The fourth day of Derek Chauvin’s criminal trial (for his involvement in the death of George Floyd) included testimony which suggests that the case may ultimately come down to a battle of the experts.
Points were raised by attorneys for the prosecution and defense during the course of their examination of witnesses that are a preview as to what is to come.
The paramedics, who responded to the scene (as Mr. Floyd still lay on the ground under police control), testified as to what they observed. The prosecution elicited that Paramedic Smith, upon his arrival, checked Mr. Floyd’s carotid pulse and pupils.
But the state of Floyd’s pupils will be relevant to a defense contention that traces of the drug fentanyl, found by a post-mortem toxicology report to be in Floyd’s body, support that his death was, at least in part, caused by drug use.
The prosecution’s experts, on other hand, are likely to point out that a fentanyl overdose will result in “pinpoint” pupils, and that the paramedic noted Mr. Floyd’s pupils were enlarged, or dilated, when he examined them at the scene.
Chauvin’s attorney questioned the paramedic about his initial assessment of Mr. Floyd’s pulse. The paramedic testified that he had knelt down and placed his fingers on Floyd’s neck to check for a pulse. But defense attorney Nelson made a point of asking if the paramedic could access Floyd’s carotid artery without the officer moving. (That question suggests that the defense will be arguing that placement of Chauvin’s knee did not compromise the victim’s breathing.)
Debra Cohen, Co-Chair of Newman Ferrara’s Civil Rights Practice Group, observed that, “Anyone watching is getting a dose of reality of how trial’s really work. Lawyers for both sides are using each witness to create building blocks to ultimately argue their theory of the case to the jury. It’s not always obvious what moments that will ultimately influence the jury’s conclusion."