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Prosecutors Deliver Opening Statements in Derek Chauvin Trial. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 29, 2021 - 11:00   ET


JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: The young woman in the blue pants Genevieve Hansen, the first responder who tried to intervene, to check his pulse and to check on Mr. Floyd.


She's going to come and testify to you.

Next to her is a young man named Donald Williams, trained security background. He is also trained in mixed martial arts, who was very excited and alarmed about what he saw in the exchange between Mr. Chauvin on top of George Floyd. He's going to come in and testify you to.

So any number of these bystanders and others also will be coming in to talk with you. And so, they come from the broad spectrum of humanity, different races, different genders. You have older people, younger people.

But you will see that what they all had in common as they were going about their business is that they saw something that was shocking to them, that was disturbing to them, and it made them stop and take note. Stop and take note.

They tried to, first, you will learn when you meet them, to intercede on what was happening with their voices. They tried to interject, to exhort, to please stop, to please get into what we call good trouble just with their voices, because something there was concerning to them.

And when that didn't work, you can see any number of them pull out cameras to document what was happening, such that it would be memorialized, such that it would not be misrepresented, such that it could not be forgotten. What we'll see this morning will be but the footage taken from one of these bystanders in just a moment.

And you will learn with respect to these bystanders that none of them knew George Floyd. They didn't know his history. They didn't know anything about him. All they knew is they came upon a individual that they saw was in some serious distress and on the knees of Mr. Chauvin, and it alarmed them.

And let me show you what the scene looked like just briefly. Here in Minneapolis, this takes place at the section of Chicago Avenue

and 38th Street, at Cup Foods. If you can see the image of a squad car on Chicago Avenue, that is ultimately where Mr. Floyd was being restrained on the ground, under the knees of Mr. Chauvin.

We will spend quite a bit more time with this map during the trial. But just know I just wanted to try to set the stage for what you're going to see. So with that, I'm going to show you the video evidence and the video evidence I think will be very helpful and meaningful to you because you can see it for yourself without lawyer talk, lawyer spin, lawyer anything. You can see it for yourself.



GEORGE FLOYD: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: -He's gotten kneed on the ground, and he's crying --

GEORGE FLOYD: Please. Please. Please. I can't breathe. Please, man. Please. Please. I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got him down, man. Let him breathe.

FLOYD: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been trying to help out.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let him breathe, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm not going to lie.

FLOYD: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want?

FLOYD: I can't breathe. Please. You're knee is on my neck. I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, get up and get in the car, man.

FLOYD: I will.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car.

FLOYD: I can't move.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car. Get up and get in the car right.

FLOYD: Momma, momma, I can't breathe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get in, brother.

FLOYD: I can't.


FLOYD: My neck.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You can't win, man.

FLOYD: I'm through.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know you're in neck (ph), but you didn't listen.

FLOYD: My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. Please water or something. Please. Please. I can't breathe, officer. I can't breathe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have your knee on his neck, man. You get off --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His mouth is bleeding, like come on, now. Look at his nose.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You got your knee (ph) right on his neck, officer.

FLOYD: I cannot breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You are having fun?

FLOYD: I cannot breathe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a tough guy. A tough guy, huh? Tough guy. He's not even resisting arrest, man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He ain't doing anything. Put him in the car.

FLOYD: They'll kill me. They'll kill me.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How long you going to hold him down?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's not about drugs, bro.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is human, bro.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His nose were bleeding.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You put him in the car.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We tried that for ten minutes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That's some bum ass shit, bro. That's some bum ass shit, bro. You're going to sit there with your knee on his neck, bro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's talking. He's fine.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he ain't fine. You certainly -- like in a jujitsu move, bro, you're trapping his breathing right there, bro. Like you don't think that's what it is, bro? You don't think nobody understands that shit right there, bro?

I train at the academies, bro. That's some bullshit, bro. Right, that's some bullshit, bro. That's bullshit, bro. You're fucking stopping his breathe right there, bro.

FLOYD: I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK, he's talking.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's talking, bro, but you can get him off the ground. You're being a bum right now. You can get him off the ground, bro. You can get him on the ground. You've been a bum right now.

He is enjoying that. He's enjoying that shit. He's enjoying that shit. He's a fucking bum, bro. He's enjoying that shit right now, bro. You could have fucking put him in the car by now, bro. He's not resisting arrest or nothing.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He's talking now? He's talking now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're enjoying it. Look at you, your body language is crazy you're fucking bum.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Bro, get off him!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You already know that, bro. I train with half of these bum ass dudes at the academy, bro. You know that's bogus right now, bro. You know it's bogus. You can't even look at me like a man. You're a bum, bro. He's not even resisting arrest.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His nose is bleeding.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're fucking stopping his breathing right now, bro? You think that's cool, right? You think that's cool, though, right?

What is your -- oh, man. What's your badge number, bro? You think that's cool right now, bro.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Call police on another police.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think that's cool though, bro. You're a bum, bro. You're a bum for that. You're a bum for that, bro.

You can get mad. Stopping his breathe right now.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at him. Get off him now!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What is wrong with you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He got mace. He got mace.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He cannot breathe! Get out of here.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Let me check on him. He's not responding right now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's not responsive right now! He's not responsive right now! He's not responsive right now!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Does he have a pulse?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, bro, look at him. He's not responsive right now, bro.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Check for a pulse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you serious?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Let me feel a pulse.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is he breathing right now?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't have this conversation.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check his pulse. Check his pulse.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check his pulse, Thao. Thao, check his pulse. Thao, check his pulse, bro. Bro, check his pulse.

You're bogus, bro. You're bogus.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't do drugs, guys.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't do drugs, bro? What is that? What do you think that is? You call what he is doing okay? You call what he's doing okay?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You call what he is doing okay, bro?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you really a firefighter --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I am from Minneapolis.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You think that's okay? Check his pulse!


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check his pulse.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check -- the man ain't moved yet, bro. The man ain't moved yet, bro.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bro, you're a bum. You're a bum, bro. You are definitely a bum, bro,

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Tell me what his pulse is right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Check the pulse. Bro, he has not moved one time.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He is off tracker now.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Go back to the store, bro. You don't understand.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No. Okay. That's cool. Go back in the store, bro. Go back in the store, bro. He's not fucking moving.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm trying to help you out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, you don't need to help me out, bro. I know your parents. I know everyone that runs the store. You don't need to help me to fuck out, bro. He's not fucking moving right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I just saw that, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bro, he was just moving when I walked up here.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I know. They did that to him. They did that to him.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's back out here, bro. Bro, you just got back here, bro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I've been watching it the whole time.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bro, he doesn't have -- bro, he's not fucking moving!

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They fucking killed him, bro?


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bro, 1087, bro? Or 987, bro? You're a bum. First thing you want to grab is your mace because you're scared. Scared of fucking minorities. You're a fucking bum, bro.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Get the fuck off of him! What are you doing?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like three minutes, bro. He's not fucking moving!



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bro, he's not even fucking moving! Get off of his fucking neck, bro. Get off of his neck!




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you serious? Bro, are you serious? He's going to -- you're going to keep your knee on his neck? You're a bitch (ph).


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Bro -- bro, don't touch me like that. I swear -- (CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to let him keep his knee on his neck, bro? You're a bitch, Bro. Thao, are you going to let him keep like that? You're going to let him kill that man in front of you, bro? Huh? Huh? Bro, he's not even fucking moving right now, bro. He's not even fucking --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right, he's black, they don't care. (INAUDIBLE) people. They don't care, bro.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're going to sit there with your knee on his neck, bro. You are a real man for that, bro. You're a real man, bro. You're a real man, bro.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm a first responder from Minneapolis. The fact you are not checking his pulse, doing decompressions (ph) if he needs that. You guys --


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: May I have your nametag, bitch?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It don't matter. So what? Freedom of speech.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't touch him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I got this all on camera. Watch out.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't touch me again.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You touched him. You went to him. So shut up.




UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You didn't do anything, bro. He's fucking dead, bro.



BLACKWELL: 9-2-9, the three most important numbers in the case, 9 minutes and 29 seconds is how long that went on for half of that time. Mr. Floyd was unconscious, breathless, pulseless.

You will see in the videos, ladies and gentlemen, that Mr. Floyd from time to time was heaving up his right shoulder. There is a reason for that.

Mr. Chauvin is on the left side. His back and neck. He can't move. His hands are behind his back.

He is heaving up the right shoulder so he can get room for his rib cage to expand to breathe. Because of this point he will learn he is pancaked with the hard pavement beneath him and Mr. Chauvin on top of him. In order to breathe, you have to have room for the lungs to expand in and out.

And you'll see Mr. Floyd doing his best to crank his right shoulder up, having to lift up his weight and Mr. Chauvin's weight on top of him to get a breath for as long as he could get a breath. And you will see and hear more about that during the trial.

You will learn that a number of the bystanders there called the police on the police. Genevieve Henson, the first responder called the police on the police. You will learn that Donald Williams, the young man who is very vocal, security background, mixed martial arts background saw the pressure put on the neck. He called the police on the police.

But not only that, you're going to learn that there was a 911 dispatch, her name is Jenna Scurry (ph). Jenna Scurry (ph) is going to talk you to also. There was a fixed police camera that was trained on this particular scene and she could see through the camera what was going on.

You will 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, a 911 dispatcher. She called Sergeant David Pleoger who is going to come in and testify.

She called him to report what she saw, because she found it just that disturbing. She will tell that you she felt that she saw a man literally lose his life. And then you will hear her testify.

Now I want to talk you to a little bit about intent. That is what our evidence is going to be on the issue of intent. As I mentioned, we're going to show you the use of force is excessive and unreasonable. We're going to show you that it was not accidental in terms of what was happening there at the scene.

That what Mr. Chauvin was doing, he was doing deliberately. Now, when we bring you evidence of intent, it's not going to come in like a sandwich board that has a front sides and the back side, and the front side says, this is our evidence of intent and the backside says, yeah, you saw it.

We will bring it to you, ladies and gentlemen, through the totality of all of the evidence, looking at it all together. You'll, for example, hear from Nicole McKenzie (ph), the medical export coordinator for the Minneapolis Police Department. She will tell you that the dangers of the prone position, putting people face down on the ground have been known about in policing for over 30 years, that they train officers on it.


She will tell you that arrestees, citizens who are under arrest should never be put in the prone position except only momentarily to get them under police custody or control to get handcuffs on them. But never left in that position.

You will learn that Mr. Floyd was in handcuffs already. So, they didn't need to put him on the ground to get him into -- to get him under police control. And she will tell you that the reason you don't put person to leave them if the prone position that way, let alone with a man's body weight on top of them, let alone for 9 minutes and 29 seconds, the reason you don't do that is because of the potential to obstruct the airways.

You are also going to hear from Lt. Johnny Marcell (ph), the Minneapolis Police Department use of force training coordinator. He's going to tell what you about what training Mr. Chauvin had received.

But he's also going to tell that you he knows of no training that would suggest kneeling on somebody's neck, as Mr. Chauvin was doing, was proper, according to Minneapolis Police Department training.

You will learn that officers are trained to avoid putting pressure on areas that are above the areas of the shoulder. On the spinal column. On the neck. On the head.

And that to do that, using deadly force because if you are putting pressure in those areas, you run the risk of seriously injuring the person or potentially killing them. So they're trained not to do.

But above all, you know, the police are trained in the side recovery position. If you have to put somebody in the prone position to get them under control, you turn them over on their side as soon as possible so you don't object the airways by having them on their stomach where the lungs cannot expand with the chest let alone having weight on your back. You put them on the side, recovery position right away.

And you will hear all about the importance of that. You'll hear the evidence that all of the warnings that Mr. Chauvin would have received, not just from George Floyd himself, from the calls and crying out by the bystanders, from the approach of the ambulance, from the paramedics and so on. All of whom did their part to encourage him to let up and to get up. You'll be able to consider that too under the umbrella of intent.

Now I want to talk with you a second about the evidence on causation. The medical causation in terms of what was happening to Mr. Floyd while he was there on the ground. And if I have to give us part of the evidence you're going see a name, I would tell you that you can believe your eyes, that it's a homicide, it's murder. You can believe your eyes. And here's what you'll be able to see for yourself. You'll be able to

see every part of what Mr. Floyd went through from him first crying out, from his effort to move the shoulder, to get his breathing, get room to breathe. You'll be able to hear his voice get deeper and heavier, his words further apart. His respirations were shallow.

You'll see him when he goes unconscious. And you'll be able to see the uncontrollable shaking he's doing when he's not breathing anymore, the anoxic seizures from oxygen depravation.

You'll be able to see when he is going through agonal breathing, the gasping of the body once the heart stopped from oxygen deficiency. And you'll hear and well aware when there was a loss of pulse.

You'll hear from a number of experts on the stand that putting a man in the prone position with handcuffs behind his back, somebody on his neck and back pressing down on him for 9 minutes and 29 seconds is enough to take a life. You'll hear that also.

You're also going hear from other experts who will point to the significant evidence of the excessive force that was put on Mr. Floyd's body. You'll be able to see, ladies and gentlemen, the seat road rash on his shoulders, for the way he's been pressed into the pavement from the weight on top, stripped off layers of his skin.

The same with his knuckles on his hand when pressing up trying to get room to breathe, damage to his nose when he pressed his face into the pavement to try to get room to breathe, ladies and gentlemen.

You will learn that last 9 minutes and 29 seconds of Mr. Floyd's life, he was only alive for that -- that period of time, but it matches the patterns of somebody who dies from an oxygen deficiency.

We'll be able to point to the video evidence, you'll be able to see for yourself. You're also going to hear and see certain evidence of what this was not.


This was, for example, not a fatal heart attack. This was not, for example, a heart attack. You will learn that there was no demonstrative injury whatsoever to Mr. Floyd's heart, as in a heart attack.

You'll hear evidence that Mr. Floyd had an artery in his heart that is partially clogged. You will learn that there was no damage to Mr. Floyd's heart, from inadequate blood supply to his heart, that there was no clotting in his heart.

You will learn that the medical examiner after he had died saw no injury, no evidence of heart injury and it was so unremarkable he didn't even photograph the heart.

You will learn that this was not what is called a fatal arrhythmia. That heart beats rhythmically and occasionally the heart gets out of rhythm. And out of rhythm, the heart just may stop and in the case of fatal arrhythmia, you're going to learn that when a person suffers that, they stop and they drop right there where they are, instant death.

You'll be able to see for yourself that Mr. Floyd did not die an instant death. He died one breath at a time, over an extended period of time. It does not at all look like the way one dies from fatal arrhythmia. It's instant death. And this is not an instant death.

You also learn, ladies and gentlemen, that George Floyd struggled, with an opioid addiction. He struggled with it for years. You'll learn did he not die from a drug overdose. He did not die from an opioid overdose. Why?

Because you'll be able to look at the video footage and you see he was absolutely nothing like a person that died from an opioid overdose. You learn that opioids are tranquilizers.

When a person dies on opioid overdose, what do they look like? First and foremost, asleep, in a stupor. And they never come to again. And they simply pass away. Opioid overdose.

They're not screaming for their lives. They're not calling on their mothers. They're not begging, please, please, I can't breathe. That's not what an opioid overdose looks like.

Now, you will learn that Mr. Floyd had 11 nanograms of fentanyl in his system when he died and it means that's a fatal amount. Well, what you'll learn is something about tolerance. So, for a person who has never been exposed to opioids or fentanyl, that may be lethal for them.

But for others who have been struggling with for years, they have a different tolerance level. You will learn, for example, that 11 nanograms is a range you find in people that might receive opioid for cancer pain, for example.

Mr. Floyd had lived with his opioid addiction for years. You can see on the video his behavior is not consistent with somebody that died of an opioid addiction.

He didn't go into a slumper. He was not nonresponsive. He was calling out for his life. He was struggling. He was not passing out.

Now you're also going to hear from a forensic pathologist, Dr. Lindsey Thomas (ph). And what she does as a forensic pathologist, she studies body tissues on autopsy to try to determine the cause and manner of death. She did this over 35 years as a forensic pathologist.

Over that period of time, she had done medical examiner, forensic pathology work and some 37 Minnesota counties of the 87 we, have seven counties in Wisconsin. She had done over 5,000 autopsies and determined cause and origin or manner and cause of death in thousands of others.

She's semiretired now and works as a consultant still in the field of pathology. She was one of the persons who helped to train the current Hennepin County medical examiner. Dr. Andrew Baker, when he was just starting out in forensic pathology.

Now, here is where Dr. Baker and Dr. Thomas agree as to the manner of Mr. Floyd's death, and I will show you the findings from Dr. Baker. When he list manner of death for George Floyd, homicide.

Now I want to explain to you that when he uses homicide, it's not the way we use it here in the courtroom. When the medical examiner says homicide, it means that the person died at the hands of another. That's what that means.

And I will show you what list that shows from in just a minute and Dr. Thomas will come in and testify about that. But it means he died at the hands of another.


But you'll also learn that it was the cause of death. Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.

Now, I'm going to translate into English and you'll hear this from Dr. Thomas. The cause of death: cardiopulmonary arrest.

What you're going to learn is that every human being that's ever been on the planet has two things in common with every other human being. Number one is that they're born. Number, two they die of cardiopulmonary arrest, because all cardiopulmonary arrest means is that the heart stops and the lungs stop. It's simply another way of saying death.

So cause of death, death. Complicating that is involving law enforcement subdual that, is subduing George Floyd, restraining him and compressing his neck, under cause of death. And how the injury occurred, descendant George Floyd experienced cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officers.

Now in terms of manners of death, what you see here is homicide. Here would be the standard list of the choices that medical examiners look to and determining what the manner of death was. How the injury or disease leads to death is manner of death. Dr. Thomas will talk to you about this.

Five manners of death. Natural. Natural causes. A heart attack is a natural death, you will learn. A fatal arrhythmia is natural death, you will learn.

Accident. A drug overdose is an example of an accidental death, for example. Car accident can be an accidental death.

Suicide. Homicide which is one they chose death at the hands of another. Or undetermined, that if you can't tell which it is or what it is, you indicate undetermined.

And here you learn that Dr. Andrew Baker and Dr. Thomas determined among these possible manners of death, it wasn't natural, not accidental, not suicide, not undetermined. It was homicide, death at the hands of another.

But that's not all that Dr. Thomas is going to tell you. She is going to tell you something about the limitations of pathology. That is looking at the tissues of persons after they are deceased in trying to determine whether somebody died as a result of oxygen deficiency.

There are limitations, because in over half the cases where somebody dies from insufficient from oxygen and you know they died from insufficient oxygen, there are no signs in the body tissues. She will give you example of somebody smothered by a pillow and they died that way. She says you may see nothing in the body tissues. But you know they died from oxygen deficiency because you know how they died.

And here in this case, you will hear that an autopsy, they didn't see any object things in George Floyd's tissues, but she says we have to look at all the evidence and we can see what happened at the scene. And we can see moment by moment that he had all the tell tail signs of a person who is struggling and suffering from not receiving sufficient oxygen. She will say you have to look at all the evidence and we'll show you that objective evidence as we go through.

So, finally, I want to talk to you about some of the evidence that you'll hear. Some of the facts that do not excuse this excessive use of force but you'll hear about them. We'll tell you about them.

For example, you will hear that George Floyd was a big guy. He was over 6 feet tall. Every police conduct witness we bring to you on the stand, every use of force experts will tell you that his size is no excuse for any police abuse.

You are going hear obviously he struggled with drug addiction, that he had high blood pressure. They'll talk about heart disease. And we will tell you about that heart disease that he had.

What you'll learn is that George Floyd lived for years, day in and day out, every day, with all these conditions, until the one day on May 25th, when he entered the 9 minutes and 29 seconds, and that is the only day he didn't survive. That he went into that circle of 9 minutes and 29 seconds is the only day they didn't come out again. You will learn that. It's not an excuse for what happened in the 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

You will hear what happened earlier on the day on May 25th. You will be able to see how the police approached him in his vehicle over the fake $20. You'll be able to see how when they approach this car, came to the window and within seconds, they pulled out their gun, were pointing it at his head and were using the foulest of language.

You'll be able to see them get him out of his car, put him right in the way in the handcuffs. You see them pat him down so that they'll know.