EVIDENCE WITH REBUTTAL WITNESS
Judge Peter Cahill informed the prosecution they will not be allowed to bring up new evidence when calling on their rebuttal witness today.
The prosecution wanted to introduce new evidence to counteract claims made by expert defense witness David Fowler on Wednesday, who theorized George Floyd may have suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning during his fatal arrest.
Fowler had said that Floyd’s blood should have been tested on this issue.
The prosecution said the county medical examiner had uncovered lab results that spoke to Floyd’s carbon monoxide levels.
But Cahill said they were unable to bring up those results, when calling their rebuttal witness, insisting it would be unfair to the defense.
“I find that Dr Fowler’s report gave sufficient notice [to] the state that the carbon monoxide that was in George Floyd’s blood could have affected cause of death,” Cahill has said of an assessment that Fowler revealed months ago. “Basically, Dr Fowler came right out and said it should be tested.”
DEREK CHAUVIN’S DEFENSE RESTS
Derek Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson has told the court that the defense rests.
The prosecution then told Judge Cahill they want to call a rebuttal witness, who would offer new evidence in the case.
The evidence relates to defense testimony offered by David Fowler that George Floyd may have suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning during his fatal arrest.
DEREK CHAUVIN WILL NOT TESTIFY
Derek Chauvin has just told the court that he will not testify in his defense.
He has invoked his Fifth Amendment right to avoid self-incrimination in the case.
Judge Peter Cahill questioned the former Minneapolis cop to ensure his decision not to testify was entirely voluntary.
Chauvin confirmed that it was.
This is done to prevent any later claims that he was ill-advised or that his failure to testify was the result of incompetent legal counsel.
DEFENSE EXPERT’S CLAIM CARBON MONOXIDE CONTRIBUTED TO FLOYD’S DEATH BLASTED AS ‘LUDICROUS’
During his lengthy testimony of Wednesday, Dr. David Fowler said under questioning from the defense that carbon monoxide may have contributed to George Floyd’s death because he was being restrained near the exhaust of a running police car.
Speaking to CNN later Wednesday, Dr. Cyril Wecht, a forensic pathologist and attorney, said: “I find that completely ludicrous.”
“Carbon monoxide is produced by something that is burning smoke. To my knowledge, the car was not running.”
Wecht added that if carbon monoxide poisoning was a factor, it would cause a “pinkish-red” discoloration of the body, which was not found in Floyd’s case.
HOW LONG IS CHAUVIN FACING IN PRISON, IF CONVICTED?
Officer Derek Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
Each of the charges are considered to be separate, meaning the 45-year-old could be convicted of all of them, some of them, or none of them.
The second-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 40 years in prison; the third-degree murder charge 25 years; and second-degree manslaughter 10 years,
This means if Chauvin is indeed found guilty of all counts, he could receive a prison sentence of up to 75 years.
WHAT HAPPENED DURING YESTERDAY’S DEFENSE TESTIMONY?
The vast majority of Wednesday was dominated by the testimony of defense expert Dr. David Fowler, Maryland’s former chief medical examiner.
Fowler, whose previous testimony has helped to acquit police in the fatal arrest of another black man, told the court that George Floyd died due to his underlying heart disease – not because of Chauvin’s restraint.
“In my opinion, Mr. Floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia, or cardiac arrhythmia, due to his atherosclerosis and hypertensive heart disease … during his restraint and subdual by the police,” Fowler told police.
Fowler said that Floyd had an an enlarged hear and narrow coronary arteries. He added that Floyd’s use of methamphetamine use and a tumor known as a paraganglioma were other significant conditions that contributed to his death.
His testimony came in drastic contrast to the conclusions of five separate medical experts speaking for the prosecution, who said Floyd’s primary cause of death was “positional asphyxia” – caused by Chauvin’s restraint.
STILL UNCLEAR IF CHAUVIN WILL TESTIFY AT OWN TRIAL
As the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin nears the end of its third week, it still is unclear if he will be among the witnesses and testify on his own behalf.
The trial, which saw the conclusion of the prosecution’s case on Tuesday, is expected to last about a month, with the defense’s case beginning Wednesday and expected to go into next week.
However, legal experts are debating whether Chauvin would take the witness stand. Some hypothesize if the defense argues Chauvin himself believed the force was necessary, then only he can testify to that.
Others err on the side of caution.
“In cross-examination he’ll just get beat up. It’ll be horrible for him. The risk is so immense for him to testify,” Joseph Daly, emeritus professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, told the Star Tribune.
SISTER OF ANTON BLACK SPEAKS OUT AGAINST DEFENSE WITNESS
The Defense’s first witness on Wednesday was Dr. David Fowler, a forensic expert and physician who has testified before a number of police-involved shootings in the past.
One of them included the police-involved shooting of Anton Black, a 19-year-old Black teen was who shot and killed by an officer in Maryland in 2018.
Fowler at the time was the chief medical examiner presiding over Black’s autopsy, deeming the teen died of “sudden cardiac death.”
But Black’s sister LaToya Holley had issue with his ruling during her brother’s autopsy as well as his testimony on Wednesday.
“It’s surreal that you have two men on the opposite sides of the country that experienced almost the same treatment by two different police officers,” said Holley.
“The medical examiner, in my opinion, was egregious in the way he finalized Anton’s autopsy results. Now, he’s being called to be an expert witness for another police officer.”
FLOYD SHOULD HAVE BEEN GIVEN ‘IMMEDIATE MEDICAL ATTENTION’, DEFENSE EXPERT SAYS ON CROSS
Defense expert witness Dr. David Fowler said during cross-examination that George Floyd should have received “immediate emergency attention” to reverse the cardiac arrest he was suffering during his arrest last May.
“Do you feel that Mr. Floyd should have been given immediate emergency attention to try to reverse the cardiac arrest?” prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell asked Fowler on Wednesday afternoon.
“As a physician, I would agree,” Fowler responded.
EXPERT WITNESS: FLOYD’S CAUSE OF DEATH UNDERTERMINED
Dr. David Fowler, the defense’s first witness of the day, said that Floyd had “so many conflicting potential mechanisms of death” that he considers the 46-year-old’s death to be undertermined.
Fowler’s testimony conflicts with an earlier ruling made by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner, who ruled his death a homicide.
When determining a manner of death, medical examiners can choose one of five classifications: homicide, natural, accidental, undetermined or suicide.
With so many factors at play – including drug use, heart disease and potential carbon monoxide poisoning – Fowler said a specific determination is too difficult to conclude.
“If you put all those together, it’s very difficult to say which of these is most accurate,” Fowler said. “I would fall back to undetermined.”
EXPERT WITNESS: CHAUVIN’S KNEE DIDN’T IMPACT FLOYD’S ‘VITAL STRUCTURES’
Expert defense witness, pathologist Dr. David Fowler, said, in his opinion, Derek Chauvin’s knee did not impact any of George Floyd’s “vital structures” of his neck.
“The placement of the knee was towards the back right side of Mr. Floyd’s neck, and the airway is around the front,” Fowler said. “It is nowhere near to his airway.”
Fowler testified he could not find evidence in medical literature that Chauvin’s knee would have impaired the function of Floyd’s throat, as had been suggested earlier by an expert for the prosecution.
Fowler testified he did not see evidence on the video that Floyd died of hypoxia – or low oxygen – as the prosecution has claimed.
He said he would expect to see Floyd become disoriented, confused and incoherent if that was indeed his cause of death.
“He goes from pretty much fully functional and coherent to unconscious very rapidly,” Fowler said of Floyd, saying such behavior is more indicative of a cardiac event.
Fowler said a combination of heart disease, narrowed blood vessels, drug ingestion and exposure to carbon monoxide were “all acting together” to cause Floyd’s death.
“At some point, the heart exhausted its reserves of metabolic supply and went into an arrhythmia, and then stopped pumping blood effectively,” Fowler said.
WHEN WILL THERE BE A VERDICT IN THE TRIAL?
The defense began presenting its witnesses on Monday, after nearly 40 witnesses took the stand for the prosecution during the first two weeks of Chauvin’s trial.
Witness testimony for the defense is expected to last at least through the end of the week before the trial moves into closing arguments.
After that, jury deliberation will follow, where Chauvin will be judge either guilty or not guilty on three individual counts: second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.
As each of the charges are separate, Chauvin can be found guilty of all, some or not of the counts.
Earlier this week, Judge Peter Cahill said should the defense’s case continue on schedule, the court wouldn’t convene on Friday – meaning closing arguments wouldn’t start until Monday.
As soon as closing arguments conclude, the jury will be sequestered and given as much time as they need to deliver a verdict. That process can sometimes take days or even weeks.
WHAT DID FLOYD’S AUTOPSY RESULTS SHOW?
George Floyd‘s cause of death was classified as a homicide by a medical examiner who ran an independent autopsy on June 1, 2020.
He said his heart stopped while police restrained him and compressed his neck for almost nine minutes.
The cause of death was listed as “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression,” according to the official information from the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office.
It determined: “[Floyd] experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s).”
The office also listed heart disease and hypertension under Floyd’s “other significant conditions”.
WILL DEREK CHAUVIN TESTIFY?
As the defense for Chauvin began on Tuesday, one question continues to loom over the proceedings: will the former Minneapolis police officer testify to explain his actions?
Defense attorney Joe Tamburino, who is not affiliated with the trial, told CBS that Chauvin is the only person the defense can use to make key points in its case.
“That jury is going to want to hear [Chauvin] say that he didn’t want to hurt Mr. Floyd, that he was just using regular procedures and moves that he’s been trained to do,” Tamburino said. “You have to humanize the defendant if you’re going to try to win….That’s really the only way to do it.”
However, taking the stand would also pose a number of risks for Chauvin, including opening himself up to cross-examination.
“He just might not come across well [to the jury],” Tamburino said of another potential downside.
In court, Chauvin has shown little emotion or character.
While there is no word yet on whether he plans to take the stand, should he choose to do so, he could even take the stand as soon as this afternoon.