Derek Chauvin Trial Day 10: Medical Examiner Testifies


The second week of testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the murder of George Floyd concluded on Friday (April 9). The nation is watching as dozens of witnesses take the stand and answer questions from prosecutors and Chauvin’s defense attorney. 

So far, bystanders who filmed Chauvin digging his knee into Floyd’s neck have testified in court about what they saw the evening of May 25, 2020 on the corner of 38th and Chicago in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Numerous law enforcement professionals took the stand, including the Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arrandondo who said what Chauvin did was not a part of MPD training. 

Use of force expert Jody Stiger called Chauvin’s action “excessive,” echoing the sentiments of 911 operator, Jena Scurry, the first witness called in the trial, who said she called a police sergeant because the live video of what was happening. 

The court heard from Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, who talked about their struggle with substance abuse and three-year relationship. 

Yesterday (April 8), Dr. Martin Tobin gave a thorough testimony in describing what happened to George Floyd as he laid pinned on the street. Tobin walked the jury through what Floyd was going through underneath the body weight of Chauvin and the other officers, and likened what they did to surgically removing his lung. Floyd’s airflow, Tobin said, was so restricted “as if a surgeon had gone in removed” the lung. 

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,” Dr. Tobin said. 

A full recap of each day can be found here.

Here’s What Happened Today

Day 10 of the trial began with testimony from forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas who said George Floyd died as a result of “law enforcement subdual, restraint and compression.” 

“This is not a sudden cardiac death, a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. This is a death where both the heart and lungs stopped working. And the point is that it’s due to law enforcement subdual, restraint and compression. That is kind of what ultimately is the immediate cause of death,” Dr. Thomas said. She told the court that she ruled out drugs as a factor in Floyd’s death, which has been a key basis in the defense’s argument. 

The jury received photos from the autopsy report in court, though the images were not a part of the trial’s broadcast. Dr. Thomas explained to the jury what they were looking at and pointed out “superficial injuries” to George Floyd’s face which she said “supports what I saw in the videos, which is that he is being forcibly restrained and subdued and he’s trying to move into a position by rubbing his face against the concrete cement of the ground, by pulling against his handcuffs.”

Those injuries she added, were “from him pushing to try to get into a position to breathe.” 

Dr. Thomas also offered her opinion on George Floyd’s preexisting health conditions, which have also been a frequent point brought up by the defense, calling them a “secondary mechanism” in his death. 

 The Medical Examiner Testifies 

Dr. Andrew Baker took the stand in court, marking one of the most important testimonies given so far. Dr. Baker is the Hennepin County medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on George Floyd’s body. Baker told the court that he intentionally did not watch any videos of the deadly encounter before performing the autopsy to avoid professional bias. 

Throughout his testimony, Baker reiterated his findings that George Floyd’s death was a homicide and that heart disease and drugs may have played a role but what Chauvin and the other officers did was the main cause. 

“My opinion remains unchanged. It’s what I put on the death certificate last June. That’s cardiopulmonary arrest, complicating law enforcement subdual restraint and neck compression. That was my top line then and it would stay my top line now,” Baker testified.

What’s Being Said Online

People watching the trial noted the tension between the witnesses and defense attorney Eric Nelson who repeatedly used hypothetical questions during today’s cross-examinations.

What Resources Are Available

Watching the trial, taking in traumatic moments may be difficult as video is played and replayed and verbally described.

A few resources that may aid in processing the trial are below:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-8255

The National Alliance on Mental Illness1-800-950-6264

The Association of Black Psychologists1-301-449-3082

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America1-240-485-1001

The resources listed have resources including peer groups and other counseling services that may be helpful. They also offer ways to cope with stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions that are important to monitor.

The Black Information Network's trial-related content includes a nightly news special, titled "Searching for Justice for George Floyd," that airs at 7:00 pm ET Monday through Friday on all BIN 24/7 affiliates. Emmy Award-winning journalist Vanessa Tyler will anchor the daily 30-minute commercial-free recap of that day's testimony.

Additionally, BIN's Morgyn Wood will anchor live coverage of the trial on our Minneapolis affiliate BIN 93.3 FM. Tune in to Black Information Network 24/7's coverage on 31 Black Information Network affiliate stations and on the iHeartRadio app. Frequent updates and breaking news will also air on all 92 iHeartMedia Hip Hop, R&B, and Gospel music stations.

Photo Credit: Getty Images