A forensic scientist testified in the trial of Derek Chauvin Wednesday that she found George Floyd’s blood and pills with Floyd’s DNA in the squad car where Floyd struggled with officers. 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.
McKenzie Anderson, a crime scene team leader with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, testified that 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 drugs. Court recessed for the day following their testimony.
The testimony is significant because the defense has suggested that Floyd, who suffered from heart disease, died of a heart arrhythmia brought on by drugs he ingested and adrenaline. The prosecution argues Floyd died of oxygen deprivation beneath the pressure of Chauvin’s knee.
Earlier, 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.
Stiger testified Tuesday that in his view, officers used excessive force against Floyd during the fatal arrest on May 25, 2020.
“My opinion was the force was excessive,” Stiger said.
Stiger told prosecutors he did not believe the crowd of onlookers to pose a threat to officers during the incident, “because they were merely filming, and most of it was their concern for Mr. Floyd.” Defense attorney Eric Nelson has attempted to portray the crowd as unruly.
But on cross-examination by Nelson, Stiger acknowledged some of the name-calling and aggressive statements by the crowd could be perceived as a threat.
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.