New York Daily News
The defense in the murder trial of ex-cop Derek Chauvin began its case Tuesday by showing the jury a short clip from George Floyd’s 2019 drug arrest — more than a year before his deadly police encounter in Minneapolis.
Shortly after prosecutors rested their case in chief in the closely watched trial, defense attorney Eric Nelson called a now-retired Minneapolis police officer and asked him to describe his interaction with Floyd on May 6, 2019 — a move aimed at showing Floyd’s evasive behavior and compare his actions to what transpired in May 2020.
Former narcotics investigator Scott Creighton told the jury he stopped a red Ford Explorer that day and spoke with Floyd, who was in the front-passenger seat, while another cop approached the driver.
“The passenger was unresponsive and non-compliant to my commands,” Creighton testified. “I then had to physically reach in and I wanted to see his hands because I couldn’t see his hand.”
The officer’s body-cam video shows Creighton telling Floyd multiple times to keep his hands on the dashboard. Floyd, who appeared to sound incoherent at times, could be heard saying, “Please, don’t shoot me.”
“I’m not going to shoot you. Put your hands on the dash,” Creighton shouted before Floyd eventually complied. Moments later, the other officer told him to put his hands above his head, open his mouth and “spit it out.”
The defense has sought to minimize Chauvin’s role in last year’s fatal arrest by suggesting Floyd’s illegal drug use and health conditions played a major role in his death. Nelson argues his client did “exactly” what he was trained to do that day when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Judge Peter Cahill warned the jury Tuesday that the short clip from the 2019 arrest video was being used for a very limited purpose.
“This evidence is being admitted solely for the purpose of showing the effects the ingestion of opioids may or may not have had on the physical well-being of George Floyd,” he said. “This evidence is not to be used as evidence of the character of Mr. Floyd.”
Under cross-examination by prosecutor Erin Eldridge, Creighton seemed to acknowledge that the circumstances involving the two arrests had at least one key difference.
“Mr. Floyd didn’t drop dead while you were interacting with him, correct?” she asked him.
“No,” he replied.
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