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The Trail Begins Of A Former Minneapolis Police Officer Being Charged With The Murder Of George Floyd. Aired 10:30-11a ET
Aired March 29, 2021 - 10:30 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JUDGE PETER CAHILL, MINNESOTA DISTRICT COURT: To anyone who's a spectator here. The white noise is a private conversation usually about scheduling, noting exciting, between me and the attorneys.
You can use that opportunity, however, if you'd like to stand up, stretch, talk to your neighbor, but if you could make sure you don't -- there's a piece of black tape in front of you, please don't cross that line. We've taken great care to make sure are never on camera. And so as long as you stay behind that black line and even stretch in the aisle between you should be just fine.
Now the cameras have been angled so that, as I said, you'll never appear on video. To assist in that do not cross the black tape and when entering and departing from the courtroom please use the aisle between the two rows of seats and do not get out of your seat until the deputy is at the door waiting to escort you back to the other room.
Now, there's things you should not do during this trial. As I said during jury selection, you are not investigators. You are not to go out to do any looking and you are not to ask people about this matter. You are not use the internet to look for information about this case or about the law. You should avoid all news if possible. But at the very least you should avoid media coverage of this case.
Remember, you must not talk to anyone who is involved in the case. The attorneys, the witnesses or spectators. Do not be offended if they do not speak to you. They know that it would improper to contact you during trial and they will confine themselves to a brief greeting.
You should not discuss the case among yourselves. At the end of the trial you will have as much time as you need to discuss it, but that at the end and not during the trial. You can talk to each other, just don't talk about the case.
When you go home during the trial, families and friends will be curious as to what you are doing. And you will need to tell them you are sitting a juror in a criminal case and that all you should tell them. I have to be realistic and tell you that you call your immediate family in your household what you are doing because they will probably have figured it out by now. But in any case, feel free to share with them, but no one else. As I stated before, since this is all you should tell family and
friends, that is all you should tell the general public. So during trial please refrain from using Facebook or Twitter or any other social medial to comment on this trial. You may access such internet absent tools, but please do not publish any information about this case or your thoughts about this case.
Please avoid news coverage, as I've said, about this case, whether it's on -- in newspapers, radio, television, social media or any other media. Please disable any newsfeeds that might show up on your social media accounts that might report on this case.
As I told you during jury selection this case is being televised but you will not be shown on video. Now, there are certain things you should do during trial, but first of all is to be on time to report for court. We cannot begin unless every participant is present. And while waiting for court to begin please wait in the other courtroom until one of my clerks or a sheriff's deputy brings you into this courtroom.
As I've said, the time that we have set aside for the lawyers and I discuss legal issues from 8:30 to 9:30 means that we will start with you at about 9:30 every morning. Nevertheless, there still might be unexpected delays. We'll do our best to keep on this schedule and generally we will go from with the jury from 9:30 to 12:30 with a 20 minute mid-morning break. And we'll take your orders for lunch because we will be providing you lunch throughout.
Court will usually start again at 1:30 or 2:00 pm and go to about 4:30 or 5:00 pm with a 20 mid-morning -- or mid-afternoon break. To some extent this may seem leisurely --
(END LIVE EVENT)
JIM SCIUTTO, CNN HOST: We've been listening to Judge Peter Cahill deliver instructions to the jurors in the case of Derek Chauvin. I want to bring back Laura Coates just for a moment here to describe the importance of these but also the practicality.
And Laura, one stood out to me, the judge saying, as they do in cases like this to the jurors, don't follow this in the news. Don't watch the news in general if you can, but particularly about this case. Given that they're sitting in Minneapolis as this trial progresses, for weeks, is that practically possible? In your experience is that a rule that jurors abide by?
LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYSIS: Without being fully sequestered it will be impossible for them to completely avoid any coverage. However, they could still very well do so by not turning on the TV or following social media or reading anything.
But remember, they have dismissed jurors just recently who were initially put on the jury because they inadvertently came across coverage.
[10:35:00] One mentioned that he had heard something from his girlfriend I believe about the amount of the civil settlement and whether it would impact his decision on the jury panel at this point in time.
So, it's going to factor in. So, now the onus is going to be on the jurors to ensure, I'm sure, periodically they're not in fact following. And the reason for that, Jim, is because the evidentiary rules in a court of law versus the court of public opinion are extraordinarily restrictive.
Things you may have heard all along for the better part of a year might not come into evidence. Information about an extended part of the video. Information possibly that was talked about, about trying to villainize the victim in this case or even villainize the defendant in this case. All of the scope of evidence may not come in under the evidentiary rules.
And so, the court wants to be very clear, for these jurors the information that you will have in this courtroom is supposed to be a close universe of facts. If you go beyond that it's problematic. And that can be a problem for both the prosecution, Jim, and the defense. Both who will want there to be a wider universe of facts to be able to have but for very different reasons.
SCIUTTO: Understood. As this proceeds juries matter, right? Juries matter in these cases? We have a jury system. There are reasons we have that. We have decided. And there is some data in this, that juries are a fairer way of meeting out justice across the board. But in high profile cases what are you watching for here in the make-up of the jury?
COATES: I'm looking for, during the voir dire process in particular, I'm not looking for somebody to lie to me and tell me they've never heard about the case. They have no way of --
SCIUTTO: Laura, I'm going to -- so apologize -- apologize to interrupt because I want you to hold that thought, but the opening statements have now begun here. So, let's go back into the courtroom.
(BEGIN LIVE EVENT)
JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: And to have the honor of wearing of this badge. It's a small badge that carries with it a large responsibility and a large accountability to the public. What does it stand for?
It represents the very motto of the Minneapolis Police Department. To protect with courage, To Serve with Compassion. But it also represents the essence of the Minneapolis Police Department approach to the use of force against its citizens when appropriate.
The sanctity -- a sanctity of life and the protection of the public shall be the cornerstones of the Minneapolis Police Department's use of force, compassion, sanctity of life, cornerstones and that little badge is worn right over the officer's heart. But you're also going to learn that the officers take an oath when
they become police officers. They take an oath that I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately. And as you will learn, as applies to this case, never employing unnecessary force or violence. And not only that, I recognize the badge of my office as the symbol of public faith and I accept as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of police service.
The symbol of public faith, ethics to a police service, sanctity of life, all of this matters, tremendously to this case, because you will learn that on May 25 of 2020 Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr. George Floyd.
That he put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him until the very breath, no ladies and gentlemen, until the very life was squeezed out of him.
You will learn that he was well aware that Mr. Floyd was unarmed. That Mr. Floyd had not threatened anyone. That Mr. Floyd was in handcuffs. He was completely in the control of the police. He was defenseless.
You will learn what happened in that nine minutes and 29 seconds. The most important numbers you will hear in this trial are nine, two, nine. That happed in those nine minutes and 29 seconds when Mr. Derek Chauvin was applying this excessive force to the body Mr. George Floyd.
We have two objectives in this trial ladies and gentlemen. The first objective is to give Mr. Chauvin a fair trial. Mr. Chauvin has a presumption of innocence. He is presumed to be innocent until proven guilty and we plan to prove to you beyond a reasonable doubt that Mr. Chauvin was anything other than innocent on May 25, 2020.
And our second objective, ladies and gentlemen, is to bring you evidence; which I'm trying to preview this morning.
We are bringing this case, this prosecution, against Mr. Chauvin for the excess force that he applied on to body of Mr. George Floyd for engaging in behavior that was imminently dangerous. And the force that he applied without regard for its impact on the life of Mr. George Floyd.
So let's begin by focusing then on what we will learn about this nine minutes and 29 seconds. And you will be able to hear Mr. Floyd saying, "Please, I can't breathe. Please, man. Please."
In this nine minutes and 29 seconds you will see that as Mr. Floyd is handcuffed there on the ground; he is verbalizing 27 times you will hear in the four minutes and 45 seconds, "I can't breathe. Please, I can't breathe," you will see that Mr. Chauvin is kneeling on Mr. Floyd's neck and back.
He has one knee on his neck and a knee on his back that's imminently off and on on his back, as you will be able to see for yourself in the -- the video footage.
You will hear Mr. Floyd as he's crying out -- you hear him at some point cry out for his mother when he's being squeezed there. He's very close to his mother you will learn. You will hear him say, "Tell my kids I love them."
You will hear him say about his fear of dying, he says, "I'll probably die this way. I'm through. I'm through. They're going to kill me. They're going to kill me, man."
You will hear him crying out and you will hear him cry out in pain. "My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts." You'll hear that for yourself. "Please, I can't breathe. Please, your knee on my neck."
You will hear it. Then you'll see at the same time while he's crying out, Mr. Chauvin never moves. Then he remains on his neck. Sunglasses remain undisturbed on his head and it just goes on.
You will hear his final words when he says I can't breathe. Before that time you'll hear his voice get heavier. You will hear his words further apart. You will see that his respiration gets shallower and shallower and finally stops when he speaks his last words, "I can't breathe."
And once we have final words you'll see that for roughly he is completely silent and virtually motionless with just sporadic movements. You're going to learn those sporadic movements matter greatly in this case because what they reflect, Mr. Floyd was no longer breathing when he's making these movements. You will learn about something in this case called an anoxic seizure.
It is the body's automatic reflex when breathing has stopped due to oxygen deprivation. We'll be able to point out to you when you'll see the involuntary movements from Mr. Floyd that are part of an anoxic seizure.
Not only that, you're going to learn about something that's called agonal breathing, when the heart is stopped, when blood is no longer coursing through the veins, you will hear the body gasp as an involuntary reflex will point out to you when Mr. Floyd is having the agonal breathing.
Again, as a reflex -- involuntary reflex due to oxygen deprivation. So we learn hear that Mr. Floyd at some point is completely passed out. Mr. Chauvin continues on as he had. Knee on the neck, knee on the back. You will see he has not let up and he does not get up for the remaining, as you can see, three minutes and 51 seconds.
During this period of time you will learn that Mr. Chauvin is told that they can't even find a pulse on Mr. Floyd. You will learn he's told that twice, they can't even find a pulse.
You'll be able to see for yourself what he does in response. You will see that he does not let up and that he does not get up, even when Mr. Floyd does not even have a pulse, it continues on. It continues on, ladies and gentlemen, even after the ambulance arrives on the scene. The ambulance is there and you'll be able to see for yourself what Mr. Chauvin is doing when the ambulance is there. You can compare -- you'll be able to compare how he looks in this photograph to how he looked in the first four minutes and 45 seconds. Same position, doesn't let up and you'll see he doesn't get up.
The paramedic from the ambulance comes over, you'll be able to see this in the video, he checks Mr. Floyd for a pulse. He has to check him for a pulse you'll see with Mr. Chauvin continuing to remain on his body at the same time.
He doesn't get up even when the paramedic comes to check for a pulse and doesn't find one, Mr. Chauvin doesn't get up. You will see that the paramedics have taken the gurney out of the ambulance, have rolled it over next to the body of Mr. Floyd and you'll be able to see Mr. Chauvin still does not let up, doesn't get up.
And you will see it wasn't until such time as they start -- they want to move the lifeless body of George Floyd on to the gurney, only then does Mr. Chauvin let up and get up and you'll see him drag Mr. Floyd's body and unceremoniously cast it on to the gurney.
And that was a -- for a total of four minutes and 44 seconds. You can see hear that for the first four minutes and 45 seconds you will learn that Mr. Floyd was calling out and crying for his life. And ladies and gentlemen, not just Mr. Floyd.
You're going to hear and see that there were any number of bystanders who were there who are also calling out to let up and get up, such that Mr. Floyd would be able to breathe and to maintain and to sustain his life.
But then for the remaining four minutes and 44 seconds, Mr. Floyd was either unconscious, breathless, or pulse-less. And the compression, the squeezing, the grinding went on just the same for a total of nine minutes and 29 seconds.
You're going to learn in this case quite a lot about the Minneapolis Police Department's use of force policy. What you're going to see and learn a lot about is what is the standard for applying force against individuals, the use of force policy.
You'll learn that Minneapolis Police Department employees shall only use the amount of force that is objectively reasonable. In light of the facts and circumstances, the force used shall be consistent with current Minneapolis Police Department training.
What you'll learn, ladies and gentlemen, is that the use of force must be evaluated from one moment to the next moment. From moment to moment. What may be reasonable in the first minute may not be reasonable in the second minute, the fourth minute or the ninth minute and 29 seconds, that it has to be evaluated from moment to moment.
You'll also learn that the Minneapolis police are precluded, not allowed to use any more force than is necessary to bring a person under their control. They can't use any more restraint than is necessary.
You're going to meet, an expert, his name is Jody Stiger, he's a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and a use of force expert. He's going to tell you that the force that Mr. Chauvin was using was lethal force. It was force that was capable of killing a human or putting his or her life in danger.
The evidence is going to show you that there was no cause in the first place to use lethal force against a man who is defenseless, who was handcuffed, who was not resisting. That there's no cause to use that force in the first place.
You're going to hear from Minneapolis police sergeant, David Kleeger (ph) who's going to come and talk with you. He is going to -- he was the officer on the scene. So he arrived at the scene after this took place. He is going to tell you that the force against Mr. Floyd should have ended as soon as they put him on the ground. Meaning that the 9.29 should not have been even a one, much less the 9.29.
And that went on for way too long. He will tell you in terms of the restraint on the ground and the manner of the strength for Mr. Floyd.
You're also going to learn about another very important policy in the Minneapolis Police Department that's a core principle of policing. You will hear this phase that police have to live by in terms of how it is they relate to the public.
In your custody is in your care. In your custody is in your care, meaning that if you as an officer have an individual a subject that's in your custody, it is your duty to care for that person. And you will learn that carrying, ladies and gentlemen, is not a feeling; it's a verb. It's something you're supposed to do to provide care for that person.
You are going to hear from any number of police officers who will talk about this duty to provide care, Officer Nicole McKenzie, who is a Minneapolis Police Department medical support coordinator, you'll hear from Sergeant Care Ying (ph), the MPD crisis intervention coordinator; in your custody is in your care.
You are going to learn that when Mr. Floyd was unconscious, that when he was breathless, when he did have a pulse that there was a duty to have administered care to let up and get up, you will learn.
You'll listen to Minneapolis police commander Katie Blackwell, no relation to my knowledge, but you will hear from Katie Blackwell and she's going to tell you about the training that Mr. Chauvin received.
You're going to hear that he was a veteran on the Minneapolis Police Department for 19 years, had been trained in CPR multiple times at the time. And you'll be able to see for yourself that when Mr. Floyd was in distress; Mr. Chauvin wouldn't help him, didn't help him. But you're also going to see that he stopped anybody else from being able to help him. You will learn that amongst the bystanders was a first responder, a member of the Minneapolis Fire Department who was trained in administering first aid and emergency care. She's going to come and talk with you, her name is Genevieve Hanson.
She wanted to check his pulse. She wanted to check on Mr. Floyd's well being. She wanted him to let up and get up. She did her best to intervene, to be able to act to intercede on George Floyd's behalf and you'll be able to see for yourself when she approached Mr. Chauvin on top of George Floyd with both of his knees, reached for his mace in his belt and pointed at her direction.
So she couldn't help. She'll come and talk with you about that experience. Now you're going to learn that in the aftermath of this that Mr. Chauvin's last day of employment with the Minneapolis Police Department was on May 26, 2020.
The Minneapolis chief of police, Chief Arradondo is going to come here to talk with you. He was the police chief at the time, he's the chief today. He is going to tell you that Mr. Chauvin's conduct was not consistent with Minneapolis Police Department training.
Was not consistent with Minneapolis Police Department policy, was not reflective of the Minneapolis Police Department. He will not mix (ph) any words. He's very clear. He'd be very decisive that this was excessive force.
So ultimately, ladies and gentlemen, what was this all about in the first place? Well, you're going to learn that it was about a counterfeit $20 bill used at a convenient store. That's all. You will not hear any evidence that Mr. Floyd knew that it was fake or did it on purpose.
You will learn from witness we will call that the police officers could have written him a ticket and let the courts sort it out. You will learn that even if he did it on purpose, it was a minor offense, a misdemeanor.
So in terms with the charges that we are bringing, we are going to prove to you that Mr. Chauvin's conduct was a substantial cause of Mr. Floyd's death. We've charged him with murder in the second degree, murder at the third degree, and manslaughter for using excessive force against George Floyd.
You will learn that the use of excessive and unreasonable force against a citizen is an assault. In (ph) this case we will show you that this was an assault that contributed to taking his life an assault.
We're going to show you that putting knees on somebody's neck, Mr. Floyd's, putting a knee on his back for nine minutes and 29 seconds was an imminently dangerous activity and he did it without regard to what impact it had on Mr. Floyd's life.
We're going to show you that also putting him on the ground, we call that the prone position, on your stomach face down -- putting him in the prone position handcuffed like this in the first place was uncalled for and was an excessive use of force, let alone for nine minutes and 29 seconds.
Now how are we going to prove these charges? We're going to prove it, ladies and gentlemen, first and foremost by a witness testimony. We're going to bring in some of those bystanders that I've referred to, normal folks that'll tell you what they saw. They'll tell you why they stopped; they'll tell you why they were concerned, they'll tell you from that witness chair, we're bringing them in here.
You're going to hear from any number of police officers responsible for training, responsible for what the officers learn around first aide, coming to the care of others. We'll bring in a number of police officers, including the chief of police.
But we're also going to bring in various professionals and experts, medical experts, experts in police conduct. You're going to meet any number of them. You'll have here a forensic pathologist, Dr. Thomas, who studies the tissues of the deceased as a -- as a forensic pathologist to determine the cause and manner of death.
You're going to hear from a pulmonologist Dr. Tobin, he's a lung specialist, cardiologist, heart specialist, critical care physicians, emergency medicine physicians, internal medicine and also from a -- from toxicology.
We're also going to bring in the court Dr. Andrew Baker who's the head of the county medical examiner who will tell you about he found. So, we'll also bring him in.
But we'll also bring in experts who will prove that the use of force here was not reasonable. I mentioned earlier Jody Stiger, Chief of Staff for the Inspector General L.A. Police Department and Seth Stoughton. You will hear from both of them.
Now I've spent a few minutes talking to you about what this case is about. There are any number of things that this case is not about. Maybe an infinite number of things the case isn't about. But one of those things that this case is not about are all police or all policing.
You will learn from Chief Aaron Dondell (ph) when he comes that police officers have difficult jobs, they have to make split second decisions, they sometimes have to make split second life and death decisions.
In this trial you're going to meet any number of the men and women from the Minneapolis Police Department who do a fantastic job. They're committed, take very seriously preserving the sanctity of life.
I mentioned already Commander Katie Blackwell, Sergeant Kerry Yayne (ph), Officer Nicole Mackenzie (ph) to name a few. This case is about Mr. Derek Chauvin and not about any of those men
and women and it's not about all policing at all. And this case is not about split second decision making. In nine minutes and 29 seconds there are 479 seconds, not a split second among them.
That's what this case is about.
You are going to hear from one the bystanders, Charles McMillan. And Charles McMillan is going to talk to you about the excessive force that he saw Mr. Chauvin displaying on May 25. And he will tell you what he experienced and the way that Mr. Chauvin looked at him and the other bystanders who were calling out for Mr. Floyd's life. He will tell you what he saw in terms of Mr. Chauvin never letting up or getting up on his body.
You will be able to observe Mr. Chauvin's body language for yourself in the video and determine what that language says to you. So, I'm going to show you in a moment one of the videos that you're going to see in this trial just to kind to tee up for you what will be the essence of what we will be focused on in the trial.
I need to tell you ahead of time that the video is graphic, that it can be difficult to watch. It is simply the nature of what we're dealing with in this trial ladies and gentlemen.
You're going to see any number of videos from the police officers who had body warn cameras on, but you're also going to see videos from the bystanders, normal folks the bystanders.
You're going to see these bystanders, a veritable bouquet of humanity these bystanders. You'll see here a little girl who's wearing a green shirt on the right with the words love on the green shirt. I won't say her name now because she's a minor, but she is going to come and talk with you about what she saw.
Next to her in the blue pants is her cousin, who at the time was also a minor, so I won't tell you her name, but she's also going to come in and talk to you. The cousin was taking the younger one to Cup Foods to be able to pick up candy and snacks when they came upon what was happening with Mr. Chauvin and Mr. Floyd on the ground.
Next to the young woman in the blue pants is Genevieve Hanson the first responder who tried to intervene to check his pulse and to check on Mr. Floyd.