Times-Herald (Vallejo)

Expert says Chauvin never took knee off Floyd’s neck

- By Amy Forliti, Steve Karnowski and Tammy Webber

>> Officer Derek Chauvin had his knee on George Floyd’s neck area — and was bearing down with most of his weight — the entire 9 1/2 minutes the Black man lay facedown with his hands cuffed behind his back, a use-of-force expert testified Wednesday at Chauvin’s murder trial.

Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant serving as a prosecutio­n witness, said that based on his review of video evidence, Chauvin applied pressure to Floyd’s neck or neck area from the time officers began pinning Floyd to the ground until paramedics began to move him to a stretcher.

“That particular force did not change during the entire restraint period?” prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked as he

showed the jury a composite of five still images.

“Correct,” replied Stiger, who on Tuesday testified that the force used against Floyd was excessive.

Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson countered by pointing out what he said were moments in the video footage when Chauvin’s knee did not appear to be on Floyd’s neck but on his shoulder blade area or the base of his neck. Stiger did not give much ground, saying the officer’s knee in some of the contested images still seemed to be near Floyd’s neck, though he agreed his weight might have shifted at times.

In other testimony, the lead Minnesota state investigat­or on the case, James Reyerson, initially agreed with Nelson that Floyd seemed to say in a police body-camera video of his arrest, “I ate too many drugs.”

But when a prosecutor played a longer clip of the video, Reyerson said he believed what Floyd really said was “I ain’t do no drugs.”

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaught­er in Floyd’s death May 25. Floyd, 46, was arrested outside a neighborho­od market after being accused of trying to pass

a counterfei­t $20 bill. A panicky-sounding Floyd struggled and claimed to be claustroph­obic as police tried to put him in a squad car, and they pinned him to the pavement.

Bystander video of Floyd crying that he couldn’t breathe as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off him sparked protests and scattered violence around the U.S.

Nelson has argued that the now-fired white officer “did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career,” and he has suggested that Floyd’s drug use and his underlying health conditions

are what killed him, not Chauvin’s knee, as prosecutor­s contend. Fentanyl and methamphet­amine were found in Floyd’s system.

Breahna Giles, a state forensic scientist, testified Wednesday that pills found in the SUV Floyd was driving contained methamphet­amine and fentanyl. Another witness, forensic chemist Susan Meith, testified that remnants of a pill found in the back of the police squad car also contained methamphet­amine and fentanyl. Earlier testimony revealed that this pill contained DNA from Floyd’s saliva.

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