Viewers grew angrier as they begged Minneapolis official Derek Chauvin to take his knee off George Floyd’s neck, but Chauvin persisted and another official forced back members of the crowd who tried to intervene, witnesses said Tuesday at Chauvin’s murder trial.
Witness after witness described how Chauvin was unaffected by their appeals, with the teen filming the harrowing video of the arrest sparking national protests that testified that the officer gave the crowd a “cold” and “heartless” look.
“He didn’t care. He didn’t seem to care what we said, ”said 18-year-old Darnella Frazier, one of several witnesses who testified in tears.
Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd while colleague Tou Thao held the crowd back from about 15, even when one of the spectators posed as a firefighter and, according to witnesses and onlookers, repeatedly pleaded for Floyd’s pulse to be checked.
“They definitely put their hands on the mace and we all pulled back,” Frazier told the jury.
Firefighter Genevieve Hansen cried on the witness stand when she remembered how she was not allowed to provide medical help or tell the police what to do, such as chest compressions.
“A man was killed,” said Hansen, who testified in her dress uniform and said she had trained as a paramedic. “I could have given medical help to the best of my knowledge and belief. And this person was denied this right. “
Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter for killing Floyd last May by handcuffing the 46-year-old black man to the sidewalk for 9 minutes 29 seconds. Floyd was arrested after he was accused of trying to pass on a counterfeit $ 20 bill in the supermarket.
Floyd’s death, along with the viewer video pleading he couldn’t breathe and viewers furiously yelling at the white officer to get away from him, sometimes sparked violent protests around the world and a reckoning of racism and police brutality in the USA
The most serious charge against the officer, who has since been released, provides for a prison sentence of up to 40 years.
The defense has argued that Chauvin did what his education told him and that Floyd’s death was not caused by the officer but rather by a combination of illegal drug use, heart disease, high blood pressure and the adrenaline rushing through his body.
VIDEO: Witness Describes George Floyd “Slowly Fading”
On Tuesday, prosecutors asked several witnesses to share their horror at what they saw and backed up the testimony with multiple videos, some of which had never been seen before. Many testified of feelings of helplessness and guilt as Floyd gasped for air, begged for his life, and eventually went limp and still, his eyes rolling back in his head.
The testimony apparently aimed to show that Chauvin had several opportunities to reflect on what he was doing and to change course.
But Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, also tried to highlight anger in the crowd to show that Chauvin and his colleagues were in an increasingly tense and distracting situation, with viewers becoming increasingly excited.
Earlier Tuesday, one of the spectators, Donald Williams, testified that he called 911 after paramedics took Floyd away “because I believed I had witnessed a murder.” On a recording of the 911 call, Williams could be heard yelling at the officers: “You are a murderer, brother!”
During the cross-examination, Chauvin’s attorney pointed out that Williams seemed to be getting angrier and angrier at the police, ridiculing Chauvin with “tough guy,” “thump,” and other names, then using chauvin swear words, which the defense attorney repeated in court.
Williams, a professional mixed martial arts fighter, initially admitted he was getting angrier, but then withdrew, saying he was controlled and professional and advocated for Floyd’s life but was not heard.
Williams said he was climbing up and down the curb, and at one point Thao, who was controlling the crowd, put his hand on Williams’ chest. When asked, Williams admitted that he had told Thao that he would hit the officers if Thao touched him again.
Witnesses also testified that no bystanders actually bothered the police.
When Frazier was asked by a prosecutor if she had seen violence anywhere at the scene, she replied, “Yes, from the police. From Chauvin and from Officer Thao. “
Also on Tuesday, prosecutors played a cell phone video recorded by another viewer, 18-year-old Alyssa Funari, showing onlookers yelling and yelling at chauvin after Floyd stopped moving. The footage also showed the Minneapolis firefighter quietly walking up to Thao and offering his help before ordering her to go back to the sidewalk.
“I felt like there wasn’t really anything I could do as a spectator,” said a tearful Funari, adding that she felt like she was failing Floyd. “Technically, I could have done something, but physically I couldn’t really do anything … because the highest power was there at that time,” she said, looking at the police.
Frazier testified that she looks at her father and other black men in her life and thinks about “how any of them could have been”.
“I stay up at night and apologize to George Floyd for not doing more … not saving his life,” she said, adding to Chauvin, “It’s not what I should have done; he should have done that. “
Steve Karnowski and Amy Forliti, The Associated Press
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