Minneapolis: The trial of the former Minneapolis police officer who was charged in the death of George Floyd is into its third week on Monday, when the prosecution is expected to close its case.
The prosecution case is grounded on witness accounts but they are countered by official rebuttals of the neck restraint and expert testimony attributing Floyd's death to a lack of oxygen.
The accused Derek Chauvin, 45, the white police officer, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death on May 25 last year. Police were called to a neighborhood market where Floyd, who was Black, was accused of trying to pass a counterfeit bill. Video produced by bystanders showed Floyd being pinned by Chauvin and two other officers as he cried "I can't breathe" . The video and images were extensively circulated on social media, sparking protests and sporadic violence in several parts of the US, and indignation worldwide as a case of white supremacist racism.
The defence attorney Eric Nelson offered a defence that Floyd's death was caused by drug use and underlying health conditions including a bad heart. Once the prosecution case is over expected early this week, Nelson is expected to call his own medical experts.
The second week of the trial was marked by technical testimony, beginning with senior Minneapolis Police Department officials, including Chief Medaria Arradondo, testifying that Chauvin's restraint of Floyd violated department policy.
Floyd according to the prosecution, was pinned for 9 minutes, 29 seconds.
Prosecutors called a string of medical experts to testify that Floyd died due to a lack of oxygen, led by Dr. Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist who walked jurors through graphics and charts and had them feel their own necks as he analysed evidence from videos.
Tobin testified that other factors, not just Chauvin's knee, made it hard for Floyd to breathe: officers lifting up his handcuffs, the hard pavement, his turned head and a knee on his back. He pinpointed the moment when he said he could see Floyd take his last breath and said Chauvin's knee remained on Floyd's neck another 3 minutes, 2 seconds.
"At the beginning, you can see he's conscious, you can see slight flickering, and then it disappears," Tobin said as he highlighted a still image from police body-camera video. "That's the moment the life goes out of his body."
Nelson sought to raise doubt about the prosecution's case. During testimony about Chauvin's use of the neck restraint, he sought to highlight minute points about the position of Chauvin's knee and Floyd's neck. The defence lawyer again questioned officers about how a gathering crowd might affect officers' use of force.
(Based on PTI feed)