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Medical Experts Continued To Testify In Derek Chauvin's Murder Trial


It is the 11th day of testimony in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. He is the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd. The city is on edge after another Black man, 20-year-old Daunte Wright, was fatally shot by police in a suburb of Minneapolis. The night of protests and unrest, which included looting, damaged property and tear gas, cast a shadow over the proceedings today, just as George Floyd's brother took the stand. NPR's Leila Fadel is in Minneapolis and joins us now.

Hey, Leila.


CHANG: So what did Floyd's brother say on the stand today?

FADEL: Well, it was emotional testimony, and it wasn't about George Floyd's last breaths on camera, videos of which the jury has now repeatedly watched from every horrific angle. It was about who George Floyd was - or Perry, as his friends and family called him. His brother, Philonise Floyd, described an older brother who packed his school bag, made a mean banana-and-mayonnaise sandwich but couldn't even boil water. He loved playing video games, loved basketball and football. Jurors saw a smiling photo of a young George Floyd in high school and another of him smiling as a dad to his daughter Gianna, who's now 7. Philonise Floyd smiled at these memories as the photos of his brother - at the photos of his brother's living. He also wept when he described the loss of their mother in 2018. He said his brother had a special bond with her. Here he is speaking about their mom's funeral.


PHILONISE FLOYD: When we went to the funeral, it's just - George just sat there at the casket over and over again. He would just say, Mama, Mama, over and over again. And I didn't know what to tell him because I was in pain too. We all were hurting.

CHANG: I understand that there was also more medical testimony today, right? Can you tell us about that?

FADEL: Yeah. This morning, Dr. Jonathan Rich testified. He's a cardiologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago, and he was brought in by the state to try to determine the cause of George Floyd's death. And what he determined was that Floyd's heart stopped because of low oxygen levels that were induced by the prone restraint Floyd was in and the positional asphyxia he was subjected to. So basically, Floyd couldn't breathe because of the weight of the police officers on him. Rich also said this in response to questions from the prosecutor, Jerry Blackwell.


JONATHAN RICH: After reviewing all of the facts and evidence of the case, I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die from a drug overdose.

FADEL: So that's aimed at countering the defense's argument that maybe drugs found in Floyd's system or a heart episode killed Floyd rather than Chauvin's knee on his neck.

CHANG: I am curious, Leila. Did this police shooting of another young Black man, Daunte Wright, just outside Minneapolis - did that come up today in the trial?

FADEL: It actually did. The defense attorney, Eric Nelson, made a motion for the judge to sequester the jury and requestion them after unrest overnight. As we know, there was an outpouring of grief and anger over the killing of this young man by a police officer who pulled him over for expired tags. Here's Nelson.


ERIC NELSON: This incident last night highlights - and, I think, brings it to the forefront of the jury's mindset - that a verdict in this case is going to have consequences.

FADEL: He's arguing that the unrest might give more jurors pause about finding a possible not guilty verdict in the case of his client who's accused of killing a Black man because similar unrest could follow. Ultimately, the judge decided - dismissed that motion, adding that sequestering and requestioning the jurors would ultimately just put them more ill at ease.

CHANG: That is NPR's Leila Fadel in Minneapolis.

Thank you, Leila.

FADEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.

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