MINNEAPOLIS – This concludes the first week of testimony in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who was charged with the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day.
The week started with Heartbreaking eyewitness accounts of Floyd’s deathWith several witnesses collapse as told about her intervention attempts. But in the second half of the week testimony moved to focus on police body videosWith Insight from paramedics and police officers about what happened that evening and what departmental guidelines ask them to do.
Jurors have not yet heard from medical experts. Your testimony will be vital to prosecutors because of the defense argues Floyd diedfrom a combination of medical issues, drug use and his fight with the police. Prosecutors say he died from excessive use of force – particularly on Chauvin’s knee in the back of his neck for more than nine minutes.
Here are the highlights:
Videos, videos, videos
The judges saw the video – the viral one Darnella Frazier of Minneapolis recorded Floyd’s fight with the police – almost before they get their seats warm. Prosecutors played the full video – over nine minutes – during her opening arguments.
Based on their answers in the selection of the juryIt was the first time most of the panel had seen the whole thing. But they would see and hear videos and audio of the fight many more times before the week ended.
There was Repetitions from four police body cameras. From a camera installed by the City of Minneapolis over a gas station opposite the incident. From cell phone videos shot by other viewers. And from Surveillance cameras in the Cup Foods store where Floyd used a suspicious fake $ 20 bill to buy cigarettes.
More video evidence may come as the trial continues. Cynthia Cohen, a judge adviser at Verdict Success in Los Angeles, said the screenings made the panel feel like you were there. “Judges go numb to repetitive viewing when it comes to a one-view camera,” Cohen said. “However, different camera angles make the experience deeper. You see something new or something deeper in each subsequent video.”
Derek Chauvin’s trial is traumatic – for witnesses and spectators
Almost everyone who testified that Floyd took his last breath under Chauvin’s knee got constipated on the witness stand this week. On Wednesday, the judge had to take a 10-minute break, though Charles McMillian, 61, started sobbing while watching a video shows Floyd fighting the police and calling for his mother.
Genevieve Hansen, 27, a firefighter who stumbled upon the scene that day, cried and remembered her pleadings to the officers to help Floyd. “I really wanted to help,” said Hansen on Tuesday when she tore herself open, touched a handkerchief on her eyes and drank some water.
Just watch a video of Floyd’s death can take an emotional toll on viewersNadine Kaslow, director of the Atlanta Trauma Alliance, said particularly people of color who have been repeatedly exposed to microaggressions and viral incidents of racism and police brutality. However, experiencing a severely traumatic event such as Floyd’s death can have “profound” psychological effects in the short and long term.
Frazier, 18, the teenager who recorded the viral viewer videosaid prosecutors the incident changed her life. She cried and said she had stayed up a few nights. “She apologized and apologized to George Floyd for not doing more, not interacting physically, and not saving his life.” Other witnesses shared similar feelings of guilt for failing to intervene despite an officer keeping bystanders at bay.
Many in Minneapolis fear that Chauvin’s process will retraumatize, especially for black teenagers who are at risk of serious psychological consequences. More about it here. (And be was difficult for journalists too.)
The defense has brought up the problem of George Floyd’s drug use. So did law enforcement.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys began setting out their strategies for Floyd’s drug use – something prosecutors claim is not a factor in Floyd’s death, but the defense disputes were. The state tried to short-circuit the defense tactics first addressed in the opening speeches by bringing a key witness into the courtroom whose testimony indicated that Floyd’s tolerance for drugs was high.
Floyd’s girlfriend since 2017, Courteney RossThe 45-year-old was emotional from the start of the questioning Thursday by Attorney General Matthew Frank. Both were addicted to opiates, Ross said.
Senior defense attorney Eric Nelson pointed out that Ross and Floyd also used drugs other than opiates. But when Frank resumed his questioning, he insisted that Ross and Floyd did not die while using these drugs. More about Courteney Ross here.
Several police officers questioned Derek Chauvin’s use of force
Three officers from the Minneapolis Police Department said Chauvin should have ceased his lethal use of force – the pressure of his knee on Floyd’s neck – when he had stopped resisting.
Chauvin held his knee against Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds and didn’t lift it until a paramedic gestured to put Floyd on a stretcher. Prosecutors said Floyd was below Chauvin’s knee with no pulse for two and a half minutes.
It is “totally unnecessary,” said Minneapolis Police Department veteran Lt. Richard Zimmerman. “First of all, it is inappropriate to hold him face down on the floor with your knee on your neck for this time.”
Minneapolis police officers are trained in “the use of the continuum of violence,” which means they should only deploy the amount of force necessary and appropriate to counter a threat, to the point of deadly force – like a knee in the neck. The officers must constantly reassess this threat and the level of force required: whether it is a knee at the neck or grabbing the arm by the elbow to lead it away.
“I saw no reason why the officers felt in danger when they felt that way,” Zimmerman said on Friday. “And that’s exactly what they would have to feel in order to use this type of violence.”
COVID-19 is about to proceed
The coronavirus pandemic also concerns the process in the government center of the Hennepin district, in which up to 32 people are accommodated in the courtroom at the same time, some of whom are separated from one another by plastic barriers. (Last month when selecting the jury, the judge mentioned that he had received his first dose of vaccine.)
The limited capacity means that only one person from the Floyd and Chauvin families can be in the room at a time. Floyd’s brothers Rodney and Philonise and his cousin Shareeduh Tate were in the room once this week. Nobody sat in the square for Chauvin’s family.
Everyone in the courtroom wore face masks – with the exception of the witnesses and lawyers during questioning. That means it’s difficult to see some facial expressions from jurors, each seated at individual desks, several feet apart. Chauvin also wore a face mask while watching the proceedings and making notes on a notepad.
Featuring: Trevor Hughes, USA TODAY