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Defense resumes argument that Derek Chauvin didn't kill George Floyd

Paul Walsh, Star Tribune on

Published in News & Features

MINNEAPOLIS — The Derek Chauvin murder trial resumes Wednesday with a second day of testimony in the defense's case, which is trying to raise enough doubt for jurors to acquit the fired Minneapolis police officer in the death of George Floyd.

Before testimony started Wednesday, Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill ruled that a friend who was with Floyd at the time of his arrest can refuse to testify. Morries L. Hall, 42, invoked his constitutional right against self-incrimination and told the judge that he fears being charged with serious crimes should he answer questions from the defense or prosecution.

"I fearful of criminal charges going forward," Hall said while standing at the podium usually reserved for attorneys. "I [also] have open charges that's not settled yet." His attorney told the court last week that Hall would open himself up to third-degree murder charges in connection with Floyd's death if he were to testify.

Cahill said, "I'm finding that he has a complete Fifth Amendment privilege here" and then quashed the subpoena, a ruling that was a defeat for the defense's contention that fentanyl and methamphetamine played a role in Floyd's death.

Hall is suspected of being a provider of illicit drugs to Floyd over an extended period of time. Floyd's girlfriend testified earlier that Hall supplied Floyd with drugs sometime in the month of Floyd's death.

On Tuesday, the first day defense attorney Eric Nelson presented his case in Hennepin County District Court, a longtime police instructor testified that Chauvin was justified in kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes because he resisted arrest and struggled with officers at 38th and Chicago.

 

Barry Brodd, a use-of-force expert hired by Chauvin's defense, told the court that placing a suspect stomach-down on the pavement is a "control technique" and not use of force because it does not cause pain. He called the position "prone control" while prosecutors have repeatedly called it "prone restraint."

"I felt that Derek Chauvin was justified and acting with objective reasonableness following Minneapolis Police Department policy and current standards of law enforcement in his interactions with Mr. Floyd," Brodd said.

The former Santa Rosa, California, police officer, who is now a consultant on use of force and other law enforcement tactics, was among five witnesses who testified as the first day of Chauvin's defense began calling witnesses in the trial now entering its sixth week dating back to jury selection.

Brodd buttressed several defense strategies by testifying that officers must take the totality of the circumstances into consideration when using force, that a crowd of bystanders posed a potential threat to officers, and that compliant suspects can suddenly become noncompliant and dangerous.

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