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The first two days of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial reportedly featured a lot of emotional testimony from men, women and children who’d witnessed him kneeling on deceased criminal suspect George Floyd’s neck last year.
One of the witnesses, a 9-year-old girl, expressed anger and sadness “because it felt like he [Chauvin] was stopping his [Floyd’s] breathing and it was kind of like hurting him,” according to Fox News.
Another witness, a 17-year-old girl, reportedly trembled and fought back tears as she described Floyd as “terrified, scared and begging for his life.”
“It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain. He cried for his mom. It seemed like he knew it was over for him,” she said, according to Fox News.
She reportedly added that she’s been plagued by insomnia ever since the events of May 25th, 2020.
“I stay up at night apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. [But] it’s not what I should have done … it’s what he [Chauvin] should have done,” she said.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson argued in his opening statement Monday that his client had been trained to use a knee-to-neck restraint on suspects.
“Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19 year career. The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing,” he said.
But according to an investigation by Minneapolis station KARE, what he said was only half true. The station reported last year that, while Minneapolis Police Department training materials do teach a knee-to-neck restraint, they caution that it should only be used in the most severe cases.
“[T]he maximal restraint technique shall only be used in situations where handcuffed subjects are combative and still pose a threat to themselves, officers or others, or could cause significant damage property if not properly restrained,” the materials reportedly read.
Moreover, they include a photo that states explicitly that officers should “Place the subject in the recovery position to alleviate positional asphyxia.”
But Chauvin never placed Floyd in this position.
Another witness, Donald Williams, a mixed martial artist who’d previously trained off-duty police officers, said that he was so disturbed by what he’d seen that he called the police on Chauvin and his partners.
“I believe I witnessed a murder. … I felt the need to call the police on the police,” he reportedly said.
The prosecution then played a recording of that horrific phone call.
“The officers are trying to definitely killing a citizen in front of a Chicago store. He just pretty much just killed this guy that wasn’t resisting arrest. He had his knee on the dude’s neck the whole time, officer 987. The men went and stopped breathing. He wasn’t resisting arrest or nothing. He was already in handcuffs,” he could be heard saying.
“They pretty much … It’s stupid, dude. I don’t even know if he’s dead for sure, but he was not responsive when the ambulance came and got him. And the officer that was just out here left, the one that actually just murdered him in front of everybody on 38th and Chicago,” he added.
Williams also drew on his MMA experience to argue why he was 100 percent certain that what he’d witnessed was a “blood choke” designed to kill.
“I watched the position, one, of where the position of the knee was on the neck, two, what body movements was going on while the knee was on the neck and, three, what was the condition of George Floyd as he was going through this torture,” he said.
“I felt the officer on top was shimmying to actually get the final choke in while he was on top, to get the ‘kill choke,’ because the side choke or a ‘blood choke’ can ultimately turn into death, and that’s what we’ve seen here,” Williams stated.
According to Fox News, Chauvin’s attorneys tried pushing back on Williams’ testimony by essentially arguing that the shouting and complaints from him and other bystanders had distracted the officers.
“On cross-examination, the defense seemed to suggest that Williams and others became so loud, agitated, and ‘angry’ that the officers must have been distracted,” Fox News reported.
The idea is that they’re been too distracted to realize that they were allegedly killing Floyd.
The defense also argued that “a combative person who is rendered unconscious by a choke hold might suddenly awaken to begin fighting again –thus justifying Chauvin’s unrelenting compression of Floyd’s neck,” according to Fox News.
The final witness, Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hansen, described how she’d arrived on the scene off-duty and tried to intervene but to no avail, according to the Star Tribune.
“I identified myself right away because I noticed that he needed medical attention. It didn’t take long to notice that he had an altered level of consciousness,” she said. “My attention moved from Mr. Floyd to ‘How can I gain access to this patient and give him medical attention or provide direction to the officers?'” she reportedly testified.
But, she added, Chauvin and his partners had repeatedly refused to allow her to help.
“There is a man being killed, and I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human was not provided that right,” she said.
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