Testimony is now complete in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis police officer charged in George Floyd’s death. The defense rested its case Thursday after Chauvin said he will not testify in his own defense. Chauvin spoke in court from the defense table just after court resumed on Thursday.
“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” Chauvin said.
Prosecutors then re-called to the stand Dr. Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist who offered key testimony for the prosecution last week, saying Floyd died of low oxygen under the pressure of officers’ weight on his neck, back and side. Thursday, Tobin rebutted some of the testimony of forensic pathologist Dr. David Fowler, who testified for the defense that Floyd suffered a heart arrhythmia due to his underlying heart disease.
Judge Peter Cahill excused the jury after Tobin’s testimony. He told jurors to return at 9 a.m. Monday for closing arguments, after which they will be sequestered for deliberations.
The defense case centers around how Floyd died, which has been a key point of dispute at trial. A string of medical experts have testified for the prosecution, saying the police restraint restricted oxygen to Floyd’s body and caused his heart to stop. But defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued a combination of Floyd’s underlying heart disease, adrenaline and the fentanyl and methamphetamine he had ingested prior to the arrest amounted to a fatal combination. Fowler testified there were so many factors involved that he considers the manner of Floyd’s death to be undetermined.
The defense launched its case on Tuesday. Testimony focused on Floyd’s drug use, and a defense use-of-force expert said Chauvin was justified in restraining Floyd.
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.