Derek Chauvin trial: Former Minneapolis officer accused of killing George Floyd declines to testify

MINNEAPOLIS — Former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination on Thursday and declined to testify as he faces murder and manslaughter charges in the May 2020 death of George Floyd.

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In court Thursday, Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, said he and his client had gone back and forth several times about whether he should take the stand. He emphasized that the decision was ultimately up to Chauvin.

“Is this your decision not to testify?” Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill asked.

“It is, your honor,” Chauvin said.

The defense rested its case on Thursday. Prosecutors also rested the state’s case after recalling a pulmonologist, Dr. Martin Tobin, to rebut testimony given for the defense Wednesday by Dr. David Fowler. The expert said Wednesday that possible carbon monoxide poisoning from auto exhaust might have contributed to Floyd’s death, along with fentanyl and methamphetamine.

Tobin said Thursday that data showed Floyd’s oxygen saturation level was 98% when he died, meaning that “the maximum amount of carbon monoxide (in Floyd’s blood) would be 2%.” Normal levels in people are between 0% and 3%, he testified.

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Closing statements in the trial are scheduled to begin Monday. Afterwards, jurors will be sequestered for deliberations, Cahill said.

Jurors began hearing testimony in Chauvin’s trial March 29. The former Minneapolis police officer was arrested on murder and manslaughter charges in May 2020 after video surfaced on social media showing him pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck for minutes.

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The Hennepin County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, determining that Floyd’s heart stopped as he was being restrained. A separate autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family also called his death a homicide but concluded that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.

>> Related: Derek Chauvin trial begins: Prosecutors show video of George Floyd’s death, defense says officer followed training

Floyd’s death prompted global outrage and sparked a national reckoning over racism and police brutality.

Three other officers also face charges in Floyd’s death. Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. They are expected to face juries in August.

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