IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.
EVENT ENDEDLast updated

Mar. 30 updates for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin Day 2

Derek Chauvin trial live updates and coverage. Watch a trial livestream as jurors decide if the former police officer is guilty of murder in George Floyd's death.
Image: Protesters march for George Floyd on the day of opening statements for the trial of Chauvin in Minneapolis
Protesters march Monday on the first day of the trial of former Police Officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing murder charges in the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis.Octavio Jones / Reuters

Coverage on this day's blog has ended, please click here for coverage of Day 3 of Derek Chauvin's murder trial.

Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin's trial began Monday morning. Chauvin faces three charges, including second-degree murder, in the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, a Black man, died May 25 after Chauvin, a white 19-year veteran of the department, pressed his knee into Floyd's neck for several minutes.

The nearly nine-minute video of Floyd's death, in which he can repeatedly be heard saying, "I can't breathe," led to global protests last year against police brutality.

The first witness, 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry, said the police officers restrained Floyd for so long that she asked someone whether her "screens had frozen because it hadn't changed" and "was told that it was not frozen."

The two other witnesses were bystanders, Alisha Oyler, who was working at a Speedway station across the street, and Donald Williams II, who had been on his way to Cup Foods.

Testimony ends for day with tense exchange between judge, witness

Testimony for Tuesday ended with tension as Judge Peter Cahill delivered a warning to witness Genevieve Hansen, the off-duty firefighter who called 911 to report Chauvin.

"You will not argue with the court, you will not argue with counsel," Cahill said, turning toward Hansen as she sat on the stand. "They have the right to ask questions; your job is to answer them."

"I was finishing my answer," Hansen said.

"I will determine when your answer is done," Cahill retorted, his voice quickening.

Cahill then adjourned the court session and instructed Hansen to return at 9:30 Wednesday morning, when her cross-examination will resume. 

The conversation came after a heated exchange between Hansen and defense attorney Eric Nelson, who was cross-examining her. Hansen will return to the stand Wednesday morning.

This concludes today's live coverage of the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Please check back tomorrow morning for live updates.

Firefighter calls 911 to report the police who detained Floyd

An off-duty firefighter, who came upon the deadly police apprehension of George Floyd, told jurors she called 911 to report the officers involved. 

Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hansen is the third witness to testify that they called police to report on other officers, in the wake of murder suspect Derek Chauvin and his colleagues detaining Floyd.

"I should have called 911 immediately but I didn’t," Hansen told jurors. "Then things calmed down and I realized that I wanted them (police supervisors) to know what was going on. I wanted to, basically, report it." 

Earlier in the trial, 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry and bystander Donald Williams both testified they called authorities to report what they saw as potential police misconduct.

Witness: Chauvin 'looked so comfortable' while putting knee into Floyd's neck

Murder suspect Derek Chauvin "looked so comfortable" while putting "the majority of his weight" on top of George Floyd's neck, a firefighter testified.

Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter and trained EMT, was strolling through the Minneapolis neighborhood near Cup Foods on May 25 when she came upon Floyd and the officers. 

Hansen, wearing her white Minneapolis Fire Department shirt, told jurors she was struck by how incredibly calm Chauvin — hands in his pockets — appeared to be while allegedly putting deadly force on to Floyd's neck.

“He seemed very comfortable with the majority of his weight balanced on top of Mr. Floyd’s neck," Hansen testified. "In my memory he had his hands in his pocket. He looked so comfortable.”

 

Young witnesses deliver powerful testimony for prosecution

Four young female witnesses delivered emotional testimony that amplified already disturbing footage taken of the deadly encounter between murder suspect Derek Chauvin and George Floyd, a legal analyst said.

The witnesses, now 18, 18, 17 and 9, often struggled to control their emotions while describing what they saw outside Cup Foods on May 25 last year when Floyd died after being under then-officer Chauvin's knee for about nine minutes.

"The video is powerful enough," criminal defense attorney and NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos said "These witnesses are testifying about their reaction to it, which the jury can relate to."

The witnesses also calmly pushed back on defense assertions that Chauvin and his police colleagues might have been threatened by the bystanders who witnessed Floyd's deadly apprehension. 

'At that point, I kind of knew:' Teen witness who videotaped Floyd worried he was dead

In emotional testimony, witness Alyssa Funari recounted her thoughts several minutes after she began taking cellphone video of a Minneapolis police officer kneeling on George Floyd's neck.

"At that point, I kind of knew," Funari said Tuesday. 

"You kind of knew what?" asked Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge.

"That he was dead or not breathing," Funari replied. 

Funari, the third of four witnesses who were minors on May 25 when they witnessed the fatal encounter between Floyd and murder suspect Derek Chauvin, said she thought Floyd was dead because "his eyes were closed and he was just laying there no longer fighting and resisting."

“At one point I saw him put more and more weight on to him,” she said of Chauvin. “I saw his back foot lift off the ground and his hands go into his pocket.”

Funari, who recently turned 18, said she has since avoided passing by the Cup Foods corner store so that she is not reminded of Floyd's death. 

“I was upset because there was nothing that we could do as bystanders except watch them take this man’s life in front of our eyes," Funari told jurors.

Tearful teen says she has apologized to George Floyd for 'not physically interacting and not saving his life'

The teenager, who recorded viral bystander video of George Floyd's death, broke down in tears on the witness stand and said she has been kept up at night, regretting that she didn't do more to possibly save his life.

In an emotional high point of this two-day-old trial, Darnella Frazier could barely articulate her sorrow about witnessing Floyd as murder suspect Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.

"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," the tearful Frazier said. "But it's like. It's not what I should have done. It's what he (Chauvin) should have done."

Frazier said every time she views the video of the fatal interaction, she thinks of her father, brother, cousins, uncles and friends - all Black men who could have been in the same situation that Floyd faced.

"I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them," the tearful witness said.

 

Teen who recorded viral video: 'It wasn't right. He was suffering. He was in pain.'

Darnella Frazier, who recorded the viral bystander video at the center of the prosecution's case when she was 17, testified that George Floyd was "terrified, scared, begging for his life," when she arrived on the scene at Cup Foods. Frazier turned 18 last week. 

She is among four witnesses who Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled will testify off camera. Prosecutors had requested Monday that audio and video of the four witnesses' testimony not be broadcast live.

Frazier was emotional at times while being questioned by prosecutor Jerry Blackwell. She said she heard Floyd saying he couldn't breathe and crying out for his mother. 

Young witnesses won't be shown on TV feed from courtroom

An 18-year-old took the witness stand, but her face was not shown on a TV feed from the courtroom because of her age last year.

She was the first of what's expected to be four consecutive witnesses whose faces won't be shown and whose names won't be read to anyone outside the Hennepin County, Minnesota, courtroom.

While two of the four scheduled witnesses are now 18, they were minors on May 25 when they allegedly witnessed the fatal encounter between George Floyd and murder suspect Derek Chauvin.

Witness says he was 'pleading for life' as officers had Floyd pinned

A mixed-martial arts fighter said he was "pleading for life" when he yelled at officers during the fatal encounter between George Floyd and Minneapolis police. 

In a tense cross-examination of witness Donald Williams,  defense attorney Eric Nelson cited video of the bystander mocking suspect Derek Chauvin as a "tough guy," "such a man" and "bogus" as the officer had his knee on Floyd's neck.

Nelson asked Williams if those words showed he was growing "more and more angry" in that moment on May 25.

“They grew more and more pleading for life," Williams countered.

Nelson sought to paint Williams as angry at the moment and perhaps not a reliable witness, but the bystander stood his ground.

"I grew professional and professional. I stayed in my body. You can’t pin me out to be angry," Williams said.

Nelson pointed out that Williams called Chauvin a "bum" 13 times in video of the confrontation.

"That’s what you count in the video, then that’s what you got, 13," the witness said.

Witness: 'I believe I witnessed a murder. I felt the need to call the police on the police.'

Donald Williams II, a mixed martial artist who was among onlookers shouting at Derek Chauvin to get off George Floyd last May, testified Tuesday that he called the police "on the police" after paramedics took Floyd away, because he believed he had "witnessed a murder."

He is the second witness to testify he called the police on the police, after watching the encounter between Floyd and the officers at the scene.

Asked by Assistant Minnesota Attorney General Matthew Frank why he called 911 on May 25, Williams said: "I believe I witnessed a murder. I felt the need to call the police on the police."

"There were police there, right?" Frank responded. "Why didn't you just talk to them about it?" 

Williams said: "We just didn't have no connection. I spoke to them but not on a connection of a human being relationship." 

Audio of Williams' 911 call was played Tuesday, in which he tells a dispatcher that Floyd was not resisting arrest and had stopped breathing.

"He was already in handcuffs," Williams said, according to audio of the call. "They pretty much just killed that dude. I don't know if he's dead for sure but he was not responsive when the ambulance just came and got him." 

Williams was then connected to a police supervisor. 

Williams, a former wrestler who said he was trained in chokeholds, testified Monday that Chauvin used a shimmying motion several times to increase the pressure on Floyd. Williams said Chauvin had Floyd pinned in a "blood choke," which compresses arteries or veins in the neck.

George Floyd in 'tremendous pain' in his final moments of life, witness said

George Floyd's final moments of life were spent in "tremendous pain" as he gasped for air and drooled, while pinned under a police officer's knee, a witness said.

"You could see that he (Floyd) was going through tremendous pain, and you can see it in his face," bystander Donald Williams told jurors. "You can see it in his eyes, slowly rolling back in his head and him having his mouth open, wide open, slowly with drool and slobber and dryness on his mouth." 

Williams is a mix-martial arts fighter who happened to walk up Cup Foods on May 25 when then-officer Derek Chauvin had Floyd on the ground, under his knee, for about 9 minutes.

"And you can see that he’s (Floyd) trying to gasp for air, trying to be able to breathe as he's down there, trying to move his face side to side, I’m assuming to gasp for more air," Williams said.

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill ruled Tuesday that four witnesses who were minors at the time of George Floyd's arrest may testify off-camera, but that audio of their testimony will be broadcast live. 

One of the witnesses, Darnella Frazier, recorded the viral bystander video when she was 17.

The ruling was in response to a motion filed Monday by the prosecution asking the court to allow the four witnesses to give their testimony without it being broadcast to the public. 

Two of the witnesses have since turned 18. 

"This is more to give them comfort testifying as witnesses in what is a very high profile trial," Cahill said. "And given their young age, I am going to grant it as far as these four witnesses, but no others." 

Cahill said media outlets can publicly identify them. 

Witness testimony resumes with bystander who said Chauvin used 'blood choke' on Floyd

Testimony resumes Tuesday in Hennepin County District Court with a key witness, a bystander, who said he repeatedly pleaded for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to release George Floyd from a chokehold.

The bystander, Donald Williams II, testified Monday that his experience as a mixed martial arts trainer and fighter told him that Chauvin's "blood choke" was squeezing the life out of Floyd.

Williams said he saw Floyd "slowly fade away ... like a fish in a bag."

Floyd died May 25 after being pinned by the neck under Chauvin's knee for more than 9 minutes, 29 seconds, prosecutors said Monday. 

'I couldn't watch it,' George Floyd's nephew says of graphic video shown in court

George Floyd's nephew, Brandon Williams, said he walked out of the Hennepin County District Court's overflow room Monday when prosecutors showed a graphic bystander video during opening statements of Floyd pinned under Derek Chauvin's knee.

Asked if he had seen the video before, Williams said: "I've seen bits and pieces. I still, to this day, haven't watched it in full." 

Williams said his family had been warned about the graphic video and that he tried to prepare himself.

"As they showed Chauvin kneeling on his neck and like kind of repositioning and just hearing my uncle ask for help and say he couldn't breathe, I couldn't watch it," Williams said.

911 dispatcher testifies officers pinned down George Floyd for so long she thought her video feed had frozen

The first witness in Derek Chauvin's murder trial, a 911 dispatcher, testified Monday that she alerted a police supervisor May 25 after she watched Minneapolis police officers pin George Floyd to the ground live in a security video.

The dispatcher, Jena Scurry, said it was a "gut instinct" that led her to call a police sergeant who was a supervisor for the officers at the scene. She said she glanced up at wall-mounted dispatch screens between taking other calls and saw a police squad car moving back and forth outside Cup Foods, a convenience store. An employee at Cup Foods had called police alleging that Floyd had tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.

Scurry said the police officers restrained Floyd for so long that she asked someone whether her "screens had frozen because it hadn't changed" and "was told that it was not frozen."

Scurry was one of three witnesses to testify Monday. The two other witnesses were bystanders, Alisha Oyler, who was working at a Speedway station across the street, and Donald Williams II, who had been on his way to Cup Foods. Williams will return to the witness stand when the trial resumes Tuesday.

Click here to read the full story.

OPINION: Derek Chauvin's defense strategy in George Floyd trial emphasizes pathology

The prosecution told jurors to "believe your eyes" when they watch and hear about George Floyd's final minutes. And video of the incident may make folks think this is an easy case for prosecutors. But the forensic pathology piece suggests otherwise. (Disclaimer: There is so much that could be written, discussed, argued and debated on the forensic pathology front, but I will touch on only some of the highlights here.)

It's worth mentioning that, in a manual strangulation incident, the victim can lose consciousness within 10 seconds and die in 3 to 5 minutes. Though this may sound counterintuitive, I suspect we will see the defense "embrace" the fact that Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd for 9 minutes and 29 seconds — not the infamous 8 minutes and 46 seconds, by the way — as evidence suggesting that Chauvin was not putting significant enough pressure on Floyd's neck to kill him via asphyxiation.

We have already seen some of this defense strategy play out in opening statements. Chauvin's lead defense attorney, Eric Nelson, said Floyd displayed "none of the telltale signs of asphyxiation." There was "no evidence that Mr. Floyd's airflow was restricted," he claimed.

I expect that the defense will continue to argue this point throughout the trial, contending that the findings during autopsy suggest that Chauvin was not placing any significant pressure on Floyd's neck and was not impeding his ability to breathe.

Click here to read the full opinion.