Emotions High As Bystanders Take Stand In Day 2 Of Derek Chauvin Trial

By Maryam Henein

Testimony resumed Tuesday, March 30th in the Derek Chauvin murder trial with six people testifying in all, including four witnesses who were younger than 18 on the day of George Floyd’s arrest.

Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to second and third-degree murder as well as second-degree manslaughter and faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted. Nelson argues Chauvin was simply doing what “he was trained to do throughout his 19-year career” and that Floyd’s death was the result of a drug overdose and pre-existing health issues.

The young witnesses were entitled to additional privacy protections, which translated to not having their full names disclosed and listening to audio-only while on the stand.

The court concluded with Judge Peter Cahill reprimanding a “witness media representative” a.k.a a publicist, who was taking photos on her cell phone in the court hallway.

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Here are some highlights of the day from inside Courtroom 1856:

Donald Williams

Donald Williams, an MMA fighter, took the stand again today for a line of questioning by Eric Nelson, Derek Chauvin’s attorney. Under direct examination, Nelson asked whether he or any other bystanders threatened the safety of police at the scene. Nelson’s aim was to establish that the crowd was somewhat hostile, which interfered with them doing their job. Williams said the crowd did not.

In a call to a 911 dispatcher, which was played Tuesday in Hennepin County court, Williams was heard saying “[Chauvin] pretty much just killed a guy that wasn’t resisting arrest. The man stopped breathing. He wasn’t resisting arrest—he was not responsive. They wouldn’t even take his pulse.”

The 33-year-old got teary-eyed as he listened to his heated conversation with police that day where he repeatedly called the cops involved “murderers.”

Williams called 911, he said, after begging officers to check Floyd’s pulse and trying to stop a dangerous ‘chokehold’ during the arrest outside Cup Foods.

“I did call the police on the police. I believe I witnessed a murder. I felt the need to call the police on the police,” Williams testified, who wore two different colored socks that day.

Williams, who has worked security with off-duty MPD officers in the past, is the third witness to testify against the former law enforcement officer.

Nelson asked Williams if he’s ever trained police officers in the choke hold technique.  He said he had not.

In Monday’s testimony, Williams assumed the blood coming from Floyd’s nose was due to a byproduct of the cops when in fact Nelson said Floyd had banged his head while struggling in the back of the cop car.

Nelson also asked Williams why he called Chauvin inflammatory insults or as he described them “some mean names” e.g calling Chauvin a “fucking pussy ass bitch” and a “fucking bum.”

Nelson said he called Chauvin a bum a total of 13 times. “If that’s what you saw in the video,” Williams said in a combative manner.

“I was watching a man get murdered, I said what I said with no regret,” Williams added.

When Judge Cahill reminded Williams he had to give a yes/no answer, he looked at Chauvin directly while confirming “yes” he had said all of those things.

He also shared that Officer Thao told bystanders watching, “See? This is what drugs do to you” and how that angered him, thinking of the racialized state terror inflicted on Black people in the War on Drugs.

He said Thao also touched him on his chest in an act of intimidation.

Williams told Thoa he’d shoot himself within the next two years, arguably out of guilt for his actions.

“You’re not going to paint me as being angry,” Williams told Nelson.

Darnella Frazier

While we didn’t get to see Darnella Frazier in today’s testimony, her name is known given her presence on social media and in the press. It was the then 17-year-old’s ten-minute Facebook video that went viral around the globe.

She recalled that she walked to Cup Foods with her nine-year-old cousin to get snacks — a trek she’s made “hundreds, maybe even thousands” of times. She told her cousin to go inside Cup Foods because she did not want her to see what was happening.

Frazier testified she was alone on the 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.

Incidentally, to commemorate her “courage” and “heal” her trauma, Darnella has raised more than half a million dollars via GoFundMe.

Frazier has stated that the police would have swept the incident under the rug if it weren’t for her video.

Blackwell asked Frazier how Chauvin responded to her and the other bystanders, pleading with 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.

She broke down in tears and had to pause in between answers as she relived that day.

“It’s been nights I stayed up 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 should have done,” Frazier said, referring to Chauvin.

“When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all black…I have black friends & I look at that & I look at that how that could have been one of them.”

In what was arguably poor taste to arguably once again heighten the drama, the prosecution put the nine-year-old cousin Judeah on the stand, who was seen that day wearing a pink teeshirt with the word LOVE. She will turn 10 next week.

“It felt like he was stopping his breathing,” she told the court. She also said she felt sad and mad.

The defense chose not to question her.

Witness 18-Year-Old White Teeshirt

Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge, another member of this large prosecutorial team, questioned an 18-year-old female witness who was also a minor at the time of the incident. The witness circled herself in a photo on the far left.

The high school senior was driving her grandfather’s tan Buick with a friend and was on her way to Cup Foods to get a cable.

Nelson pressed her on her comments she made to investigators that she saw officers check Floyd’s pulse. She said she believes they did, but doesn’t have a memory of telling them she saw them take his pulse “multiple times.”

On video, she is heard saying he hasn’t moved in over a minute.

“It felt really like a lot to take in at first, I almost walked away at first because it was a lot to watch but I knew it was wrong” so she decided to stay “even though I couldn’t do anything about it… It’s not what I should’ve done, it’s what he should’ve done.”

She hasn’t been to Cup Foods since then.  “I don’t want to be reminded.”

Witness 17-year-old Big Purse

Another teen who was with the prior witness in a white teeshirt was a 17-year-old female who said she initially stayed in the vehicle. But she got out of the car when she heard a man yelling because things “sounded serious.” She said by that time Floyd was unconscious.

“He wasn’t talking anymore, his eyes were closed, he wasn’t moving … Derek Chauvin was digging his knee in his neck with force and it wasn’t needed.”

“I saw his back foot go off the ground and I saw him put his hands in his pockets… I saw Mr. Chauvin’s knee move down into George Floyd’s neck. I was recording and telling him to get off of him. I felt like they weren’t doing what they were supposed to be doing.”

She admitted to being very nervous and anxious because of what happened: “I want the truth to come out.”

She says she saw Derek Chauvin grabbing his mace and pointing it towards her and other bystanders.

She says she was “scared” of Chauvin and that the other officers were “hostile.”

She says she was present for George Floyd.

Genevieve Hansen

Genevieve Hansen, who is trained as a firefighter-paramedic and was off duty on a walk near Cup Foods that day, demanded officers check George Floyd’s pulse.

The 27-year-old took the stand in uniform which seemed to be a bit of an over-the-top move to add to her credibility since she wasn’t working and in sweats and a hairband that day.

She also called 911. This marks the third time the jury hears from a witness who called the police on the police.

In her testimony, she said she was “distressed” by Officer Thao:

“He said something along the lines of, if you really are a Minneapolis firefighter, you would know better than to get involved. … First, I was worried that he wasn’t going to believe me and not let me help. And I also … that’s … that’s not right. I mean, that’s exactly what I should have done. There was no medical assistance on the scene. And I got there and I could have given medical assistance. That’s exactly what I should have done. … I would have requested additional help. I would have wanted someone to call 911 for the paramedics and fire to come. … I would have checked his airway. I would have been worried about a spinal cord injury because he had so much weight on his neck. I would have opened his airway to check if there are any obstructions, and I would have checked for a pulse. And when I didn’t find a pulse, if that was the case, I would have started compressions.”

Nelson asked Hansen to characterize if the crowd was “angry” and “upset.”

In response to whether the energy was hostile, she responded, “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen someone die in front of you, but it’s very upsetting.”

Toward the end, testimony got heated and Judge Cahill excused the jury before admonishing Hansen.

“I’m advising you do not argue with the council and the court… you will not argue with the court.”

“I was finishing my answer.”

“I’m the one to determine when you’re finished with your answer,” he said before releasing her.

Before adjourning for the day, Cahill also called Rachel Jackson a “media representative” aka a publicist into the courtroom where he reprimanded her for taking pictures on the 18th floor in a court hallway of Darnella Frazier with Keith Ellison to “memorialize” the day. She was ordered to delete the photo and her phone was returned.

Quick Glance At Jurors

Fifteen jurors were seated, 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

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