Testimony resumed Thursday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis officer charged in the death of George Floyd. A doctor who specializes in pulmonology and critical care was the first witness called to the stand.
A forensic scientist testified Wednesday that she found George Floyd’s blood and pills with Floyd’s DNA in the squad car where Floyd struggled with officers.
The testimony is significant because Floyd’s cause of death has been a key point of dispute at the trial. The defense has suggested Floyd, who suffered from heart disease, died of a heart arrhythmia brought on by drugs he ingested. The prosecution argues Floyd died of oxygen deprivation from being pinned down under Chauvin’s knee.
The jury heard testimony about the drugs from McKenzie Anderson, a crime scene leader with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, who said she photographed but didn’t collect the pills when she first processed the squad car in May 2020. She also found two pills in the car Floyd was driving when she processed it at the same time. She said she re-processed the squad car at the request of the defense team in January 2021 and collected and tested the pills found in the back seat, confirming they contained Floyd’s saliva.
Brehana Giles, a chemist with the Minnesota state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, then took the stand. She said her testing found that the pills in the squad car contained methamphetamine and potential other substances she could not identify. Prosecutors then called Susan Neith, a forensic chemist based in Pennsylvania who also tested the pills. Neith testified she was able to identify fentanyl as well as methamphetamine in the pills found in the squad car, but she said the methamphetamine level was much lower than typical street meth.
Both chemists found that the pills in the car Floyd was driving contained both methamphetamine and fentanyl, and were marked to look like pharmaceutical medications. The pills were collected from the car in December 2020 at the request of the prosecution.
Earlier on Wednesday, LAPD Sergeant Jody Stiger, a prosecution expert in tactics and de-escalation training, testified that Chauvin used deadly force against Floyd. Stiger testified he believed no force was necessary once Floyd was handcuffed, on the ground and no longer resisting.
Chauvin, who was seen in disturbing videos kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder,and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty. The other three officers involved are charged with aiding and abetting, and are expected to be tried jointly in August.
Court is expected to resume with more testimony at 9:15 a.m. local time (10:15 a.m. ET).