Chauvin not to testify at George Floyd murder trial

Ben Sheppard with Chris Lefkow in Washington
·3-min read

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin said Thursday he would not testify at his murder trial for the death of George Floyd as the prosecution and defense rested in the high-profile case.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill gave the nine-woman, five-man jury a day off on Friday and said closing arguments would be held on Monday.

Before prosecutors and the defense questioned a final witness, Chauvin told the judge he was invoking his constitutional right against self-incrimination.

"I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today," he said.

"Is this your decision -- not to testify?" the judge asked the former police officer, who was wearing a gray suit with a dark blue shirt and dark blue tie.

"It is your honor," Chauvin said.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's defense attorney, asked him if he understood that "neither the state nor the court can comment on your silence as a sign or an indication of your guilt."

The 45-year-old Chauvin said he understood.

Chauvin, who is white, was recorded kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, for more than nine minutes during his May 25, 2020 arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.

A bystander video of the arrest went viral and sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality in the United States and around the world.

- 'Low level of oxygen' -

Chauvin's defense claims that Floyd's death was due to underlying health conditions and consumption of the illegal drugs fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Medical experts called by the prosecution said his death was caused by a "low level of oxygen" from the neck restraint and not due to drugs or pre-existing conditions.

David Fowler, a retired forensic pathologist who testified for the defense on Wednesday, said Floyd died from cardiac arrest brought on by heart disease, drugs and other factors.

Fowler, the former chief medical examiner of the state of Maryland, also introduced a new element in the defense case.

He said Floyd was held faceddown on the ground by Chauvin and other officers next to the exhaust pipe of a running police car.

Fowler said he did not believe Floyd died of carbon monoxide poisoning but it was potential factor in his death.

Prosecutors called a final witness back to the stand on Thursday to rebut Fowler's testimony.

Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist who testified previously for the prosecution, said he did not find any evidence of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Several police officers have testified that excessive force was used on Floyd and Minneapolis police chief Medaria Arradondo said Chauvin had violated the department's training policies and its "values."

- Nightly violence -

Nelson asked the judge on Monday to sequester the jury after protests erupted in Minneapolis following the police killing of a 20-year-old Black man.

The judge denied the request and said the jury would be sequestered after closing arguments.

Kim Potter, the policewoman who shot dead Daunte Wright in a Minneapolis suburb after appearing to mistake her gun for her Taser, was arrested on Wednesday on manslaughter charges.

Minneapolis has been roiled by nightly violent protests after Potter's shooting of Wright in his car on Sunday.

Potter, a 26-year police veteran who resigned after Wright's death, faces a maximum of 10 years in jail if convicted of second-degree manslaughter.

She is due to appear in court Thursday for a preliminary hearing after being released on $100,000 bail.

Chauvin faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge -- second-degree murder.

A conviction on any of the counts against Chauvin will require the nine-woman, five-man jury to return a unanimous verdict.

A 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, Chauvin was fired from the force after Floyd's death.

Three other former police officers involved in Floyd's arrest are to be tried separately later this year.