What’s Happening in Day 6 of the Chauvin Trial?

Mr. Chauvin, a former police officer, is accused of killing George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes. An emergency room doctor who tried to save Mr. Floyd’s life testified Monday.,


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After a week of often emotional and occasionally explosive testimony, the trial of Derek Chauvin resumed on Monday morning, with the prosecution continuing to present witnesses that they hope will support the charges of murder in the death of George Floyd.

Mr. Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, is accused of killing Mr. Floyd by kneeling on his neck for more than nine minutes. The defense will claim that Mr. Chauvin followed his police training and that drug use may have led to Mr. Floyd’s death.

Here are some key takeaways from the opening days of the trial.

An emergency room doctor who tried to save Mr. Floyd’s life for 30 minutes before pronouncing him dead testified on Monday that he believed Mr. Floyd had likely died of a lack of oxygen.

Dr. Bradford T. Wankhede Langenfeld, who was a senior resident at the Hennepin County Medical Center, testified in court that Mr. Floyd’s heart was not beating by the time he arrived at the hospital last May. His testimony followed that of two paramedics who said last week that Mr. Floyd’s heart had stopped by the time they arrived to the scene of his arrest.

The doctor said that, based on the information he had at the time, he thought that oxygen deficiency, sometimes called asphyxia, was “one of the more likely” causes of Mr. Floyd’s death.

Prosecutors have said Mr. Floyd died of asphyxia, appearing to divert from the ruling of the county medical examiner who performed an autopsy on Mr. Floyd and said that he had died of “cardiopulmonary arrest.” That term, prosecutors have said, is applicable to any death because it simply means that a person’s heart and lungs have stopped.

Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, has suggested that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused in part by his underlying heart disease and the fentanyl and methamphetamine that were found in his system. In response to questions from Mr. Nelson, Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld agreed that many different things — including taking fentanyl and methamphetamine — can cause a death that would still be considered asphyxiation.

Mr. Nelson used his questioning to press Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld on the fact that naloxone, the overdose-reversing treatment often known as Narcan, was never administered to Mr. Floyd. Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld said that even if Mr. Floyd had suffered an overdose, giving him naloxone would have had “no benefit” because his heart had already stopped.

Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld said he had viewed an overdose as a less likely cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, at the time, in part because the paramedics who brought Mr. Floyd to the hospital had given no indication that he had overdosed.

Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld said that he had pronounced Mr. Floyd dead after about 30 minutes in the emergency department. Mr. Floyd’s official time of death is 9:25 p.m.

Jerry W. Blackwell, the prosecutor questioning Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld, used some of his questions to emphasize that Mr. Chauvin and other police officers at the scene had not given medical care to Mr. Floyd.

In response to the questions, Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld noted that beginning C.P.R. as soon as possible is critical for patients who are in cardiac arrest, as Mr. Floyd was. He said that there is about a 10 to 15 percent decrease in a patient’s chance of survival for every minute that C.P.R. is not administered.

“It’s well-known that any amount of time that a patient spends in cardiac arrest without immediate C.P.R. markedly decreases the chance of a good outcome,” Dr. Wankhede Langenfeld said. He noted that the term “cardiac arrest” means only that a patient’s heart has stopped, not that the patient necessarily suffered a heart attack.

The doctor, who is in his early 30s, earned his medical degree from the University of Minnesota Medical School in 2016 and had received his physician and surgeon license just 18 days before May 25, when Mr. Floyd was rushed to the hospital, according to state records.

The trial began in an odd fashion on Monday. The entire jury was brought in for questioning, and Judge Peter A. Cahill had the audio and video feeds turned off. But according to a pool reporter in the room, each of the jurors had a sheet of paper in front of them with a social media post that the judge instructed them to read.

He noted that on the sheet there was a comment about halfway through. He asked the jurors if any of them made a statement, or something similar to it, that was apparently in the social media post.

Thirteen of the 14 jurors raised their hands to indicate that they had not said anything like what was indicated (the specific statement was not shared publicly). The 14th juror shook her head no and eventually raised her hand.

The judge then had them flip over the sheet and asked them if they recognized the picture of the person on the sheet. All 14 jurors raised their hands to indicate that they did not recognize the person. After the jurors left, the judge indicated that he believed the jurors were credible.

“This was nothing more than social media nonsense,” he said.

Jurors are not supposed to discuss the case with anyone — even among each other — or read any coverage of the trial while it is going on.

The strategies laid out by the defense and prosecution teams in opening statements last week could be clearly seen as they each questioned witnesses.

Eric J. Nelson, the lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, made clear that he would attempt to convince jurors that the videos of Mr. Floyd’s death did not tell the full story. The case “is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds,” Mr. Nelson said, referring to the time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd.

He signaled that he planned to argue that Mr. Chauvin had been following his training, that his knee was not necessarily on Mr. Floyd’s neck, and that Mr. Floyd’s death may have been caused by drugs.

Mr. Blackwell, one of the prosecutors, urged jurors to “believe your eyes, that it’s homicide — it’s murder.” Prosecutors call all of their witnesses before the defense begins to lay out its case, so the first week of testimony was heavily weighted toward the prosecution’s arguments.

ImageThe Floyd memorial site near the Cup Foods store has been the place of protest since police killed Floyd at this location in May of 2020.
The Floyd memorial site near the Cup Foods store has been the place of protest since police killed Floyd at this location in May of 2020.Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

The trial began with powerful testimony from a series of witnesses to the arrest, many of whom broke down in tears while recounting what they saw. They included several women who were under 18 at the time of the arrest, as well as a 61-year-old man who spoke with Mr. Floyd while he was pinned to the ground.

From the convenience store clerk at the Cup Foods where Mr. Floyd bought cigarettes to an off-duty firefighter who yelled at the officers as Mr. Floyd became unresponsive, they conveyed a shared sense of trauma from what they saw that day.

By highlighting the emotional trauma Mr. Floyd’s arrest caused witnesses, prosecutors seemingly hoped to convince jurors that Mr. Chauvin’s actions had been clearly excessive to people who saw them in real time. One witness, Darnella Frazier, now 18, testified that she has been haunted by what she saw, sometimes lying awake at night “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”

For the first time, the final moments before Mr. Floyd’s arrest were shown in detail. Surveillance video from Cup Foods, along with testimony from the store clerk, showed Mr. Floyd walking around the store, chatting and laughing with customers, and eventually buying a pack of cigarettes with a $20 bill that the clerk suspected was fake.

Footage from police body cameras then replayed the arrest from beginning to end. It showed an officer approach Mr. Floyd with his pistol drawn, and captured audio of Mr. Floyd’s fearful reaction: “Please, don’t shoot me,” he said. Mr. Floyd appeared terrified, first of the pistol, then of being held in a police car.

As Mr. Chauvin pinned him to the ground, the footage captured the moments when the officers checked for a pulse and found none, but took no action.

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