Day 12 of Chauvin trial: defense calls its first witnesses

PBS NewsHour / YouTube Barry Brodd, use-of-force expert at the trial of Derek Chauvin

What many folks feared finally happened on Tuesday as the defense began to put its witnesses on the stand. Through paid use-of-force expert Barry Brodd, the defense found someone willing to say that Derek Chauvin’s actions were justified. Brodd said on the witness stand that though he has been paid over $10K by the defense for his testimony, he doesn’t take one side over the other.

However, his resistance and demeanor when questioned by the prosecution, and the fact that he was the only use-of-force expert to take the stand and attempt to justify Chauvin’s actions, said otherwise.

“I felt Derek Chauvin was justified,” said Brodd who added that Chauvin’s conduct of pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes while he was handcuffed was reasonable and consistent with the Minneapolis Police Department procedures.

The day started with the defense’s thinly veiled effort to put Floyd on trial. But the video they played of him being arrested in 2019 did not convey what the defense intended. Floyd appeared extremely afraid of the police then and their treatment of him may support the reason he was so afraid of the police on the day he was killed by Chauvin.

The video showed the Minneapolis police being extremely aggressive during a drug stop. The defense did not say he was being pulled over for a possible violent crime violation yet the video depicts the cops making a big deal about his hands as if he is suspected of being armed and dangerous.

Court TV prognosticators said that the video may have caused jurors to empathize him more.

Brodd, who unsuccessfully testified for the defense in the Laquan McDonald case, claimed that Chauvin did not use force when Floyd was in the prone position. It was a control position, in which no pain was inflicted, according to Brodd. He also said that Chauvin couldn’t put Floyd in the recovery position because of traffic.

When asked if struggling to breathe can be seen as an act of resistance, Brodd answered that “an officer can interpret it as such.”

Brodd’s testimony brings to light what police see as compliant. Judging from Brodd’s defense of Chauvin, it appears that according to the police, folks aren’t compliant until they are no longer breathing.

The defense also called a slew of other witnesses, including Shawanda Hill, who was in the car with Floyd at the time of his fatal arrest, and Peter Chang, a Minneapolis Park police officer who was on the scene that day. Chang testified that he felt the bystanders were a potential threat to the officers arresting Floyd.

But during the prosecution’s cross-examination, Chang admitted that if the officers felt threatened, they would’ve called for backup and he would’ve known had they done so. They never did.

Just outside the trial at the Hennepin County Courthouse, Floyd family members said they were standing in solidarity with the Wright family. ”I want to see this policeman get the same amount of time that I would get,” said Philonise Floyd.