Derek Chauvin trial: Witnesses to George Floyd's death give emotional testimony
MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Several bystanders who witnessed the deadly arrest of George Floyd testified Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The trial is being broadcast live, gavel to gavel, on FOX 9 and streaming live at fox9.com/live.
Donald Williams, a mixed martial arts fighter who began his testimony on Monday, returned to the stand Tuesday morning. Williams told the jury he called 911 believing he had "witnessed a murder."
Among the other witnesses who testified on Tuesday was Darnella Frazier, the teenager whose cell phone video of Floyd’s death was seen all over the world. Her 9-year-old cousin who was with her at the time also testified, as did two other teenagers who took also videos of Floyd’s arrest.
No video of Frazier or the other three juvenile witnesses was shown while they testified after Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled their testimony would be audio only protect their privacy.
The final testimony of the day came from Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter who came upon the scene while out for a walk. She begged officers to check Floyd’s pulse and took cell phone video of the incident. She also called 911 to report what she saw. She will continue her testimony on Wednesday.
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Teen bystander who took video of George Floyd testifies
Darnella Frazier, the young woman who took the widely shared Facebook video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd, testified Tuesday as one of the key witnesses for the state.
Jerry Blackwell, one of the prosecutors, asked Frazier to describe what she saw outside Cup Foods on May 25, 2020 that prompted her to take out her phone and start filming.
Frazier, who was 17 at the time, described to the jury seeing Floyd on the ground with an officer, who she positively identified in court as Chauvin, kneeling on him. She said Floyd was "terrified, scared, begging for his life."
She told her cousin to go inside Cup Foods because she did not want her to see what was happening.
"It wasn’t right," Frazier said. "He was suffering. He was in pain."
Frazier testified she was alone on sidewalk when she began recording the video of Floyd’s arrest on her cell phone, but other bystanders joined her within a minute or so. She became particularly upset in court when she was shown a photo of Chauvin from the scene and asked to confirm he was the officer she saw kneeling on Floyd.
Blackwell asked Frazier how Chauvin responded to her and the other bystanders on the scene who were telling him to get off Floyd.
"He just stared at us, looked at us," she said. "He had like this cold look, heartless. He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying."
Frazier said Chauvin did not remove his knee from Floyd’s neck until after paramedics arrived and checked his pulse.
"The paramedic did like a motion like ‘get up’ basically telling [Chauvin] to remove his knee," she said. "He knee was still there. Even at the end. Even when [Floyd] was unresponsive."
During his cross examination, defense attorney Eric Nelson asked Frazier about the crowd of people at the scene that night. She confirmed there were about 12 people there by the time the ambulance arrived, but she said 38th and Chicago is generally a busier intersection.
Frazier acknowledged the crowd became louder as time went on, with some people calling the officers names.
At the end of her testimony on Tuesday, Frazier said she sees her dad, brothers, cousins and uncles in George Floyd because they are all Black.
"That could have been one of them," she said.
Frazier tearfully told the jury she stays up at night "apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting, not saving his life."
Witness describes Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck
A trained mixed martial arts fighter who witnessed George Floyd’s deadly arrest testified Tuesday that he called 911 because he believed he "witnessed a murder."
Donald Williams began his testimony Monday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in Floyd’s death. Williams can be heard in the viral bystander video yelling at the officers to get off Floyd, that they were killing him.
Williams became emotional listening to the recording of the 911 call he made to police on May 25, 2020. Williams could be heard telling the dispatcher "Officer 987," whom he identified at trial as Chauvin, "pretty much just killed this guy that wasn’t resisting arrest."
"He had this knee on this dude’s neck the whole time," Williams said during the call. "The man stopped breathing. He wasn’t resisting arrest or nothing. He was already in handcuffs."
Williams, who previously testified he is expertly trained in chokeholds as an MMA fighter, described the restraint he saw Chauvin allegedly using against Floyd as a "blood chokehold."
While being cross-examined by Nelson, however, he admitted he has never gone to any Minneapolis Police Department or law enforcement training on chokeholds.
Nelson asked Williams if he has ever had to compete in front of a crowd that was "upset." Williams swatted the question back at the defense, answering yes and that he knows how to deal with distraction and remain professional regardless of what is going on around him.
Williams was the last witness to take the stand before court adjourned on Monday. Prosecutors were limited about what Williams could testify to, in terms of a cause of death. Trial Judge Peter Cahill said Williams could explain what he saw in the moment, but he could not opine freely about some conclusions he reached.
Williams recalled watching Floyd struggle on the street under Chauvin’s knee, seeing Floyd’s eyes roll back into his head and him gasping for air.
Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank played the bystander video and Williams described to the jury that he believes he saw Chauvin "shimmying" to add pressure on Floyd’s neck.
"He just did it right there. His toe is pointed down, you will see a small gesture in his back foot, and that’s the pressure being pushed more down between his knee, George’s head and the concrete and it’s cutting off circulation," Williams said.
Off-duty firefighter said she 'desperately' wanted to help George Floyd
One of the state’s witnesses in the trial of Derek Chauvin was Genevieve Hansen, 27, who works for the Minneapolis Fire Department. She was off duty when she witnessed the deadly arrest of George Floyd and recorded video at the scene. She also called 911 after the incident.
Before her testimony, the court shared Hansen’s video, which showed her responding to the scene. In the video she can be heard asking officers if they checked Floyd’s pulse.
Hansen said she was out for a walk on May 25, 2020, when she came across the scene of George Floyd’s arrest and noticed police lights. She said that as she got closer to the scene, she spoke with a woman across the street who was "screaming they were killing him."
When she got closer to the scene, Hansen said she noticed Floyd "wasn't moving and he was cuffed… three grown men putting their weight on someone is too much." Hansen said. "He had an alternate level of consciousness. My attention moved from Mr. Floyd to how can I gain access to this patient or direct officers. I was really concerned."
Questioning grew tense, and at times, Judge Cahill reminded Hansen not to be argumentative toward Attorney Nelson.
Derek Chauvin charges
Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder, second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death last May.
Judge Cahill reinstated the third-degree murder charge against Chauvin during the first week of the trial.
Chauvin trial streaming and TV information
The Chauvin trial will be live streamed, gavel to gavel, at fox9.com/live and the FOX 9 News App. You can also find the FOX 9 stream on Tubi through connected TVs. When the trial itself begins March 29, FOX 9 will broadcast it live on FOX 9 for the duration, including a quick recap of the day when court adjourns, followed by the FOX 9 News at 5.
Who is in the courtroom?
- Trial Judge Peter Cahill
- 1 judge's clerk
- 1 court reporter
- Derek Chauvin, the defendant
- The jury. The empaneled jury will consist of 12 jurors and 2 alternates.
- Up to 4 lawyers or staff for the prosecution, led by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank.
- Defense attorney Eric Nelson and up to 2 staff from his law firm
- 1 witness at a time in the courtroom
- 1 George Floyd family member
- 1 Derek Chauvin family member
- 2 members of pooled media - 1 print and 1 broadcast or digital media
- 1 broadcast technician
The Derek Chauvin trial is being held in Courtroom 1856 of the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis. Court will begin at 9 a.m. and will adjourn at 4:30 p.m. most days.
Opening statements in the trial are scheduled to begin on March 29. A verdict is not expected until mid to late April.
QUICK READ: Derek Chauvin trial essential info and FAQs
Who are the selected jurors?
Fifteen jurors were seated during jury selection, but Judge Cahill dismissed the 15th juror before opening statements. The 14 remaining jurors will hear the whole case, but only 12 will deliberate. The two alternate jurors will step in if one of the 12 has to excuse themselves from the case. Judge Cahill has instructed the jurors to avoid any media coverage of the trial.
- Juror No. 2: White man in his 20s
- Juror No. 9: Mixed/multiracial woman in her 20s
- Juror No. 19: White man in his 30s
- Juror No. 27: Black man in his 30s
- Juror No. 44: White woman in her 50s
- Juror No. 52: Black man in his 30s
- Juror No. 55: White woman in her 50s
- Juror No. 79: Black man in his 40s
- Juror No. 85: Mixed/multiracial woman in her 40s
- Juror No. 89: White woman in her 50s
- Juror No. 91: Black woman in her 60s
- Juror No. 92: White woman in her 40s
- Juror No. 96: White woman in her 50s
- Juror No. 118: White woman in her 20s
- Juror No. 131: White man in his 20s
READ MORE: Who are the selected jurors?
Jurors will only be referred to by a random, previously assigned number because Judge Cahill has ordered their identities to remain a secret for the duration of the trial. At the conclusion of the trial, Judge Cahill will decide when the jurors’ identities can be made public.
The jury will be partially sequestered during the trial and fully sequestered while they are deliberating, which means they cannot go home until they reach a verdict or the judge determines they are hung. However, the judge can order full sequestration of the jury at any time if the partial sequestration proves ineffective in keeping the jurors free from outside influence.
Courtroom 1856 was renovated specifically for the Derek Chauvin trial to maximize capacity and maintain COVID-19 social distancing standards. The courtroom is located on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center.
Judge Cahill has ordered certain behavior in the courtroom:
Jurors, attorneys, witnesses and support staff must wear masks and keep six feet from other people.
Masks can be removed when giving testimony, examining witnesses, giving opening statements or closing arguments. Attorneys must conduct all witness examinations and arguments from the lectern.
Any sidebar conferences will be conducted over wireless headsets. Chauvin will be outfitted with a headset to listen to these conferences, which will be off-the-record.
Jurors will be escorted to courtroom each day by deputies or security. No one can have contact with jurors except the judge, court personnel and deputies. Any attorney contact is limited to the jury selection process when court is in session.
Jurors will only be referred to by a randomized number.
Death of George Floyd
George Floyd, 46, died on May 25, 2020 while being detained by Minneapolis police officers Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue. The intersection has remained closed to traffic since Floyd's death and has been dubbed George Floyd Square.
MINNEAPOLIS, MN - AUGUST 17: People participate in a demonstration on August 17, 2020 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Community members came together for a rally to protest the city's potential forceful reopening 38th Street and Chicago Ave, an unofficial
A widely-shared video taken by a bystander showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while he repeatedly cried, "I can’t breathe."
Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo announced the firing of all four officers the following day. Chauvin was arrested and charged with Floyd’s death on May 29 and the three others were arrested and charged with aiding and abetting on June 3.
TIMELINE: George Floyd's death to Derek Chauvin's trial
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner's report ruled the death of George Floyd a homicide. The updated report stated that George Floyd experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement.