Defense Attorney Eric J. Nelson — lawyer for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin — said the late George Floyd was the victim of a careless overdose rather than police homicide.
Authorities charged Chauvin with murder in connection with Floyd’s May death, which stemmed from an altercation purportedly involving counterfeit money.
In light of the allegations, Nelson is requesting a judge to drop all charges against Chauvin, who has pleaded not guilty.
An attorney for one of the other officers involved in Floyd’s death also says bodycam footage shows the moment Floyd reportedly ingested a lethal amount of drugs.
What are the details?
According to a Monday report from ABC News, Nelson filed the motion in Hennepin County, Minnesota, District Court on Friday, alleging that the prosecution has not shown probable cause in charging Chauvin with second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.
In the motion, Chauvin’s attorney insists the former police officer carried out Floyd’s detainment by the book — including the use of a “Maximal Restraint Technique.” Nelson said Chauvin believed the technique was necessary, out of concern that Floyd could harm himself or Chauvin and his fellow officers during the detainment.
Nelson has said that Chauvin and other responding officers were trying to help Floyd — who was clearly acting erratically during the detainment — out of concern for the man and the possibility that he might fall and strike his head, be hit by an oncoming vehicle in the road, and more.
Nelson insisted that the Minneapolis Police Department has approved training materials on such use of force, which shows an officer placing a knee on a subject’s neck in order to subdue him.
The motion also noted that the autopsy on Floyd concluded that there was both fentanyl and methamphetamine in the late suspect’s system — otherwise known as a “speedball.”
Floyd, who suffered from hypertensive heart disease as well as arteriosclerosis and hypertension, also reportedly was positive for COVID-19 at the time of his death.
“Put simply, Mr. Floyd could not breathe because he had ingested a lethal dose of fentanyl and, possibly, a speedball,” a portion of the motion read. “Combined with sickle cell trait, his pre-existing heart conditions, Mr. Floyd’s use of fentanyl and methamphetamine most likely killed him. Adding fentanyl and methamphetamine to Mr. Floyd’s existing health issues was tantamount to lighting a fuse on a bomb.”
Further, Hennepin County Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker also added that if Floyd were found dead in any other circumstance — in this case, “home alone and no other apparent causes, this could be acceptable to call an [overdose].”
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, determining that he died because of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
However, the autopsy report found no apparent bruising or trauma to Floyd’s neck, neck muscles, or back as a result of the restraint.
Judge Peter Cahill will address Nelson’s motion in a Sept. 11 court hearing, the outlet reports.
Three other officers were also charged with aiding and abetting murder following Floyd’s death.
Attorney Earl Gray, who represents former officer Thomas Lane, said in a motion filed last week that Floyd intentionally swallowed fentanyl tablets while he and his fellow officers — including Chauvin — attempted to take Floyd into custody.
In the motion, Gray said that bodycam footage of the arrest shows a “white spot” on Floyd’s tongue — which disappeared moments later. He also argued that Floyd, at the time, was in the process of swallowing “2 milligrams of fentanyl, a lethal dose” to avoid being caught with the drugs on his person.
“All [Floyd] had to do is sit in the police car, like every other defendant who is initially arrested. While attempting to avoid his arrest, all by himself, Mr. Floyd overdosed on Fentanyl,” Gray wrote in the motion. “Given his intoxication level, breathing would have been difficult at best. Mr. Floyd’s intentional failure to obey commands, coupled with his overdosing, contributed to his own death.”
Gray is also maintaining that charges against his client should be dropped.