Derek Chauvin Trial Day 9: Tobin Testimony Damages Nelson's Defense


The second week of the State v. Derek Chauvin trial is coming to a close. Week two of the trial has brought a number of twists and turns of its own. Throughout the majority of the week, two storylines have presented themselves. A number of law enforcement professionals and medical personnel have come forward to present their analysis of Chauvin's actions on May 25. One person who has not come forward to remark on the day that George Floyd died is the man that was in the car when Floyd was approached by the police, Morries Hall. Hall has stayed away from testifying before the court because he is afraid that his testimony could create legal trouble for him. Coming in to today, Judge Peter Cahill has put off addressing this matter head on. Will he address it today? Check out our daily recap below to find out.

What Happened Yesterday

Similar to the day prior, several law professionals were asked to testify on Wednesday. Leading the way, Jody Stiger expanded the testimony he delivered on Tuesday. The Los Angeles Police Department Lieutenant classified Chauvin's actions on May 25 as "excessive."

“My opinion was that the force was excessive," he told the court.

Stiger was followed by Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension James Reyerson. Reyerson's testimony stood out because he changed his answer while on the stand. The bombshell moment took place when defense attorney Eric Nelson played body camera footage of the interaction between Floyd and Chauvin. Specifically, Nelson honed in on something Floyd said while in custody.

“Does it sound like [Floyd] says ‘I ate too many drugs’?” Nelson asked Reyerson.

At first, he says that he cannot make out what Floyd was trying to ay. As his testimony went on, Nelson asked him the same question and Reyerson changed his answer.

Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd is saying I ain’t doing no drugs,’” he replied.

This answer throws off the defense's strategy to imply that Floyd died of a drug overdose and not from Chauvin's actions.

After Reyerson's testimony, the defense focused heavily on Floyd's potential drug use that day. During a second search of the squad car that authorities attempted to place Floyd in, authorities found pills. Following Reyerson, forensic scientist Mckenzie Anderson testified that the pills had Floyd's DNA on them. She also testified that Floyd's blood was found in the back of the car.

Closing out the day's proceedings, forensic scientist Breahna Giles and forensic chemist Susan Neith were called to the stand. Giles testified that a glass pipe was found at the scene, but there were no drugs found in it. She also said that the pills tested positive for fentanyl, but the amount of fentanyl could not be determined.

To get a full recap of the last week of the trial please click here:

Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5 | Day 6 | Day 7 | Day 8

What Happened Today

Dr. Martin Tobin

Dr. Martin Tobin opened the day's proceedings by offering insight to Floyd's ability to breathe during the entire ordeal. Tobin works as a physician in pulmonary and critical care medicine. As it pertains to this trial, he reviewed the medical records associated with the case. Before diving into the situation at hand, he was asked to clarify his expertise in the manner.

"I'm primarily interested in breathing in the bigger area. And so with breathing, that would mean how the brain regulates your breathing, how the brain sends signals down to the muscles that control your breathing, diaphragm, rib cage, and then how you expand your chest and how you overcome forces within your chest like resistance within your chest and all the rest of it to get air moving in and out of your lungs," he said.

After reviewing the medical records of this case, Tobin feels that Floyd died from a "low level of oxygen." Tobin testified that he feels the position of Floyd's handcuffs and Chauvin's knee caused a low level of oxygen. Furthermore, he explained that the low level of oxygen "caused damage to his brain that we see and it also caused a PEA arrhythmia, that caused his heart to stop." In layman's terms, Floyd's body being pressed against the street by Chauvin's knees as his hands were handcuffed behind his back killed him.

“So Mr. Floyd then is pancaked between the pavement underneath him and then force on top of him?” prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell asked.

"Precisely," Tobin replied.

After a morning break, Tobin examined the matter further. The physician said that he believes Floyd suffered a seizure while under the former officer's knee.

"We see and we can tell from the movement of his leg that the level of oxygen in his brain has caused what we call a myoclonic seizure activity," Tobin said.

"Those are medical terms but basically it means he has kicked out his leg in an extension form, that he has straightened out his leg, and that is something we see as clinicians in patients when they suffer brain injury as a result of a low level of oxygen."

Adding to his testimony, Tobin says that the position in which Floyd was held down under Chauvin's knee decreased his lung volume by 43 percent. He later added that Chauvin held Floyd down under his knee for three minutes after his lung capacity had likely hit zero percent.

"There is not an ounce of oxygen left in his body. And again ... you can figure this out with very precise science, looking at once somebody stops breathing, what will be the rate of decline in oxygen, how long it will take to reach zero," he said.

"A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to, would have died as a result of what he was subjected to."

Closing out his testimony, Tobin was asked about the possibility that fentanyl may have had an effect on Floyd's respiratory abilities. Tobin explained that the drug in question did not cause "depression of the respiratory centers." The physician went on to explain that fentanyl would have likely slowed Floyd's respiratory to 10. By his calculations, Floyd's respiratory rate was at 22, which normal for an adult.

"Basically it tells you that there isn't fentanyl on board that is affecting his respiratory centers. It's not having an effect on his respiratory centers," Tobin told the court.

Ending his testimony, Tobin definitively dismissed the idea that any of Floyd's preexisting conditions directly caused his death.

"Do any of those conditions have anything to do with the cause of Mr. Floyd's death in your professional opinion whatsoever?" Blackwell asked.

"None whatsoever," he answered.

Dr. Daniel Isenschmid

After hours of testimony from Tobin, Dr. Daniel Isenschmid took the stand. Isenschmid is a forensic toxicology from NMS Laboratory in Pennsylvania. The highlight of Isenschmid's testimony came when the defense asked him why NMS Laboratory didn't report the ratio of methamphetamine to amphetamine present in George Floyd's body.

"We didn't look at the ratio for methamphetamine to amphetamine with Mr. Floyd because it was below the reporting limit; is not on the report and we didn't report it," Isenschmid told Nelson.

Dr. William "Bill" Smock

Following Isenschmid's testimony, Dr. William Smock took the stand to speak to Floyd's health at the time of his death. As stated in previous testimonies, Smock confirms that Floyd died of asphyxia.

"Mr. Floyd died from positional asphyxia. It is a fancy way of saying he died because he had no oxygen left in his body," he told the court.

Adding to his testimony, Smock also stated that is possible to die of asphyxia without any bruising to the next. Rounding out his testimony said that Floyd should have been provided CPR far sooner than he was on May 25.

"At what point should CPR have been commenced with respect to Mr. Floyd?" Blackwell asked.

Way before it was; as soon as Mr. Floyd is unconscious he should have been rolled over. We have documentation on the video that the officer says 'I cannot find a pulse.' But clearly, when they couldn't find a pulse, CPR should have been started," Smock answered.

What The World Is Saying

What Resources Are Available

Watching the trial, taking in traumatic moments may be difficult as video is played and replayed and verbally described.

A few resources that may aid in processing the trial are below:

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255

The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264

The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001

The resources listed have resources including peer groups and other counseling services that may be helpful. They also offer ways to cope with stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions that are important to monitor.

The Black Information Network's trial-related content includes a nightly news special, titled "Searching for Justice for George Floyd," that airs at 7:00 pm ET Monday through Friday on all BIN 24/7 affiliates. Emmy Award-winning journalist Vanessa Tyler will anchor the daily 30-minute commercial-free recap of that day's testimony.

Additionally, BIN's Morgyn Wood will anchor live coverage of the trial on our Minneapolis affiliate BIN 93.3 FM. Tune in to Black Information Network 24/7's coverage on 31 Black Information Network affiliate stations and on the iHeartRadio app. Frequent updates and breaking news will also air on all 92 iHeartMedia Hip Hop, R&B, and Gospel music stations.

Photo Credit: Getty Images