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Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell delivers his rebuttal during closing arguments in the trial of Chauvin Monday morning and afternoon (42:11). WCCO 4 News - April 19, 2021
JERRY BLACKWELL: Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. Last lawyer, I think talking to you with closings will be me, and I won't be too long. I want to start talking to you about what I call the 46th witness. You actually have heard from 45 witnesses on the stand, but there is a 46th witness, and this witness was testifying to you before you got here to the courtroom. They've testified over everybody else's testimony on the stand.
It's the only witness that will be talking to you when you're back in deliberations. And that witness, ladies and gentlemen, is common sense. Common sense will continue talking with you all the while. Because while you have heard hours, and hours, and hours of discussions here in the closing, ultimately, it really isn't that complicated in what it is you have to decide with respect to the excessive use of force and the issue of causation. In fact, it is so simple that a child can understand it. In fact, a child did understand it when the nine-year-old girl said, get off of him!
That's how simple it was-- get off of him! Common sense. Why is it necessary to continue applying deadly restraint to a man who is defenseless, who is handcuffed, who is not resisting, who is not breathing, who doesn't have a pulse, and to go on and do that for another three-plus minutes before the ambulance shows up, and then to continue doing it? How is that a reasonable exercise in the use of force?
You can believe your eyes, ladies and gentlemen. It was what you thought it was. It was what you saw. It was homicide.
Now, Mr. Nelson spent quite a bit of time saying to you, perform an honest assessment. Look at all the evidence. Consider all of it. Reasonable officer-- "reasonable officer" is not magic words that you simply apply to Mr. Chauvin, and then he becomes a reasonable officer because you applied those words. Reasonable is as reasonable does. And here, what you saw wasn't reasonable, and you didn't get the whole truth.
Notice how, when you had the discussion about reasonable officer Mr. Chauvin, the whole narrative cut off before we got to the point that Mr. Floyd was not moving, that he was not conscious, that he didn't have a pulse, and that Mr. Chauvin was still on top of him even when the EMTs showed up, and he still didn't get off of him. How is that what a reasonable officer does?
And then, if you look at the totality of the circumstances, which you heard so much about, why doesn't that tell you exactly where he was coming from, if we're talking about "reasonable officer?" Now, you heard any number of other things that, in looking at the totality of circumstances and trying to do an honest assessment, you didn't get the whole story either. You got bits, and pieces, and parts. And I call it a story, ladies and gentlemen, because it's either completely not true, or the facts have been altered in order to make a point to you, which also makes it a story.
What you're going to reach, when you all deliberate, is a verdict. "Verdict" is a Latin word that means "the truth." You're not going to reach a story, when all is said and done. You'll be getting at the truth.
Why are we engaged in telling stories when we've heard evidence, facts, from the stand? Why is that? But you've just heard a number of them. I'll give you a few examples of the stories.
You were just talked about how safe the prone position is, and you've heard this in the trial. The prone position is safe. Here are the Canadian studies. After everything you've heard, you already know now that not a single one of those studies ever examined anybody who had a knee on the neck. You know that.
You also know that about these so-called "prone studies," none of them actually measured what was the oxygen reserve-- that is, how is the oxygen actually being affected by putting somebody in the prone position and any amount of weight on them? They never even measured it. You know that, too, although that wasn't brought up when you were been told about the studies that show that the prone position is safe.
You heard again about excited delirium. There was not a single witness who sat in that chair and gave you testimony under oath who told you that they thought that Mr. George Floyd suffered from excited delirium-- not one. One of the criteria for excited delirium is the person's impervious to pain. They don't feel pain. They're not people saying, my neck hurts, my knee hurts, everything hurts. They're not grimacing because their wrist hurts, for excited delirium.
That's a fact. If that's a fact, why are we talking about it? Why isn't that said, if you're gonna be hearing about excited delirium? Then we turn to Dr. Baker, for example, where there's a discussion of homicide. And you were told that homicide was a medical term. That's not what Dr. Baker said. Dr. Baker said "homicide" means "killed at the hands of another." It means "at the hands of another," is what homicide means. "At the hands of another."
And he was pretty clear in discussing the cause of death. He said it was cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression. And he did explain what "complicating" means. He said it means "in the environment of." So it reads as though it is cardiopulmonary arrest in the environment of law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.
What you were just told-- and that was attributed to Dr. Baker-- is that somehow he meant that this was an unexpected result. It was an unexpected result of the law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck-- subdual, restraint, and neck compression. Dr. Baker didn't come in to talk to any of us about use of force by police officers. He's not the mind of any police officer. It is not what he said. They were simply words that were put into his mouth. But you check your notes on what his testimony actually was, and you'll see that that wasn't it.
You've heard, now, for the umpteenth time in this trial what is the evidence on autopsy for asphyxia if you're looking at the body tissues? You've heard it from witness after witness on the stand. They even pulled out big, giant, thick textbooks that even Dr. Fowler, the defense's own expert, says, these are reliable authorities on it. Every one of them says that in 1/2 or better of the cases where somebody has clearly died from insufficient oxygen, you don't see any evidence in the body tissues.
Ladies and gentlemen, that's a fact. Now, if this is supposed to be about performing an honest assessment, looking at the totality of the evidence, how is that not mentioned to you in summarizing the evidence? How is it not mentioned to you?
And I can't even stop there, because you were also told about the law that applies to this. You were first told by Judge Cahill, and no question that was accurate. But then you were told by Mr. Nelson. No question that that was not accurate.
I'll tell you what I mean. When he was talking about causation, and he talks about fentanyl, heart failure, hypertension, and he said that we have to show beyond a reasonable doubt that none of these other factors played a role, that's not the law. And you don't have to believe me. You'll be able to read it yourself. You'll have the instructions there and see if Mr. Blackwell isn't telling you the truth that what we need to show is that the defendant's actions were a substantial causal factor in his death. Doesn't have to be the only causal factor, doesn't have to be the biggest substantial factor, it just has to be one of them-- a substantial factor in the cause of death.
And the instruction will say the fact that other causes contribute to the death does not relieve the defendant of criminal liability. There can be other factors. In fact, Dr. Baker had a section, I think, that was called "other factors," and he was clear, those other factors are not direct causes of the death. The direct cause was cardiopulmonary arrest that was in the environment of the police subdual, restraint, and neck compression.
Point blank, when I got back and got to question him again after Mr. Nelson was finished, all I did was ask him about what he had written in his certificate on the case. Cause of death, cardiopulmonary arrest. Manner of death, homicide at the hands of another. He was crystal clear on it. He did not equivocate.
But what you have gotten here is a number of what I'd call stories that, once you analyze them, and use--
- Objection, your honor.
PETER CAHILL: Overruled at this time.
JERRY BLACKWELL: Once you analyze them, and against the facts and evidence that you've heard, you'll see what I mean. Take, for example, the notion that Mr. Floyd dying of cardiopulmonary arrest, dying from low oxygen, was just coincidental. He just happened to die at the same time, in the same place, of factors completely unrelated to what Mr. Chauvin was doing with his subdual, restraint, and neck compression.
That's a story, ladies and gentlemen, and it defies common sense. I'll show you what I mean.
PETER CAHILL: [INAUDIBLE]
JERRY BLACKWELL: Oh, sorry, your honor.
PETER CAHILL: [INAUDIBLE]. Yeah.
JERRY BLACKWELL: Yeah. So if we just treat each day that Mr. Floyd lived-- he was born October 14, 1973-- and just made it a dot on a page, and we looked at it over his lifetime, you will see here, if we look over 10 years, 20, 30, 40 years, up to May 25 of 2020, that means that Mr. Floyd would have lived up to that day, 17,026 days.
Now, only one of these dots corresponds to May 25-- only one of them. All the rest of these days, all the rest of these dots, represent days that Mr. Floyd was living. He was breathing. He had a being.
He was living, he was breathing, and had a being, with every single disorder that Mr. Nelson has chronicled, each and every day. You know, with his struggles with opioid addiction, with his high blood pressure, et cetera, every single day except the one day. May 25, that tiny little speck of a dot, and not even that whole day-- because, as we know, there was a 10-minute segment, nine minutes and 29 seconds, that he didn't survive.
So in one day's time, there 144 of those-- 10 minutes, seconds-- and only one of them was the reason that Mr. Floyd failed to survive. And what happened in that space? Well, you know what happened, ladies and gentlemen. That's where there was deadly force applied by Mr. Chauvin.
We know it was deadly force because we heard from Officer Zimmerman on the stand who told us it was deadly force. He said, it's deadly force because it's force capable of killing a person, which makes it deadly force. Now, deadly force, ladies and gentlemen, once you see what Mr. Floyd was subjected to with this deadly force, in the prone position, there are certain consequences, or the risks that come with the proposition and the use of this kind of deadly force. And that primary risk is it affects your breathing.
You heard that from witness after witness after witness. It affects your breathing, makes it harder to breathe. You put the subject into the prone recovery position as soon as possible, because you don't want to affect their breathing with low oxygen.
Do you have evidence of low oxygen here? There is evidence of low oxygen, ladies and gentlemen, that is medically unassailable, medically. Take, for example, the fact that Mr. Floyd had an anoxic seizure. That is, he's already unconscious, not breathing, and the body is simply having a twitching reflex. That anoxic seizure represents low oxygen to the brain, and that causes the anoxic seizure.
But not only that, he suffered from, remember, PEA. And you remember when we talked about the PEA-- the pulseless electrical activity, PEA? The common cause of PEA is low oxygen. You can't fake it; you can't make that up. There's evidence of the low oxygen, and it would have been what preceded-- what would have proceeded-- from the use of this very kind of deadly force. And this deadly force took place, as we know, within the nine minutes and 29 seconds.
Now, you heard the statement that the state is seeking to ignore significant medical issues, and nothing could be further from the truth. What you heard from doctor after doctor, whether it's Dr. Langenfeld, the ER physician, Dr. Rich, the cardiologist, Dr. Tobin that you've heard so much about, Dr. Smok, so many of the doctors you heard that here is-- and Dr. Baker, also, but then, Dr. Thomas.
Here is where they all converge, is that they recognize, first and foremost, that there was a use of force by Mr. Chauvin that set off a number of things medically for Mr. Floyd that culminated in his death. Remember, he died of cardiopulmonary arrest. That means the heart has stopped and he's no longer breathing.
Now, Dr. Baker will tell you that this stress to which Mr. Floyd was subjected in the subdual and the restraint by Mr. Chauvin and others, was enough in, of, and by itself to explain Mr. Floyd's demise. When asked the question, what about his oxygen levels? Did he have insufficient oxygen?
That's not something I can calculate as a forensic pathologist, said Dr. Baker. That's not something I can calculate as a forensic pathologist, said Dr. Fowler. And Dr. Thomas said the same thing. But the doctor, they said they would defer to pulmonologists in every case, which is who and what we have in Dr. Tobin, who did the calculations, who could tell you how much oxygen was in Mr. Floyd's body.
And not only that, he could tell you that when he was put into the prone position, that his oxygen would have decreased by 24%. He can tell you that when weight was put on Mr. Floyd's back, the oxygen diminished to 43%. He can tell you that, with the weight on his back, that the hypopharynx would have narrowed to 15% or lower, Making it difficult for anyone to breathe through. He was able to tell you medically, scientifically, not only could Mr. Floyd not have survived this diminution in oxygen reserves and supply, but no human being could have survived it, based on the science-- based on the science.
Now, if it's dismissed as theoretical-- which is a word I think I heard, "theoretical"-- well, it's the same "theoretical" that Dr. Fowler said that he would defer to someone else to create because he can't do it. And that's exactly what Dr. Tobin did. And so here, ladies and gentlemen, we're only required to show you that Mr. Chauvin's conduct was a substantial cause, a substantial factor, in Mr. Floyd's death.
Did he simply die automatically from and exclusively from the low oxygen? Ultimately, the low oxygen translates into not breathing and the heart stopping, because we have cardiopulmonary arrest. Did it first impact the heart? Then the heart stopped first.
Ultimately, they both stopped because we have cardiopulmonary arrest, all stemming back to the subdual, restraint, and neck compression from Mr. Chauvin. They all agree that that was the precipitating point. And then, from there, the stresses, the strains on Mr. Floyd's body, the low oxygen, culminated in his ultimate demise and his passing away.
So I went to address, kind of, several other points on the heading of what I think are the stories that you've heard versus, I think, the truth here. You know, when the case started, I think you all were asked and talked to about there being two sides to every story, two sides to every story-- which is one of the most dangerous things, I think, about the process of truth, because it suggests that everything is simply reduced to a story. And if it is a story, that means that can be two-- multiple sides to a story, and they can never be a truth or reality, except that what we're about here is getting to the truth and not simply stories.
Now, it is most certainly right, for example, for a police officer to take seriously this overarching mission of the police department embracing the sanctity of life and protection of the public as the highest values. But it is equally wrong-- it is equally wrong-- to take this badge, which is a symbol of a commitment to a higher calling to serve the people, to use this badge as a license to abuse the public, to mistreat the public, to not follow proper procedures, to not render aid when you should administer aid.
That's wrong. That's not a story; that's simply wrong. And the only two sides to that would be the W and the G for that being wrong.
Now, you have heard statements to the effect of Mr. Chauvin being concerned about the bystanders and about others. Well, if you are looking at the totality of the evidence, you have to bear in mind that at all relevant times here, there were five grown men, police officers, right there, and four right there on the scene, and then, again, Officer Chang who was there too. There's a radio to call for backup if they felt it was needed. You didn't hear any evidence about any call for backup at all.
Now, there was a concern here that Mr. Chauvin was concerned. And I won't say much more about body language than has already been discussed. And you'll decide for yourself whether that was the face of one who was afraid at the time.
Because he had all of the power at this point. He had the bullets, the guns. He had the mace that he threatened the bystanders with. He had backup, he had the badge, and-- he had all of it. And what was there to be afraid of here, particularly, at this scene?
There were three high school juniors there and a second grader who was going to the store to get candy. There was a high school senior who was taking her cousin to the store, a first responder on the scene. And there was Donna Williams, who wanted nothing more than to try to intervene to try to save Mr. Floyd's life.
Mr. Charles Miller, a 61-year-old man that, if I gave him a name, I would call him the mayor of the neighborhood. He just likes to see what's going on and to look out for things. But he was simply there to try to also-- to intervene to try to save Mr. Floyd's life.
So this wasn't the face of fear, or concern, or worry. You've seen what the face of fear and worry looked like that day at that time. That's what fear and worry looked like, when Mr. George Floyd was well aware that with one wrong move of his hand, one turn in the wrong direction, and it could be his last turn, that he could be shot to death over an investigation around a fake $20 bill.
That's fear. Now, you were told some stories about the bystanders, and the suggestion that they were an unruly crowd. You've gotten to meet them now. You've gotten to meet the 2/3 of ones who were there at that time. I described them earlier as a bouquet of humanity. And I call them that because they came at different ages, different genders, different races, and they all came together focused on the one thing, which was they saw that a human being they did not know was suffering, and they wanted to try to intervene to stop the suffering.
And in that sense, they were not only symbols of the love and care we want to encourage, but they were also something more than that. They were also symbols of what it means to respect this badge. Because they were in a very difficult spot then.
You saw them on the stand, almost to the last one, in tears. You felt the anguish even a year after the fact. They felt torn between their love for the sanctity of life itself that had them wanting to intervene to try to save Mr. Floyd's life, and, on the other hand, their respect for the authority that the badge represents, for the city, for the state. They were torn between them.
Now, the ultimate proof of this is, if those bystanders did not respect this badge, they could very easily have taken the law into their own hands and simply have removed Mr. Chauvin. Then, we wouldn't have to have any discussions about how reasonable it was for him to stay on a man's neck who wasn't even breathing. We wouldn't have to have any of these kinds of discussions at all.
But none of them did that. None of them did that, because they respected this badge, even if it tore them up inside. None of them did that. Instead, they called the police on the police. Instead, they picked up their phones to memorialize what they were seeing so that they could not be forgotten and so that it could not be misrepresented.
Instead, they waited for their day to come in and talk with you-- not, ladies and gentlemen, to tell their story, but to tell their truth about what they experienced. They didn't deserve to be called unruly, because they weren't. And you will hear time and again, oh, the crowd was getting louder. Oh, the crowd was getting more agitated.
Earlier in the trial, you'd hear, oh, they were getting angrier and angrier. As always, we can't see somehow what it is they're getting upset around-- the fact that a defenseless, helpless man is literally losing his life one breath at a time right in front of them, and there's nothing that they can do. If you love life, you get excited when you see life being taken, when that's your perception.
That's what they were excited about. And if they all just simply wanted a donut in watching this, you might wonder what's wrong with it. That's why they were upset.
So you felt their pain. You felt their sense of helplessness. What you heard about him was a story, ladies and gentlemen. And stories really are just excuses that get told.
- I'm going to object to that statement, your honor.
PETER CAHILL: [INAUDIBLE] the use of the word "stories."
JERRY BLACKWELL: The fact of the matter is, ladies and gentlemen, that there can be no excuse for police abuse. And I'll be clear, ladies and gentlemen. I will tell you if I think there's a fact that's has been altered, I will tell you what it is. And that's all I ever mean when I say "story."
But there is no excuse, ladies and gentlemen, for police abuse, and you've heard any number of these. So let me walk through some of them. You've heard accounts that the traffic was distracting to Mr. Chauvin.
Well, the fact was that you heard from the 911 dispatcher, Jena Scurry, who was watching the scene. And she said that the officers remained in the same place, in the same positions, for so long on top of the body of Mr. Floyd that she thought the camera was broken and frozen. They weren't distracted. They weren't looking around because they were concerned about being disturbed by the traffic or anything else. They had an officer there, Officer Thao, whose job it was just to fend off and keep away distractions and could have called others if needed.
You've also heard about the paramedics taking-- took too long. The paramedics took longer to get there than was planned, should have been there within three minutes. And your common sense will tell you that the mere fact that the paramedics took longer than this to show up than they may have thought is certainly not a reason to either use excessive force, or to abuse, or to be indifferent to the fact that somebody is no longer breathing and doesn't have a pulse, that the paramedics took too long.
You heard about the paraganglioma, the paraganglioma, which was also referred to as an incidentaloma, because that's how rare it is and insignificant it is. The hallmark of a paraganglioma, headaches. Mr. Floyd wasn't reporting headaches. So if you're gonna talk about a paraganglioma, why don't you talk about the fact that you know the hallmark is headaches and he didn't have 'em?
If this is about getting at the truth and, as well, performing an honest assessment, if that's what we're doing, the fact of the matter is with paragangliomas, there have been six cases in reported history, all of reported history, where somebody had a sudden death from a paraganglioma-- ever, period.
Carbon monoxide-- now, other than Mr. Nelson saying that the car was turned on at the time, nobody from that witness stand, from the evidence in this case, said the police car was on. You did hear it was a hybrid vehicle. You know, how are we talking about carbon monoxide with the car, that there's no evidence from the stand that the car was even on-- if we're gonna talk about carbon monoxide and give this a reasonable, honest assessment.
But even more to the point about carbon monoxide that you just can't lose sight of, whose car was it, ladies and gentlemen, that, if Mr. Floyd is being subdued on the ground by Mr. Chauvin, and if he puts his face in front of a tailpipe of a car that's spewing out carbon monoxide, why isn't that an unreasonable use of force by an officer? In your custody is in your care. It's not in your custody, I don't care. In your custody is in your care.
What reasonable police officer would apprehend someone on the ground, subdue them, and put their face in front of a tailpipe of a car, and then think that's a defense? Here, not particularly fair. There's no evidence the car was ever even on. And you've learned all you need to know, which was if he was suffering from carbon monoxide-- as Dr. Tobin told you-- you wouldn't be able to get a 98% oxygen saturation from the oxygen they gave him artificially.
You heard about the fentanyl overdose. And with this one, you were just told earlier that afternoon, he was asleep in the car. Ladies and gentlemen, that's not the hallmark of somebody who dies from a fentanyl overdose. It isn't just that you took a nap and dozed off.
If you pass away from a fentanyl overdose, you cannot be awakened. You are in a coma. If people are shaking you, it is to no avail. If we're doing an honest assessment of the facts, looking at the totality of the circumstances, if we're going to talk about fentanyl, death by fentanyl or an overdose, why isn't that said? He does not fit the description of anyone who dies from a fentanyl overdose, and even Dr. Fowler conceded it from the stand.
In terms of what a fentanyl overdose looks like, it does not look like somebody who's saying, I can't breathe. My neck hurts. My back hurts. Everything hurts. You know, you can't win. I'm not trying to win.
That's not what happens when somebody is suffering or dying from a fentanyl overdose. They are completely non-responsive and not reactive at all. Methamphetamine-- ladies and gentlemen, what meth? There was so little of it that it was below the therapeutic levels that are given. You heard that from the toxicologist, from NMS, the laboratory that Hennepin County sends off the medical examiner pathology-- not pathology, but blood samples to the test for tox. He told you it was a minuscule amount of meth that was in his blood.
And then we heard about the pills. Now, on cross-examination on the pills, I brought out the fact that what they were saying was a pill that he was taking in the car was just as likely chewing gum. I showed you just before he was in the car, he was chewing gum in the store. Opened his mouth, you saw the same white substance in his mouth.
But here's the deal about the pills, if we're really going to give this an honest assessment of the evidence. Why are we talking about pills that are not in his system? We know what's in his bloodstream already. We know he struggles in the opioid addiction. Why are we talking about pills that we know were not in George Floyd-- why?
You have to decide that for yourself, ladies and gentlemen. Why is that even being brought up and we know what's in his bloodstream? What is the point?
And you keep hearing, drugs in the car, drugs in the car. And the drugs were one pill-- one, one pill. It was not in George Floyd. And then, the suggestion that he was somehow taking it in handcuffs in the police car, which makes no sense. There was no evidence of George Floyd taking any pills in the police car at all. There was a pill found there only.
You heard references and talking about Dr. Tobin and his 46 years of experience studying the way people breathe. But you know, Mr. Chauvin's not a medical doctor. He doesn't have these years of experience and hours to pore over records.
He didn't need it, ladies and gentlemen, because you know who else is not a medical doctor? A nine-year-old girl is also not a medical doctor. You didn't need to be a medical doctor to understand that when somebody's saying, I can't breathe-- and not just saying it, everything about them is showing that they can't breathe, and when that ends, they just are passed out-- you don't need a PhD, you don't need an MD to understand how fundamental breathing is to life.
And when somebody's saying, I cannot breathe, and they have passed out, and you're aware that they don't even have a pulse-- even a nine-year-old little girl knows it-- get off of them. That's all you needed to know in that case. Just a couple more of these, because I can't even do them all because there were so many. This concern that George Floyd would somehow come to again. He would come back around again. And they'll say that, well, we didn't really mean superhuman strength, except maybe we really did mean superhuman strength, because he's got all this extra strength now, and he's gonna do dastardly things.
Now, we heard from three medical examiners, ladies and gentlemen-- three of them. Between the three of them, they probably have done close to 15,000 autopsies. And not a single one of them testified about one instance ever where somebody who didn't even have a pulse somehow spontaneously came back to life, broke handcuffs, and rampaged a city. That's the facts of this case, not some other thing.
Mr. Floyd didn't even have a pulse. That didn't justify keeping your knee on his neck when you should have been administering CPR, when you could have brought him back to life again, because you were afraid that he would come to with no pulse and rampage the city. That's the sort of thing you see in Halloween movies, ladies and gentlemen, not in real life. Not in real life.
The idea that Mr. Floyd suffered from a sudden death-- which is what Dr. Fowler was saying-- now, he'll say that Mr. Floyd had a fatal arrhythmia in the end. That's misleading in a way, because as you heard from doctor after doctor, ultimately, everybody dies, in the end, of a fatal arrhythmia. Everybody dies of cardiopulmonary arrest. The heart stops, and the lung stops, and then, the last thing that happens is [SNAPS FINGERS] whoop, you get an arrhythmia, and then that's it.
Now, is there any evidence that there was an arrhythmia as the primary cause of his death unrelated to the subdual, restraint, and neck compression on the ground? Zero. There is zero evidence that he'd had a heart attack-- zero. In fact, his heart was in such normal condition that Dr. Baker, during the autopsy, didn't even have a need to photograph it intact because it was so normal.
Now, Dr. Rich did not say anything akin to George Floyd having a normal heart. That's not what he said. What he said was that he had a strong heart. He had a strong heart.
And what he meant by that is that he sees patients all the time who may be in need of transplants, who have serious cardiac disease, and they can't even get a normal blood pressure. And he talked to you about how George Floyd, having lived with this for some time, explains how it is that his body and its-- the arteries that serve the heart were able to compensate in the case of Mr. Floyd, and such that he did not die of a fatal arrhythmia, and there's no evidence that he died of any kind of a heart abnormality.
Just two more of these things I just want to clarify. There was a lot of discussion during-- about the police conduct. The situations can change rapidly from moment to moment.
And on this, I don't want you at all to lose sight of, again, the facts here-- that for the nine minutes and 29 seconds, the problem was there was nothing moving or changing. No matter what-- whether Mr. Floyd was calling out for his life, whether he was motionless with an anoxic seizure, whether he had no pulse, there was no movement. There's no split-second decisions, no moment to moment. To the extent you're hearing that as representative of this case, it is not representative of this case, does not meet the facts of this case at all.
So the fact of the matter is, ladies and gentlemen, the use of unreasonable force, the unreasonable use of force, is an assault. Here was an assault, and it contributed to the death of Mr. Floyd. Now, you were told, with respect to the law, that the state needs to show that Mr. Chauvin intended to act unlawfully or to break the law.
Look at your instructions-- that's not accurate. We will, in fact-- and we own our burden-- of showing that he, in fact, acted unlawfully, but not having to prove that he intended to act unlawfully. We need only to show that he intended to do what he did, which was to put the knee on the neck, the knee on the back, and against the shoulder, that it wasn't an accident, and that we will show. And we own that burden.
So there really aren't two sides to the story about whether this use of force was unreasonable. It was not authorized by the Minneapolis Police Department. The pressure on Mr. Floyd's neck did affect his ability to breathe. And I know that you were told when Mr. Nelson was just here that this was not a choke, it was not a chokehold, and that Donald Williams had suggested or so testified.
And if you remember that testimony, Donald Williams disagreed with him every time and said that was, in fact, a chokehold, even on the one side. And he explained how that even works. And while Mr. Nelson quibbled with him, Donald Williams never gave that up in his testimony.
So there aren't two sides to the story as to the unreasonable use of force. And when Mr. Floyd is saying please, please, I can't breathe 27 times in just a few minutes, you saw it when Mr. Chauvin did not let up and he didn't get up. Even when he passed out, not breathing anymore, he doesn't let up or get up.
When he knows he doesn't have a pulse, he doesn't let up or get up. Even when an ambulance comes, he doesn't let up or get up even then. They have to come up and tap him before he will let up and get up off the body of Mr. George Floyd.
And they try to resuscitate him in the ambulance, and they never do. He never regains consciousness. He never breathes again. His heart never pumps again. And Mr. George Floyd was deceased.
So finally, ladies and gentlemen, I will sit down in a minute, but I wanted to save to the end what I thought was the biggest shading of the truth, or what I call story.
- We'll object to that, your honor. And--
PETER CAHILL: You'll disregard the phrase "shading the truth."
JERRY BLACKWELL: Well, here's what I thought then was the largest departure from, here, the evidence. I'll show it to you. You were told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died, that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big. You heard that testimony. And now, having seen all the evidence, having heard all the evidence, you know the truth. And the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin's heart was too small.