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Soon, LAPD Sergeant to Retake Stand, Says Chauvin Used Excessive Force; California to Fully Reopen Activities and Businesses on June 15; Testimony Resumes in Derek Chauvin Murder Trial. Aired 10- 10:30a ET

Aired April 7, 2021 - 10:00   ET




JIM SCIUTTO, CNN NEWSROOM: A very good Wednesday morning to you, I'm Jim Sciutto.


Minutes from now, we have the day beginning once again of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the murder trial, one day after testifying that Derek Chauvin used excessive force after he had George Floyd pinned to the ground. A national expert on use of force will take the stand again first thing this morning.

SCIUTTO: So a big question this morning. We're hoping to learn soon why LAPD Sergeant Jody Stiger's testimony was abruptly interrupted yesterday. the trial was, in fact, adjourned early. Why? What happens next.

And let's begin with CNN's Josh Campbell. He's outside the courtroom in Minneapolis. So tell us what is on the docket for today?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, there is this big mystery that we're still waiting for a resolution on, and that is, as you mentioned, why was court abruptly interrupted.

Now, as this witness was testifying, this use-of-force expert from the Los Angeles Police Department, the attorneys conferred with the judge and the judge abruptly adjourned the trial for the day. We're hoping to learn today why that was.

We expect, based on what we've seen in the past, that it's possible the defense subjected to that witnesses, his knowledge of this case, his participation in this case. Prior to that adjournment, he weighed in explosively on his view on Derek Chauvin's action that day here in May. Take a listen to what he said.


SGT. JODY STIGER, LOS ANGELES POLICE USE-OF-FORCE EXPERT: Once he was played in the prone position on the ground, he slowly ceased to his resistance, and at that point the officers -- ex-officers, I should say, they should have slowed down or stopped their force as well.


CAMPBELL: Now, this LAPD sergeant who was called as an expert witness was one of several law enforcement witnesses who have criticized the actions of Derek Chauvin, saying that there was unnecessary force used against George Floyd.

However, it is worth noting that the defense did score some points yesterday in their effort to try to cast doubt on whether Chauvin was actually in the wrong. It was arguably the best day yet for the defense. They were able to elicit some information advantageous to their case, including this exchange with another expert.


ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Have you had people say, I can't breathe?


NELSON: And do you -- were there circumstances during the course of your careeras a patrol officer where you didn't believe that that person was having a medical emergency?

MERCIL: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And that is all part of the analysis in terms of the use of force, right?

MERCIL: It plays a part, yes, sir.


CAMPBELL: now, use of force has been a key topic in this trial thus far. Obviously, based on these witnesses, one other key area, forensics. We're still waiting to hear if and when we will hear from the county medical examiner, of course, both the prosecution and the defense against have serious questions for that medical examiner about George Floyd's cause of death. Jim and Poppy?

HARLOW: Josh Campbell, thank you very much, live from Minneapolis for us this morning.

SCIUTTO: Joining us now to discuss, as we're just minutes away from the restart of this trial, Laura Coates, former Federal Prosecutor, CNN Senior Legal Analyst, Charles Ramsey, only led the police forces in a couple of cities, Philadelphia and Washington, a little bit of experience relevant to this as well. Thanks to you both, good to have you on again this morning.

Laura, a legal question for you, so you have a use of force expert from the Los Angeles Police Department, not directly involved, but someone with expertise in this area, testifying as did other Minneapolis Police officers that the use of force was excessive. Why would this be interrupted midway and do we expect him to come back this morning?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, it is odd because you can't just spring an expert on the other side, right? If you're defense calling an expert, if you're the prosecution calling an expert, you have to actually get what is called expert notice. You have to lay out for the other side why this person has expertise, what they are going to contribute to overall dialogue for the testimony.

And if there is any reason to suspect that this person is not an expert or that their testimony is not somehow accepted in terms of their conclusions generally in the wider scientific, if it maybe that community, then you hash all that out before they ever set foot in the courtroom and certainly before a jury overhears them, because you can't put the toothpaste back into the tube.


And so I'm surprised that whatever made them abruptly end his testimony was not contemplated and resolved prior to him taking the stand. It may be that because there was -- remember the admonition from the judge about two days ago about the prosecution wanting to bring in different law enforcement officials to get testimony through that might be cumulative or redundant in some way, this might be a combination of those things, but we're all waiting to see.

HARLOW: Commissioner Ramsey, I want you to listen to this from testimony yesterday from an EMT named Nicole Mackenzie. This is stop four to the control room, if you want to pull it up. Because she is talking about and she's asked about what is an officer, like officers who used to work for you, Commissioner, supposed to do if someone is not breathing and they can't find a pulse. Listen to this.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are officers trained do if they are unable to find a pulse?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is this something that, again, getting back to the MPD policy that the officer is trained that they are required do while they're waiting for the ambulance?



HARLOW: That is just very, very clear cut. Is there anywhere gray area there? I mean, because we know Chauvin didn't administer CPR.

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, there is no gray area there. In addition to that, he never even checked to find out if there was a pulse. And so, you know, it is pretty clear that standard in terms of training, duty of care, if you have a person who is in distress, who is not breathing, you don't find a pulse, you immediately administer CPR until paramedics arrive. And then, of course, they takeover and they perform life-saving activities until they can turn it over to a physician at a hospital. So it's a series of handoffs.

But the police did nothing in this case even though Officer Lane, I believe it was, made mention of the fact that they needed to roll him over. So, again, there was some concern on part of some of the officers anyway that perhaps Mr. Floyd was in distress, but Chauvin took no action.

SCIUTTO: Laura Coates, to that question, responsibility, duty of care, as it is known, to deliver care in the midst of this, again, the question of whether the crowd got in the way by distracting the officers, by harassing them, cat calling, et cetera, again, Nicole Mackenzie, she was asked about this. I want to ask you your thoughts and the significance of this. Have a listen.


NELSON: Does it make it more difficult to assess a patient?


NELSON: Does it make more likely that you may miss signs that a patient is experiencing something?


NELSON: And so the distraction can actually harm the potential care of the patient?



SCIUTTO: The it that they are talking about is the crowd. Laura, was that a convincing testimony? What does that mean for the prosecution's case on that issue?

COATES: It was wholly and entirely unpersuasive. You're not talking about an audience, a jury pool that did not watch a video. They know that the crowd they're talking about was actually imploring the officers to render aid. They weren't engaging an activity that they were essentially cat calling or doing things to tell them to do the opposite of the duty of care.

And remember, Jim, we're talking about -- this is not in the center of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. This is not as if the crowd is so unruly, or that there are so many distractions around that you cannot perform any duty of care. It's a time to be nimble, perhaps you relocate, perhaps to check.

And the idea to suggest that they were so overwhelmed by a crowd that we all saw that, frankly, was not overwhelming, but they were so overwhelmed and unable to focus on the duty of care owed is belied by the fact that each person in that crowd was imploring them to render aid.

You had the EMTs who arrived on the scene. And suddenly, somehow, with the same crowd present and all the thought that the person was already dead in that respect, they were able to still focus, provide the care, focus on what they had to do, even going beyond that.

So why, why was Derek Chauvin so different from everyone else? What was it about his particular state of mind, his particular role that made it such that he could not seem to focus, could not provide any care? And notice, it might be more difficult but it wasn't impossible to do so.

And I ask everyone out there, if I were to tell you right now, check your pulse, move your knee, these are very minimal gestures you have to make. So why was that even overwhelming to do on that street that day.

HARLOW: How significant to you, Commissioner, that none of the officers that have been called to testify yet, whether in direct or cross-examination, have conceded at all that the actions of Officer Chauvin were in line with training or protocol?


RAMSEY: Well, that is because his actions weren't in line with policy or protocol. You can't defend what he did or, more importantly, what he failed to do. You just can't defend it.

And so what you see are officers that are appearing at various ranks. They are talking about the policy, talking about the training. And the fact that what he did or failed do is not consistent with policy.

And so I'm not surprised at all. I mean, this is not even borderline, it's not even close where you could give him the benefit of the doubt. So you're not going to get any testimony.

Now, the defense is going to surely filing somebody to come in and do the would have, could have, should have, what if this and what if that sort of thing.

But, again, it's going to be very difficult to overcome that video because the video is very clear, there was no action taken on the part of Chauvin and he was the senior officers.

Remember, two of those people there were rookies, and even one of those rookies had enough sense to know, hey maybe we should roll this by over. So, I mean, it's going to be kind of hard to overcome that.

HARLOW: Commissioner Ramsey, Laura Coates, thank you both very much.

And, again, this trial resumes in just moments. We'll take you live inside the courtroom as soon as the first witness takes the stand.

SCIUTTO: In the race to get all Americans vaccinated by this summer, CNN is learning that some states might take until the end of the year, others far ahead. Where is your state on the list? (COMMERCIAL BREAK)


HARLOW: California is announcing another big step toward returning to normal, if you can remember what that feels like. Governor Gavin Newsom says that the state is aiming to pretty much, Jim, fully reopen by the middle of June.

SCIUTTO: It is a big turnaround, right, because we saw it seemed like it was under control, came back, now down again.

CNN's Stephanie Elam is in Los Angeles this morning. Stephanie, what worked, right? Because the situation was far more dire a number of weeks ago and California, of course, controversial, right, reinstituted a lot of these closed down measures. What made the difference?

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I think several things have made a difference, Jim and Poppy. If you take a look at where we stand right now, you are looking at the fact that we have hospitalizations that are way down. You look at the fact that we also have the virus seeming to be controlled. If you look at the number of cases right now, it is about 2,000 in the state. If you think back to that surge that we had after the holidays, we were about 40,000 cases a day, we were seeing hundreds of people dying a day in California. Looking at the numbers for yesterday, California reported seven deaths.

Now, there may be a bit of a lag there because of the holiday weekend we just had, but still the numbers are very different here.

The other thing that is different is the number of vaccinations. California has vaccinated -- or I should say, given about 20 million doses, more than that at this point.

HARLOW: Stephanie Elam, I'm sorry to interrupt, Steph. We have to get back to the courtroom. The expert witness is taking the stand again.


STEVE SCHLEICHER, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: And you testified about Mr. Floyd's reluctance and resistance to get in a squad car and the officers' efforts to compel him to do so, is that right?


SCHLEICHER: And then discussed how officers pulled him back on to the squad out of the street, where you indicated that Mr. Floyd went to his knees on the ground and said thank you to the officers, is that right?


SCHLEICHER: And it was at that point that the officers pushed him flat onto the ground into the prone position and you saw Mr. Floyd kick with one leg while being pushed prone, is that right? STIGER: Yes.

SCHLEICHER: And I believe your testimony is that a reasonable officer could have interrupted that kick as active aggression or active resistance?


SCHLEICHER: All right. I'd like to have you pick up your testimony there. Now, sir, making some notes of the various times at which things occurred, like to define sort of our restraint period, okay?

STIGER: Yes, sir.

SCHLEICHER: Now, based on your review of the body-born camera footage and using Officer King's body-worn camera footage as a point of reference, can you tell the jury at what point in time, in your opinion, does the restraint itself begin?

STIGER: Based on my review of the body-worn video, the restraint started at 20:19:14.

SCHLEICHER: And when does the restraint period end?

STIGER: I believe it was 20:28:43.

SCHLEICHER: And, sir, what is the duration then of that that time period, the restraint period?

STIGER: Nine minutes and 29 seconds.

SCHLEICHER: Well, in your opinion, does the defendant's use of force during that time period need to be reasonable within the entire time period?


SCHLEICHER: Have you been able to determine what the force the defendant -- what specific force the defendant applied to George Floyd during the restraint period, as in his body position?


SCHLEICHER: And now, if I could publish Exhibit 17, you've already reviewed that. And I believe you indicated Exhibit 17 shows how the defendant was positioned on George Floyd. I'm going to ask you to give some additional detail in that regard based on your analysis, all right?

STIGER: Yes, sir.

SCHLEICHER: So at this time, I would like to display to the witness only Exhibit 254 for identification.


Sir, does this 254 appear to be a composite of five different photos taken from offense materials in this case?


SCHLEICHER: Can you just please, at a high level, explain what these different photos show starting from upper left to the right and then down?

STIGER: The upper left photo shows the beginning where the defendant and the other officers removed Mr. Floyd from the vehicle, the police vehicle and were placing them in the prone position.

SCHLEICHER: And the source of that photo?

STIGER: I believe that it was the building camera that was across the street.

SCHLEICHER: Milestone?

STIGER: Milestone, yes.

SCHLEICHER: And then on the upper right?

STIGER: The upper right picture depicts when the emergency medical services responded and they were about to put Mr. Floyd on to the gurney.

SCHLEICHER: The lower portion of Exhibit 254 on the very left, what does that photo show?

STIGER: That shows the defendant with his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck and also -- his left knee on Mr. Floyd's neck and his right knee on Mr. Floyd's back.

SCHLEICHER: And the middle photo?

STIGER: Middle photo shows the defendant with his left knee on Mr. Floyd's neck.

SCHLEICHER: And then the final photo?

STIGER: The final photo shows the defendant with his knee on Mr. Floyd's neck and lower neck area as well as his right knee on the back of Mr. Floyd.

SCHLEICHER: Right. And would the use of this composite exhibit 254 assist you in explaining your analysis of the specific force used by the defendant upon Mr. Floyd during the restraint period that you've just defined?


SCHLEICHER: I'll offer Exhibit 254.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No objection. CAHILL: 254 is received.

SCHLEICHER: Let me ask you to publish Exhibit 254.

And now I'd like you to just in a little more detail if we could take Exhibit 254 and enlarge the upper left photo, first photo, and, again, this is the Milestone footage, is that right?


SCHLEICHER: And the timestamp is 8:19:17, is that right?

STIGER: Yes, sir.

SCHLEICHER: Could you please explain to the jury what this shows relevant to your analysis?

STIGER: Relevant to my analysis, it shows when the officers initially removed Mr. Floyd from the vehicle and they placed him in the prone position and they were utilizing body weight to control him as he's handcuffed.

SCHLEICHER: And focusing on this individual, is that the defendant?

STIGER: Yes, sir.

SCHLEICHER: And are you able to then make out the relative position of his legs relative to Mr. Floyd in that photo?

STIGER: Yes. It appears that his knees are in a position where he is utilizing body weight, his left knee being in the neck area of Mr. Floyd and his right knee being in the back area.

SCHLEICHER: Right, let me take that down. Let's move to the next photo -- I'm sorry, the photo in the lower left, so right beneath that. Yes, that's right.

Okay. First, for a frame reference, is this taken from King's body- worn cam?

STIGER: Probably so, yes.

SCHLEICHER: All right. And we've note the timestamp, it's at 20:19:27?


SCHLEICHER: All right. Please describe to the jury what did you see here?

STIGER: Here, I believe that the defendant's left knee is on Mr. Floyd's neck and his right knee is on his back area.

SCHLEICHER: And if you could use the stylus and place a circle around the left knee of the defendant? And now on the right knee of the defendant. Now, based on your review, does this show the relative position of the defendant's knees during the entirety of the restraint period?


SCHLEICHER: You can take that down.

Now, the middle photo is consistent with Exhibit 17, which you already reviewed. But, again, you see the position from a different angle of the defendant's left knee, is that correct?



SCHLEICHER: And can you note anything specific about the position of his feet?

STIGER: His feet are spread apart and on the ground.

SCHLEICHER: Based on your experience and training, where would the majority of the defendant's body weight be given the position of the left knee, the right knee and the feet?

STIGER: That would be on his knees and pushing down from his knee area from his body.

SCHLEICHER: And you can take that down.

All right, now, if you go to the upper right photo, this shows another moment in time and the timestamp is at 8:27:49. This is from the Milestone video, is that right?


SCHLEICHER: What does this moment in time show?

STIGER: This shows the defendant still on Mr. Floyd and the EMS personnel going over to try to survey what was going on.

SCHLEICHER: This is shortly before the end of the restraint period that you've defined, is that right?


SCHLEICHER: Now, were you able to observe the relative position of the defendant using the Milestone video from the start of the restraint period to this point?


SCHLEICHER: Did it change?


SCHLEICHER: You can take that down, please. All right, and then if you highlight the last photo lower right, okay, and this is from King's body-worn camera, is that right?

STIGER: yes.

SCHLEICHER: Timestamp indicated 20:28:43. This is at the -- what you have defined as the end of the restraint period.


SCHLEICHER: And can you please describe to the jury what you see here relative to the defendant's leg position?

STIGER: Yes. The defendant's left knee, again, is still on Mr. Floyd's neck or neck area and his right knee is on his back area.

SCHLEICHER: You can take that down, please.

And so based on your review, of all of the camera footage, the defendant's body position with respect to that particular force did not change during the entire restraint period?

STIGER: Correct.

SCHLEICHER: Sir -- if you could take down, please? I ask if the defendant -- if you observed the defendant on a body worn camera apply any other type of force upon George Floyd other than what you saw with respect to his legs and body weight.

STIGER: Yes. Towards of beginning of the original restraint, Mr. -- correction, the defendant used his right hand and he was attempting -- appeared to be attempting to use a pain compliance on Mr. Floyd's left hand.

SCHLEICHER: At this time, I'd like to publish Exhibit 255, which I believe is in evidence. Using Exhibit 255, sir, can you please explain to the jury what you mean -- and if the stylus would help, you can use that.

STIGER: Yes. So, here, you can see the defendant's right hand grasping the fingers of Mr. Floyd's left hand.

SCHLEICHER: And you use it terms of?

STIGER: It appears to be squeezing them.

SCHLEICHER: And you use that term, pain compliance, can you please describe what that means?

STIGER: Yes. So, pain compliance is a technique that officers use to get a subject to comply with their commands as they comply, then they are rewarded with the reduction of pain.

SCHLEICHER: And how would this positioning induce pain?

STIGER: This can induce pain a couple of ways, either by squeezing of the fingers and bringing the knuckles together, which can cause pain, or also basically pulling the wrist in to the handcuff which can cause pain as well.

SCHLEICHER: And you can see on Exhibit 255 where Mr. Floyd is handcuffed?


SCHLEICHER: Can you please put a circle around that?

All right, so is if your testimony then that the drawing of the fingers down and the wrist down towards the handcuffs could induce pain?

STIGER: Yes, especially because the handcuffs were not double locked, double locked meaning that they were not -- they could continue to ratchet tighter as the person moved.


SCHLEICHER: Were you able to hear instances of what you would recognize to be ratcheting during your review of the body-worn cameras?