EXPLAINER: Chauvin defense suggests prone position not risky

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In this image from video, Dr. David Fowler, a retired forensic pathologist and former chief medical examiner for the state of Maryland is questioned by prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides, Wednesday, April 14, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

CHICAGO – The attorney for the former officer charged with killing George Floyd says several studies suggest police can safely use their bodyweight to hold a handcuffed suspect facedown on the ground — or prone — as Floyd was in the last minutes of his life.

But those findings aren't universally accepted and have been contradicted by a parade of law enforcement and medical experts central to prosecutors’ efforts to convict Derek Chauvin of murder and manslaughter.

WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT FLOYD'S POSITION?

Bystander and surveillance camera video shows Floyd on his stomach with his hands cuffed behind his back, pinned to the ground by three officers.

Chauvin was closest to Floyd's head, and a use-of-force expert testified that Chauvin applied pressure to Floyd's neck area for 9 minutes, 29 seconds.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson suggested Chauvin's knee was not on Floyd's neck for that entire time, but moved to his upper back, shoulder blades and arm.

WHAT DID PROSECUTORS’ EXPERTS SAY ABOUT THE PRONE POSITION?

Medical experts testified for the prosecution that the prone position cuts lung volume, reduces oxygen levels and makes it harder to breathe.