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Chauvin Trial Update: Day 8

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Agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testified in the Derek Chauvin trial today as well as forensic scientist McKenzie Anderson, reports Esme Murphy (6:05). WCCO 4 News - April 7, 2021

Video Transcript

- From Minnesota's most watched station, this is WCCO 4 News.

FRANK VASCELLARO: Hello. Thanks for watching WCCO also streaming on CBSN Minnesota.

AMELIA SANTANIELLO: Today, agents with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension testified in the Derek Chauvin trial. In court this afternoon, forensic scientist McKenzie Anderson. She described what they found inside Floyd's SUV and the police cruiser back in May of 2020. She pointed out why she initially missed seeing a white pill in the back seat, which is seen here in photos from the first processing.

MCKENZIE ANDERSON: So at the time I didn't give it any forensic significance. The focus of it was processing the blood in the back seat.

AMELIA SANTANIELLO: The pill and other pill fragments were recovered in January, only after the defense asked for re-examination of the squad car. DNA testing found George Floyd's saliva on the largest pill.

FRANK VASCELLARO: Other forensic scientists told the court that the pills contain meth with less than 1% fentanyl. Earlier in the day we heard more from a use of force expert followed by the lead investigator for the BCA. Our team coverage this evening begins with Esme Murphy outside of the courthouse. Esme.

ESME MURPHY: Hi there, Frank. Well, the defense pushed back hard against these key prosecution witnesses, even getting one law enforcement officer to admit that it appeared that George Floyd was briefly captured on camera admitting that he had consumed too many drugs. LAPD Sergeant Jody Stiger, the prosecution's paid expert on police force, testified officer Derek Chauvin used deadly force on George Floyd.

JODI STIGER: At the time of the restraint period, Mr. Floyd was not resisting. He was in the prone position. He was handcuffed. He was not attempting to evade. He was not attempting to resist. And the pressure that was being caused by the body weight would cause positional asphyxia, which could cause death.

ESME MURPHY: As former officer Chauvin took detailed notes, the defense pushed back.

ERIC NELSON: And you would agree that, from the time Officer Chauvin gets on scene, into the time that Mr. Floyd is proned on the ground, Mr. Floyd was actively resisting efforts to go into the back seat of the squad car.

JODI STIGER: Yes, sir.

ESME MURPHY: Defense attorney Eric Nelson suggested that George Floyd may have initially lied about his inability to breathe.

ERIC NELSON: When Mr. Floyd was initially saying that he couldn't breathe, he was actively resisting arrest.

JODI STIGER: Initially, when he was in the backseat of the vehicle, yes.

ESME MURPHY: Defense attorney Eric Nelson cited some of the profanity-laced crowd comments witnesses made to officers.

ERIC NELSON: And when someone starts threatening you, it's a possibility that an officer can view that as a potential deadly assault is about to happen. That's what they're trained.

JODI STIGER: Yes. That's what they're trained.

ESME MURPHY: The defense played this short clip for Stiger.

GEORGE FLOYD (ON VIDEO): [INAUDIBLE]

JODI STIGER: No, I couldn't make it out.

ESME MURPHY: Sergeant Stiger said he could not make out with Floyd was saying. Nelson played the same clip for the next witness, BCA agent James Ryerson, and got a different answer.

ERIC NELSON: Did you hear that?

JAMES RYERSON: Yes, I did.

ERIC NELSON: Did it appear that Mr. Floyd said, "I ate too many drugs?"

JAMES RYERSON: Yes, it did.

ESME MURPHY: But the prosecution then played a longer clip, and agent Ryerson changed his testimony, saying Floyd actually said just the opposite.

JAMES RYERSON: Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd was saying, "I ain't do no drugs."

ESME MURPHY: And this is such a big and central issue in this case. The defense will continue to push their theory of George Floyd's death, that it was caused by a pre-existing medical condition and a drug overdose, not Derek Chauvin's knee, which is, of course, the theory the prosecution is saying.

FRANK VASCELLARO: Esme, thank you for the update. You know, few are watching the trial more closely than people who live around 38th and Chicago. Inside Cup Foods, where George Floyd is accused of paying for cigarettes with a fake $20 bill, the television set is on and tuned to the trial of the former officer accused of killing him. Tracie Cowers says she can't look away, even though it hurts to watch.

TRACIE COWERS: It's mind-boggling how somebody is here to serve and protect, and they're the very ones who harm you. Not all, but some.

FRANK VASCELLARO: The store owner says he has received threats, but also plenty of support. As you can see, he's getting letters, some phone calls, and he says they're coming from people all around the country.

AMELIA SANTANIELLO: WCCO's Jason DeRusha is watching the trial as he brings us live gavel-to-gavel coverage on our streaming site, CBSN Minnesota. And Jason joins us right now with what else people need to know from today's testimony.

JASON DERUSHA: Yeah, Amelia, hard not to wonder why didn't the state crime lab fully process the squad car involved in this. About an hour ago, we finished testimony from McKenzie Anderson. She's a crime scene expert, a specialist in DNA and lab testing. And in court we saw they processed both the Mercedes SUV that George Floyd was in and the squad car where we saw that video of Floyd and officers struggling. Anderson showed pictures in that car. She took a pair of shoes from the back seat. She took those into process, and took a picture. See the circle here? That shows a pill, and she left the pill in the squad. In court, you heard her, she said she didn't see the forensic significance. It was the defense who saw that pill in pictures and asked for the squad to be reprocessed in late January of this year, about six weeks before the start of jury selection for that trial. That pill was partially chewed, as we heard in testimony, and had methamphetamine and fentanyl. We do know that George Floyd had meth and fentanyl in his system, but the jury hasn't seen that toxicology report yet. They haven't heard from the medical examiner. This was the first confirmation that they heard of those pills being there at the scene.

AMELIA SANTANIELLO: All right. Kind of surprising. All right. Thank you, Jason. Follow everything that is happening in court by downloading the WCCO app, and we make it easy for you. All you have to do is point your camera's phone at the code that is on your screen.