Law & the Courts

Pig’s Head, Blood Left at Former Home of Chauvin Defense Witness

Use-of-force expert Barry Brodd is questioned on the twelfth day of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minn., April 13, 2021 in this courtroom sketch. (Jane Rosenberg/Reuters)

A retired police officer who testified that former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was justified in his use of force during the arrest of George Floyd had his former home vandalized this week with a pig’s head and blood smear.

Santa Rosa Police Department said Saturday that it seemed the “suspects in this vandalism were targeting” the retired officer, Barry Brodd, for his testimony. However, Brodd had not lived in the California home for years.

Brodd testified in the murder trial on Tuesday. On Saturday at 3 a.m., police discovered blood on the home and a severed pig’s head on the front porch. 

The former Santa Rosa police officer told the court last week that it is “easy to sit and judge … an officer’s conduct.”

“It’s more of a challenge to, again, put yourself in the officer’s shoes to try to make an evaluation through what they’re feeling, what they’re sensing, the fear they have, and then make a determination,” he said.

Brodd compared Floyd’s death to a case in which officers use a Taser on someone and the suspect then falls, hits his head and dies.

“That isn’t an incident of deadly force. That’s an incident of an accidental death,” he argued.

Chief Rainer Navarro, the Santa Rosa police chief, said in a statement that Brodd’s comments “do not reflect the values and beliefs” of his department, according to the Associated Press.

The defense team has called seven witnesses, including a police use-of-force expert who testified earlier this week that the officer’s restraint of Floyd was “justified.” The former police officer is seen in a video of the arrest kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes until he became unconscious.

Chauvin’s attorneys have put forth three arguments for acquitting the former officer: that Floyd’s death was the result of drug and health problems, that Chauvin’s use of force was appropriate and that a hostile crowd of bystanders distracted the officer.

Another witness, Dr. David Fowler, a forensic pathologist who retired as Maryland’s chief medical examiner in 2019, testified Wednesday that Floyd’s cause of death was “undetermined,” adding that his underlying heart issues were the most likely cause.

“In my opinion, Mr. Floyd had a sudden cardiac arrhythmia, or cardiac arrhythmia, due to his atherosclerosis and hypertensive heart disease … during his restraint and subdual by the police,” Fowler said.

Fowler also proposed a theory that carbon monoxide from the squad car’s exhaust may have contributed to Floyd’s death, though he acknowledged he could not support that argument with data or test results.

The 45-year-old former officer has pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges.

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