Policing Expert Says Floyd Wasn’t a Threat; Minneapolis Remains on Edge

The law professor said “no reasonable officer” would have used force against George Floyd. Here’s the latest on the Derek Chauvin trial.,

LiveUpdated April 12, 2021, 5:51 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 5:51 p.m. ET

In tearful testimony, Mr. Floyd’s younger brother described his love for their mother and skill at making “banana mayonnaise sandwiches.” A police shooting in a nearby suburb increased tension around the trial.

ImagePeople visit the memorial at George Floyd Square near Cup Foods on Monday.
People visit the memorial at George Floyd Square near Cup Foods on Monday.Credit…Jenn Ackerman for The New York Times
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April 12, 2021, 5:51 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 5:51 p.m. ET

The New York Times

Business owners in Brooklyn Center, a suburb of Minneapolis, spent Monday repairing damaged property after a night of unrest. Protesters clashed with police on Sunday, after an officer fatally shot a 20-year-old Black driver during a traffic stop. The shooting occurred not far from the courthouse where Derek Chauvin is on trial for the death of George Floyd.

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April 12, 2021, 5:39 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 5:39 p.m. ET
The phrase “Justice for Daunte Wright” was painted on the pavement near a memorial to George Floyd at Cup Foods in Minneapolis. Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

The third week of the Derek Chauvin trial began just hours after a crowd of protesters gathered outside Minneapolis and clashed with police officers, in protest of a fatal police shooting on Sunday.

Eric J. Nelson, the defense attorney for Mr. Chauvin, the former police officer who is accused of murder in the death of George Floyd, argued that the shooting and subsequent protests might make the jurors more likely to issue a “guilty” verdict, fearing that a “not guilty” one could set off a rash of civil unrest. The judge denied a request by Mr. Nelson to sequester the jury and to re-interview each juror about the shooting and the protests.

Closing arguments in the trial of Mr. Chauvin are expected to come at the beginning of next week. On Monday, jurors heard from Mr. Floyd’s brother and a cardiologist — one of several medical witnesses called by prosecutors — who said he saw no evidence that Mr. Floyd died from a drug overdose or a heart attack. Here are the takeaways from Day 11.

  • The day began with the backdrop of protests that kicked off in Brooklyn Center, a Minneapolis suburb, on Sunday night, about 10 miles north of the courthouse. Chief Tim Gannon of the Brooklyn Center Police Department said that an officer shot Daunte Wright, a 20-year-old Black man, after pulling him over for a traffic violation. After the car was pulled over, the officer found that the driver had a warrant out for his arrest. As the police tried to arrest him, Mr. Wright stepped back into his car, and an officer shot him. Protesters gathered on Sunday night outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department. Some of the demonstrators threw objects at police officers, who responded by firing chemical agents and rubber bullets. On Monday, Chief Gannon said the officer meant to grab her Taser, but accidentally grabbed her pistol and shot Mr. Wright.

  • Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, gave tearful testimony about Mr. Floyd as a brother and a son. He talked about how the two played video games together when they were children. “I finally beat him in a game, and I was just so happy,” he said, giving jurors some glimpse into George Floyd’s personality and family life. “Spark of life” testimonies like that of Philonise Floyd are generally not allowed, but Minnesota courts allow them as a way to present victims as full human beings — personalities and all. While he looked at a photo of George Floyd as a toddler, sleeping while his mother cradled him and smiled, Philonise Floyd began to cry. Their mother died in 2018, and George Floyd was deeply impacted, his brother said. “When we went to the funeral, George just sat there at the casket over and over again,” he said. “He would just say, Mom, Mom, over and over again.” Philonise Floyd said his brother was a talented athlete. When George Floyd was young, he would mark his height on the wall, always wanting to be taller to have an edge in sports. “He always wanted to be the best,” his brother said.

  • Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist called to the witness stand by prosecutors, said Mr. Floyd’s death was “absolutely preventable” and that officers should have immediately begun chest compressions once they failed to find a pulse. Dr. Rich is one of several medical expert witnesses who have testified that Mr. Floyd died as a result of his interaction with police officers, not from a drug overdose or a heart attack, as the defense has suggested. Dr. Rich said Mr. Floyd died from “cardio pulmonary arrest” caused by low oxygen levels induced by the police restraint. “He was trying to get enough oxygen and because of the position that he was subjected to, the heart thus did not have enough oxygen,” he said. Mr. Chauvin used his knee to hold Mr. Floyd handcuffed and facedown on the street for nine and a half minutes. Had Mr. Floyd not been restrained in that way, Dr. Rich said he believed he would have survived.

  • Seth Stoughton, a law professor and expert on the use of force, also testified and is expected to be the prosecution’s final witness. Mr. Stoughton said officers severely mishandled the arrest of Mr. Floyd on nearly every level. The prone position where Mr. Floyd was held for nine and a half minutes is meant to be a temporary position, he said, typically used for applying handcuffs on a suspect. In addition, he said the dangers of the prone position — that it can make it more difficult for suspects to breathe, particularly when there is extra weight on their back or neck — have been well known in policing for decades.

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April 12, 2021, 5:34 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 5:34 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

After testimony concludes, the judge tells jurors that the defense case will start tomorrow and likely be finished this week, “possibly with Friday off.” Closing arguments will start on Monday, he says, before he adjourns for the day.

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April 12, 2021, 5:15 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 5:15 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Wow, the defense lawyer just invoked a phrase that is normally used to describe police actions that shock the conscience and illustrate the impunity of law enforcement — “lawful but awful” — as a defense of his client. “Just because it’s not very pretty does not mean that it’s not lawful,” the lawyer, Eric Nelson, added.

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April 12, 2021, 5:04 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 5:04 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, is trying to back the expert witness, Seth Stoughton, into a corner on his insistence that a reasonable police officer would have had no reason to put George Floyd, who was already handcuffed, in the prone position, as Chauvin did. “Reasonable minds can disagree, agreed?” Nelson asks. To which Stoughton replies, “On this particular point? No.”

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April 12, 2021, 5:04 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 5:04 p.m. ET
Seth Stoughton, a law professor and expert on the use of force, testifying on Monday.
Seth Stoughton, a law professor and expert on the use of force, testifying on Monday.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

An expert on the use of force by police officers testified on Monday in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin that “no reasonable officer” would have acted the way Mr. Chauvin did while arresting George Floyd, who did not appear to be aggressive or even pose a threat to officers.

Seth Stoughton, a law professor and former police officer, spent more than 100 hours reviewing the case against Mr. Chauvin. Testifying for the prosecution, he said he didn’t believe the videos of Mr. Floyd’s death showed him to to be a threat, echoing what the other experts in the trial have said so far.

Mr. Floyd does not appear to have the intention to assault or attack the officers,” he said. “No reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force.”

Mr. Stoughton walked the jury through many of the decisions the police made as videos of the arrest played from different angles. Mr. Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric J. Nelson, challenged Mr. Stoughton’s account during cross-examination, arguing that the evidence showed the situation kept escalating and the officers were in danger.

By the time Mr. Floyd was on the ground, the “point of conflict” had been resolved, Mr. Stoughton testified. Mr. Floyd was cuffed, didn’t present a threat of harm, and had just thanked officers for taking him out of the squad car because he felt claustrophobic, Mr. Stoughton said. Once someone made a comment, which can be heard on the video, that Mr. Floyd had no pulse, it was clear that Mr. Floyd posed no threat.

“Somebody who does not have a pulse does not present a threat in any way,” Mr. Stoughton said.

Mr. Stoughton also said that drug use is not automatically a reason to use force during an arrest.

“Officers can’t use force on someone just because they are on drugs,” he said. “No reasonable officer would have believed that was an acceptable, appropriate and reasonable use of force.”

Mr. Stoughton disagreed with Mr. Nelson’s argument that bystanders, many of whom filmed the arrest, posed a threat to the officers. Had the officers felt threatened, they would not have yelled comments at the bystanders, Mr. Stoughton said.

The judge denied a motion earlier in the day by Mr. Chauvin’s defense lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, to block Mr. Stoughton’s testimony. Mr. Nelson had argued Mr. Stoughton’s testimony would be excessive given all the experts who testified on the topic last week. The judge did limit some of Mr. Stoughton’s testimony, saying it was “cumulative” and was in support of what other experts had already said.

Mr. Stoughton was a police officer with the Tallahassee Police Department for five years and served as an investigator in the inspector general’s office of the Florida Department of Education for three years, according to his biography on the University of South Carolina website.

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April 12, 2021, 4:51 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 4:51 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, is now cross-examining the prosecution’s national use-of-force expert. But with these contorted questions, I’m confused — and it seems that the expert, Seth Stoughton, is as well — about what the defense is asking. I think Nelson is trying to argue that Chauvin had reason to believe going in that the situation with George Floyd could be dangerous.

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April 12, 2021, 4:54 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 4:54 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Nelson is suggesting that Chauvin could use things like his previous experience and the number of officers already on the scene to determine his course of action. Stoughton is only partly buying it.

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April 12, 2021, 4:39 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 4:39 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The whole point of Seth Stoughton‘s lengthy testimony for the prosecution was to explain what a reasonable police officer would have thought and done in Derek Chauvin’s position. His answer: “No reasonable officer would have believed that that was an appropriate, acceptable or reasonable use of force.”

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April 12, 2021, 4:28 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 4:28 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Court is back in session with Seth Stoughton, a use-of-force expert, providing a frame-by-frame analysis of the police officers’ actions during George Floyd’s arrest. He says it took more than three and a half minutes before bystanders started to criticize the officers’ use of force on Floyd, countering defense arguments that the crowd interfered with their decision-making.

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April 12, 2021, 4:31 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 4:31 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Stoughton says that if the officers had actually viewed the bystanders as a threat, they would not have made provocative comments to them like, “This is why you don’t do drugs.”

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April 12, 2021, 4:02 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 4:02 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The court is taking a break. When the trial resumes, Seth Stoughton, a nationally recognized use-of-force expert, will continue to testify. He has done a play-by-play analysis of the officers’ actions, as seen on the bystander video of George Floyd’s arrest, and is walking the jury through his timeline.

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April 12, 2021, 3:53 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 3:53 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Seth Stoughton, the use-of-force expert, is saying a lot of things that other witnesses have said, including that officers are not supposed to put weight on people’s necks. A prosecutor, Steve Schleicher, said this morning that Stoughton’s role was to help counteract “the Goldilocks syndrome” — a concern that the jury might not like one expert witness or another for random reasons.

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April 12, 2021, 4:02 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 4:02 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Stoughton testifies that he has parsed through all of the dialogue among the police officers during George Floyd’s arrest. When one of them says that he cannot find Floyd’s pulse, Chauvin replies, “huh,” Stoughton says. He adds: “Somebody who does not have a pulse does not present a threat in any way.”

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April 12, 2021, 3:37 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 3:37 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Seth Stoughton, a nationally recognized policing expert, is explaining that the officers did not need to put George Floyd face down while restraining him: He was already cuffed, did not present a threat of harm or escape, and he had just thanked them for taking him out of their squad car after complaining of claustrophobia, indicating that the “point of conflict” had been resolved.

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April 12, 2021, 3:41 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 3:41 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

It’s worth remembering that this expert is himself a former police officer, and he’s expressing a view that much of law enforcement echoed at the time of Floyd’s death: that a reasonable, trained police officer would not have done what Derek Chauvin did.

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April 12, 2021, 3:27 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 3:27 p.m. ET
Employees of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minneapolis watching body camera footage Monday showing a Brooklyn Center police officer shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop Sunday.
Employees of the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Minneapolis watching body camera footage Monday showing a Brooklyn Center police officer shooting 20-year-old Daunte Wright during a traffic stop Sunday.Credit…Craig Lassig/EPA, via Shutterstock

The center of the nation’s yearlong discussion about racial justice and policing seemed to shift 10 miles to the north of the courthouse in Minneapolis on Monday. The death of Daunte Wright after an officer shot him in a suburb of the city on Sunday grabbed the nation’s attention just as the trial of Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd entered its 11th day.

Protesters in Brooklyn Center faced off with police all night after Mr. Wright was shot on Sunday, and into Monday morning. The police used chemical agents to disperse crowds who they said attacked some officers after a curfew was established. The scenes were reminiscent of the weeks of protest across the United States after Mr. Floyd died on May 25 in police custody in Minneapolis. And like the video of Mr. Floyd’s arrest, which has been replayed millions of times, there is footage of Mr. Wright, 20, being shot.

After that video was released on Monday, the mayors of St. Paul and Minneapolis announced a curfew that starts at 7 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. for the two cities. Gov. Tim Walz has ordered the same curfew for all of Hennepin, Ramsey and Anoka counties.

Just hours after the police cleared protesters in Brooklyn Center, the shooting of Mr. Wright became part of the trial of Mr. Chauvin, who is charged in the murder of Mr. Floyd. Mr. Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric J. Nelson, argued that jurors needed to be sequestered after the unrest on Sunday because it would be harder for them to be impartial as events involving a police officer shooting unfolded so close by. Judge Peter Cahill denied that request.

A news conference by Mike Elliot, the mayor of Brooklyn Center, scheduled for early afternoon was delayed as President Biden called to offer any necessary resources. Mr. Elliot and the police chief, Tim Gannon, released footage of the body camera worn by the officer who shot Mr. Wright.

It was quick and disturbing, with the officer yelling “Taser” and then “Holy shit. I just shot him.” Mr. Gannon said the shooting was an accident, and the officer was placed on administrative leave.

“This couldn’t have happened at a worse time,” Mr. Elliot said. “This is happening at a moment when the whole world is watching. We are collectively devastated. Our entire community is full of grief.”

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April 12, 2021, 3:26 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 3:26 p.m. ET
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George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, testified on Monday in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in Mr. Floyd’s death, and spoke about who George Floyd was as a person and the memories they shared growing up.CreditCredit…Still image, via Court TV

In brief, but tearful testimony, Philonise Floyd spoke in loving terms about his oldest brother, George Floyd, on the 11th day of testimony in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin.

Mr. Floyd, 39, described how the family moved to Houston from North Carolina when he was younger.

The family lived in a low-income development in the Third Ward where Mr. Floyd and his siblings grew up.

“We stayed with each other all the time, me and George,” Mr. Floyd said, adding that they enjoyed playing video games as children.

As the big brother, George Floyd took care of his siblings and “was so much of a leader in the household,” his brother said.

“George used to make the best banana mayonnaise sandwiches,” Mr. Floyd said with a smile. He said that George Floyd “couldn’t cook — he couldn’t boil water,” but that he always made sure the siblings had a snack and had their clothes for school.

Philonise Floyd said his brother was also passionate about sports and excelled in football and basketball.

“He always wanted to be the best,” he said.

At one point in the testimony, the prosecutor presented a photo of George Floyd in his No. 5 team jersey, standing with his basketball team when he was a student at South Florida Community College.

“He loved playing basketball, and he loved teaching people the game of basketball,” Mr. Floyd recalled.

Asked about George Floyd’s relationship with their mother, Mr. Floyd described it as “one of a kind” and added “he was a big momma’s boy.”

Mr. Floyd became teary-eyed when he talked about their close relationship.

“He showed us how to treat our mom, how to respect our mom,” he said. “He loved her so dearly.”

He said he and George Floyd texted and called each other often.

“He was my big brother,” he said.

The loss of their mother in May 2018 was very painful for George Floyd, his brother said.

At the funeral, “he was just kissing her, just kissing her, and he didn’t want to leave the casket.”

Mr. Floyd said that was the last time he saw his brother alive.

There was no cross-examination.

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April 12, 2021, 3:17 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 3:17 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

I like hearing Seth Stoughton, a policing expert, explain the difference between a risk (someone changing a tire with a tire iron) and a threat (someone brandishing a tire iron) on the stand. I and every other criminal justice reporter in the country have already heard him explain it on the phone — he is a go-to guy for journalists on this issue.

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April 12, 2021, 2:59 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:59 p.m. ET

By Traci Carl

Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s younger brother, testified on Monday that his brother was deeply affected by their mother’s death in 2018:

He loved her so dearly. And when George, he had found out that my mom was passed and — because she had to stay with us for hospice — and he was talking to her over the phone, but she perished before he even came down here. So that right there, it hurt him a lot. And when we went to the funeral, George just sat there at the casket over and over again. He would just say, “Mom, Mom, over and over again.” And I didn’t know what to tell him because I was in pain, too. We all were hurting, and he was just kissing her, just kissing. And he didn’t want to leave the casket. And everybody was like, “Come on, come on, it’s going to be OK.” But it was just difficult.

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April 12, 2021, 2:50 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:50 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The defense sought to keep this witness, Seth Stoughton, a policing expert, off the stand as redundant, but the prosecution said that even after presenting multiple witnesses who said Derek Chauvin had violated Minneapolis Police Department policy while restraining George Floyd, they needed an expert witness to provide an academic, national point of view.

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April 12, 2021, 2:51 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:51 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The prosecution said police policies do not necessarily reflect what’s reasonable or legal: “The defendant is not on trial for violating policies. He’s on trial for violating the law.”

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April 12, 2021, 2:47 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:47 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

We expect Seth Stoughton, the use-of-force expert who has just taken the stand, to be the prosecution’s final witness until after the defense presents its case.

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April 12, 2021, 2:46 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:46 p.m. ET
Seth Stoughton, a law professor and expert on the use of force, testified on Monday during the trial of the former officer Derek Chauvin, at Hennepin County District Court.
Seth Stoughton, a law professor and expert on the use of force, testified on Monday during the trial of the former officer Derek Chauvin, at Hennepin County District Court. Credit…Still image, via Court TV

An expert on police force who testified Monday in the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin said George Floyd did not appear to be aggressive or even pose a threat to officers.

Seth Stoughton, a law professor, was called by the prosecution and spent more than 100 hours reviewing the case against Mr. Chauvin. He said he didn’t believe the videos of Mr. Floyd’s death showed him to be aggressive.

The judge denied a motion this morning by Mr. Chauvin’s defense lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, to block Mr. Stoughton’s testimony. Mr. Nelson had argued Mr. Stoughton’s testimony would be excessive given all the experts who testified on the topic last week. The judge said he would limit the scope to avoid redundancy.

Mr. Stoughton was a police officer with the Tallahassee Police Department for five years and served as an investigator in the inspector general’s office of the Florida department of education for three years, according to his biography on the University of South Carolina website.

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April 12, 2021, 2:45 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:45 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

George Floyd called out for his mama as he died. His brother, Philonese Floyd, has just explained how close he was to her — how he stayed by her casket, giving her kisses, after she died in 2018. The defense opted not to cross-examine Floyd’s brother.

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April 12, 2021, 2:42 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:42 p.m. ET

By Becca Foley

A memorial in the lobby at the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center near George Floyd Square.
A memorial in the lobby at the Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center near George Floyd Square.Credit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

Normally, when jurors are weighing the guilt or innocence of a defendant, they will not hear much about the victim’s life. Most states view that kind of testimony irrelevant or prejudicial. Minnesota is different, thanks to a 1985 case where the victim was a police officer.

In that case, a man who had escaped from federal custody led Officer Bruce Russell on a high speed car chase. When the man, George Graham, finally skidded into a ditch, Officer Russell approached and was shot in the chest.

Officer Russell died almost immediately, but Mr. Graham escaped. He was caught hours later and was charged with first-degree murder and other crimes.

Officer Russell was 28 and was approaching his one-year anniversary on the force when he was killed. He was a husband and father.

In the opening statement of Mr. Graham’s trial, the prosecutor broke down in tears as he discussed emotional details of the victim’s personal life. He was so overcome that in the middle of his statement, he requested a recess to collect himself.

The defense objected to the addition of these personal details, saying the prosecution was invoking the sympathy of the jury.

The trial ruled that the prosecution could present the victim as a human being, as long as it did not become character evidence or invoke undue sympathy. The ruling stated that the testimony was allowed because “the victim was not just bones and sinews covered with flesh but was imbued with the spark of life” — and thus Minnesota’s spark-of-life doctrine was born.

Mr. Graham was sentenced to life in prison.

In the trial of Derek Chauvin, George Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, is expected to be the main spark-of-life witness and will show pictures of him when he was younger and discuss his close relationship with his mother.

Part of the testimony of Mr. Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, on April 1 also fell under the spark-of-life doctrine. Through tears, she described how they met at the Salvation Army, when she was visiting her son’s father and Mr. Floyd was staying there.

Ms. Ross said the two of them liked to explore the city, pray together or go out to eat. “It was an adventure, always,” she said.

She described Mr. Floyd’s close relationship with his mother, and how devastated he was when she died. “He didn’t have the same kind of bounce,” Ms. Ross said. “It’s so hard to lose a parent that you love like that.”

At a pretrial hearing, Matthew Frank, a prosecutor, explained the importance of the inclusion of spark-of-life witnesses: “This puts some, you know, personal nature back into the case for somebody who’s treated so impersonally, unfortunately, by the system.”

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April 12, 2021, 2:41 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:41 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

George Floyd’s brother is saying that they were always “hooping,” by which he means playing basketball. The defense has suggested that on the day he died, Floyd said he had been “hooping,” which the defense said was a reference to hiding drugs.

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April 12, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Philonese Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, now testifying in the trial, breaks down in tears when he is shown a childhood photograph of George and his smiling mother, who was known affectionately as “Miss Cissy.”

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April 12, 2021, 2:37 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:37 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Floyd’s brother, who is on the stand to give jurors a sense of Floyd as a person, says he was an excellent athlete who measured his height against the wall of their home. “He wanted to be taller all the time because he loved sports, he always wanted to be the best.”

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April 12, 2021, 2:28 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 2:28 p.m. ET
Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, at the Hennepin County Government Center on Friday.
Philonise Floyd, the brother of George Floyd, at the Hennepin County Government Center on Friday.Credit…Brandon Bell/Getty Images

MINNEAPOLIS — Last summer, as American cities seethed with protest in the aftermath of another Black man dying at the hands of the police, the family of George Floyd gathered to mourn the loss of their “gentle giant,” as he was often described.

Mr. Floyd’s brother, Philonise Floyd, took the witness stand on Monday, on the 11th day of testimony for the prosecution in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged in Mr. Floyd’s death, and spoke about the type of person his brother was, to humanize him for the jurors who are weighing the guilt or innocence of Mr. Chauvin.

“Mr. Floyd is entitled to have the jury realize he was a human being, he was loved, he had a family,” Judge Peter A. Cahill said during an oral argument in court on the issue.

Yet one description of Mr. Floyd that was heard again and again over the summer, at memorial services and in interviews with family members, was verboten: “gentle giant.”

Those two words, Judge Cahill said, would have allowed Mr. Chauvin’s defense lawyer, on cross-examination, to challenge that assertion by bringing in Mr. Floyd’s criminal past.

If someone did refer to Mr. Floyd as a “gentle giant” in court, Judge Cahill said, “I think then we’re getting into character evidence and that does open the door for the defense to cross-examine about his character for peacefulness.”

Such is the delicate balancing act required by a doctrine that is unique to Minnesota’s legal system: “spark of life” testimony, which holds no evidentiary value but is allowed on a limited basis to present a fuller picture to the jury about the life and character of the victim.

“Everything else,” Judge Cahill continued, “how he grew up, some pictures, that he was loved, that he was a wonderful father, brother, nephew — all that stuff I think is permissible.”

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April 12, 2021, 1:32 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 1:32 p.m. ET
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‘Accidental Discharge’: Officer Fatally Shoots Black Man in Minnesota

Officials from Brooklyn Center, Minn., a suburb outside of Minneapolis, held a news conference after an officer fired her gun on Sunday during a traffic stop, killing a Black man. Brooklyn Center is less than 10 miles away from the trial of Derek Chauvin.

“As I watched the video and listen to the officer’s commands, it’s my belief that the officer had the intention to deploy their Taser, but instead shot Mr. Wright with a single bullet. This appears to me from what I viewed and the officer’s reaction and distress immediately after, but this was an accidental discharge that resulted in the tragic death of Mr. Wright.” “Our hearts are aching right now. We are in pain right now. And we recognize that this couldn’t have happened at a worse time. We recognize that this is happening at a time when our community, when all of America, indeed, all of the world, is watching our community. That we are all collectively devastated, and we have been for over a year now by the killing of George Floyd and that we continue to be distressed as we go through the Derek Chauvin trial.”

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Officials from Brooklyn Center, Minn., a suburb outside of Minneapolis, held a news conference after an officer fired her gun on Sunday during a traffic stop, killing a Black man. Brooklyn Center is less than 10 miles away from the trial of Derek Chauvin.CreditCredit…Stephen Maturen/Getty Images

The police officer who shot a man during a traffic stop in a Minneapolis suburb on Sunday fired her weapon accidentally, Tim Gannon, the police chief, said on Monday. Mr. Gannon said the officer, who has been placed on leave, meant to reach for her Taser and instead grabbed her gun.

The officer yelled “Taser” as Daunte Wright, who had been stopped for a traffic violation, appeared to re-enter his vehicle, Mr. Gannon said at a news conference, alongside Mayor Mike Elliot of Brooklyn Center, a suburb about 10 miles from Minneapolis. The chief and Mr. Elliot said they understood protesters, who took to the streets on Sunday night, were angry, but they urged them to demonstrate peacefully.

“There is nothing I can say to lessen the pain” of Mr. Wright’s family, Mr. Gannon said before showing the video from the traffic stop. “This will be graphic and unedited. I felt the community needed to see what happened.”

Mr. Wright died after the police officer, whom Mr. Gannon described as a “very senior officer,” shot him during the traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb on Sunday, sending hundreds of people into the streets where they clashed with police officers into Monday morning.

The protests in Brooklyn Center came hours before the 11th day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who has been charged with the murder of George Floyd, began in a courtroom less than 10 miles away. Mr. Floyd’s death in May prompted the biggest wave of protests against racial injustice in the country since the Civil Rights era.

Outside the Brooklyn Center Police Department on Sunday night, smoke billowed into the air as a line of police officers fired rubber bullets and chemical agents at protesters, some of whom lobbed rocks, bags of garbage and water bottles at the police. Mr. Elliott ordered a curfew until 6 a.m., and the local school superintendent said the district would shift to remote learning on Monday “out of an abundance of caution.”

Earlier, the judge in the trial, Peter A. Cahill, denied the defense’s request to sequester the jury. Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, argued that the unrest in Brooklyn Center would make it harder for the jurors to be impartial. Mr. Nelson had argued during selection last month that jurors should be sequestered for the whole trial.

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April 12, 2021, 1:19 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 1:19 p.m. ET
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George Floyd ‘Did Not Die From a Drug Overdose,’ Cardiologist Testifies

Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist called to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin, said the condition of George Floyd’s heart and drug use did not contribute to his death, as the defense has claimed.

“So you considered whether or not Mr. Floyd might have passed away from a primary or heart event or a drug overdose. Did you reach an opinion or conclusion to a reasonable degree of medical certainty as to whether either of those two causes explained Mr. Floyd’s death?” “Yes, I did.” “Would you tell us your opinion?” “Sure, after reviewing all of the facts and evidence of the case, I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event and he did not die from a drug overdose. As far as I can tell from reviewing all of the facts of the case, I see no evidence at all to suggest that a fentanyl overdose caused Mr. Floyd’s death.” “What role do you feel that methamphetamine — methamphetamine played in Mr. Floyd’s cause of death?” “I feel it played no substantive role at all. I believe that Mr. George Floyd’s death was absolutely preventable.”

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Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist called to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin, said the condition of George Floyd’s heart and drug use did not contribute to his death, as the defense has claimed.CreditCredit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist called to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin, said on Monday that George Floyd’s heart was not the main cause of his death. He also ruled out a drug overdose.

“Mr. George Floyd died from a cardio pulmonary arrest,” Dr. Rich said. “It was caused by low oxygen levels” induced by the position that “he was subjected to.”

It was an observation that Dr. Rich repeated: that the way the police officers restrained Mr. Floyd led to his asphyxiation. “He was trying to get enough oxygen and because of the position that he was subjected to, the heart thus did not have enough oxygen,” he said.

Dr. Rich said that part of his clinical work involves reviewing evidence to determine why patients had died. In being called by the state to help determine how Mr. Floyd died, he described his testimony as a “meaningful contribution.”

He said that after examining medical records, the autopsy and video footage of Mr. Floyd’s arrest, he determined that Mr. Floyd’s heart was not the main cause of his death.

Dr. Rich said he had considered two other potential causes, including a primary cardiac event and possibly a drug overdose. But he said: “I can state with a high degree of medical certainty” that Mr. Floyd “did not die from a primary cardiac event and did not die from a drug overdose.”

After reviewing a toxicology report, he said that Mr. Floyd’s methamphetamine levels were low, and that he did not see any signs that a drug overdose had caused his death.

And after watching the video of Mr. Floyd’s arrest, Dr. Rich said he determined that Mr. Floyd was restrained in a life-threatening manner, and that there was no evidence of a sudden cardiac death.

He said he believed Mr. Floyd would have lived, had he been given treatment during several instances shown on the video.

He said he noticed that an officer had said at some point during the arrest that he believed Mr. Floyd was passing out. “That would have been an opportunity to quickly relieve him from that position of not getting enough oxygen,” Dr. Rich said.

He also noted that one officer had suggested that Mr. Floyd be turned on his side but was told to “leave him.” When officers learned that Mr. Floyd had no pulse, their immediate response should have been to administer chest compressions, he said.

“I believe that Mr. George Floyd’s death was absolutely preventable,” Dr. Rich said.

He said Mr. Floyd’s medical records did not show previous complaints or evidence of abnormal rhythms and palpitations and added that Mr. Floyd had an “exceptionally strong heart.”

Asked whether he saw signs that Mr. Floyd had a heart attack, Dr. Rich said, “None, whatsoever.”

On cross-examination, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, asked Dr. Rich whether a combination of factors, including previous drug use, narrowing arteries, high blood pressure and the struggle with the officers, could have resulted in Mr. Floyd’s death even without being restrained in the prone position.

“I found no evidence to support that,” Dr. Rich answered.

Mr. Nelson also asked Dr. Rich whether Mr. Floyd would have survived had he simply got into the back seat of the squad car.

Had he not been restrained in the way that he was, Dr. Rich replied, “I think he would have survived that day.”

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April 12, 2021, 12:52 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 12:52 p.m. ET

Andres Martinez

The judge has dismissed the jury for lunch and said they would return at 1:30 p.m. Central Time to hear from two more witnesses this afternoon.

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April 12, 2021, 12:43 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 12:43 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, gets Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist testifying for the prosecution, to acknowledge that George Floyd likely would have survived on May 25 if he had gotten into the police squad car instead of struggling with the officers, which led to his restraint by Chauvin. Floyd said he was claustrophobic and did not want to be confined in the car.

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April 12, 2021, 12:33 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 12:33 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

On cross examination, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer is hitting the drug issue again. Dr. Jonathan Rich agrees there is no such thing as a safe dose of methamphetamine bought off the street.

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April 12, 2021, 12:07 p.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 12:07 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Judge Cahill calls a mid-morning recess after the prosecution finishes its questioning of Dr. Rich, a cardiologist who said George Floyd’s death was preventable. The judge refused to allow Dr. Rich to answer the question of whether a healthy person would have lived if subjected to the same nine-minute restraint that Derek Chauvin used on Floyd.

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April 12, 2021, 11:58 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:58 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

“Mr. Floyd’s death was absolutely preventable,” says Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist testifying as a prosecution witness.

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April 12, 2021, 11:57 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:57 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Dr. Rich says he reviewed the records of a previous emergency room visit in which a tearful George Floyd said he had a substance abuse problem and had swallowed several tablets of Percocet, a pain killer. This may be the visit that resulted from a traffic stop in May 2019, a year before Floyd died. The judge has given the defense permission to bring up limited information about that episode.

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April 12, 2021, 11:58 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:58 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The judge said that Floyd’s emotional reaction to the police, which was very similar to his reaction on the day he died, was not relevant, but his medical reaction was.

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April 12, 2021, 11:49 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:49 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

So far the prosecution is scoring big with expert witnesses who are good at explaining technical concepts. Dr. Rich, the cardiologist testifying this morning, is making heart conditions sound like Chekhovian drama.

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April 12, 2021, 11:40 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:40 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Based on his viewing of the bystander video showing George Floyd being arrested, Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist from Chicago, said Floyd was “restrained in a life-threatening manner.” This succinctly connects the medical testimony from the trial so far with the testimony of police officers and use-of-force experts, who said Derek Chauvin’s restraint of Floyd was improper and illegal.

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April 12, 2021, 11:38 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:38 a.m. ET

By Traci Carl

Yet another medical expert in the trial of the former officer Derek Chauvin testified that the condition of George Floyd’s heart and drug use did not contribute to his death, as the defense has claimed. Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist from Chicago, testified on Monday:

After reviewing all the facts and evidence of the case, I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event and he did not die from a drug overdose.

He said Mr. Floyd had no evidence of a negative heart condition:

Every indicator is that Mr. Floyd had an actually an exceptionally strong heart because he was able to generate pressures of upward of 200 millimeters of mercury on some occasions.

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April 12, 2021, 11:19 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:19 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist from Chicago, said he examined two possible causes of George Floyd’s death beyond oxygen deprivation: heart attack and drug overdose. “After reviewing all the facts and evidence of the case, I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die from a drug overdose,” Dr. Rich testified. This is yet another effort by prosecutors to pre-empt and get ahead of the defense’s arguments on cause of death.

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April 12, 2021, 11:14 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:14 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The prosecution started its medical testimony last week with a lung doctor and is ending today with a heart doctor. Asphyxia, or deprivation of oxygen, can affect both the pulmonary and cardiovascular systems, and they want the jury to understand that it’s not an either-or thing.

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April 12, 2021, 11:12 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:12 a.m. ET
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Judge Peter A. Cahill denied a request from Derek Chauvin’s defense team to sequester the jury following a fatal police shooting of a 20-year-old Black man near Minneapolis on Sunday.CreditCredit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

The judge in the trial of Derek Chauvin denied the defense’s motion on Monday morning to sequester the jury. The request followed the death a 20-year-old Black man who was shot by a police officer during a traffic stop in the Minneapolis suburb of Brooklyn Center on Sunday night, sending hundreds of people into the streets.

Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, had argued that the jurors should be ordered to avoid all media and spend the rest of the trial sequestered, because he feared that further unrest in the area where the shooting took place might limit their ability to be fair jurors. The judge denied that and said the situation in the area, Brooklyn Center, was different because the unrest was not after a jury verdict, but it was in response to a separate police shooting.

The unrest will be at “forefront of the jury’s mind-set,” Mr. Nelson said. “A verdict in this case will have consequences. They have been exposed to that already. The jury should be sequestered.”

Mr. Nelson asked the court for two things: full sequestration of the jury, and to re-interview each juror about what they know about the protests and the police shooting on Sunday night. The judge, Peter A. Cahill, denied both. “This is a totally different case,” he said.

The protests in Brooklyn Center came hours before the start of the third week of Mr. Chauvin’s trial.

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April 12, 2021, 11:06 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 11:06 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Jerry Blackwell, one of the prosecutors, is spending considerable time establishing the expertise of Dr. Rich, a medical expert currently on the stand, on two issues central to the case: that his job involves determining how people die, and that he has experience dealing with patients suffering from low oxygen. Last week a number of experts said that George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen.

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April 12, 2021, 10:55 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:55 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Prosecutors have called Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist from Chicago, to the stand. He follows several expert witnesses from last week who testified about George Floyd’s cause of death, blaming it on Derek Chauvin’s actions. Dr. Rich said this is the first time he has ever testified in a trial.

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April 12, 2021, 10:59 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:59 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Dr. Rich is expected to push back on the assertion of Chauvin’s defense that George Floyd died because of a cardiac arrhythmia. In his opening statement, Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said Floyd had died because of drug use and a heart condition, not the officer’s restraint. Dr. Rich is also likely to say that Floyd’s heart condition was not as serious as Nelson has suggested.

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April 12, 2021, 10:53 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:53 a.m. ET
Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist from Chicago, testifying on Monday during the trial of the former officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse.
Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist from Chicago, testifying on Monday during the trial of the former officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse.Credit…Still image, via Court TV

The state called Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist from Chicago, to take the stand on Monday. He spoke about George Floyd’s heart condition, which the defense has argued was a contributing factor in his death.

Dr. Rich told jurors repeatedly that he found no evidence that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by a heart condition or a drug overdose.

“I believe that Mr. George Floyd’s death was absolutely preventable,” he said.

He became involved in the case when prosecutors called him to review Mr. Floyd’s death and to determine the cause of death. He reviewed the matter free because he felt it was an important case that could contribute to the field of medicine. He did confirm, however, that he was being paid $1,200 a day for his testimony, to compensate him for lost work.

Dr. Rich is an associate professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. He attended Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York and completed fellowships in cardiology and advanced heart failure and transplant at the University of Chicago Hospital’s Pritzker School of Medicine.

Dr. Rich holds certifications in internal medicine, cardiovascular disease and advanced heart failure, and transplant cardiology from the American Board of Internal Medicine.

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April 12, 2021, 10:43 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:43 a.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

We got an update on the timing of the trial: Closing arguments are expected to begin on Monday, a week from today.

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April 12, 2021, 10:41 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:41 a.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, asked the court for two things related to Sunday’s fatal police shooting near Minneapolis: full sequestration of the jury, and to re-interview each juror about what they know about the shooting and the protests that followed. Judge Cahill denied both motions. “This is a totally different case,” he said.

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April 12, 2021, 10:38 a.m. ETApril 12, 2021, 10:38 a.m. ET
Morries Hall appearing via video as Judge Peter Cahill of Hennepin County discussed motions before the court on Tuesday, April 6.
Morries Hall appearing via video as Judge Peter Cahill of Hennepin County discussed motions before the court on Tuesday, April 6.Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

The defense lawyer for the former officer Derek Chauvin asked the judge in Mr. Chauvin’s murder trial to force Morries Lester Hall, an associate of George Floyd who was in a car with him moments before the police arrested Mr. Floyd, to testify.

Mr. Hall’s lawyer, Adrienne Cousins, told the court last week that her client was hoping to avoid testifying. Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, argued on Monday that Mr. Hall should be forced to speak about certain aspects of what he had witnessed. The judge said he would rule on the motion at 1 p.m. Central time.

At a hearing last week over whether Mr. Hall must testify, his lawyer said that testifying about any of his actions on May 25 had the potential to incriminate him, and that Mr. Hall planned to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Mr. Hall, who is in jail on charges unrelated to Mr. Floyd’s death, appeared in court by video conference, though he spoke only to spell his name and to confirm that he had conferred with his lawyer.

Mr. Hall’s lawyer said that both prosecutors and Mr. Nelson had subpoenaed Mr. Hall, though Mr. Nelson seemed more interested in calling him to the stand. Mr. Nelson said in court that he wanted to ask Mr. Hall a range of questions, including about whether he had given Mr. Floyd drugs, about the fake $20 bill that a convenience store clerk said Mr. Floyd had used, and about why Mr. Hall left Minnesota after Mr. Floyd had died.

Ms. Cousins said that all of those questions could incriminate her client, and Judge Peter A. Cahill largely seemed to agree. But the judge said there might be a narrow range of questions — possibly on how Mr. Floyd appeared to be acting in the car before the police arrived — that Mr. Hall might be able to answer without incriminating himself. Ms. Cousins strenuously disagreed, saying that even acknowledging that Mr. Hall was in the car with Mr. Floyd on May 25 could be used against him if he were to be charged with a crime based on his actions that day.

For their part, prosecutors seemed most worried about the prospect that Mr. Hall would take the stand and invoke his Fifth Amendment right in front of the jury, perhaps making them further question Mr. Floyd’s actions that day or making them concerned about what is being withheld.

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