Mar. 29 updates for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin Day 1

Christina Wilkins

Janelle Griffith 15h ago / 10:07 PM UTC Judge adjourns trial until tomorrow after ‘technical glitch’ Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill adjourned the trial until tomorrow a bit sooner than planned. “We had a major technical glitch here,” Cahill said.  The live feed from the courtroom went dark while […]

Judge adjourns trial until tomorrow after ‘technical glitch’

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill adjourned the trial until tomorrow a bit sooner than planned.

“We had a major technical glitch here,” Cahill said. 

The live feed from the courtroom went dark while Donald Williams, the third witness called by prosecutors, was testifying. Williams, a mixed martial arts fighter, can be heard on a viral bystander video berating Derek Chauvin and the other officers while they arrested George Floyd.

At one point, he called the fired officers “bums.”

The trial will resume Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. local time with Williams on the stand.

Witness calls Chauvin’s move on Floyd a ‘shimmy’

A mixed-martial arts fighter, who came up to the scene of George Floyd’s arrest, called Derek Chauvin’s knee-on-neck move a “shimmy,” a maneuver designed to cut off airflow.

Donald Williams, a high school and junior college wrestler before getting mixed martial arts, was a street bystander on May 25 and told jurors that he recognized what Chauvin was doing to Floyd.

As a prosecutor showed video of Floyd moaning in agony under Chauvin’s knee, and Williams called it a “shimmy,” noting how the officer’s foot was on its toes, driving down and applying pressure into Floyd’s neck.

“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.”

Williams was the third and final witness on Monday. He will return to the stand Tuesday morning.

 

Bystander heard George Floyd ‘pleading’ for his life

George Floyd was “pleading” for his life as a police officer had a knee on his neck, a bystander to the deadly confrontation told jurors Monday.

Donald Williams, 33, was on his way to Cup Foods on May 25 when he saw police holding Floyd to the ground. Williams was the third witness called by prosecutors.

“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 told jurors.

Williams had spent that Memorial Day fishing and compared Floyd’s demise under the knee of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer on trial, to the fish he caught, as they suffocate out of the water. 

“The more you see Floyd fade away, slowly fade away,” Williams said. “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.” 

 

Nearby cashier takes video of Floyd’s arrest last year

A bystander who shot video of George Floyd’s arrest said she felt compelled to capture his interaction with officers, because police are “always messing with people.”

Alisha Oyler worked as a cashier at a Speedway convenience store, across the street from where police took Floyd into custody, leading to his death on May 25. 

She took seven video clips of police taking Floyd into custody.

“I always see the police, they’re always messing with people. It’s wrong and it’s not right,” Oyler, 23, told jurors.

 

Defense replays fixed camera video in cross-examination of 911 dispatcher

Derek Chauvin’s defense attorney in his cross-examination of the first witness Monday replayed video that a 911 dispatcher saw that led her to raise concerns about his use of force, pointing out that she did not have the same training on use of force as police officers.

Eric Nelson in his questioning of Minneapolis 911 dispatcher Jena Lee Scurry said she was not a police officer and thus had not been through the same police academy or training as Chauvin. 

Scurry said in earlier testimony that Chauvin was on George Floyd’s neck for so long, she thought live video footage of the scene had frozen. 

She testified that she believed “something was wrong” as she watched a fixed police camera on Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis showing Floyd being detained by Chauvin and his colleagues.

“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.” 

Nelson asked Scurry questions to suggest that what she also saw at the time was a potential struggle happening inside a police car as video showed what appeared to be the police car rocking back and forth during part of the encounter before Floyd was on the ground. 

He also asked her if she could hear what the officers were saying as she watched the duration of the live police feed video, which she confirmed she could not at the time.

Prosecution calls second witness, a nearby employee who saw Floyd’s arrest

Prosecutors called their second witness to the stand, a 23-year-old woman who saw police apprehend George Floyd last year.

Alisha Oyler worked at a Speedway convenience store across the street Chicago Avenue when police were called on May 25.

She was questioned by former federal prosecutor Steven Schleicher, who also led jury selection for the prosecution.

Biden will be following trial ‘closely,’ White House says

President Joe Biden will “be watching closely” the trial of Derek Chauvin, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday.

“At the time of George Floyd’s death, he talked about this as being an event that really opened up a wound in the American public and really brought to light for a lot of people in this country just the kind of racial injustice and inequality that many communities are experiencing every single day,” Psaki said. 

Psaki said Biden would not weigh in any further on the matter while the trial was ongoing. When asked whether Biden had been in touch with the Floyd family ahead of the trial, Psaki said she did not have any calls to discuss at the moment.

Biden frequently talked about Floyd as a candidate and has continued to do so as president, urging the country to use Floyd’s death as a call to action against systemic racism. In late May, days after Floyd’s killing, then then-presumptive Democratic presidential nominee spoke with his family. Biden also gave an emotional taped address that played at Floyd’s funeral service in June, saying that “when there is justice for George Floyd, we will truly be on our way to racial justice in America.”

Biden, who had long styled himself as a law-and-order Democrat and promoted his close ties with police and first responders, said in May that there needed to be reforms that hold police officers “to a higher standard,” including holding “bad cops accountable.”

Floyd was on the ground so long, 911 dispatcher believed a TV screen had frozen

A police officer was on George Floyd’s neck for so long, a 911 dispatcher thought live video footage of the scene had frozen, she told jurors. 

Jena Lee Scurry, the dispatcher, testified that she believed “something was wrong” as she watched a fixed police camera on Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis showing Floyd being detained by Officer Derek Chauvin and his colleagues.

“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, answering questions from Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank. “I first asked if the screens had frozen because it hadn’t changed.” 

Floyd had been on the ground under police for so long, Scurry called Chauvin’s supervising sergeant to voice her concerns. In the call, played for jurors, Scurry acknowledged that it was beyond her normal duties and called herself a “snitch.” 

“My instincts were telling me that something’s wrong, something was not right. I don’t know what, but something wasn’t right,” Scurry told jurors.

911 dispatcher called as first witness in Derek Chauvin trial

The first witness called in the trial against Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd was a Minneapolis 911 dispatcher who called police while witnessing Floyd’s arrest.

Jena Lee Scurry was called by prosecutors on Monday. Scurry called police after witnessing Floyd’s arrest on a live feed police camera near the neighborhood, the prosecution said in its opening statement.

“You’ll learn that what she saw was so unusual and for her so disturbing that she did something she had never done in her career — she called the police on the police,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said in his opening statement.

Scurry was questioned for the prosecution by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, head of the state’s criminal division.

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