Derek Chauvin declines right to testify at George Floyd murder trial

Tammy Hughes
·3-min read
<p>Defence attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (right) address the court</p> (AP)

Defence attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin (right) address the court

(AP)

The former police officer accused of killing George Floyd will not testify at his own trial, a court heard on Thursday.

Derek Chauvin was filmed kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck sparking worldwide protests against racism and policing.

He denies killing Mr Floyd.

Defence lawyer, Eric Nelson, told the court that he and Mr Chauvin had “gone back and forth” about whether or not he should testify.

Chauvin then said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege which, in America, refers to the constitutional right to stay silent in fear of self-incrimination.

Closing arguments are set for Monday, after which the jury will begin deliberating.

The question of whether Chauvin would testify was the subject of weeks of speculation.

The only time Chauvin has been publicly heard defending himself was when the jury listened to body-camera footage from the scene last May.

After an ambulance had taken Floyd away, Chauvin told a bystander: “We gotta control this guy ‘cause he’s a sizable guy ... and it looks like he’s probably on something.”

The decision not to testify was announced a day after a forensic pathologist testifying for the defence said that Floyd died of a sudden heart rhythm disturbance as a result of his heart disease.

That contradicted prosecution experts who said Floyd succumbed to a lack of oxygen from the way he was pinned down.

Dr. David Fowler, a former Maryland chief medical examiner who is now with a consulting firm, said Wednesday the fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s system, and possibly carbon monoxide poisoning from auto exhaust, were contributing factors in the 46-year-old Black man’s death last May.

“All of those combined to cause Mr. Floyd’s death,” he said.

Fowler also testified that he would classify the manner of death “undetermined,” rather than homicide, as the county’s chief medical examiner ruled.

He said Floyd’s death had too many conflicting factors, some of which could be ruled homicide and some that could be considered accidental.

Mr Nelson is trying to prove that the 19-year Minneapolis police veteran did what he was trained to do and that Floyd died because of his illegal drug use and underlying health problems.

A number of medical experts called by prosecutors have said Floyd died from a lack of oxygen because his breathing was constricted by the way he was held down.

A cardiology expert rejected the notion that Floyd died of heart problems, saying all indications were that he had “an exceptionally strong heart.”

But Fowler said that Chauvin’s knee on Floyd was “nowhere close to his airway” and that Floyd’s speaking and groaning showed that his airway was still open.

He also testified that Chauvin’s knee was not applied with enough pressure to cause any bruises or scrapes on Floyd’s neck or back.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death after his arrest on suspicion of passing a counterfeit $20 at a neighborhood market.

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