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Chauvin’s attorney argues Floyd saying, ‘I can’t breathe,’ was a form of resisting arrest

Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued on April 7 that George Floyd’s “active resistance” could have impacted the defendant's reasonable use of force. (Video: The Washington Post)

Testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin continued Wednesday with the former officer’s defense team arguing that George Floyd saying, “I can’t breathe,” while police attempted to load him into the squad car was a form of resisting arrest.

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Later in the day, Chauvin attorney Eric J. Nelson played indiscernible body-cam audio and claimed Wednesday that Floyd said, “I ate too many drugs.” Los Angeles Police Sgt. Jody Stiger, a paid witness for the state, said he could not make out what Floyd said, while James Reyerson, a special agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, said the clip sounded more like, “I ain’t do no drugs.”

Stiger’s testimony came as prosecutors began to shift from police testimony into the larger investigation of Floyd’s death. The county medical examiner is expected to testify later this week.

Here’s what to know:

  • Stiger said that “no force should have been used” on Floyd when he was on the ground last May. Stiger added that Chauvin did not follow pain compliance with Floyd when the officer was on top of the 46-year-old man, saying Chauvin failed to ease up on the pressure applied to Floyd. “At that point, it’s just pain,” he said.
  • Stiger said again that Floyd posed no threat to officers at the time he was detained.
  • Chauvin’s defense team requested that investigators search the police car Floyd was forced into because of a white pill found on the floor in the back seat, a forensic scientist testified.
  • Nelson continued to underscore the role the crowd of bystanders had during the incident, arguing that they adversely impacted the officer’s decision process and responses.
  • In testimony this week, police and law enforcement officials have cast Chauvin outside of the blue wall, writes Robin Givhan.
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