Chauvin trial: Key takeaways from the courtroom

The Derek Chauvin trial is finally here. Stay updated on what is happening in the courtroom day by day.

The+Hennepin+County+Government+Center%2C+on+Sunday%2C+Feb.+28.+The+trial+of+Derek+Chauvin%2C+the+police+officer+charged+with+the+murder+of+George+Floyd%2C+will+be+held+here+starting+on+March+8.

Shannon Doyle

The Hennepin County Government Center, on Sunday, Feb. 28. The trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer charged with the murder of George Floyd, will be held here starting on March 8.

Nine months after the death of George Floyd set off protests around the world, the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is underway.

Charges: One count of second-degree murder, one count of second-degree manslaughter and one count of third-degree murder.

Media Access: Media organizations around the world are live-streaming proceedings, marking a historic level of court access in Minnesota.

However, most journalists are viewing the stream from a building next door to the courthouse while only two reporters a day are in the courtroom. On March 15, Judge Peter Cahill officially ordered the release of demographic info such as race and age. Before that, pool reporters had to guess.

Timeline: Jury selection started Monday, March 8, and is expected to last three weeks. Opening statements are expected to begin March 29 and the trial itself is expected to last between two to four weeks.

The Minnesota Daily has a seat in the media room and is giving daily briefings on courtroom proceedings.

The trial


Day 25: Wednesday, April 14

Contributed by Megan Germundson

The defense called on a medical expert today who contradicted the state’s earlier testimony that George Floyd died due to police officer restraint causing a lack of oxygen. 

Retired forensic pathologist Dr. David Fowler, the defense’s sole witness Wednesday and was previously Maryland’s chief medical examiner, said Floyd died of sudden cardiac arrest as police officers restrained him on the street. 

Fowler is currently the defendant in a federal lawsuit related to a young Black man in Maryland who died in police custody.

Here are today’s key takeaways:

Fowler said heart disease, high blood pressure, the presence of drugs, possible carbon monoxide poisoning and a paraganglioma tumor found during Floyd’s autopsy “combined to cause Mr. Floyd’s death.”

Considering all of these factors, Fowler said, “the manner is not clear” and that he would classify Floyd’s death as “undetermined.”

During cross-examination, Fowler said, “There’s going to be a period of time between his cardiac arrest” and the moment of death. When asked by the prosecution if he felt that Floyd should have been provided with immediate medical attention, Fowler said, “As a physician, I would agree.”

“Immediate medical attention for a person who’s gone into cardiac arrest may well reverse their process,” he said.

Fowler said the exhaust from the police squad car could have contributed to Floyd’s death. Upon cross-examination, Fowler agreed that the autopsy report found no evidence of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell eventually asked how Fowler knew the car was even running. Fowler said it appeared that the exhaust pipe was dripping.

Fowler cited a study that found no evidence of positional asphyxia, lack of oxygen and difficulty breathing among individuals subjected to the prone position with hands “hog-tied” and weights placed on their backs. Fowler also said that many people sleep in the prone position.

• Under cross-examination, however, Fowler acknowledged that the study was not conducted on people subjected to the same extreme circumstances and stress as Floyd. 

Contradicting testimony from several Minneapolis police officers who said Derek Chauvin used excessive force while arresting Floyd, Fowler stated that Chauvin’s “single-knee technique” left “absolutely no evidence of any injury … to the back or the neck.”

In cross-examination, Fowler admitted that people could die from positional asphyxia without any apparent injuries.

Eric Nelson, defense attorney, presented Fowler with a still image from officer Thomas Lane’s body camera, showing what he later identified as a “white object” inside Floyd’s mouth. Nelson then referred to a methamphetamine and fentanyl pill found in the back of the police squad car with Floyd’s saliva DNA.

The defense implied that the white object in his mouth was a pill.

Later, prosecutor Blackwell played footage from Cup Foods surveillance cameras that shows Floyd with a white object in his mouth that appears to be gum or candy. Blackwell asked Fowler if he was previously suggesting “that the white substance was a pill,” which Fowler responded by saying, “No, I never did.” 

Fowler later agreed with Blackwell that the autopsy report found no evidence of “pill residue” in Floyd’s stomach.

Fowler said he never saw Floyd exhibit any symptoms like sleepiness or the inability to be roused, both of which are signs of opioid intoxication.

In morning pretrial motions, Judge Peter Cahill said Morries Hall, who was in the car with Floyd before his death, has “complete Fifth Amendment privilege” and will not be called to testify in the trial. 

According to the press pool reporter, the jurors appeared “low energy” during Fowler’s testimony, but all jurors seemed “very engaged” during cross-examination.


Day 24: Tuesday, April 13

Contributed by Emalyn Muzzy

The prosecution has rested its case, and the defense has started bringing forward its own witnesses.

Today, a witness testified that the amount of force Derek Chauvin used was justified. He was the first witness to do so. The defense also played body camera footage from Floyd’s May 2019 arrest.

The morality struggle between the defense and the prosecution continues. The state argues Chauvin used an unnecessary amount of force on George Floyd while Eric Nelson, the defense attorney, argued that Chauvin used the needed amount considering the circumstances surrounding the situation.

Here’s what happened in court today:

Barry Brodd, a former police officer who has worked at agencies around the country, testified that Chauvin’s use of force was justified and that Chauvin acted with “objective reasonableness.”

Brodd said that officers make decisions in response to a suspect’s actions and that he does not consider the prone restraint, a position where a person is placed on their stomach with their hands behind their back, to be a use of force.

It is necessary to place a person resisting arrest in the prone position, Brodd said. Brodd said Floyd had been resisting arrest, and he could tell because at one point Floyd kicked. He also told the state that Floyd would have to be “resting comfortably” in order to be considered completely compliant.

After Brodd testified for the defense, the prosecution spent over an hour cross-examining him. If pain was inflicted upon Floyd, it could be considered a use of force, Brodd said in response to a question from the state. But Brodd does not know for sure if Floyd was in pain. Brodd also said an obese person may be more likely to asphyxiate in the prone restraint.

Shawanda Hill, a friend of Floyd’s who was in the car when Floyd was arrested, testified. She said Floyd had fallen asleep immediately after coming into the car. She tried to wake him up and talk to the store clerk, but he did not seem alert until the police arrived.

She said Floyd had been working the night before, but she was cut off and not allowed to say more about why he was tired. She said Floyd was awake and happy while he was inside Cup Foods.

Scott Creighton, an ex-Minneapolis police officer, and Michelle Moseng, a retired paramedic, both testified about Floyd’s May 2019 arrest. Cahill told the jury that evidence from that arrest is being included only to show how Floyd reacted to an arrest while he was under the influence. Cahill said the jury should not judge anything else from the video, such as Floyd’s character.

During the 2019 arrest, Moseng said that Floyd had extremely high blood pressure that day, but it was because he had not been taking his heart medication. Other than high blood pressure, his vitals and manner were normal, despite admitting that he had been taking an opioid-based prescription about every 20 minutes.

The defense has been trying to prove that Floyd died because of possible underlying conditions and drug use.

Peter Chang, a peace officer that assisted in Floyd’s fatal arrest, testified. After hearing the dispatch, he showed up to the scene and was told by other officers to watch the two people Floyd had been with and the car Floyd was previously in.

The defense showed Chang’s body camera footage from that day, which showed that the two people Floyd was with seemed nervous and uncomfortable with what was happening. It seemed that they did not know wholly what was occurring


Day 23: Monday, April 12

Contributed by Samantha Hendrickson

Tension filled the courtroom Monday, as court proceedings in the Chauvin trial continued less than a day after a Brooklyn Center police officer shot and killed 20-year-old Daunte Wright. 

On Sunday night, protests following the shooting were met with officers in riot gear, tear gas and rubber bullets after police told protesters multiple times to disperse shortly after gathering. The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension identified 26-year police veteran Kimberly Potter on Monday night. The Brooklyn Center police chief claimed that the officer thought she was firing her Taser when she shot Wright.

The defense filed a motion asking that Judge Peter Cahill sequester the jury in light of the “emotional” situation surrounding Wright’s death. The defense said that jurors could be influenced by fear instead of evidence when delivering their verdict.  

The prosecution argued that “world events happen,” and the two cases are completely separate. Cahill agreed and denied the motion. 

Here are some more key takeaways from the trial: 

Cahill announced that closing arguments are expected next Monday. After that, jury deliberations will begin, and Chauvin could be declared guilty or not guilty at any point.

• Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, testified Monday. He openly cried on the stand as he talked about what kind of man his brother was. This is part of a “spark of life” testimony in which a witness talks about the life of the deceased person. Few states allow this kind of testimony, according to former Hennepin County chief public defender Mary Moriarty. 

• Philonise told the court that Floyd was a leader in their family and that he “just knew how to make people feel better.” He could not cook and often made cereal sandwiches. Lines were often drawn on their childhood home walls, as Floyd was obsessed with checking his height and wanted to be tall enough to play sports.

• Floyd, Philonise said, was closest to their mother, Larcenia Jones Floyd, out of all their siblings. Before she passed away, Floyd was unable to see her and was inconsolable after her death. The anniversary of her death fell five days before Floyd was killed.

• The defense did not cross-examine Philonise.

• For the second time after several weeks of court proceedings, a person described by pool reporters as a woman of Asian descent sat in the spot reserved for Chauvin’s family members. Kellie Chauvin, Chauvin’s ex-wife, is of Asian descent. She filed for divorce days after Floyd’s death.

• Dr. Jonathan Rich, a renowned cardiologist from Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, testified for the prosecution as to how Floyd died. He said that Floyd died from heart failure due to low oxygen levels in his blood, caused by Chauvin’s restraint. “George Floyd’s death was absolutely preventable,” he said.

• Rich pointed out many moments during the nine-minute restraint in which Floyd might have lived if officers had stopped the restraint or begun CPR. 

• The prosecution also called Seth Stoughton, an associate professor of criminal law at the University of South Carolina law school. He also studies police regulation and worked as a police officer in Florida. He testified to national policies on the use of force.

• According to Stoughton, Chauvin violated policies not only on a local level but on a national level regarding the use of force.

• After watching the video, Stoughton said that Floyd should never have been put in the prone position, as he appeared only to resist getting in the car, not being arrested. 

• Ultimately, Stoughton said police officers have specific medical responsibilities in these kinds of situations — such as applying first aid and the side recovery position.


Day 22: Friday, April 9

Contributed by Lydia Morrell

The state called two forensic pathologists who both testified that the four officers’ actions caused Floyd to die. 

The day centered around the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s death report — the prosecution focused on manner and cause of death while the defense asked about contributing conditions such as Floyd’s heart disease and drug use. 

Here’s a few key takeaways from today:

• The state called Dr. Andrew Baker, the chief medical examiner for Hennepin County, who determined Floyd’s manner of death as a homicide. He listed the cause of death as “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression,” which means that Floyd’s heart and lungs stopped working because of the actions of the officers. 

• “There’s no evidence to suggest that he would have died except for the interactions with law enforcement,” said forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas, the state’s other witness of the day. 

• The death report listed Floyd’s heart disease and methamphetamine and fentanyl use as contributing factors to his death. Thomas said contributing factors are included in the death report mostly for state data collection purposes, not to indicate cause.

• Eric Nelson, attorney for the defense, centered his questioning around these factors and seemed to argue that heart disease or drug use resulted in Floyd suddenly dying at the scene.

• Baker said the autopsy showed that Floyd had a slightly bigger heart than normal for his height and the arteries close to his heart were very narrow, which was likely due to high blood pressure. He said this required Floyd’s heart to work harder to circulate oxygen. 

• In response to the police encounter, Baker said Floyd’s body released stress hormones causing his heart to beat faster and require even more oxygen, which “was too much for him to take.”

• Nelson asked both examiners if the cause of death would be listed as heart disease or drug overdose if Floyd had died in his home without interacting with the officers. Both said yes, but Thomas added that it didn’t make sense to take out the facts of the case to determine alternate causes of death.  

• If Floyd had overdosed on fentanyl, he would’ve become sleepy, which he didn’t, Thomas said. She added that the death wasn’t sudden like it would be if caused by heart disease or a methamphetamine overdose.

• Nelson brought up a Canadian study where individuals were placed in the prone position 3,000 times during police interactions and didn’t die.

• “Isn’t that amazing when you consider every forensic pathologist in the U.S. has had an officer-involved death,” Thomas said, seemingly sarcastically, pointing out that the study would not be applicable across countries. 

• The pool reporter said a woman who appeared to be of Asian descent occupied the Chauvin seat — marking the first time anybody has sat in support of Chauvin. Floyd’s brother Rodney Floyd occupied the family seat for the morning session and his other brother Philonise Floyd came for the afternoon session.


Day 21: Thursday, April 8

Contributed by Samantha Woodward

Three medical experts were questioned Thursday, all of whom ruled out the possibility of a drug overdose as Floyd’s cause of death.

The state utilized graphics and demonstrations to show respiratory movement during the incident between Floyd and Chauvin.

An expert medical witness and pulmonologist said that a “low level of oxygen” was the cause of George Floyd’s death. “A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died,” he said.

Here are some key takeaways from today’s witness testimonies:

• Dr. Martin Tobin, one of the state’s witnesses, has been a pulmonologist for 46 years and practices pulmonology — the study of the lungs — and critical care in Illinois. He said Floyd died due to a lack of oxygen, which caused brain damage.

• Tobin gave the jury a second-by-second breakdown of Chauvin’s encounter with Floyd, including noting the very second that Floyd took his last breath.

• Tobin said that four key forces played a role in the restriction of oxygen to Floyd’s system: the positioning of the handcuffs on Floyd, his prone position on the street, the position of Chauvin’s knee on his neck and the position of Chauvin’s knee on his back.

• The state showed an image of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck. Tobin pointed out that Chauvin’s boot was off the ground in the picture and that “half [Chauvin’s] bodyweight, plus the weight of gear is coming directly down on Mr. Floyd’s neck,” which he estimated to be 91.5 pounds. Tobin continued to push the claim that Floyd’s death was due to the pressure exerted on him by Chauvin.

• The defense questioned Tobin about the possibility of fentanyl contributing to Floyd’s death. Tobin said that Floyd’s respiratory rate was 22 at the time of his death but a rate of 10 is consistent with a fentanyl overdose.

• Dr. Bill Smock, a forensic medical specialist who teaches paramedics, police officers and firefighters in rendering first-aid, said that “there was absolutely no evidence at autopsy of anything that suggested Mr. Floyd had a heart attack.”

• “Mr. Floyd died from positional asphyxia, which is a fancy way to say that he died because he had no oxygen in his body,” Smock said.

• During the encounter, there were many signs that he was not overdosing, Smock said, nor was he experiencing “excited delirium,” which the defense has suggested.

Excited delirium is a controversial diagnosis that can include things like agitation, overheating and supposed “superhuman strength.” It is not recognized by the American Psychiatric Association and other top medical boards.

• It is often used as a cause of death when people die in situations where police use force.

• Smock said Floyd was alert whereas someone who is overdosing would be falling asleep or slipping into a coma. “That is not a fentanyl overdose. That is somebody begging to breathe,” Smock said.

• Dr. Daniel Isenschmid, a forensic toxicologist who works at NMS Labs, testified that the fentanyl concentration found in Floyd’s system was lower than the average amount found in 94% of DUI cases that they tested in 2020.

• Isenschmid said the concentration of methamphetamine found in his system is consistent with a typical daily dose of prescription-use amphetamines, like Adderall.


Day 20: Wednesday, April 7

Contributed Megan Germundson

Multiple law enforcement witnesses took the stand again today, including Senior Special Agent James Reyerson from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA). Reyerson testified that Chauvin continued pinning Floyd to the ground for four minutes after showing no signs of life.

“You can hear Mr. Floyd displaying his discomfort and pain and you can also hear [Chauvin] responding to him,” testified Sgt. Jody Stiger, a use-of-force expert from the Los Angeles Police Department. He also noted that Chauvin’s extensive training should have prepared him for the distraction created by the crowd of bystanders surrounding them.

Much of today’s testimony revolved around Floyd’s cause of death — whether it was Chauvin’s use of force, a medical condition or the presence of drugs in his system — and how much force officers used against Floyd.

Here are today’s key takeaways:

• Defense attorney Eric Nelson showed Reyerson a short bodycam clip and asked if it sounded like Floyd said “I ate too many drugs.” After watching, Reyerson said, “Yes, it did.”

• Later, the state played Reyerson a longer version of the same clip. He then changed his mind and said, “I believe Mr. Floyd was saying, ‘I ain’t do no drugs.’”

• Stiger continued his testimony today and said that Derek Chauvin “absolutely had an obligation” to help Floyd as his medical condition deteriorated while officers pinned him to the ground.

• Chauvin’s defense homed in on the “reasonable officer standard” during questioning, saying to Stiger, “Earlier you testified saying that it was excessive use of force … But that’s not the question is it? The question is whether it is a reasonable use of force.”

• When the state followed up, Stiger said that Chauvin’s “excessive force” against Floyd “was not objectively reasonable” considering the circumstances.

• The defense showed images where Chauvin’s knee looked to be on Floyd’s back, rather than his neck. Stiger then said positional asphyxia — when a person is unable to properly breathe due to their body’s position — can happen regardless of where pressure is applied.

• “Just being in that position and especially being handcuffed creates a situation where a person has a difficult time breathing, which can cause death. When you add body weight to that, then it just increases the possibility of death,” Stiger said.

• Chauvin weighed about 140 pounds at the time of the fatal arrest, Reyerson testified, and his equipment added about 30-40 pounds.

• McKenzie Anderson, a BCA forensic scientist, also testified today. Anderson was a part of the crime scene team that analyzed evidence from inside both the police squad car and the Mercedes that Floyd was driving.

• She said that inside of the Mercedes they found Suboxone — a prescription medication for adults dependent on opioids — a pipe that tested positive for THC, two white pills and dollar bills stuffed next to the center console on the passenger side of the car.

• The two white pills had markings that indicated that they contained a prescription opioid and an over-the-counter pain killer. Upon testing, the BCA found the pills instead were made up of fentanyl and a very small concentration of methamphetamine.

• The fentanyl concentration was typical — less than 1% — according to testimony from forensic drug chemist Susan Neith from NMS labs in Pennsylvania. There was about 2% methamphetamine present, but usually methamphetamine concentration is around 90-100%, she said.

• In the back of the police squad car, Anderson said BCA forensics identified eight blood stains, seven of which were from Floyd. On the defense’s request, the squad car was processed a second time, and Anderson said they identified pill remnants on the backseat and on the ground. The BCA found the pills to have a positive match with Floyd’s saliva DNA.


Day 19: Tuesday, April 6

Contributed by Emalyn Muzzy

The state brought forward multiple police witnesses who testified that Derek Chauvin used excessive force on George Floyd. At least two said that Chauvin should have reduced force after he placed Floyd on the ground.

Eric Nelson, the defense attorney, continued to ask witnesses about the possibility that Floyd was exhibiting “excited delirium” or if he could wake up and fight police. Nelson again pointed to the group of bystanders as a possible distraction or threat that impacted Chauvin’s actions.

Here are the main takeaways from court today:

• Sgt. Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department testified for the state as an expert witness on use of force. He’s conducted roughly 2,500 force reviews and has consulted with various other police departments on their use of force. He believed that Chauvin’s use of force “was excessive.”

“Initially, he was actively resisting officers. The officers were justified in utilizing force to comply with their demands and seat him in the backseat of the vehicle,” Stiger said. Once he was placed on the ground, the officers should have attempted to de-escalate the situation, he added.

Stiger also noted that, other than one kick, there was nothing aggressive about Floyd’s actions.

• Lt. Johnny Mercil of the Minneapolis Police Department said MPD does not teach the exact neck restraint that Chauvin used. He said the department teaches variations but tells officers to be careful around the neck and head, as those restraints can cause long-term damage.

Officers should use the least amount of force possible when restraining someone, Mercil said. Once they’ve gained control of the suspect, they should roll them into a recovery position because “some people may have difficulty breathing while in handcuffs [and laying] on their stomach.”

In response to a single image shown by the defense, Mercil testified that it appeared Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s back shoulder  — not his neck — indicating he didn’t use a neck restraint. Throughout other videos and images, it appears that Chauvin’s knee was on Floyd’s neck.

• MPD’s Sgt. Ker Yang talked about the department’s “Critical Decision Making Model.” The idea of “threat/risk assessment” was an important point made and also brought up with Mercil. Both emphasized the idea that risks and threats can change throughout an arrest and that officers should remain mindful of that.

• Morries Hall, who was in the same car as Floyd when police approached him on May 25, is trying to invoke his Fifth Amendment right to avoid testifying. He wants to prevent self-incrimination. Nelson wants Hall to testify about Floyd’s behavior, drug use and about Hall allegedly giving Floyd drugs that day.

If Hall testifies that he gave Floyd drugs that day, he could potentially be charged with third-degree murder. Judge Peter Cahill asked Nelson to write up a list of questions that Hall can look over with his lawyer before testifying. It is still unclear whether Hall will testify at a later date.

• Nicole Mackenzie, an MPD officer, testified about CPR and medical practices. She briefly talked about excited delirium and how it looks different with each case. Although excited delirium is not recognized by the American Medical Association, Mackenzie will be back later to testify on excited delirium for the defense.

Mackenzie also testified that, “just because they’re talking doesn’t mean they’re breathing,” directly contradicting Officer Tou Thao’s statement to Floyd on the day he died: “If you can talk, you can breathe.”


Day 18: Monday, April 5

Contributed by Samantha Hendrickson

Monday kicked off the second week of testimony and included a long-awaited witness —  Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. 

Arradondo testified for over four hours regarding police training and policy. Ultimately, he said that Chauvin’s use of force against George Floyd “absolutely” violated Minneapolis Police Department policy and was not a part of MPD training. 

 “To continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back … that in no way shape or form is anything [according to] policy,” Arradondo said. “It is not part of our training, and it certainly is not a part of our ethics or values.” 

Here are more takeaways from today’s witness testimony: 

• Both the prosecution and the defense questioned Arradondo intensely about his knowledge of the police department he oversees, including questions about training, use-of-force, ethics and community trust.

• Arradondo repeated many times throughout the questioning that Chauvin’s actions were not justified by any MPD policy or training. He has held many different positions in the MPD during his more than 30 years on the force.

• He said that community trust is critical to the safety of both residents and police officers. Police officers don’t have the “luxury” of being able to show those they interact with their track record for handling a stressful or dangerous situation.

• The defense called into question Arradondo’s knowledge of Chauvin’s actions and his own department multiple times.

• Eric Nelson, attorney for the defense, asked when the last time Arradondo had actually arrested someone was, also asking “I’m assuming you don’t have a degree in physics, do you?” after Arradondo made several statements about the amount of pressure Chauvin put on Floyd’s neck.

• Dr. Brad Langenfeld, the emergency room physician who pronounced George Floyd dead at the hospital, said that when Floyd arrived on the night of his death, he was in cardiac arrest. Langenfeld said that is different from a heart attack —  cardiac arrest is when the heart stops.

• The doctor testified that an ultrasound showed that the most likely cause of Floyd’s heart stopping was lack of oxygen. He saw no signs of an overdose or any hemorrhaging.

• Following questioning from the defense, Langenfeld discussed the effects of the drug fentanyl found in Floyd’s system. Langenfeld confirmed that the drug can slow down a person’s breathing, causing them to die from the carbon dioxide build-up in their system. However, being pinned in the prone position can have the same effect. This can take several hours or a matter of minutes, he said. 

• Langenfeld said he received very little information on what happened to Floyd prior to him arriving at the hospital, which isn’t typical in an emergency situation. These details are “vital” to save a patient’s life and affect how a doctor treats a patient in an emergency situation.

• MPD Inspector Katie Blackwell testified that she has known Chauvin for nearly 20 years, and they sometimes worked the same shift. She also testified that Chauvin’s actions were against the MPD training he had received. She’s the one who trained him.

• When shown a picture of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, Blackwell said that Chauvin’s position was not any that the MPD trained their officers to restrain people. “I don’t know what kind of improvised position that is. That’s not what we train,” she said.

Correction: A previous version of this article misstated which week of testimony the trial is currently in. It is in its second week.  


Day 17: Friday, April 2

Contributed by Samantha Woodward

Two witnesses from the Minneapolis Police Department were questioned Friday.

The state presented police bodycam footage to show how officers responded following the death of Floyd. An MPD lieutenant said that Chauvin’s use of force was excessive and that he should have deescalated the situation.

“Once a person is cuffed, the threat level goes down all the way,” the lieutenant said. “They’re cuffed; how can they really hurt you?”

Here are some key takeaways from today’s witness testimonies:

• Lt. Richard Zimmerman, one of the state’s witnesses, has been an officer for nearly 39 years and is the head of the police department’s homicide unit. He said the use of force against Floyd was excessive.

• Once a person is cuffed, it’s an officer’s job to calm them down, so they’re not as “upset,” Zimmerman said. “You need to get them out of the prone position immediately because it restricts their breathing.”

• According to a KUSA investigation, at least 107 people have died in police restraint while in the prone position since 2010, though the death count is likely higher. Zimmerman said that Chauvin and other Minneapolis officers have long been trained about its dangers.

• Zimmerman said that using force should be relative to the threat at hand. He said that kneeling on the neck of someone handcuffed on the ground is the top tier of force. “That can kill them,” he said.

• The defense asked Zimmerman about his role, noting that his job mostly revolved around investigations in recent years. Zimmerman hasn’t patrolled since the 90s and hasn’t been in a physical fight since 2018, he said. However, he has continued to receive medical intervention training. “You need to provide medical care for the person that is in distress,” even if an ambulance has already been called to the scene, he said.

• Sgt. Jon Edwards’ team secured the area for the on-scene investigation about police use of force. He was the supervisor until the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension took over. He did not know Chauvin. Edwards said he determined that the area needed to be cleared off as a potential crime scene and “critical incident.” At the time, he was unaware of the severity of the situation.

• Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo is likely to appear on the witness stand Monday.

• Philonise Floyd sat in the Floyd family seat today. Nobody attended the trial supporting Chauvin.


Day 16: Thursday, April 1

Contributed by Lydia Morrell

The fourth day of witness testimony centered around cause of death and police procedures.

Five witnesses were called to the stand, including George Floyd’s girlfriend and the Minneapolis police sergeant on duty at the time of Floyd’s death.

Here are some of the key takeaways from today:

• David Pleoger, a retired Minneapolis police sergeant, testified about use of force and police policy. Pleoger regularly evaluated and reported use of force incidents within the police department.

• The prosecution asked him when the restraint against Floyd should have ended based on his review of bodycam footage. Pleoger said, “When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering resistance,” after he was subdued on the ground in handcuffs.

• The jury heard more than ever before from Chauvin after body cameras showed two short conversations between him and Pleoger at the scene. Pleoger told Chauvin to get names and witness statements after Floyd had been rushed away in the ambulance. Chauvin said he “could try, but the crowd seemed pretty hostile.”

• Pleoger said the Minneapolis Police Department’s policy requires that officers place suspects in a recovery position — on their side — so they can breathe easier after subduing them in a prone position, which is lying down on their stomach. Pleoger agreed that “even without the weight of another person on them,” the prone position can block someone’s airway so severely that they could die of asphyxiation.

• Pleoger said that his police training made him familiar with positional asphyxiation. This could mean that if the defense tries to say Chauvin was just following his training, the prosecution may say he was trained to know these dangers.

• The state called Courteney Ross, George Floyd’s girlfriend, as a witness. Her testimony was emotional as she cried intermittently throughout the questioning.

• The prosecution asked her about her relationship with Floyd and how he reacted when his mother died in 2018.

• “When he came back, he seemed like a shell of himself, like he was broken,” Ross said. “He was devastated, he loved his mama so much.”

• Ross described how she met Floyd when she was waiting to meet with her son’s father at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center where Floyd worked as security.

• “Floyd had this great deep southern voice, raspy — ‘You okay sis?’ I wasn’t okay,” Ross said. “He said, ‘Can I pray with you?’”

• Eric Nelson, attorney for the defense, focused on Ross’ experience with opioids, and what she knew about Floyd’s opioid use. Floyd was hospitalized for five days in March 2020 following an overdose, and Nelson asked questions comparing this overdose to Floyd’s fatal arrest — noting the white foam around his mouth.

• Nelson also asked about pills that Ross assumed Floyd bought from Morries Hall, one of the passengers in the car on the day he died.

• Ross said she took these pills with Floyd once. She took a similar pill a week before his death and “felt like she was going to die,” according to an FBI transcript, though she said she does not remember feeling that. She said it felt like a stimulant and Floyd “had a lot of energy” when he took them, but still played football and felt fine for the remainder of the day.

• Ross said Floyd had her listed as “Mama” in his phone, but he called both her and his mother “Mama.”

• The state interviewed two paramedics and a firefighter that tried to resuscitate Floyd. Derek Smith, one of the paramedics, arrived at the scene and checked Floyd’s pulse while Chauvin was still kneeling on his neck. Smith found no pulse and told his partner, “I thought he was dead.” Smith had to tell Chauvin to move in order to transport Floyd.

• Nelson made a point of asking whether the paramedics checked if Floyd’s eyes were dilated. They were, and Nelson added that dilated pupils could be signs of a methamphetamine overdose.

• Nelson asked Seth Bravinder, the other paramedic at the scene, if he carried ketamine in the ambulance. Mary Moriarty, former Hennepin County chief public defender, tweeted that this was the defense’s first “subtle reference” to excited delirium, which is a diagnosis that is not accepted by multiple top medical boards, but is sometimes marked as a cause of death when a person dies during police restraint.

• Nelson repeatedly asked about if subjects ever regain consciousness and become more volatile than before, which suggests he is laying the foundation to say Chauvin had to keep Floyd restrained.

• Philonise Floyd sat in the Floyd family seat before lunch. His wife occupied the seat for the first two hours of the afternoon, followed by a man named Arthur who told the pool reporter he represented the Floyd family.


Day 15: Wednesday, March 31

Contributed by Megan Germundson

On the third day of witness testimonies, multiple on-scene witnesses once again expressed grief, regret and anguish that they didn’t do more to help George Floyd while he died.

Five witnesses were questioned Wednesday, including four who were at the scene of the interaction and a police lieutenant who is an expert in the technology unit. 

After a video of Floyd’s death played, a juror prompted a short recess as she left the courtroom, according to notes from the pool reporter in the courtroom. She was later asked if she had a “stress-related reaction,” and she said yes and that she hadn’t been sleeping well. 

Here are some key takeaways from witness testimony: 

Christopher Martin, 19, lived in the apartments above Cup Foods in May 2020 and worked there as a cashier. He accepted Floyd’s counterfeit $20 bill and was forced by his manager to repeatedly ask him to come back into the store, which Floyd didn’t do.

• Cup Food’s policy on counterfeit bills at the time was, “if you took a counterfeit bill, you have to pay for it yourself.” Martin said, “I took it anyway and I was planning to put on my tab until I second-guessed” and told his manager. 

One of Martin’s coworkers was later instructed to call 911 by the Cup Foods manager. After police officers arrived on the scene and restrained Floyd on the ground, Martin said Floyd “was motionless, limp. And Chauvin seemed very — he was in a resting state, meaning he just rested his knee on his neck.”

• Martin felt “guilt and disbelief” and that Floyd’s death could have been avoided if he just covered the $20. He quit working shortly after the incident because he “didn’t feel safe.”

• Martin said it didn’t seem like Floyd knew the bill was a counterfeit. Floyd could later be heard on bodycam saying, “I didn’t know, man. I didn’t know” while police were handcuffing him.

The prosecution also called Minneapolis Police Department Lt. James Jeffrey Rugel, who manages the police business technology unit, including the body cameras and storage of footage.

• During Rugel’s testimony, the state played the bodycam footage of the four officers present during Floyd’s death. Rugel regularly confirmed facts about the footage as the court spent hours going through the videos.

• The defense noted that the footage was shortened versions, which Rugel confirmed. Eric Nelson, attorney for the defense, said the defense is planning to offer witness testimony on Friday morning about “use of force considerations and medical issues” somehow related to the bodycam footage.

• The state showed most of the bodycam footage taken from officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. The cameras showed officers Lane and Kueng handcuff Floyd and struggle to get him in the squad car while Floyd repeatedly tells the officers that he’s “claustrophobic” and “can’t breathe.”

• At one point, Floyd tells the officers, “Okay, let me count to three, and then I’ll go in,” before they aggressively shoved him in the back of the car.

• When officers Chauvin and Thao arrived at the scene, they helped the others pin Floyd to the ground.

• The state briefly showed parts of the footage from Chauvin’s body camera, where he is seen walking over to the squad car and helping the other officers as they struggled to get Floyd in the back of the vehicle. Chauvin is seen placing both of his hands around Floyd’s neck to pull him out of the car and onto the street before his body camera falls off.

• In the courtroom, Rugel appeared to be wiping away a tear from his eyes as he watched footage of George Floyd’s death.

• Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old Black man, pulled his car over when he saw the officers confronting Floyd. He saw white foam coming out of Floyd’s mouth while he was restrained.

• In a clip from Chauvin’s body camera after Floyd was taken away in the ambulance, McMillian is seen talking to Chauvin, who can be heard saying, “We gotta control this guy, because he’s a sizable guy,” and  “it looked like he was on something.”

• State prosecutors asked McMillian to clarify what he said to Chauvin in the video clip and he remembered saying, “Five days ago, I told you the other day, ‘You go home to your family safe, and that the next person goes home to their family safe,’ but today I look at you as a maggot.”

• McMillian broke down in tears on the witness stand, sobbing “Oh my god,” when the video showed Floyd crying for his recently deceased mother. He said he felt “helpless.”


Day 14: Tuesday, March 30

Contributed by Emalyn Muzzy

On the second day of testimony, a struggle that jurors will face in deliberation came clear: the morality of keeping a knee on someone’s neck for nine minutes versus police officers doing the job they were trained to do.

The day consisted of the prosecution and defense questioning witnesses that stood in a small crowd around George Floyd and Derek Chauvin on May 25, 2020 — including Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed the famous bystander video that went viral. 

The court interviewed two minors and two people who witnessed the event as minors but have since turned 18. The court did not show video for these four witnesses, but pictures and videos from May 25 were included.

Here are the most relevant facts from today: 

• Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter, testified that she came upon the scene near Cup Foods while on a walk and immediately wanted to help Floyd. As a trained EMT, she knew exactly what she would have done if she would’ve attempted to revive Floyd.

• When Hansen arrived, she identified herself as a Minneapolis firefighter and sought to give Floyd immediate medical attention. When police kept her back, she began yelling at the officers to check Floyd for a pulse. 

• Hansen said Officer Tou Thao told her something to the effect of, “If you’re a Minneapolis firefighter, you would know better than to get involved.”

• She continued yelling at them until paramedics arrived. Eric Nelson, an attorney for the defense often questioned witnesses about the crowd’s dynamics and the escalating tensions over the course of the interaction.

• When Nelson began cross-examining her, he asked if someone had ever told her she was doing her job wrong, if she had ever had someone yell at her while she was doing her job or if she had ever had 12 people at once yelling at her while on duty. 

• When asked if the crowd was upset, she responded, “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen anyone be killed, but it’s upsetting.”

• Donald Williams continued his testimony after he was cut short yesterday. Williams spoke extensively about his experience with chokeholds and opponents going unconscious during fights. Nelson asked Williams if somebody can regain consciousness after they are knocked out and begin fighting again. Williams said it’s happened to him before.

• Nelson extensively questioned Williams about regaining consciousness and could be laying the framework to later suggest that Chauvin had to keep Floyd restrained to control the situation.

• One teenager who testified said she was scared to intervene and that Chauvin grabbed his mace and shook it at them.

• Frazier said she was the first bystander and immediately started filming the interaction because she felt something was wrong. Within a minute of her stopping, a crowd of 12 to 14 people gathered.

• She and others in the crowd yelled at Chauvin to get his knee off Floyd’s neck and that they got louder the longer Chauvin held his position. 

• Nelson had her clarify that she showed up after Floyd had been restrained and did not know what led up to the incident. He emphasized this with other witnesses from the scene.

• When asked how this has affected her life, she said, “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, my brothers, my cousins, my uncles, because they’re all Black. … There’s been nights I stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and for not physically interacting and saving his life.”

• Frazier’s 9-year old cousin also testified. She said Chauvin, whom she did not know by name but recognized in court, kept his knee on Floyd’s neck until an ambulance arrived.


Day 13: Monday, March 29

Contributed by Samantha Hendrickson and Lydia Morrell

Attorneys brought forth their opening statements and three witnesses testified as the trial officially began.

The state brought to the witness stand a 911 dispatcher who reported Derek Chauvin and the other officers’ actions to the sergeant on duty, a Speedway employee who recorded videos on scene during the fatal arrest and a professional fighter who was also on scene when Floyd died and testified about chokeholds.

The day set a framework for how attorneys want the jury to look at the trial.

The state set out by saying that Chauvin did not uphold his oath as a police officer, and that most other officers would agree that Chauvin “betrayed his badge” with his use of force against Floyd. Chauvin’s defense emphasized that more happened than what was captured in the bystander video, and began alluding to Floyd’s drug use and how the crowd gathering around Floyd and Chauvin would have impacted the situation.

Here’s what you need to know about today:

• The state began by showing the viral bystander video and talking about “excessive force.” The state’s attorneys said that even after paramedics checked Floyd’s pulse, finding none, Chauvin remained kneeling on his neck.

• The state also brought up that a bystander, who was an EMS worker, wanted to check Floyd’s pulse but couldn’t because Chauvin threatened to mace her.

• The defense opened by defining reasonable doubt and asking jurors: “What would a reasonable police officer do?”

• Eric Nelson, attorney for the defense, said evidence will show that Floyd died of drugs in his system, from a heart stoppage due to a rhythm abnormality. Nelson added that Floyd’s friends saw him ingest drugs, which he said was confirmed by body camera footage.

• The state brought the first witness, Jena Scurry, a 911 dispatcher who sent the four police officers to respond to the call about a counterfeit bill at Cup Foods. She then called the police sergeant when she saw the interaction between George Floyd and the four officers on a TV in her workplace.

• “All of them sat on this man,” Scurry said to the sergeant on a call played to the court. She added that it isn’t her job to report “use of force” to the sergeant, but she was concerned because of how long Chauvin remained kneeling on top of Floyd.

• During cross examination, Nelson repeatedly noted that she was not a police officer or trained in use of force.

• Alisha Oyler, a Speedway employee, was the second witness. She recorded seven videos of the officers interacting with Floyd, most from the Speedway parking lot.

• Oyler confirmed with her phone video that Chauvin didn’t stop kneeling on Floyd’s neck until the paramedics had arrived and unloaded the stretcher.

• The last witness was Donald Williams, a competitive mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter who had worked with police officers at his gym and in his private security work. Williams had trained on chokeholds within his MMA career. He was present when Chauvin kneeled on Floyd.

• He told the jury that Chauvin “shimmied” his knee and shoulders, which is an MMA move to close the gap between his knee and Floyd’s neck. Williams said fighters will “shimmy” in chokeholds to intentionally restrict their opponent’s ability to breathe. Cahill intervened during Wiliams’ testimony and said that witnesses are not allowed to directly attribute intent to the actions of either Chauvin or Floyd.

• The court will continue to question Williams tomorrow.

• Cahill adjourned court a half hour early after the Hennepin County WiFi stopped working.

• Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, occupied the family seat during today’s proceedings.

Jury selection


Day 12: Tuesday, March 23

Contributed by Emalyn Muzzy

On Tuesday, the final juror was chosen. There are currently 15 jurors selected, a majority of whom are white. 12 will serve on the jury with three alternates. 

There is only room for 14 jurors in the courtroom, but Cahill selected 15 in case a juror drops out before testimony begins on Monday. If all 15 jurors show up on Monday, Cahill will dismiss one.

Opening statements will begin at 9 a.m. on Monday.

Here’s what happened in court:

• Juror 131, a white man in his 20s, was selected to serve on the jury. He believes that BIPOC are treated differently by law enforcement and made an effort to educate himself on racism after George Floyd’s death. He supports police officers and is against defunding them. 

• Potential jurors 127, 129 and 130 were all dismissed for cause. Potential juror 127 strongly supported police officers, 129 feared for their safety as a juror and 130 said they could not remain impartial.

• The juror pool consists of nine white people and six people of color. There are six white women, three white men, three Black men, two multiracial women and one Black woman


Day 11: Monday, March 22

Contributed by Samantha Hendrickson

Week three of court proceedings began with jury selection Monday as the court sought more jurors to fill the courtroom for opening statements on March 29.

Amid confusion about how many seated jurors and alternates there will be for the trial, Judge Peter Cahill announced that the court will pick the fifteenth and final juror “no matter how long it takes” on Tuesday.

The fourteenth juror was selected today. The trial has brought about national conversations about jury equity, including what constitutes a “fair” trial.

Mary Moriarty, former chief public defender for Hennepin County, wrote for the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder about the need for a diverse jury and issues with all-white juries in Hennepin County.

Here’s what you need to know about court proceedings today:

• Over the weekend, the defense attempted once again to motion for a change of venue for the trial. Cahill denied the motion a second time.

• Juror 118 is now the fourteenth juror seated. She is a white woman in her 20s, newly married and is a social worker. The newly seated juror said she remains neutral on both Chauvin and Floyd as individuals and that she “understands she doesn’t have the whole story.” However, she said she thought Chauvin’s police training might be to blame for keeping Floyd under his knee for so long.

• Juror 118 said she does not judge people who use drugs, as she often works with individuals who experience drug addiction. As a social worker, she said police often assist with disruptive individuals in her work. She has never seen police use unnecessary force but also said those individuals were compliant.

• Just before court adjourned, Cahill announced that the fifteenth juror will be chosen Tuesday. However, he also said the juror will likely be dismissed by next week. The fifteenth is likely “insurance.” Only 14 jurors are allowed in the courtroom due to COVID-19 regulations.

• Several jurors were struck by the defense or excused by Cahill.

• Potential juror 119 was excused for cause after saying the settlement news made it impossible for him to be impartial. Cahill continued to express frustration with the city over its timing of the announcement.

• The defense struck potential juror 121, and Cahill called the dismissed juror “not credible” and “flippant” due to contradicting his previously filled-out questionnaire multiple times during questioning by the defense. Eric Nelson, an attorney for the defense, argued that since Cahill confirmed he found juror 121 not truthful, the defense should retain the used strike.

• Cahill said they could discuss it later.

• The state still has two peremptory strikes, and the defense has three.

• After today, eight of the 14 jurors are white, and six are people of color. There are three Black men, two multiracial women and one Black woman.


Day 10: Friday, March 19

Contributed by Samantha Woodward

Friday was a jam-packed day full of jury questioning and decisions on key motions. 

Judge Cahill ruled that the trial will resume in Minneapolis and begin as scheduled on March 29. He moved that limited parts of the details of Floyd’s May 2019 arrest would be allowed.

He will not allow experts to interpret Floyd’s emotional state during his 2019 arrest. The defense could still use Dr. Sarah Vinson, a forensic psychiatrist, to testify, which would then allow the prosecution to use her testimony, too. Vinson is limited in what she can say if the defense or prosecution uses her in the trial.

The court sat one more juror. Cahill is now seeking up to 16 jurors, so the court is seeking two more in the final week of jury selection. 

Here are the key takeaways from today:

• Cahill ruled that if Vinson is called to testify, she cannot diagnose Floyd. The defense is also not allowed to insinuate Floyd faked his stressed state.

• One juror was seated out of the seven that were examined.

• Despite juror 96 saying that “if you can speak somewhat, you’re breathing somewhat,” regarding a question posed by the prosecution, she was seated. She is a white woman in her 50s. Juror 96 said she volunteers at local homeless shelters and is passionate about affordable housing. She said she has never had a negative experience with police and believes that there is no racial disparity in how officers treat racial minorities.

• The prosecution used their sixth peremptory strike on potential juror 109, a white man in his 60s, because they saw bias in his responses concerning family members who served in law enforcement. Prosecutor Steve Schleicher claimed that potential juror 109 was evasive in his questionnaire answers and that he could not be a fair and impartial addition to the jury. The defense and Cahill disagreed. 

• The defense struck potential juror 111, a young white man in his senior year of college. He said he protested for the four police officers to be fired and charged in Floyd’s death. He wrote in his questionnaire that Floyd’s “image has sparked conversation about police brutality and racism in America … he was killed with his face in the street.”

• Potential juror 99, a white woman in her 20s, was excused by Cahill. She noted that after she heard of the city’s civil settlement of $27 million, she became more partial to Chauvin and could not be a fair juror. Number 113, a white man in his 20s, was excused due to his lack of ability to be impartial because he could not trust the police. Both potential jurors 103 and 110 were excused for reasons regarding the sensitivity of and personal experiences with the case.

• After today, the defense has five peremptory strikes left and the state has three. 

• The current jury demographics include six white women, three Black men, two white men, two multi-racial women and one Black woman.


Day 9: Thursday, March 18

Contributed by Emalyn Muzzy

On Thursday, the court chose three new jurors, bringing the total up to 12 — half white and half people of color. The court need will select up to four more.

Cahill will make the decision about when juror’s identities and questionnaires will be released to the public when he is sure that no harm will come to the jurors. He said their safety is incredibly important to him.

Coming up Friday, Cahill said he will rule on a possible delay or relocation of the trial, whether to include details of George Floyd’s May 2019 arrest as evidence and if Dr. Sarah Vinson — a psychologist — can serve as witness for the prosecution.

Here are some key takeaways from today:

• Juror 89, a white woman in her 50s, was chosen to serve on the jury. She works as a nurse and lives in Edina. She believes Black people face more discrimination than accounted for in media portrayals and partially disagrees with defunding the police. She said, “people make mistakes,” and that includes the police.

• Attorneys seemed apprehensive about her because of her medical background. She repeatedly said that she would not bring up her medical background or offer medical advice when making deliberations. Cahill reminded her that she cannot be an expert witness and would have to focus solely on the information given to her in court.

• Juror 91, a Black woman in her 60s, was the 11th person chosen to sit on the jury. She has a relative that works for the Minneapolis Police Department whom she sees several times a year but has not discussed this case with them.

• She has neutral feelings on policing and racism in the criminal justice system. When asked about Black Lives Matter, she said, “I’m Black and my life matters,” but clarified that she’s not active in the movement. She’s excited to serve on the jury because it’s her civic duty.

• Juror 92, a white woman in her 40s, was the final person chosen Thursday to sit on the jury. She supports the police but believes they treat people of color differently. She would prefer police reform over defunding. “I don’t believe [Floyd] deserved to die and cops used excessive force, but I don’t believe he is completely innocent,” she said.

• The state used a peremptory strike to dismiss potential juror 87. She said she holds an unfavorable opinion of Black Lives Matter and that her uncle was a sheriff’s deputy.

• Potential jurors 86, 88, 90 and 95 were dismissed for cause by Cahill. Potential juror 86 said she had been “drawn to [Floyd’s] side,” and potential juror 88 said she was acquaintances with an “essential witness.” Potential juror 90 strongly distrusts police. Potential juror 95 said he heard about the $27 million settlement with the city and had concerns for his safety

• Cahill discussed whether the prosecution could use Vinson as an expert witness. The state wants her to say Floyd was showing signs of anxiety or claustrophobia during his fatal arrest. Cahill was skeptical because Vinson would be relying on interpretations and not evidence. Cahill said if he allowed Vinson’s testimony, he would also want to allow details of the 2019 arrest.

• The defense has six peremptory strikes left and the state has four.

• The jury includes four white women, three Black men, two multi-racial women, two white men and one Black woman.

Correction: A previous update misstated how many jurors were left to be chosen; up to four will be selected. 


Day 8: Wednesday, March 17

Contributed by Megan Germundson

Tensions were high again on Wednesday as two seated jurors were excused following news of the $27 million settlement between the city and George Floyd’s family, which impacted their impartiality in the trial.

“That kind of sent a message that the city of Minneapolis felt that something was wrong and they wanted to make it right to the tune of that dollar amount. That sticker price obviously shocked me and kind of swayed me, yes,” one of the now-excused jurors said of the settlement.

By the end of Wednesday, two new jurors were selected, bringing the number of seated jurors back up to nine. In light of the city’s settlement and its impact on jury selection, Cahill granted three additional peremptory strikes to Chauvin’s defense team and one additional strike to the state prosecution.

Cahill said he would announce a ruling on the defense’s motions to delay or relocate the trial on Friday. He will also discuss whether to admit details of Floyd’s May 2019 arrest as evidence in the trial — and how that evidence could be used.

Here are today’s key takeaways:

• Juror 79, a Black immigrant man in his 40s, was seated. He has lived in the Twin Cities area for about 20 years and now lives in a suburb with his wife and children.

• He said his only previous encounter with the police was when his home was burglarized, and he said he felt the police handled that situation well. Later, when asked why he said he “strongly disagree[s]” with the concept of defunding the police, he referred back to that previous encounter. “Like I said, when somebody broke into my house, I called the police, and they came. If they were defunded, how can they come and help me?”

• Juror 85, a mixed-race woman in her 40s, was also seated for the jury panel. She is a business consultant who went to college in western Wisconsin and called herself “a working mom.”

• When asked about the impacts of the protests after George Floyd’s death, she said she saw both negative and positive effects: the destruction of businesses but also “getting people rallied around … social issues.”

• While she said that police should be questioned if they make mistakes, she also believes people should cooperate with officers. “If there’s a police behind me with his lights on and I decide not to pull over, that’s on me,” the juror said.

• Besides the two previously seated jurors who were excused after news of the settlement, four people were dismissed or struck after being questioned. The defense used one peremptory strike for Juror 76, a Black man, because of experiences with MPD that he discussed. He said that after a shooting in his area, police would drive through his neighborhood and play “Another One Bites the Dust.”

• When asked about discrimination, he said, “being a Black man in America, I experience racism on a day-to-day basis.” He repeatedly noted that it would not impact his ability to be impartial.

• After today, including Cahill’s additional peremptory strikes, the state has five strikes left and the defense has six.

• The jury’s current makeup includes three Black men, two white women, two white men and two mixed-race women.


Day 7: Tuesday, March 16 

Contributed by Lydia Morrell

Judge Peter Cahill will once again discuss motions on Wednesday to delay or relocate the trial after Minneapolis officials announced a $27 million settlement in the civil suit with the Floyd family Friday.

On Tuesday, defense attorney Eric Nelson argued again to include recordings and details of a May 2019 arrest of George Floyd in the trial against former police officer Derek Chauvin. Cahill said he will decide Thursday whether to include the previous arrest as evidence. 

The evidence shows Floyd’s interaction with the police officers and a paramedic.

In terms of jury selection, nobody was seated. Here are today’s key takeaways: 

• The arrest dates back to May 2019, when police officers arrested Floyd during a traffic stop, Nelson said. When officers arrived, Floyd swallowed a controlled substance and behaved “similarly” to the fatal encounter one year later, by “calling out for his mom, crying and erratic behavior,” Nelson said. Floyd complied with the officer’s orders, and they called paramedics because he became unresponsive. 

• A video from that encounter shows a paramedic telling Floyd that his blood pressure was so high that he was at risk of a stroke or heart attack because of the substances. Nelson argued that the evidence is relevant because it showed Floyd’s physical response to drugs and his emotional response to police. Cahill said that one arrest is not enough to constitute a pattern, but he took the evidence under advisement.

• On Wednesday morning, Cahill will re-question the first seven seated jurors about their knowledge of the $27 million settlement and whether it changed their opinions about the case. This will take place via Zoom and will not be broadcast to the general public. 

• Cahill said they will speak more about Nelson’s request for a trial delay and change of venue on Thursday. 

• The defense struck two potential jurors, including number 69, who is a white man with a military background. He described the events of the viral video as “George Floyd had been murdered by police officers.” He said he read about the $27 million settlement, but he could put it aside when considering this case. 

• Nelson asked the judge to give him the strike back, arguing that potential juror 69 knew about the settlement and it may have affected his opinions. “I would suggest that any person who has knowledge of the settlement amount should be presumed to be biased and be gone,” Nelson said. 

• Cahill denied the request. 

• The defense also struck potential juror 67, a white man who is a director of a youth organization. 

• In the questionnaire, he wrote, “Mr. Floyd’s death was wrong and we should speak up and speak out against racism.”

• Cahill dismissed jurors 63, 64, 66, 71 and 73 for cause. The first three were quickly dismissed because of job or family complications. Cahill said he didn’t think potential juror 71 could overcome his opinions and struck him for cause. Potential juror 73’s best friend is a cop and he said he would trust a police officer more than a regular citizen. 

• Potential juror 70 postponed jury duty after she called in “sobbing” saying she “couldn’t do this,” Cahill said.

• Both the defense and prosecution have four peremptory strikes left.


Day 6: Monday, March 15

Contributed by Samantha Hendrickson

The second week of jury selection kicks off with the first full day in court since Minneapolis settled with George Floyd’s family for a record $27 million in a wrongful-death lawsuit. Tensions were high as the defense called the timing of the settlement “suspicious” and questioned if a fair trial was still possible.

Two more jurors were selected, bringing the total to nine out of the 14 to be seated as a protest outside the courthouse rallied for a fair jury.

Here are today’s key takeaways:

• Juror 52, a Black man in his 30s, was seated today.

• He said he had witnessed excessive use of force by police, but also trains with police officers at his gym who he said are “great guys.” He said he was neutral about George Floyd, and does not judge those who may use drugs. He is suspicious of Chauvin. He is a youth basketball coach and said he felt he would be able to return to his players after the trial confident he had looked at the facts and made the choice he felt was right.

• Juror 55, a white woman in her 50s, is a single mom of two and a healthcare worker.

• She believes All Lives Matter and said she knows the difference between protests and riots. She had no idea what Blue Lives Matter was, but currently has a negative view of Black Lives Matter. She said she could not watch the entire video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, and said that Chauvin “did not seem to care” about Floyd. She said she could set this view aside for the trial. The juror also said that disparities in police treatment of people of color depends on the officer.

• The morning started with several motions being argued. First, the prosecution questioned Dr. David Fowler’s testimony and expressed concern over the forensic pathologist’s use of other experts’ opinions and research outside of his field in his own opinion on the death of George Floyd.

• Why? The prosecution doesn’t want other opinions besides Fowler’s influencing the jury, especially not in his area of expertise. Cahill didn’t see the defense as trying to sneak more experts in under the radar, and the argument moved on. Cahill agreed that Fowler’s testimony would be limited to his own experiences, but could not include singular patient stories, only clinical or general observations from his work.

• Fowler is the former chief medical examiner of Maryland and is currently being sued by the family of Anton Black, a young Black man who died in police custody in a way described as similar to George Floyd.

Maryland Matters reported on the lawsuit in December 2020, and quoted an ACLU statement: “Bizarrely, the Medical Examiner contended that Anton’s bipolar disorder, a psychiatric illness, was a ‘significant’ contributing cause of death, but not law enforcement officers’ brutal actions in chasing, Tasing, and pinning Anton down under hundreds of pounds of weight for six minutes until he lost consciousness and stopped breathing.”

• Cahill also ruled that psychiatric experts could only say that video evidence “appears consistent” with certain mental illnesses, such as anxiety or a panic attack, but could not diagnose someone in that video.

• Eric Nelson, an attorney with the defense, said the timing of the city’s $27 million settlement is “profoundly disturbing” and noted that the attorney general’s son, Jeremiah Ellison, serves on the city council.

• The defense motioned for a delay or relocation for the trial and asked to receive extra strikes for potential jurors. They also asked to call back already-selected jurors for questioning about the settlement. This will be argued again Tuesday.

• The prosecution denied any collaboration that led to the settlement, saying the settlement announcement also makes their case more difficult.

• Cahill ordered that self-identified demographic information of jurors be public. Previously, media outlets were left to speculate about age and race from descriptions from pool reporters.

• After today, the defense has six peremptory strikes left, and the prosecution has four.

• The current jury includes five white people, two Black people, a mixed-race person and a Hispanic person.

Correction: A previous version of this update misstated the number of strikes the prosecution had left.


Day 5: Friday, March 12

Contributed by Samantha Woodward

On the fifth day of jury selection for the trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, one juror was selected, bringing the total to seven jurors — which is half of the total needed.

The court did not take up any motions.

Outside of the courtroom, the city of Minneapolis awarded a historic $27 million settlement to George Floyd’s family as part of a civil lawsuit, MPR News reported. This should not have any impact on the criminal trial.

“It’s going to be a long journey to justice,” Ben Crump, the family’s attorney, said during a press conference about the settlement. “This is but one step on the journey to justice.”

Here are today’s key takeaways:

• Five potential jurors were examined.

• Juror 44, who appeared to be a white woman in her 50s, was seated today. She is a single mother who works in healthcare advocacy and has two teenage sons. She wrote in her questionnaire that she is unfamiliar with police procedures, but “a man died and [she is] sure that’s not procedure.” She said she has not formed an opinion on who or what is responsible for Floyd’s death and that the media is biased and doesn’t “have all the facts.”

• The defense used a peremptory strike for potential juror 42, who appeared to be a white woman in her 20s. She said she attended a Black Lives Matter protest this summer and supports police reform. “I just felt it was necessary to show my support” for “others who have been affected by similar situations,” including George Floyd, she said during questioning.

• The prosecution struck potential juror 48, a white military man who appeared to be in his 40s. He told the defense that he had never “seen anyone treated differently than [he] was,” and he did not believe the criminal justice system affects people of color differently than white people.

• Cahill dismissed potential jurors 46 and 49 because of financial constraints. Potential juror 49, who appeared to be a young Asian man, also said he did not believe he could be impartial in the case.

• After today, the defense has seven peremptory strikes left, and the prosecution has four.

• The current jury makeup includes three white men, one white woman, a mixed-race woman, a Black man and a Hispanic man.


Day 4: Thursday, March 11

Contributed by Lydia Morrell

On day four of the trial against former police officer Derek Chauvin, Judge Peter Cahill reinstated a third-degree murder charge and the sixth juror for the trial, a Hispanic man, was seated. The court still needs six more jurors and two alternates.

Cahill reinstated the third-degree murder charge following a precedent set in the case of former Minneapolis police officer Mohamed Noor, who is currently incarcerated. Previously, Cahill said the cases differed because Noor used a gun, endangering multiple people, and that Chauvin’ was only endangering George Floyd. 

The legal principle has been established that third-degree murder can be directed toward one person, MPR News reports. Cahill said the court’s “opinions took immediate effect when filed.”

Here are today’s key takeaways:

• The court reviewed seven potential jurors today and seated one: juror 36, a “route driver” who is assumed to be Hispanic. He said he doesn’t want to defund the police but it’s important to question officers’ decisions. There was no reason for Chauvin to kneel on his neck for that long … It’s him showing off his authority,” he said during questioning.

• The defense struck two potential jurors. Potential juror 40 had called George Floyd Square “holy ground” on social media and the defense struck him after raising questions about the post. The other was potential juror 39, a Hispanic man who said the video of Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck reminded him of “images of World War II.” The state issued a Batson challenge for the strike, which Cahill denied.

• Prosecution struck just one person — potential juror 38, a business owner assumed to be a white man. He said he was favorable toward Blue Lives Matter and unfavorable toward Black Lives Matter. “The movement has good intentions but they have been involved in too much destruction in our city,” he said during questioning.

• Cahill dismissed three potential jurors.

• Potential juror 31 appeared to be a white man who said he couldn’t be impartial because he read and discussed the case a lot already.

• Potential juror 37, assumed to be a Black woman, said she was unable to presume Derek Chauvin innocent and repeatedly said she “couldn’t unsee the video.”

• Potential juror 41 was dismissed almost immediately after she said she couldn’t be impartial, and that “the death has actually impacted my life” and prompted her to start volunteering for underserved and vulnerable children.

• After today, the defense has eight peremptory strikes left, and the prosecution has five.

• The makeup of the jury so far is one Black woman, one mixed-race woman, one Hispanic man and three white men. 


Day 3: Wednesday, March 10

Contributed by Megan Germundson

On day three of the trial against former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, two more jurors were selected, bringing the total number of selected jurors to five. Later in the day, Judge Peter Cahill announced that a Minnesota Supreme Court ruling could open up the possibility for a third-degree murder charge. 

Cahill did not elaborate on the ruling, which will be revisited in court Thursday morning. It likely paves the way for the trial to proceed without delay, the New York Times reported.

Here are some of today’s key takeaways: 

• Today’s juror questioning largely followed the pattern of the first two days of the trial, where jurors were asked to explain some of their answers to a previously filled out questionnaire and questioned about their prior knowledge of the case and opinions on the protests that followed George Floyd’s death. 

• The two newest additions to the jury panel are both presumed to be male, but as all jurors, their identities are shielded from the public. 

• Juror 20, the first selected in today’s trial proceedings, works in sales management and grew up in “majority-white central Minnesota.” Despite growing up in a racially homogeneous area, he said that after taking some college courses on the civil rights movement, he was “led on the path of racial justice.” He is presumed to be white.

• After saying he is a Vikings season ticket holder, he was asked about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. He said, “players can do whatever they like to voice any sort of protest or beliefs.” 

• The second and final juror selected in today’s proceedings was Juror 27, who is presumed to be Black, works in information technology and manages eight people. He immigrated to the U.S. 14 years ago and speaks multiple languages, including French. 

• In his questionnaire, Juror 27 said after learning about George Floyd’s killing, he told his wife, “it could have been me or anyone else.” He explained this comment further, stating that he previously lived “not too far” from 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where George Floyd was killed.

• Six potential jurors were dismissed or struck today. The judge dismissed one juror because she was over 80 years old and had not filled out the questionnaire. Others were likely struck because they were not viewed as able to put aside their predetermined opinions about George Floyd, racial justice or police. One wrote in his questionnaire: “it seemed Derek murdered Floyd.” The defense struck him.

• A total of nine more jurors will need to be selected before the trial can begin with the agreed-upon 12 jurors and two alternates.

• After today, the defense has ten peremptory strikes left and the prosecution has six.


Day 2: Tuesday, March 9

Contributed by Emalyn Muzzy

Day two of the trial against former officer Derek Chauvin was mostly jury selection. Judge Peter Cahill, defense attorney Eric Nelson and assistant prosecutor Steve Schleicher interviewed nine potential jurors. They landed on three jurors today.

Attorneys asked about the questionnaires jurors submitted months ago and also interviewed regarding their general background, feelings of safety during this case and how they resolve conflict. 

Because jurors will remain anonymous throughout the trial, their names were not used and they were instead designated numbers. As race is considered a key component of the jury makeup, the pool reporter who sat in the courtroom shared their observations with other media about whether potential jurors were people of color.

• Juror two, who is presumed to be a white man, was chosen to join the trial. He works as a chemist, so he said he thinks analytically and relies on the facts in front of him. He stated he felt positively toward the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD) but is willing to listen to evidence before forming a stronger opinion.

• He also said he and his wife visited George Floyd Square and that the criminal justice system is racially biased. He said, “I don’t see why the counter to Black Lives Matter is ‘police lives matter.’ I think all lives matter.”

• Another chosen juror, number nine, is guessed to be a mixed-race woman. She said she was excited to be put in jury selection and that she finds “jury court fascinating.”

She has an uncle who is a police officer in Brainerd but is confident that will not impact her decision. She said racism could be part of the reason why Floyd died, but wants to hear more facts before forming an opinion.

• The final juror picked — juror 19 — is believed to be a white man. He has a somewhat favorable opinion of the Black Lives Matter movement and said he felt negatively toward Chauvin because his only experience with him was through the viral video.

• The defense used a peremptory strike to dismiss one juror, but the state issued a Batson challenge because they were the second person of color to be dismissed by the defense. Defense provided a race-neutral reason, stating that his background in martial arts may cause him to criticize Chauvin’s training unfairly. He also had negative experiences with police officers.

• One younger juror who was dismissed said they did not want to be a part of this trial and that it caused them anxiety. They were questioned extensively, even after saying they believe MPD is “corrupt.” Cahill dismissed them for cause. 

• Out of the six jurors not selected, potential juror three was dismissed because they said they had made up an opinion on Chauvin’s guilt and would not change it. Number ten was dismissed because this is their busiest season as an accountant — they would not have time for a long trial.

• The defense used a peremptory strike for potential juror one after she used the phrase “unjust death of George Floyd.” The defense tried to get Cahill to dismiss her, because of some struggles understanding her English, but he did not.

• Prosecutors used a peremptory strike on potential juror eight because he said he would have a hard time second-guessing the decisions police make while on the job.

• The defense argued that MPD Chief Medaria Arradondo, who is expected to testify as a witness, was biased by firing Chauvin without due process, noted Star Tribune reporter Libor Jany. Cahill said Chauvin’s termination should not be considered during court proceedings because it implies guilt.

• After today, the defense has 13 peremptory strikes left and the prosecution has eight.


Day 1: Monday, March 8

Contributed by Samantha Hendrickson

Monday marked the first day of public court proceedings in Derek Chauvin’s trial, the former Minneapolis Police officer accused of killing George Floyd last May.

People around the world turned their eyes back to Minneapolis nine months after Floyd’s death. However, this first day of jury selection came to an anticlimactic end as Judge Peter Cahill delayed the jury selection process another day, pending the reinstatement of a third-degree murder charge against Chauvin.

Here were Monday’s key takeaways from the courtroom:

• Cahill paused jury selection for at least a day after Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Matthew Frank for the prosecution argued for the delay, citing the state Court of Appeals’ pending ruling to reinstate the third-degree murder charge. The prosecution filed for the delay with the Court of Appeals, which could set court proceedings back by months.

• The third-degree charge will most likely join the two other charges — second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The prosecution hopes that with multiple charges, there is a higher likelihood of conviction.

• Frank argued that all of the charges should be on the table before selecting a jury. Chauvin’s defense team pushed back against Frank, saying all other proceedings should go as planned and that it is “prepared to move forward.”

• While the prosecution is still vying for a longer trial delay, Cahill plans to proceed as normal tomorrow with jury selection and other key discussion points, such as terms of the trial and how to bring forward evidence.

• Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said in a press release that “The State is fully ready to go to trial, but the trial must be conducted in accordance with the rules and the law.”

• Derek Chauvin was present for today’s proceedings and often conversed — unheard by the microphone — with his lawyers and other court members. He also took notes.

• Bridgett Floyd, George Floyd’s sister, was present in the courtroom today. Only one family member each for the defense and prosecution is allowed in the courtroom at one point. No family member of Chauvin was present.

• After the court adjourned, Bridgett Floyd addressed dozens of reporters and bystanders in front of the barricades of the Hennepin County Government Center. She spoke fondly of her brother, thanking their supporters around the world and reminding those listening that “violence is not the answer to everything.”