Jody Stiger, longtime Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and prosecution witness, said Chauvin never moved, according to his review of camera footage of the police body, and also appeared to be grabbing the hand of Floyd in an attempt to inflict pain on the man, even though he no longer resisted.
During his second day of testimony at the former officer’s murder trial, Stiger told the jury that Chauvin appeared to use a “pain-respecting” technique on Floyd’s hand, “squeezing his fingers or bringing them together. knuckles ”and putting his wrist in his handcuffs – an effort typically deployed by officers trying to take control of a suspect. But because Floyd stopped resisting the moment officers placed him in a prone position on the ground, “at that point it was just pain,” Stiger said.
Stiger, a paid expert witness who has been a use of force trainer with the LAPD, said he had never seen Chauvin relax his use of force, even though Floyd appeared to be in “distress.” and finally stopped moving. He reiterated his view that officers initially responded with “reasonable force” when Floyd resisted as they attempted to place him in a squad car.
But Stiger said the force should have stopped once Floyd was on the ground and didn’t resist. When Chauvin continued to pin Floyd to the ground, Stiger said, it turned into “deadly force.”
“At the time of the restraint period, Mr. Floyd does not resist. He was in the supine position, ”Stiger told jurors. “He was handcuffed. He wasn’t trying to escape. He wasn’t trying to resist.
Chauvin’s bodyweight pressure – estimated by another witness to be around 140 pounds with 40 pounds of police gear, including bulletproof vests – allegedly put Floyd in danger of “positional asphyxiation,” a danger that is mentioned in most police training, Stiger says.
Floyd was already at risk of possible respiratory problems because he was handcuffed and face down, Stiger said. “When you add body weight to that, it only increases the risk of death,” he said.
As he did with other witnesses, Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson attempted to question the positioning of his client’s knee. He showed Stiger photos taken from video footage of Floyd’s arrest which he said showed Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s shoulder or back, not on his neck. But Stiger was constantly at odds, arguing that the photos showed Chauvin’s knee on or at the base of Floyd’s neck.
Nelson asked Stiger if there were any limits to what the camera footage could show – a claim with which Stiger agreed. But when Nelson claimed that the body camera videos might not capture the “feeling” of the scene or the “tension” in someone’s body, Stiger again disagreed. On reconsideration of the lawsuit, he argued that Chauvin’s training should have made him realize that something was wrong with Floyd.
“Over time, clearly in the video, you could see Mr. Floyd’s health deteriorating. His breath was diminishing. His tone of voice diminished. His movements were starting to stop, ”Stiger said. “At this point, as the officer there, you have a responsibility to realize that, okay, something is wrong. Something has radically changed from what happened before. “
Nelson sought to defend the officers’ response to Floyd’s calls for help, pointing out that Floyd had told officers “I can’t breathe” earlier as he “actively resisted” attempts to put him in a car. squad. He asked Stiger if he had ever had an example of someone “faking physical illness” during his arrest, to which Stiger replied yes.
Stiger’s testimony came as prosecutors began to shift from police testimony to the larger investigation into Floyd’s death.
Officers from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, an agency that examines cases of police use of force and has taken control of the case by the Minneapolis Police Department, have been called to testify on the evidence in the case, including the initially ignored pill fragments found earlier this during a second search of squad cars, officers had attempted to place Floyd.
This testimony focused early on on the body camera footage of Floyd’s arrest. At one point, Nelson released a short clip from Officer J. Alexander Kueng’s body camera showing Floyd begging officers.
He asked James Reyerson, a senior BCA special agent responsible for the agency’s investigation into Floyd’s death, what he thought Floyd had said.
“Did Mr. Floyd say, ‘I ate too many drugs? Nelson asked Reyerson.
Reyerson has requested that the video be replayed. On the second viewing, the agent responded, “Yes, that’s true.”
It was a brief victory for the defense of Chauvin, who argued that Floyd died of a combination of pre-existing health issues and a drug overdose, citing an autopsy that recorded elevated levels of fentanyl and other substances in Floyd’s system.
But after a brief hiatus, prosecutor Matthew Frank recalled Reyerson to the stand and released a longer clip of the video, which he said provided “context.” The footage shows officers talking to Floyd about the potential drug use.
Asked what he thought Floyd said, after viewing the longer clip, Reyerson testified, “I believe Mr. Floyd was like, ‘I don’t do drugs.'”
Nelson did not dispute Reyerson’s statement or question him again about the video.
Prosecutors also questioned Reyerson about the examples Nelson cited to claim Chauvin’s knee may have been resting on other parts of Floyd’s upper body – showing him video clips associated with those time stamps instead of still photos. . Reyerson said Chauvin’s left knee appeared to be on Floyd’s neck, with his right knee on Floyd’s back.
“Does it appear that Mr. Chauvin is using his weight to hold Mr. Floyd?” Frank asked.
“Yes, that’s right,” Reyerson replied.
Reyerson testified that he was one of 50 officers assigned to the Floyd case, one of the largest in the agency’s history, and that they often worked with more than two dozen officers from the FBI assigned to the case. He estimated that they had interviewed more than 200 people and analyzed numerous videos, photographs and other evidence.
Reyerson testified that he interacted with Chauvin when he photographed the officer and the equipment he was wearing, including body armor and other equipment, at town hall, where officers had been taken for questioning after Floyd’s death.
Reyerson admitted that the agency initially missed some evidence in the case. In December, prosecutors asked officers to conduct a second search of the car Floyd was driving, based on photographs. Among the items collected were two white pills found in the car console that lab tests later confirmed to be methamphetamine and fentanyl, and two sachets of Suboxone, an opioid addiction drug.
Last week, Floyd’s girlfriend testified about her struggle with opioid addiction.
In January, defense attorneys for Chauvin and other officers at the scene requested a second search of Squad 320, officers in the car attempting to place Floyd on the night of his death. Officers recovered pill fragments that later contained Floyd’s DNA and a combination of fentanyl and methamphetamine.
McKenzie Anderson, a BCA forensic scientist in charge of collecting evidence at the 38th Street and Chicago Avenue scene, said she saw the white substances in the car’s back seat. last summer, when the car was taken into custody. But she said she focused on testing the blood found in the back seat.
“At the time, I didn’t give it any forensic significance,” she said.
Anderson testified that no evidence was collected at the scene outside of Cup Foods, where the incident occurred, except for Floyd’s SUV and the police car taken to treatment. It rained at the scene, possibly removing blood on the floor, said Anderson, who said he responded to around 30 crime scenes last year.