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Friend of Floyd invokes Fifth Amendment, refuses to testify in Chauvin trial

A friend of George Floyd who was with him the day he was killed said Wednesday that he would not testify in the ongoing trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, invoking Fifth Amendment privileges. 

A notice filed by the Hennepin County Public Defender's Office said that Morries Hall, who had been identified as a potential witness by both prosecutors and defense attorneys in Chauvin’s trial, would “invoke his fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination” if called to testify. 

Assistant Public Defender Adrienne Cousins added that Hall, who was sitting in the front passenger seat of a vehicle with Floyd last May when he was initially questioned by police about allegedly using a fake $20 bill at a local convenience store, should thus be released from any obligations to appear in court. 

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Wednesday’s notice did not provide any additional details regarding Hall’s decision to invoke the Fifth Amendment. 

The filing came on the third full day of Chauvin’s trial. The former officer faces charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second degree-manslaughter in Floyd's death. 

A number of witnesses have provided emotional testimony this week, with several expressing survivor’s guilt and saying how they wished they could’ve done more to help Floyd. Video of Floyd's death that showed Chauvin kneeling on his neck for roughly nine minutes — the same footage that sparked nationwide protests against police brutality last summer — was also shown in court.

Police body camera footage from May 25 showed Hall, along with Shawanda Hill, sitting in a vehicle with Floyd outside the Cup Foods store in Minneapolis. 

Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said in his opening statement that Hall and Hill would testify in court that Floyd injected drugs before police arrived at his car and that investigators found pill fragments in Floyd’s vehicle that tested positive for a mixture of methamphetamine and fentanyl, according to the Star Tribune

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Nelson on Monday argued that Floyd died from “a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, coronary disease, ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl, and the adrenaline throwing — flowing through his body, all of which acted to further compromise an already compromised heart.”

Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office in its autopsy report listed Floyd’s cause of death as “cardiopulmonary arrest [the stopping of both the heart and lungs] complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”

Floyd was known to have struggled with an opioid addiction, and while trace amounts of fentanyl and methamphetamine were found in Floyd’s system in the autopsy, the drugs were not listed as an official cause of death.