These are some of the key moments leading up to the Derek Chauvin guilty verdict in George Floyd’s death

MINNEAPOLIS – A handful of courtroom moments stood out over the course of 26 days of witness testimony and may have influenced the jury’s decision to find former police officer Derek Chauvin guilty on all counts of murder in George Floyd’s death.

Several witness became emotional on the stand recounting personal memories of Floyd and their attempts to intervene in his final moments. Medical experts captured jurors’ attentions as they explained anatomy and complex bodily processes. Others sparred with attorneys or offered jurors unique perspectives that challenged prior testimony.

Out of 45 witnesses, dozens of videos and many hours of testimony, here are the highlights.

Prosecutors play bystander video on Day 1

Opening statements began in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged in George Floyd's death.


Any question about how and when the graphic bystander video of Floyd’s death would be used in the trial was answered just minutes into opening statements. The prosecution played the whole video for the jury – all 9 minutes and 29 seconds of it, complete with audio of Floyd gasping “I can’t breathe” 27 times and witnesses urging Chauvin to get off Floyd’s neck.

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told jurors the case is not about the difficult “split-second decisions police must make.” Rather, “there are 569 seconds, not a split-second among them.”

As the video played, one juror drew in a sharp breath. A white woman in her 50s put her hand on her temple. A grandmother in her 60s stared intently with her brow furrowed as she saw the entire video for the first time. One of the jurors, who is a nurse, had her eyes wide while it played, and her right hand jerked as she briefly gripped the armrests of her chair. Read more.

Darnella Frazier, teen who recorded cell phone video, cries on the stand

Darnella Frazier testified at Derek Chauvin's trial, saying there were nights she "stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more."


On the second day of witness testimony, the teenager who recorded disturbing bystander video cried on the stand and told attorneys the incident changed her life.

Darnella Frazier, 18, told Blackwell that when she looked at Floyd, she saw her Black relatives and friends. “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles,” Frazier said.

She said she has stayed up some nights “apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.” But, she said, “it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he (Chauvin) should have done.”

Jurors listened attentively as Frazier spoke, and a few took notes. George Floyd’s brother Terrence Floyd, who was sitting in court, took a deep breath as Frazier recounted urging police to get off Floyd. Read more.

George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross talks about their relationship, opioids

Courteney Ross, who was in a relationship with George Floyd for about three years, became emotional when discussing their relationship.

Associated Press

On the fourth day of witness testimony, Floyd’s girlfriend broke down in tears on the witness stand as she gave jurors an intimate glimpse of the “mama’s boy,” amateur athlete, restaurant lover and struggling drug user.

Courteney Ross said she had a relationship with Floyd for about three years after they met in Minneapolis in August 2017. “It’s one of my favorite stories,” she said, growing emotional and stifling tears as she recounted the romantic beginning.

Ross acknowledged that drug use was part of their relationship. “Floyd and I both suffered from opiate addiction,” she said. “We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck. His was in his back. We both had prescriptions. After prescriptions were filled, we got addicted, and we both tried, very hard, to break the addictions, many times.”

One of the jurors, a Black man, had a furrowed brow and one of his hands up by his face while Ross spoke, seemingly emotional. As Ross talked about how different drugs made her feel, multiple jurors took notes. Chauvin kept his head down and took notes.  Read more.

Police chief Medaria Arradondo says Chauvin’s restraint ‘absolutely’ violated policy

Minneapolis Police Chief Arradondo, testifying to police training, says Derek Chauvin's restraint on George Floyd was an ethics violation.


In the second week of witness testimony, Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo took the witness stand in uniform, holding his service cap in a crooked arm. He told jurors Chauvin’s restraint of Floyd “absolutely” violates department policy and goes against “our ethics and our values.”

“I vehemently disagree that that’s the appropriate use of force for that situation,” Arradondo said. The neck restraint should have stopped “once Mr. Floyd stopped resisting” and “once he was in distress and verbalized it.” He added, “there’s an initial reasonableness in trying to get him under control in the first few seconds” only.

“And clearly, when Mr. Floyd was no longer responsive and even motionless, to continue to apply that level of force to a person proned out, handcuffed behind their back — that … is not backed by policy, it is not backed by our training, and it’s certainly not our ethics or our values,” Arradondo said.

As Arradondo spoke, jurors turned toward him and took notes. One juror, a Black man, had his thumb and index finger on his chin and elbow on the desk, appearing contemplative. Read more.

Pulmonologist Martin Tobin says Floyd died of low oxygen

Dr. Martin Tobin, a doctor who researches breathing, said the officers' restraint position interfered with George Floyd's ability to breathe.


On the ninth day of witness testimony, Dr. Martin Tobin, a physician with 46 years of experience in the physiology of breathing, said the way Floyd was restrained — handcuffed behind his back, face-down on the ground, with a knee on his neck — prevented him from breathing properly.

Tobin said the cause of Floyd’s death was hypoxia, or a low level of oxygen that led to asphyxia, or suffocation. The overall effect of the restraint was almost “as if a surgeon had gone in and removed the lung,” he said, referring to Floyd’s left lung. “A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,” he said.

Tobin spoke directly, in a professorial tone to the jurors, who appeared to study his accompanying illustrations and followed along with his instructions to examine their necks and make certain gestures aimed at helping jurors understand how breathing works. Read more.

Medical examiner Andrew Baker says health conditions, drugs contributed to Floyd’s death

Dr. Andrew Baker, the chief medical examiner who ruled George Floyd’s death a homicide, testified Friday that the way police held him down and compressed his neck “was just more than Mr. Floyd could take,” given the condition of his heart. (April 9)

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On the tenth day of witness testimony, the chief medical examiner for Hennepin County who conducted the autopsy on Floyd last year, said Floyd’s breathing did not appear to be impaired by the placement of Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck.

Dr. Andrew Baker said Floyd died when his heart and lungs stopped beating as a result of being subdued, restrained and having his neck compressed by police officers during their encounter. He said Floyd’s existing and underlying heart disease was a contributing cause of his death, evidenced by a heart that “weighed more than it should” and coronary arteries that were significantly narrowed.

“The law enforcement subdual and neck compression is just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of his heart conditions,” Baker said.

Baker looked at jurors as he spoke. One appeared to be nodding. At one point, one wrote something down and then circled it aggressively, as if marking it for later. Prosecutors handed out packets of autopsy photos, and several jurors flipped through the photos, examining them closely. Chauvin took the photos out and looked at them in his lap, underneath the table. Read more.

Former medical examiner Lindsey Thomas says Floyd died from asphyxia

Forensic pathologist Dr. Lindsey Thomas said George Floyd died from a lack of oxygen that damaged his brain and caused his heart to stop.


Before Baker took the stand, Dr. Lindsey Thomas, a former forensic pathologist for the county who trained Baker, told the jury that asphyxia due to the officers’ restraint was the “primary mechanism” of Floyds death, and almost all the jurors wrote it down.

On cross examination, lead defense attorney Eric Nelson suggested Floyd’s underlying heart issues and drug use contributed to his death.

Asked by Nelson, Thomas said that if Floyd had died at home, with no confrontation with police, she would probably have concluded that Floyd died of heart disease. Asked if, in another hypothetical scenario where Floyd was found dead at home, she would conclude Floyd died of an overdose, Thomas said she “could consider” it.

When Blackwell re-questioned Thomas, he challenged the hypothetical scenarios Nelson had proposed. “Aren’t those questions a lot like asking, Mrs. Lincoln, if we take John Wilkes Booth out of this,” Blackwell began, only to be stopped by Judge Peter Cahill for posing an argumentative question. Read more.

Defense use-of-force expert calls restraint ‘justified’

A use-of-force expert says former Officer Derek Chauvin was justified in pinning George Floyd to the ground because of his frantic resistance. The witness, Barry Brodd, testified Tuesday for the defense at Chauvin's murder trial. (April 13)

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Last week, on the first day of defense witness testimony, former police officer and defense use-of-force expert Barry Brodd, who has trained officers for 35 years, told jurors Chauvin was “justified” in his use of force – the first witness to claim the restraint on Floyd was acceptable.

“I felt that Officer Chauvin’s interactions with Mr. Floyd were following his training, following current practices in policing, and objectively reasonable,” Brodd said as several jurors took notes on his testimony, one examined her nails and another stretched out their legs.

Brodd said it was “objectively reasonable” for Chauvin and the other officers to use the level of force they exerted when they tried to put Floyd into the back of the police patrol car because Floyd was resisting.

He said the level of force the officers used to place Floyd on the ground was also “objectively reasonable,” though he added: “I don’t consider a prone control as a use of force.” At that moment, about half the jurors took notes on his comment while one furrowed his eyebrow and didn’t take notes. 

On direct examination, Brodd said “people under the influence of drugs may not … feel pain.” But on cross examination, Schleicher got Brodd to acknowledge the officers’ restraint of Floyd “could” cause pain and be considered a use of force.Read more.

Defense medical expert says manner of death ‘undetermined’

Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell launched an aggressive cross-examination, attacking a retired pathologist Dr. David Fowler's findings down the line during Derek Chauvin's trial. (Apr. 14)

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On the second day of defense witness testimony, Dr. David Fowler, former head of the medical examiner’s office in Maryland, told jurors the manner of Floyd’s death was “undetermined,” contrary to various prosecution witnesses who labeled the death a homicide.

Fowler said the plaque built up inside Floyd’s arteries and his hypertensive heart disease were the direct cause of death, in his opinion, noting that Floyd had a “sudden cardiac arrhythmia” due to those heart issues while being restrained and subdued by police.

Fowler noted that that significant contributing conditions would include: Floyd’s fentanyl and methamphetamine ingestion, what other experts have called an “incidental” abnormal cell growth in his pelvic area, and exposure to vehicle exhaust that may have led to carbon monoxide poisoning. That last contributory condition had not been raised by an expert before, and several jurors jotted down notes.

Fowler conceded during cross-examination by state’s attorney Jerry Blackwell that while Floyd was officially pronounced dead in the hospital, he was dead “long, long before that.” He agreed that Floyd should have been given immediate medical attention when he went into cardiac arrest. More here.

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