One of the 12 jurors who convicted fired Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 45, in the 2020 murder of local man George Floyd, 46, says pivotal, expert testimony clinched the case for the state. Dr. Martin Tobin, a prosecution witness, was the most influential out of everyone, Brandon Mitchell said in an interview Wednesday with CBS This Morning. He also mentioned Donald Williams, an MMA-trained security guard who witnessed the victim’s death.
“I thought [Williams] set the tone for the rest of the trial,” he said. “And then when Dr. Tobin came, with him speaking so scientifically, but also making it understandable for everyone, along with the exhibits that he came with, I thought he just broke it down in a manner that was easy for all the jurors to understand, and I didn’t think there was any way for the defense to come back after that. To me, the case was done at that point, almost.”
As seen on video, Chauvin knelt on the neck of Floyd, who was prone and handcuffed on the ground, during an arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill. Prosecutors timed it as nine minutes and 29 seconds. Williams took a leading role among outraged bystanders who called out the defendant for kneeling on the visibly distressed, increasingly unresponsive man. Authorities carried the victim’s limp body onto a gurney. Prosecutors acknowledged there was meth and fentanyl in Floyd’s system, but said the cause of death was the law enforcement restraint. The defense worked to emphasize the victim’s heart and drug issues, and explicitly omitted Chauvin’s actions from the cause of death. But Tobin, a pulmonologist, rejected the effects of drugs.
“You know fentanyl is not causing the depression of his respiration,” he said. “What you’re seeing is that the increase in his carbon dioxide that is found in the emergency room is solely explained by what you expect to happen in somebody who doesn’t have any ventilation given to him for 9 minutes and 50 seconds, it’s completely explained by that.”
Chauvin was ultimately convicted of all charges, including second-degree unintentional murder.
Before stepping forward in public, Mitchell was known as Juror 52.
#DerekChauvinTrial – Now PJ #52, Male, says he’s some headlines about this case, about when it was starting. Judge asked if he heard anything about civil litigation, he said, “no, sir”. @LawCrimeNetwork pic.twitter.com/agEizMiIyi
— Cathy Russon (@cathyrusson) March 15, 2021
“We were just stressed about just the simple fact that every day we had to come in and watch a Black man die,” he said. “That alone is stressful.” He later added, “As a human, it’s natural to feel some kind of way as you’re watching somebody in agony.”
The case landed on a cultural fissure–the ongoing debate on how law enforcement treats police of color, including Black men like Floyd. Mitchell is Black, too. Chauvin is white. Mitchell acknowledged feeling stress due to the details of the case, but suggested no one in the jury room felt pressure to convict.
“I for sure did not,” he said.
Another element was Chauvin’s decision not to testify. Mitchell said that one of the jurors said they would have liked to hear from Chauvin. Mitchell acknowledged the defendant’s testimony could have affected the case either way. Nonetheless, he did tell CNN he was not sure if Chauvin taking the stand would have changed the verdict.
Mitchell is the first of the 12 jurors to speak out about the case. Alternate juror Lisa Christensen previously discussed it. She, too, said Tobin’s testimony was key.
“I don’t think they had a good impact,” Christensen told CBS of Chauvin and attorney Eric J. Nelson. “I think he overpromised in the beginning and didn’t live up to what he said he was going to do.”
Colin Kalmbacher and Aaron Keller contributed to this report.
[Screengrab via CBS This Morning]
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