The corner of Chicago and 38th Street in Minneapolis, MN is now a memorial informally known as “George Floyd Square.” The Pan-African flag flies, surrounded by a monument honoring the tragic end to the life of 46-year-old, George Floyd on May 25, 2020.
Excessive force and drug use continue to be the focus on day eight of the Derek Chauvin murder trial. While the defense attempts to illustrate drug use as a factor in the death of Floyd, expert witness testimony for the prosecution consistently shows that excessive force is the greater issue.
Veteran Use-of-Force Trainer, Sergeant Jody Stiger of the Los Angeles Police Department was called to the witness stand on Wednesday. When asked if Mr. Floyd posed an immediate threat to the safety of officers or others while restrained, Sgt. Jody Stiger responded, “No, he did not.” Sgt. Stiger continued by stating that being in the prone position and handcuffed, Floyd was not attempting to attack or threaten officers–including former officer Derek Chauvin. Sgt. Stiger is expected to be the only outside expert to testify for the state about police training.
Sergeant Jody Stiger, Veteran Use-of-Force Trainer
Special Agent James Reyerson, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
McKenzie Anderson, Forensic Scientist, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
Breahna Giles, Forensic Scientist, Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension
The panel consists of 12 jurors and two alternates. There are nine women and five men. While their identities are anonymous, the race, gender, and approximate age of each juror are public information. The jury includes two white men, three Black men, six white women, one Black woman, and two mixed-race women.
The prosecution called expert witness, Stiger to the stand to explain what he saw in the video evidence of Floyd’s arrest. Stiger explained that in addition to Chauvin’s knee on the neck of Floyd, a ‘pain compliance’ technique was also used. "So pain compliance is a technique that officers use to get a subject to comply with their commands,” said Stiger. “As they comply, they are awarded with the reduction of pain."
Based on images of the arrest, the defense asked Sgt. Stiger if Chauvin’s knee appeared to be on Floyd’s shoulder at various times. Sgt. Stiger maintained that while Chauvin’s body weight may have shifted, it appeared that the former officer continued to squeeze the suspect’s fingers, despite him no longer resisting. “At that point, it’s just pain.”
Two forensic scientists from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, McKenzie Anderson and Breahna Giles also took the stand. Anderson testified that she found bloodstains in the squad car after. Giles stated that she found pills in Floyd’s car. After testing the pills, Giles said the pills contained methamphetamine and potential other substances she could not identify.
When asked if the officers on the scene should have been able to handle possible distractions from the growing crowd, Sgt. Stiger responded, “Absolutely.” The 28-year LAPD veteran also noted that former officer Chauvin completed at least 866 hours of police training.
Lost in Translation
In an effort to prove that Derek Chauvin’s knee was not the singular cause of Floyd’s death, the defense called Special Agent James Reyerson to the stand. During questioning, Reyerson testified that Floyd seemed to be saying, “I ate too many drugs” in an officer’s body-cam footage.
The prosecution later played a longer version of the footage for Agent Reyerson. After listening, Agent Reyerson confirmed that Mr. Floyd was actually saying, “I ain’t do no drugs.”
Day nine of the trial begins on Thursday, April 8.
Check out more updates about the trial here.
Monique Wingard is an entrepreneur, educator, and doctoral student in communication, culture, and media studies. Follow her on Instagram @moniquewingard.