Derek Chauvin Murder Trial: Officials Continue To Damn The Defense

By Maryam Henein

Day Six of the Derek Chauvin murder trial of George Floyd started with some legal wrangling, followed by more officials damning the defense.

Before Monday’s first witness, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson explained why he wants more of Chauvin’s body-worn camera video from the night of the arrest. Nelson said it showed the “totality of the circumstances” of what happened after Floyd was taken in the ambulance to HCMC.

Prosecutor Matthew Frank pushed back, saying the footage includes hearsay comments from two of the officers about what happened and isn’t relevant.

“The totality of the circumstances is a view of a reasonable police officer at the time,” Frank said. “All of this is a subsequent investigation that could, of course, been done before Mr. Floyd was forced into the back seat, but it doesn’t have any bearing on what the officers knew at the time the force was used.”

Judge Peter Cahill disagreed.

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“It shows Mr. Chauvin’s demeanor and actions immediately after Mr. Floyd was removed to the hospital. I think it is relevant for the jury to see.”

Judge Cahill also temporarily muted the Livestream over concerns about unspecified juror misconduct, but he found none.

“The jurors were credible in their responses, and no action needs to be taken,” he said.

Dr. Bradford Wankhede Langenfeld

The courtroom had an opportunity to listen to the HCMC ‘doctor’ responsible for taking direct patient care of him upon arrival at approximately 8:53 pm. He said Floyd was dead upon arrival and that his heartbeat was “not to a degree sufficient to sustain life.”

He said that Floyd likely died from oxygen deprivation.

“Is there another term for death by oxygen deficiency?” asked Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell.

“Asphyxia,” responded Langenfeld, a native of Grand Rapids, MN, also the hometown of Judy Garland.  Upon further examination, however, it became evident that Langenfeld was only a senior medical resident at the time. He had only gotten his physician and surgeon license 18 days earlier (he got his M.D. in 2016)

Also, as Glenn Kirschner, a legal analyst and former 30-yr federal prosecutor notes, “one thing to keep in mind is that ER docs are in the business of trying to save the patient’s life, not determining a precise cause and manner of death if the patient dies. That’s where forensic pathologists/medical examiners come in. Truth be told, I rarely called ER doctors in the murder cases I prosecuted.”

As an example, Kirschner offers a hypothetical scenario: if someone arrives at the ER with a gunshot wound and dies, it could be a homicide, a suicide, or an accidental death. The medical examiner is the one to determine this.

Langenfeld then went on to describe Floyd’s condition and the attempts to resuscitate him.

“When Mr. Floyd was brought in, would you describe it as an emergency situation?” Blackwell asked.

“Yes, absolutely,” Langenfeld said, describing how the goal was to re-establish “spontaneous circulation.”

It’s obvious it was an emergency situation, so ask yourself why the driver testified last week that they moved the ambulance to get away from the hostile environment before trying to resuscitate Floyd. I would reckon this wasted a bit of time.

Langenfeld also confirmed on some earlier evidence that no lifesaving measures were performed by the officers before Chauvin took his knee off Floyd’s body. He explained that there is approximately a 10-15% decrease in survival for every minute that CPR is not administered.

“It’s well known that any amount of time that a patient spends in cardiac arrest without immediate CPR markedly decreases the chance of a good outcome.”

Langenfeld added that Floyd was in a “PEA” state, which stands for pulseless electrical activity,  meaning he didn’t have enough electricity to sustain a pulse.  Low oxygen is one of the causes, he said. It then evolved into “asystole” aka flatlining. He said shocks to the heart cannot bring back people in such states.

Blackwell asked Langenfeld whether Floyd’s cardiac arrest was likely the result of a heart attack. Langenfeld noted that he was not told Floyd had chest pain. His heart was depleted of oxygen and so his death was not brought on by a heart attack.

“At the time it was not completely possible to rule that out, but I felt it was less likely based on the information available to us.”

As to whether he believed Floyd overdosed, Langenfeld said, “I didn’t feel there was a specific toxin for which we could give a medication that would reverse his arrest.”

It didn’t “feel?” What does that mean? I am sure it was conveyed there were suspicions he was on something. Didn’t any of the officers run his identification and see he has been involved with drugs in the past?

Questioning by Nelson focused on illicit drugs, specifically the impact that opioids fentanyl and methamphetamine might have had on Floyd’s extremely high carbon dioxide levels in his blood. Such levels can be life-threatening.

Langenfeld agreed that those drugs, which an autopsy found to be in Floyd’s body, can lead to a lack of oxygen. Dr. Langenfeld, who often smacked his lips at the end of his answers, also dismissed “excited delirium” as a factor, calling it a “controversial diagnosis.”

There is documentation and police training videos regarding this “controversial diagnosis” despite the fact it sounds like a name of a punk rock band.

Floyd had very high levels of CO2, which means he was not eliminating it from his body, indicating a lack of oxygen. The doctor confirmed that the use of fentanyl can also cause high CO2 levels.

Fentanyl, he agreed, can also make someone feel sleepy, which explains why his ‘friends’ Shawanda Hill and Morries Lester Hall said Floyd fell asleep in the car after purchasing cigarettes at Cup Foods with a counterfeit bill. We assume this was before an employee went to the car to try to negotiate with him and give him a chance to remedy the situation. Reportedly Floyd disagreed.

The defense then asked why didn’t he or anyone in the ambulance administer the drug naloxone. Also known as Narcan, it depresses opiate receptors in the brain and restarts the respiratory system following an overdose.

“Not in this case,” Langenfeld added, in response to the defense attorney’s suggestion that Narcan could have been life-changing/life-saving. He replied that when a patient is in cardiac arrest Narcan will not help.

Arguably MPD police officers were supposed to start carrying naloxone back in 2018, joining firefighters and paramedics.

If the officers thought Floyd was experiencing an overdose, why didn’t they administer NARCAN? 

Dr. Langenfeld is the one who pronounced him dead.

“At end of 30 minutes, I pronounced him formally dead. There was no cardiac activity. He had been in arrest for 60 minutes. My leading theory was asphyxia as the cause of death.”

Theory vs actual autopsy by trained professional Andrew Baker.

Given that paramedics worked on George Floyd without success, I had wondered why he was not announced dead on arrival (DOA) sooner. It seems that in Minnesota, only a doctor can make that proclamation.

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