5 key takeaways from day one of the Derek Chauvin trial in the killing of George Floyd
- The trial of former Minneapolis police officer
Derek Chauvinbegan Monday.
- Three witnesses were called to testify: a 911 dispatcher and two bystanders of the incident on May 25, 2020.
- Here are the five major takeaways of the trial so far.
The trial of ex-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began Monday. He was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in
Jury selection wrapped up last week, and the trial is expected to take four weeks.Three witnesses took to the stand on Monday before Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill adjourned the trial until Tuesday morning due to "a major technical glitch."
Jerry Blackwell, one of the prosecutors in the trial, repeatedly highlighted in his opening statement that Floyd was pinned to the ground for nine minutes and 29 seconds by Chauvin.
"The most important numbers you will hear in this trial are 9:29, what happened in those nine minutes and 29 seconds when Mr. Derek Chauvin was applying this excessive force to the body of Mr. George Floyd," Blackwell said in his hour-long opening statement.He said Floyd was "completely in the control of the police" during the situation and claimed that Chauvin "betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force" on Floyd.
"That he put his knees upon his neck and back, grinding and crushing him, until the very breath, no ladies and gentleman, the very life, was squeezed out of him," the prosecutor said.
Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson said there are 'two sides to a story' and that the 'evidence is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds.'Nelson pointed out the extent of the investigation that took place in light of the incident, including hundreds of interviews with civilian witnesses, first responders at the scene, and other police officers at the Minneapolis Police Department. "Common sense is the application of sound judgment based upon a reasoned analysis, and that's what this case is ultimately about," Nelson said. "It's about the evidence in this case...There is no political or social cause in this courtroom."
Nelson also blamed the "growing crowd" at the scene, which he said distracted the officers in Floyd's arrest.
"There are people across the street, there are cars stopping, people yelling, there is a growing crowd in what officers perceived to be a threat," Nelson said. "They're called names. I heard them this morning. A f---ing bum. They're screaming at them, causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr. Floyd to the threat that was growing in front of them."
The first witness, Jena Scurry, a Minneapolis-based 911 dispatcher, said she called a police sergeant to voice concerns over Floyd's arrest.Jena Scurry, who has worked as a dispatcher in Minneapolis for nearly seven years and was called as the first witness in Chauvin's trial, said she had never made a similar call to a police sergeant before in her career.
Scurry said she was watching police take Floyd into custody on May 25, 2020, through a video feed playing on one of the TVs at the dispatch center where she worked, looking at the TV as well as her computer screen while she was working.
At one point, when she looked back at the TV, she said she first thought her screen was frozen upon seeing officers hold Floyd to the ground for an extended period of time, but when she saw people moving in the background, she thought "something might be wrong.""It had not changed. They were still on the ground .... it was long enough, long enough that I could look back multiple times," Scurry said. "I first asked if the screens had frozen because it hadn't changed."
Another witness, Donald Williams, a bystander with expertise in martial arts, said he informed Chauvin on the scene that he was holding Floyd in a 'blood choke.'Williams, who said he trained police officers in mixed martial arts at a gym, said Chauvin maneuvered his knee in a "shimmy," a move that cuts off airflow.
"You can see his foot, his toe is pointing down," Williams said. "And that's the pressure, to push more down, between his knee, George's head, and the concrete and cut off circulation."He also said during his testimony that he told Chauvin that he thought he was using a "blood choke" on Floyd during the arrest on May 25, 2020. Williams described what he witnessed at the scene during his testimony, saying he heard Floyd "pleading" for his life.
"Hearing George on the ground pretty much pleading for his life saying he's sorry, 'I can't breathe, I want my mom, just please let me up,' things like that," Williams said."The more you see Floyd fade away, slowly fade away," he added. "He was going through distress because of the knee. He vocalized it, that 'I can't breathe, I need to get up, and I'm sorry,' and his eyes slowly roll to the back of his head."
Following the first part of his testimony, the presiding judge told Williams to keep his remarks on what he observed, not his opinion on what was happeningPrior to the live feed of the trial cutting out, Cahill turned to Williams to ask him to focus his responses more on what he's observing in the videos, rather than giving an opinion on the situation. Cahill ruled to disregard some of Williams' statements from his testimony.
Cahill said there were "restrictions" put upon "how far" Williams' "expertise can go" in the trial, adding that "it's important we stick to those restrictions we put on it."
"You're kind of going beyond it by not being responsive to answer, talking about killing him and things like that," Cahill said, adding that it was not Williams' fault that his statements were getting struck from the record."It's just that there are certain things that I'm allowing you to testify to and that's fine," Cahill said. "But we ask that you be very careful that we don't let you go beyond those, otherwise I'll just have to tell the jury to disregard."
"Otherwise you're fine, but I just want to let you know that you have to be careful not to volunteer things that are not being asked."
The judge also asked Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank to be more specific in his questioning.
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