From the Star Tribune, a sampling of just how strange the prosecution’s strategy in the George Floyd case is.
Special Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told jurors last Monday that while Hennepin County Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Andrew Baker ruled Floyd’s cause of death cardiac arrest, prosecutors would prove he died of asphyxia, or, lack of oxygen, while Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes.
Blackwell has numerous medical experts. But it’s not hard to find medical experts to testify in a case once there’s a motivation to tell a particular story. The original medical examiner’s story is valuable because he’s actually supposed to figure out what happened without an agenda.
Worse still, the prosecution’s experts are backseat drivers.
In a PowerPoint presentation during his opening statement, Blackwell displayed the names of six outside medical experts hired to help their case, including a forensic pathologist — Baker’s job — whom Blackwell spoke about at length while mentioning Baker as an aside.
“Usually you hear about alternative experts — outside experts — from the defense,” said former Ramsey County attorney Susan Gaertner. “Typically expert pathologists are hired by the defense to dispute or undermine the medical examiner’s report.
“What is unusual is that, to some extent, the battle of the experts is within the state’s case instead of between the state and the defense.”
It’s not even a battle of the experts. Prosecutors chose to ignore the state expert and seek outside help because they didn’t like what he was telling them.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, seized on the issue. To raise reasonable doubt, he told jurors in his opening statement, “The state was not satisfied with Dr. Baker’s work so they have contracted with numerous physicians to contradict Dr. Baker’s findings, and this will ultimately be another significant battle in this trial: What was Mr. Floyd’s actual cause of death?”
He noted that Baker was the only person to perform an autopsy on Floyd.
So we’ve got the actual examiner who performed an autopsy on Floyd, and a whole bunch of guys who didn’t. This isn’t a case: it’s a joke.