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U.K. COVID Variant Now Dominant Strain In U.S.; Testimony Continues In Derek Chauvin Trial. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired April 7, 2021 - 15:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:00:00]

ERIC NELSON, ATTORNEY FOR DEREK CHAUVIN: And it's the BCA's job to follow up on every single one of those little pieces of information?

SPECIAL AGENT JAMES REYERSON, MINNESOTA BUREAU OF CRIMINAL APPREHENSION: Yes, it is.

NELSON: And, ultimately, in following up on those little pieces of information, oftentimes, you can see that, I mean, this is irrelevant to this case, it's something else, or this person may just want to share their opinion, right?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And so this investigation has been ongoing essentially since May 25 of 2020?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And all things told, your -- part of what the BCA did was to go and get training records from the city of Minneapolis, correct?

REYERSON: That's correct.

NELSON: Through search warrants?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And there were multiple search warrants to obtain that type of information, right?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And there were two search warrants executed on the Mercedes- Benz driven by Mr. Floyd, correct?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: There were two search -- well, two consent to searches of Squad 320, correct?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: Now, I want to just be very clear about something. When you talk about the second search of the Squad 320...

REYERSON: Yes.

NELSON: ... you -- prior to that second -- the defense request to view, right?

REYERSON: Yes.

NELSON: Squad 320 had been in the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension's secure storage from May -- effectively May 25, 26, all the way until January, when that was done, right?

REYERSON: Yes, not on site at our headquarters.

NELSON: Right, at the secure storage location?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: And no one -- the defense would not have had access to that unless you or another representative of the BCA was present, correct?

REYERSON: That is correct.

NELSON: And it is common, is it not, in your investigations for defense attorneys to ask to view pieces of evidence, right?

REYERSON: Yes, it is.

NELSON: And it's permissible?

REYERSON: Yes.

NELSON: And that was done in this particular case, right?

REYERSON: Yes, it was.

NELSON: And you weren't present at that. That was Agent Phil, I believe, that was present?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: Along with Scott Mueller?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: And I just want to make sure you're not suggesting that the defense somehow put pieces of pills into that squad car?

REYERSON: No, sir, I'm not suggesting that.

NELSON: And, in fact, it would have been the agents who were present to cut the seal on the squad car, correct?

REYERSON: Yes.

NELSON: All right. And the defense isn't necessarily allowed to touch or manipulate or do anything to that squad car?

REYERSON: That is correct.

NELSON: All right.

So, part of the overall investigation, again, included getting surveillance videos from area businesses, right?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: Including the Speedway across the street?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And some of the video is of higher quality than others, right?

REYERSON: That is correct.

NELSON: And then also identifying people who were present and obtaining cell phones of those, right?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: And just lots and lots and lots of stuff that happens?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: Right?

And, ultimately, when you first got involved in this case as the lead case agent, you had a very limited piece of information, right?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: That was information that was gleaned from the dispatch. It was gleaned from just basic what's called public safety reporting, correct?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: An individual had been detained. That individual passed away. And you began the normal critical incident process. Agreed?

REYERSON: That is correct.

NELSON: Which includes securing the scene, right?

REYERSON: Yes.

NELSON: It includes securing potential evidence, correct?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And it includes interviewing witnesses?

REYERSON: That is correct. NELSON: All right.

And the critical incident policies of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were followed in this particular case, right?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: Now, when you conducted the first search of the Mercedes-Benz back on May 26 of 2020, you were present when that happened, right?

REYERSON: From some of the time.

NELSON: Right.

But another crime scene team analyst would have taken photographs, looked at things and preserved that both digitally, by way of photographs, plus keeping the actual evidence, right?

REYERSON: Yes, a BCA agent took the photographs.

NELSON: That's McKenzie Anderson...

(CROSSTALK)

REYERSON: No, that was Special Agent Joseph O'Brien.

NELSON: Right. He was also a part of the crime scene team?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And so, again, your job is to investigate the case, right?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And so did you review those photographs?

REYERSON: Yes.

[15:05:03]

NELSON: Did you specifically take note at that time of the presence of pills in the Mercedes-Benz?

REYERSON: Of the 750 photos that I reviewed, I did not.

NELSON: OK.

And so it's not that you didn't preserve the evidence. You just didn't notice it?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: And, again, based on what you had learned about what happened in this case, you weren't looking -- necessarily looking for anything of that nature, right?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: Because, ultimately, whether it was relevant or not relevant needs to be determined, right?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And you testified that you did watch all of the body camera footage?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: But, initially, other agents, because -- in terms of the body camera footage in this case, you would agree that it's extensive?

REYERSON: Very much so.

NELSON: In the sense of, after this incident, something like eight or 10 Minneapolis police officers were on scene, right?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: They were securing the scene from roughly 9:00 in the evening until 3:00 in the morning, right?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: And all of those Minneapolis police officers, pursuant to policy, had body-worn cameras on?

REYERSON: That is correct.

NELSON: So, roughly five to six hours of body-worn camera footage for all of those?

REYERSON: Approximately.

NELSON: And so -- and then there's all of the video, the surveillance video. It takes a lot of time to do this, right?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And this investigation would be different than a lot of other investigations, wouldn't it, in terms of officer-involved uses of force?

REYERSON: In what way, sir?

NELSON: Well, this investigation was occurring simultaneously to a court process, was it not?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: Normally, an investigation is completed, and then it's submitted to some prosecuting organization, and they review it and they make determinations, right?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: And that is all of the officer or the majority of the officer- involved incidents that you have been involved with how it's commonly occurred, right?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And so, in this particular case, things were unusual because of that?

REYERSON: That is correct.

NELSON: And so information in May or June was not known until sometimes until November, December, January, et cetera.

REYERSON: That's correct.

NELSON: And so there has been a sort of changing dynamic in terms of the investigation?

REYERSON: Correct.

NELSON: In terms of the videos that you have watched, you did testify that you watched the Dragon Wok video.

REYERSON: Yes.

NELSON: And we need to sort out some exhibit number stuff on that real quick.

But I want to bring your attention back to -- I think this is Exhibit 122. And I'm going to -- if we could publish, Your Honor, I'm going to start, for the record, at 20:25:59.

And I'm going to ask you to watch -- oh, sorry -- 20:25:59.

It's the -- thinking about one you just showed (OFF-MIKE), 127. Sorry. That was in a notebook.

PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA, JUDGE: Did you say 122?

NELSON: One twenty-seven.

CAHILL: One twenty-seven.

NELSON: And permission to publish?

CAHILL: You may.

NELSON: I'm going to ask you, sir, to watch when Officer Chauvin stands up. I'm going to ask you to watch Mr. Floyd's left -- what would be his left arm, OK?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: Sorry. So, we will start, for the record, at 20:26:03.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

(SHOUTING)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check his pulse.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Check his...

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NELSON: I'm sorry. I'm at the wrong spot.

Let me take this down.

I apologize, Your Honor. I had the wrong exhibit pulled up.

[15:10:33]

All right, sorry, it is the right Exhibit, Exhibit 127. And I have it at 20:28 and 32.

So, I'm going to ask you again, sir, to just watch the left arm of Mr. Floyd on the left side of the screen.

REYERSON: The left side, OK.

Sorry. Are you referring to the body-worn camera side or the...

NELSON: Body-worn camera side.

REYERSON: OK.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)

NELSON: Yes, please.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

(CROSSTALK)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NELSON: Did you observe Mr. Floyd's left arm on the ground underneath Mr. Chauvin's right knee?

REYERSON: I believe I did, yes.

NELSON: And when Mr. Chauvin stood up, Mr. Floyd's arm sort of came up, right?

REYERSON: Could I see that again, please?

NELSON: Sure. I'm going to just hit back 10 seconds and start.

It's hard because of this bar. Let's try one more time.

REYERSON: Got kind of a glare as well.

NELSON: Pardon?

REYERSON: You can (INAUDIBLE)

NELSON: Can you see that?

REYERSON: So, what was the question? Repeat the question, please.

NELSON: Do you observe Mr. Chauvin's right knee to be compressing Mr. Floyd's left arm?

REYERSON: So, clarification.

I think, from what I see here, it was Mr. Chauvin's shin that was compressing the arm, and the knee was actually on the back.

NELSON: That's what you believe you see?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: OK.

And -- but, nevertheless, Mr. Floyd's left arm, the triceps area, was in between Mr. Chauvin's either knee or shin, right?

REYERSON: Yes.

NELSON: Did you review and study the body-worn cameras, like, very closely yourself?

REYERSON: I have seen all of them. I have reviewed some -- most of them closely, yes.

NELSON: OK.

And did you attempt to understand and hear what various parties were saying at various times?

REYERSON: Yes.

NELSON: Did you ever hear Mr. Floyd say, "I ate too many drugs"?

REYERSON: No.

NELSON: I would like to publish Exhibit 1007.

And I'm going to ask you, sir, to listen to Mr. Floyd's voice.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) GEORGE FLOYD, DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY: (INAUDIBLE)

(END VIDEO CLIP)

NELSON: Did you hear that?

REYERSON: Yes, I did.

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

REYERSON: Yes, it did.

NELSON: In the videos that we watched, both on direct examination and we have seen throughout the course of this case, there appears to be a liquid forming underneath the vehicle, correct?

REYERSON: Yes.

NELSON: And that that liquid stream goes out into the street towards the curb behind the back of the squad car, correct?

REYERSON: That's correct.

NELSON: And it's fair to say that that liquid coming from underneath the vehicle -- appears to come from underneath the vehicle, correct?

REYERSON: That is correct.

NELSON: And, depending upon your perspective, correct, that appears that that could have been urine coming from the body of Mr. Floyd?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

[15:15:00]

NELSON: But we can see, based on this, this that was actually probably condensation from the running squad car, correct?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And that's common when a squad car is running air conditioning or whatnot, right? Condensation drips from the bottom of the muffler or exhaust system?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: OK.

And you would agree that that's what that trail of liquid appears to be?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: I have nothing further, subject to the discussion we need to have about an exhibit.

CAHILL: Mr. Frank.

MATTHEW FRANK, MINNESOTA PROSECUTOR: Agent Reyerson, with a hybrid, would the -- figure out the way to say this right. Can the air conditioning run with just the battery and not the gas engine?

REYERSON: Yes, it would.

FRANK: And you were asked to look at a very short clip of a body-worn camera and asked, I assume for the first time, what that -- Mr. Floyd was saying there?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

FRANK: Were you played before that what questions were asked or things said by the officers before Mr. Floyd says that?

REYERSON: I don't recall right now.

FRANK: It wasn't part of that video, was it, what occurred beforehand?

REYERSON: No.

FRANK: Ever had to listen to that piece of audio and try and figure out what Mr. Floyd was saying?

REYERSON: I did not, no.

FRANK: And so that was an exercise that Mr. Nelson asked you to do for the first time sitting there?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

FRANK: Without reviewing the conversation beforehand?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

FRANK: You were asked about the -- the moment where it appears Mr. Chauvin's right knee is on Mr. Floyd's back just before he gets up?

REYERSON: Yes.

FRANK: In that, did you notice whether Mr. Floyd's shirt moved?

REYERSON: Yes, it appeared to move.

FRANK: From what?

REYERSON: From Mr. Chauvin's knee.

FRANK: You were asked to describe this as an unusual case because the investigation kept going on while there was a court process.

REYERSON: Yes.

FRANK: Is it the typical process, then, when you investigate a case, to hand it over and then be done with it and never work on it again? REYERSON: No.

FRANK: When you turn over an investigation, is it common to continue working on that investigation throughout the court process?

REYERSON: Yes.

FRANK: Have you ever in your career conducted investigations, said to a charging authority, sorry, my work's done on the case, I'm not going to work on this any further?

REYERSON: No.

FRANK: In fact, some of the ongoing investigation that you did was essentially at the request of the defense attorneys?

REYERSON: That is correct.

FRANK: And I'm referring, just to be clear -- I don't want to misrepresent anything -- but based on defense attorney seeing that pill in the vehicle?

REYERSON: Correct.

FRANK: I think what Mr. Nelson is asking you is, you're not saying in any way they put that pill there?

REYERSON: No.

FRANK: That's all I have, Your Honor.

CAHILL: Anything further?

NELSON: Are you a car mechanic?

REYERSON: No, sir.

NELSON: Do you have a hybrid vehicle?

REYERSON: No, sir.

NELSON: You understand that this squad car has both an engine, like an internal combustion engine that runs on gasoline, and a battery, correct?

REYERSON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: And so whether the vehicle was running on the battery or the gas engine on May 25, 2020, you would have no way of knowing, correct?

REYERSON: That's correct.

NELSON: No further questions.

CAHILL: Should we give everyone a 10-minute break so we can discuss this issue or... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)

CAHILL: All right.

Members of the jury, we're going to give you a 10-minute break while we discuss a different legal issues. We could just remand at this point.

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: OK. Wow.

Elie and Cedric, gentlemen, join me. I want to go through a lot of this. This is really important.

And, Elie, let me just first start with you, big picture strategy. Talk me through what we just witnessed.

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, three crucial points.

[15:20:00]

First of all, there's this dispute about whether George Floyd can be heard on the tape saying, "I ate too many drugs."

The defense lawyer asked an earlier witness who said, I don't hear that.

When he played the tape both this morning and today, I didn't hear it.

This witness says, yes, I did hear that. That's a big problem for the prosecution.

Ultimately, this will be up to the jury, whether they hear it. This jury is going to listen to that tape...

BALDWIN: Pause on that thought, before you get to number two and three.

Cedric, I want to pivot over to you. Do you it, if you are a law enforcement officer and you're someone about to try and arrest someone, how often do you have that person all of a sudden swallow a bunch of drugs?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Not very often. It certainly does happen, but not very often.

But the issue here is for me, Brooke, the defense is going to take any little piece of information that they can and make it into something bigger than what it is, and I can only imagine to create doubt.

But the important thing is here that really -- that's very, very striking to me, when they play back the video, they take the video and bring it down to the smallest millimeter of a second, let's say, for an example.

But the reality of it is, you have to look at it in its totality to really make sense, because, other than that, you break it all the way down, you can make any kind of case you want to.

BALDWIN: OK.

Pivoting back to you, Elie, I just wanted to have -- go on down the micro of your point did -- eating too many drugs. OK, point two.

HONIG: So, there's this issue about the finding of the pills in the police car.

The sequence is, after the incident happened, the police seized both relevant cars, the Mercedes that George Floyd was in and the police car. They then did a complete search or what they thought was a complete search of both cars, did not find any pills.

The defense lawyers then said months later, we would like to inspect those cars ourselves, and they found pills or a pill in the police car at that point. And nobody is claiming -- both sides made it clear nobody is claiming that that pill was planted by the defense. They just missed it the first time through.

BALDWIN: Point three.

HONIG: Point three is this arm movement.

And, again, I had a little trouble following the defense lawyer. He seemed to be setting it up -- and this is to Cedric's point about isolating this incident. He seemed to be setting it up to say, George Floyd's arm moved after the fact, which, if so, would have been an important moment.

When he showed the video, I didn't see it. Again, that will be up to the jury.

And then, on redirect, the witness said, well, that movement appears to have been related to Derek Chauvin's movements upon the body.

BALDWIN: Cedric, do you want to jump in?

ALEXANDER: Yes.

No, I agree totally with Elie. And I think we are going to see more and more of this, particularly with this witness, the investigator that's on stand now that is answering these questions.

But here again, for me, as a law enforcement person and a citizen that's out there looking at this case as objectively as you can, even though it's very emotionally driven, if you break each one of those slides down to a millimeter, you can always try to, I guess, make a case of that.

But you have really got to look at things in their wholeness, in their totality.

Another piece about this whole drug piece, you go back -- I can only imagine if you're the defense or whoever you may happen to be in this case, you go back and you try to find anything that you can to try to go against the charges that have been presented or have been put on your client, because, yes, you go through someone's car that maybe has a history of drug use, yes, you may find a pill.

That pill could have been in there for two or three years. You may find a roach, a small piece of a marijuana stick, if you will, that may have been there for some long period of time. It doesn't mean also whether Mr. Floyd left them in there or not. It could have been left in there by somebody else.

So, the whole idea here -- and, certainly, I have heard Elie and other attorneys say this as well, too -- you build that case around doubt. But the reality of it is, when we look at that video in its totality, and from the time it began up to the time that it end, it just not is going to line up, I think, with the case that this -- the defense is trying to make.

But this case is going to get very, very interesting, as I have stated before, when we get to the science of this, the physiology of death.

(CROSSTALK)

BALDWIN: Let's talk about that. Let's talk about that.

Let me get a commercial break in. Let's hit pause, gentlemen. Thank you for being with me.

Let's maybe preview a little bit.

Quick break. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[15:29:30]

BALDWIN: We will take you back to Minneapolis to the Derek Chauvin trial in just a minute.

But, first, let's go to some other news. The CDC director today said the variant first identified in the U.K. is now the most dominant strain in the United States.

CNN's Alexandra Field is in New York with more on the headlines.

Alex, tell me -- tell me about that.

ALEXANDRA FIELD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Brooke, look, we know that this variant is more transmissible, and it is explaining a lot of what we're seeing across the country.

We saw a plateau for weeks at a very high number of new cases. Now the CDC is saying that, for at least four weeks running, you have seen those cases ticking upward. This could be, in part, fueled by the variant. Variants have been found in all 50 states across the nation.