Emotional testimony from Darnella Frazier

    118
    0

    MINNEAPOLIS — More witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Some broke down in tears recounting their memory of the day George Floyd died.

    The witnesses included a mixed martial arts fighter, the teenager who recorded video of Floyd’s death, the teen’s 9-year-old cousin, and a high school senior who was going to the store to get an aux cord. Two other witnesses – a 911 dispatcher and a cashier working across the street – testified Monday, and lawyers for the defense and prosecution opened the trial by laying out their case. Here’s what you missed.

    Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd cried out, “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter.

    Follow the trial: Sign up here to get updates and analysis from the courtroom via SMS.  Follow USA TODAY Network reporters on Twitter or get email updates by subscribing to the Daily Briefing newsletter.

    testimony

    Latest updates:

    • Tuesday afternoon, the court heard from high school student Alyssa Nicole Funari, 18, who said she was going to Cup Foods to get an auxiliary cord with a friend that day. She recorded three videos of the incident with her friend’s phone.
    • A 9-year-old girl who wore a shirt with the word “love” on it the day George Floyd died testified Tuesday morning.
    • Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded the infamous video showing the arrest and death of George Floyd, also testified, saying the incident changed her life.
    • Judge Peter Cahill denied a state motion first thing Tuesday to keep all audio and video of four critical witnesses from being made public.
    • While Cahill said the witnesses, including the now-18-year-old woman who was 17 at the time and filmed the bystander video that went viral, would be allowed to be referred to by the first name only, they would not speak or spell their words on camera or audio.

    Witness says she wanted to intervene, but ‘there was nothing I could

    Tuesday afternoon, the court heard from high school student Alyssa Nicole Funari, 18, who said she was going to Cup Foods to get an auxiliary cord with a friend that day. She recorded three videos of the incident with her friend’s phone. “He looked like he was fighting to breathe,” Funari told prosecutor Erin Eldridge, adding, “I slowly knew that if he were to be held down much longer, he wouldn’t live.”

    Funari, crying, said she felt like she was failing because she wanted to intervene but was unable to because “there was a higher power there” – an officer was pushing the crowd back. “There was nothing I could do as a bystander there,” she said, adding, “I couldn’t do physically what I wanted to do.” As Chauvin continued staring down at Floyd, she said, “I saw him put more and more weight on him. I saw his leg lift off the ground, and his hands go in his pocket.”

    9-year-old testifies about witnessing George Floyd’s death

    A 9-year-old girl who wore a shirt with the word “love” on it the day George Floyd died testified Tuesday morning. She’s the cousin of Darnella Frazier, the teen who took video of the incident. “I saw an officer put the knee on the neck of George Floyd,” the girl said, referring to Chauvin. “The ambulance had to push him off of him. … They had some guys take him off of him.”

    When prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked the girl how she felt about what she saw, she said she was “sad and kind of mad.” “And tell us why you were sad and mad,” Blackwell said. “Because it feels like he was stopping his breathing, and it was kind of like hurting him,” she said. The defense did not ask her any questions, and she was excused within five minutes of taking the stand.

    Darnella Frazier, a teen who recorded video, ‘stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more.

    Darnella Frazier told jurors Tuesday she was on the way with her cousin to Cup Foods – where she’s been “hundreds, maybe even thousands” of times – when she saw a man “and a cop kneeling down on him.” She said she quickly ushered her cousin into the store. “It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain,” she said. “He cried for his mom.”

    Frazier recently turned 18, and only the audio of her testimony was live-streamed from the courtroom. She could be heard crying. “It seemed like he knew. It seemed like he knew it was over for him,” Frazier said in a comment that was stricken from the record because she isn’t allowed to testify about what Floyd was thinking.

    “When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad. I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all Black,” Frazier said as she broke down in tears again. “I look at how that could have been one of them.”

    Frazier said she has stayed up some nights, “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 (Chauvin) should have done.”

    Answering a question from prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, Frazier said she would not characterize the group watching from the sidewalk as unruly. She said no one threatened the police officers or became violent with them. The only violence she witnessed, she said, was “from the cops, from Chauvin and Officer (Tou) Thao.” That was the officer who stood between Chauvin and the crowd, warning them to stay back.

    Frazier said she felt in danger because officers placed their hands on their chemical spray when she or others in the group tried to move closer to Chauvin and Floyd. “I didn’t understand why the Mace was even needed at all,” she said. According to court filings, Chauvin reached for his Mace repeatedly.

    Donald Williams retakes the stand, becomes emotional in the courtroom.

    Prosecutors called their third witness, Donald Williams, back to testify Tuesday morning after a technical glitch cut his testimony short Monday. Williams told the court Monday that he was on his way to Cup Foods, where Floyd was arrested when he encountered Floyd “pleading” for his life. Williams told the court he asked officers to stop the “blood choke,” a form of chokehold that renders someone unconscious.

    Williams became emotional in the courtroom Tuesday and wiped away tears as he listened to the 911 call he made once officers left the scene. “He just pretty much killed this guy who was not resisting arrest,” Williams said in the ring. Williams told the court Tuesday: “I did call the police on the police because I believed I witnessed a murder.”

    In a tense cross-examination by lead defense attorney Eric Nelson, Williams acknowledged that he didn’t know that the officers had been dealing with Floyd for 15 minutes before he arrived at the scene. He also conceded he did not know that an ambulance had been summoned to the scene three minutes before he arrived.

    Nelson told Williams that he “got angry” and was “threatening police.” Nelson listed off several profanities that Williams called the officers, according to the video of the incident. “Those terms turned more and more angry, right?” Nelson said. “Those terms turned more to pleading for life,” Williams responded, adding, “You can’t paint me as angry.” When prosecutor Matthew Frank spoke to Williams again, Williams said he was concerned Floyd “was in the process of losing consciousness.” “So you were concerned about Mr. Floyd losing his life?” Frank asked.

    “Correct,” Williams said.

    Prosecutors call three witnesses: 911 dispatcher, cashier, MMA fighter

    Prosecutors called their first three witnesses Monday: A 911 dispatcher who was on call that day, a cashier working across the street who captured videos of the incident, and a mixed martial arts fighter who witnessed Floyd’s death.

    ► Jena Lee Scurry, a 911 dispatcher working the day of Floyd’s death, told the court she alerted a police department supervisor that something was awry in Floyd’s arrest, which she could watch via a live stream from a city street camera. “I became concerned that something might be wrong,” she said. “It was a gut instinct of, in the incident, something’s not going right.”

    ► The second witness, Alisha Oyler, worked as a cashier at Speedway across the street on the day George Floyd died. She took seven videos on her phone. She told Steve Schleicher, a special assistant attorney general, that she started recording after she noticed police “messing with someone.”

    ► The third witness, Donald Williams, is a wrestler trained in mixed martial arts who said he has been put in chokeholds dozens of times in MMA fights. Williams was on his way to Cup Foods, where Floyd was arrested when he encountered Floyd “pleading” for his life. Williams told the court he asked officers to stop the “blood choke,” a form of chokehold that renders someone unconscious. Chauvin was doing a “shimmy” to make the choke tighter, he said.

    Prosecutors play disturbing videos of George Floyd’s final minutes.

    Prosecutors opened their case Monday by showing jurors the disturbing video depicting Chauvin on George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. The video, lasting 9 minutes and 29 seconds, played on several screens in the courtroom, complete with audio of Floyd gasping, “I can’t breathe,” 27 times and witnesses growing angry as they urged Chauvin to get off Floyd’s neck.

    Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell said Chauvin “put his knees upon his (Floyd’s) neck and his back, grinding and crushing him until the very breath until the very life was squeezed out of him.”

    The case is not about the problematic “split-second decisions police must make,” Blackwell said. “There are 569 seconds, not a split-second among them.”

    In his opening statement, lead defense attorney Eric Nelson told jurors the evidence in the case is “far greater than 9 minutes and 29 seconds.” He described a scene in which Floyd was on drugs and resisting arrest. Read more.

    Contributing: Trevor Hughes

    LEAVE A REPLY

    Please enter your comment!
    Please enter your name here