Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin spoke live for the first time in court on Thursday, and it was to invoke his right not to say anything further. “I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” he said. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd, a Black father. Floyd was unarmed when Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes in an incident that ended in Floyd’s death on May 25, 2020.
David Fowler, a forensic pathologist called by the defense, testified on Wednesday that he believed Floyd underwent a cardiac arrhythmia and that his history of drug use, heart disease, and carbon monoxide exposure from the squad car during his detainment contributed to the arrhythmia. Fowler admitted, however, on cross-examination that he's seen no air monitoring data that would inform him of how much, if any, carbon monoxide would have been in Floyd's breathing zone. So Jerry Blackwell, an attorney for the prosecution, attempted to bring Martin Tobin, a Chicago pulmonologist and critical care physician who testified for the prosecution earlier in the trial, back on the stand to introduce new test results showing Floyd’s carbon monoxide levels.
The defense previously alleged that based on emission limits maintained by the California Air Resources Board Floyd's carboxyhemoglobin, the chemical compound of carbon monoxide and hemoglobin, could have increased by 10-to-18% due to exposure from the squad car he was held near.
Asked by the prosecution if Tobin agreed with the statement, the doctor said: "No I do not."
He said Floyd's hemoglobin was 98% saturated with oxygen on Sept.16, so the maximum amount of carbon monoxide in his blood or carboxyhemoglobin is 2%, "which is normal."
The state and prosecution concluded their cases. “The evidence is now complete for this case,” Cahill said. Closing arguments are slated to begin Monday morning.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, initially fought the prospect of Tobin testifying about more recent test results vehemently, threatening to file a motion for a mistrial if the prosecution is permitted to introduce new evidence so late in the trial. Judge Peter Cahill, seeming to agree with Nelson, decided to allow Tobin to take the stand but threatened to allow a mistrial if he “even hints” about the testing. "This late disclosure is not the way we should be operating here," Cahill said. Tobin will be allowed to testify about carbon monoxide and the likelihood of a high carbon monoxide reading given environmental factors at play. He will also be allowed to offer insight about whether Floyd’s heart was enlarged, which Fowler testified caused his death.
Check back here for updates about the trial.
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