Prosecution witnesses on Tuesday described in mourning detail their horror when they saw the last moments of George Floyd’s life when they testified against Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of Floyd’s murder.
Jury members listened with visible sympathy when they heard from the teenager who recorded a video that millions showed around the world showing Chauvin, who is white, using his knee to attach the neck of Floyd, a black man in handcuffs, to the ground.
Darnella Frazier, an 18-year-old student who told the court that she suffers from social anxiety, broke down in tears when she described her feelings of guilt and anger after witnessing the arrest on May 25, 2020.
“He had this cold look, heartless,” Frazier said as Chauvin listened with his lawyer at a nearby table and took notes in a yellow legal pad.
Before her testimony, a martial arts professional fighter talked about his growing agitation when he saw the vulnerable Floyd fighting for his spirit.
Later in the day, a uniformed firefighter on duty described her plight to Chauvin and other officers who prevented her from giving chest compressions to Floyd, who was then unconscious.
“Mr. Chauvin seemed very comfortable that the majority of his weight was balanced on top of Mr. Floyd,” said Genevieve Hansen, who took the position in his white Minneapolis fire department uniform with a badge and black tie, jury members. “In my memory, he had his hand in his pocket.”
Frazier’s images, which prosecutors say show excessive force, led to one of the largest protest movements seen in the United States in decades, with daily marches against disproportionate violence against police against black people.
Lawyers for Chauvin, 45, say he followed his police training and is not guilty of the charges filed by the Minnesota Law Firm for second-degree murder, third-degree murder or second-degree murder.
‘I think I witnessed a murder’
Donald Williams, the mixed martial arts fighter, can be heard in surrounding videos shouting insults at Chauvin and demanding police checks on Floyd’s pulse. He told jurors he thought Chauvin used his knee in a “blood choking” on Floyd, a wrestling move to knock an opponent unconscious and a “shimmy” move to tighten the pressure on Floyd’s neck.
A 911 call that Williams made after the arrest was played. Williams lost his eyes with a tissue as his distressed voice filled the courtroom.
“I think I witnessed a murder,” Williams, 33, told the jury. “So I felt I needed to call the police.”
Chauvin’s lead lawyer, Eric Nelson, has tried to convince the jury that Chauvin may have felt threatened by spectators, which prosecutors deny.
In an sometimes tense cross-examination, Nelson read aloud the insults, some of them obscene, that Williams throws at Chauvin in the video.
“You call him a ‘tough guy’?” Asked Nelson and demanded only a “yes” or “no” answer. Williams looked away with a small smile as each insult was read out.
“Do you call him a ‘bum’ at least 13 times?” Nelson continued.
“If that’s what you’re counting in the video,” Williams replied, smiling again, “then you got: 13.”
Later on Tuesday, Hensen said she was rejected by another police officer when she sought help for Floyd. She testified that the other officer told her, “If you really are a firefighter in Minneapolis, you would know better than to get involved.”
She can be heard in the video screaming at the police to check Floyd’s pulse. “I promised and was desperate,” she said. A water bottle shook in her hand as she sipped it to soothe the tears.
“That’s what I would have done for someone,” she said.
Frazier went to her 9-year-old cousin to buy snacks at Cup Foods, where a worker had previously accused Floyd of using a fake $ 20 bill, when she saw police arrest Floyd on the way outside.
She started crying when prosecutors took a still image from her video and showed the moment when Chauvin, his knee on Floyd’s neck, seems to look directly into Frazier’s camera lens.
She was asked by both sides how the most famous record of Floyd’s death had changed her life.
“When I look at George Floyd, I look at my father, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all black,” she said. “It could have been one of them.”
She said she would sometimes stay up late at night thinking about Floyd and apologize for not “saving his life.”
A few minutes later, Frazier’s young cousin, her hair in braids, took her place in the witness stand and said in a small voice that she recognized Chauvin as the man she saw kneeling on Floyd.
“I was sad,” said the girl, “and a little angry.”