Derek Chauvin Attorney Claims George Floyd Said He ‘Ate Too Many Drugs’
A short video clip captured by a Minneapolis police officer's body camera last spring became a focus of Derek Chauvin's trial on Wednesday after a defense attorney and witness pointed out that the late George Floyd had recently " "eaten too many drugs" was his death.
The same witness later changed his testimony to say that he believed Floyd really said, "I don't do drugs."
Chauvin was charged with three homicide cases for his murder method against Floyd: Kneeling Floyd's neck on the sidewalk.
The conflict arose when a defense attorney, Eric Nelson, asked witness James Reyerson if he heard Floyd say "I ate too many drugs" in one of the body camera videos he discussed.
Reyerson - a senior special agent with the Minneapolis Bureau of Criminal Apprehension who was part of a team investigating Chauvin's use of violence - said no.
Nelson then played a clip of the footage for the courtroom with Floyd lying on his stomach near a police vehicle with officers over him. Floyd yells in the footage and says something that cannot be clearly heard.
After watching it, Reyerson Nelson agreed that it sounded like Floyd said he "ate" drugs.
It wasn't the first time Nelson had called up the clip. he asked Los Angeles Police Department Sgt. Jody Stiger earlier that day if Stiger thought Floyd was saying that. Stiger said he couldn't make out Floyd's words.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank brought up the clip after Reyerson agreed to the defense and played a longer version showing that the officers had been discussing the possibility that he had been using drugs prior to Floyd's unclear statement.
"After hearing it in context, can you tell what Mr. Floyd is saying?" Frank asked Reyerson.
"Yeah, I think Mr. Floyd said," I don't do drugs, "Reyerson replied.
While an autopsy report found that Floyd tested positive for fentanyl after his death, his cause of death is described as "cardiopulmonary arrest making subdual law enforcement restraint and neck compression difficult". The doctor who treated him at the hospital on the night of May 25, 2020 earlier testified that he believed Floyd died of asphyxiation or lack of oxygen.
Police did not arrive at the place where Floyd eventually died to investigate his alleged drug use. Rather, they had been called after a supermarket clerk suspected him of using a fake $ 20 bill.
However, drugs are key to the defense strategy in the trial that began last week with testimony: Nelson attempted to determine that drug use may have caused Floyd to have difficulty breathing.
Chauvin pleaded not guilty to any of the three charges against him. If found guilty, he could be behind bars for 11 to 15 years.
Derek Chauvin Trial Live: Prosecutors seek justice for George Floyd's death
The doctor who treated George Floyd says he "likely" believed in asphyxia as the cause of death
Police Chief: Chauvin "absolutely" violated the use of force in the arrest of Floyd
Violence expert testifies: Derek Chauvin mistakenly used "lethal force" on George Floyd
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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