Feelings of horror and fear were recalled in a Minneapolis court Tuesday as a series of onlookers testified about what it was like to see George Floyd slowly die below the knee of former cop Derek Chauvin in last May.
Six witnesses testified on the second day of Chauvin’s criminal trial: a 9-year-old girl, three high school students, a mixed martial arts fighter and a Minneapolis firefighter.
The state remained focused on the video of the 9 minutes and 29 seconds that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck. They told the jury: “You can believe your eyes this is homicide,” lawyer Jerry Blackwell said Monday.
Defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that the case was more complicated than this video. He said Chauvin was taking his training in police use of force and argued that Floyd’s cause of death was a combination of drug use and pre-existing health issues.
He also said passers-by turned into a threatening crowd, which distracted officers. During cross-examination of some witnesses, he tried to get them to admit that they and the crowd were angry.
The firefighter off duty
Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter and trained EMT, was out for a walk on her day off. She testified that when she saw Floyd’s incident in front of Cup Foods, she tried to help, but the former officer Tou Thao denied her access to treat Floyd.
In the cellphone video she recorded, Hansen is heard telling officers to check her pulse, but says she didn’t see any of them do it.
She then called 911, but said she should have called “immediately”. After Floyd was taken in an ambulance, she testified that she stood on the sidewalk in shock at what she had just seen.
The MMA fighter
Donald Wynn Williams II, a spectator and MMA fighter, said Chauvin performed a “blood choke” on Floyd and adjusted his positioning several times to keep the pressure on Floyd’s neck. He said he wanted to keep Chauvin away from Floyd but didn’t physically intervene because Thao ordered him to stay away.
“I was really trying to keep my professionalism and make sure I speak for Floyd’s life because I felt like he was in great danger,” he said.
During cross-examination, Williams admitted that he repeatedly called Chauvin and Thao and yelled at them even after Floyd was taken in an ambulance. Still, he rejected defense attorney Eric Nelson’s description that he had become “angry” at the scene.
Chauvin faces a charge of second degree murder, a charge of third degree murder and a charge of second degree manslaughter.
He could be sentenced on all, some or none of the charges. Minnesota’s sentencing guidelines recommend about 12.5 years in prison for each murder charge and about four years for the manslaughter charge.
The testimony of witnesses at trial is expected to last approximately four weeks, followed by jury deliberations.
HLN’s Mike Galanos and CNN’s Omar Jimenez recap Day 2 of the trial and offer a look at what will happen today:
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