Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin on Thursday waived his right to testify to the jury at his murder trial for the deadly arrest last May of George Floyd.
“I will invoke my Fifth Amendment privilege today,” Chauvin said after briefly removing his mask, referring to the constitutional right against self-incrimination, in his most extensive remarks since his trial began with jury selection on March 8.
The defense told Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill it would call no more witnesses after two days of testimony and would rest its case, which has focused on raising doubts about the cause of Floyd’s death.
Prosecutors from the Minnesota attorney general’s office said they would call at least one rebuttal witness, and Cahill has previously advised jurors he expects both sides to present their closing arguments on Monday. Jurors will then begin deliberating one of the most closely watched police misconduct cases ever seen in the United States.
Chauvin, who is white, was seen in bystander video kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man in handcuffs, for more than nine minutes after Floyd was accused of using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. The footage of his death sparked global protests against the disproportionate use of force by police against Black people.
His lawyers called an expert on the use of force to tell the jury that Chauvin’s use of force was appropriate, contradicting the Minneapolis police chief, who testified that it far exceeded an appropriate response.
They also called a forensic pathologist, former Maryland chief medical examiner Dr. David Fowler, who said Floyd, whose death was ruled a homicide at the hands of the police, really died of heart disease, and that the exhaust fumes of the adjacent police car may have also poisoned him.
Dr. Martin Tobin, a pulmonologist who testified as an expert witness for prosecutors, will return to the stand on Thursday as a rebuttal witness in an effort to undermine Fowler’s testimony.