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Morries Hall, George Floyd

Derek Chauvin trial UPDATE: Man with George Floyd during arrest will NOT be forced to testify

UPDATE:

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled on Monday afternoon that Morries Hall, the man with George Floyd during his fatal arrest, will not be compelled to testify. Cahill also denied the defense’s motion to have Hall’s statements to police admitted in lieu of his testimony.

A Minnesota judge is expected to decide on Monday whether the man who was in the SUV with George Floyd at the time of his arrest will take the stand amid concerns that testimony may incriminate him.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill will rule on a motion that seeks to compel Morries Hall to testify about what he witnessed in connection to Floyd’s deadly arrest. Cahill said Hall will appear in court on Tuesday to determine what he can testify about — but the jury will not be present.

As previously reported, Hall said he plans to invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross had testified that Hall gave Floyd illicit drugs the month of his death. Both the prosecution and defense subpoenaed Hall, but his attorney said his testimony could result in him facing criminal charges — including third-degree murder.

Hall appeared in court on Tuesday via Zoom as he was jailed in Hennepin County on unrelated charges. Court records indicate that Hall was arrested in late March on charges of domestic abuse, violating a no-contact order, and domestic assault by strangulation. Hall is also facing felony charges in Redwood County, though the nature of those charges is unclear.

Hall was reportedly inside the SUV with Floyd when Minneapolis police responded to the 911 call alleging Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill at Cup Foods. NPR reported that Hall was accused of attempting to use the fake bill before Floyd.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson reportedly said his planned questions to Hall include whether he gave Floyd drugs, whether he gave Floyd the counterfeit $20 he used at Cup Foods, why he provided a false name to police, and why he immediately left the state after Floyd’s death last year.

Nelson insisted that Hall providing testimony about whether Floyd had fallen asleep behind the wheel on the day he died would not incriminate Hall. Nelson also said Monday that prosecutors have no intention to offer Hall immunity for his testimony.

On May 25, Minneapolis police officers were filmed arresting Floyd, 44, on suspicion that he used a counterfeit bill at the Cup Foods supermarket. After police pulled Floyd out of his car and handcuffed him, Chauvin was filmed forcing his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

Floyd was heard gasping for air and repeatedly saying he could not breathe before he lost consciousness and died.

Hennepin County’s official autopsy report stated that Floyd’s blood had a fentanyl concentration of 11 nanograms per milliliter. While the medical examiner described the concentration as high and potentially fatal, they stressed that it does not mean Floyd died of an overdose.

The report also stated that there was no evidence “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” in Floyd’s death. Conversely, an independent autopsy asserted that sustained forceful pressure on Floyd’s neck and back led to his death.

Both the county’s and the independent report mentioned drugs in Floyd’s system. However, the two reports listed his cause of death as a homicide.

The defense has argued that a “speedball” — an opioid and a stimulant combination — along with hypertension led to Floyd dying of cardiac arrhythmia. However, the prosecution said video evidence and expert testimony disproves Floyd was dying from a drug overdose, and that Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes killed him.

Chauvin pleaded not guilty to third-degree murder, second-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death. In addition to Chauvin, three other ex-officers, Thomas Lane, 37, Alex Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34 are charged with aiding and abetting, second-degree murder, and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death.

Chauvin is being tried separately from the other three former officers, who will stand trial together. Their trial is scheduled to begin this summer.

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[Featured image: Morries Hall/Court TV via AP, Pool]