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Biden Administration Sends Agents to Border; Derek Chauvin Trial Continues. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 30, 2021 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Hi there. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being with me on this Tuesday. You're watching CNN.

An emotional day two of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, several bystanders providing to be key witnesses today, and one of them only 9 years old at the time she witnessed what happened.

Another witness, Donald Williams, tearing up there at points, says he overheard Mr. Floyd pleading for his life -- that was his direct quote -- as the officer put his knee on Floyd's neck for what we now know was actually nine minutes and 26 seconds.

The court is still out, breaking for lunch right now, and we will get you back to these proceedings as soon as they begin.

But, also, just a heads-up to you. Any moment now, we will see the president of the United States signing the PPP Extension Act into law from the Oval Office. What is that? Good question. This is the provision that allows small businesses to utilize loans to help pay their employees and other expenses.

With the pandemic still very much affecting the economy, this extension will help keep their heads above water, at least through the end of May. So, we will bring you President Biden and his remarks as soon as we see him.

But while we wait, let's get to the latest on what's been unfolding there at the trial in Minneapolis.

CNN's Omar Jimenez is live outside that courthouse.

And so, Omar, just talk us through today's testimony.


Well, right now, Brooke, for starters, we're on a lunch recess right now, leaving all of us to process the most dramatic day of testimony that we have had so far in this trial.

It, of course, began with the second half of the third witness called here, Donald Williams. He was the man who witnessed what happened to George Floyd, Derek Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck, from just feet away back in May of 2020, yelling at officers throughout this to get off of Floyd.

And there was a lot of back-and-forth there between in particular the defense attorneys, where he felt -- that was maybe, I should say, the most contentious back-and-forth. We will just leave it there. And then prosecutors were asking him what his experience was that day. Why did he feel like he needed to say so much?

And we learned that he eventually called the police for the police that were on the scene, because he did not feel those officers were going to assist in what he was seeing in any sort of way.

And he told them, the 911 operator, that: I believe they just killed a man who was not resisting in any way.

So, that was the first part of testimony we heard.

The second came from a witness who did not appear on video, and that's because she was under 18 at the time of the George Floyd arrest, so we only had the audio. And this was the person who filmed that now infamous cell phone video that has been seen countless times across the world, and arguably created this entire movement just by being there and documenting what she saw.

And here's how she describes what she holds on to now, almost a year later, from standing feet away from seeing George Floyd.


D.F., WITNESS: When I look at George Floyd, I look at -- I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they are all black. I have black -- I have a black father. I have a black brother. I have black friends.

And I look at that, and I look at how that could have been one of them. 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.

But it's like, it's not what I should have done. It's what he should have done. He should have...





JIMENEZ: These 10 months later, it's not what I should have done. It's what he should have done.

But, before that, saying that she's been up late at night apologizing for not doing more. This is a teenager, someone who was in the wrong place at the right time, you could argue, to show the world, really, what was happening, and that's what she holds on to, right after her 9-year-old cousin testified, who was with her that day.


And we are expecting to hear from two more witnesses who were underage at the time of George Floyd's death later this afternoon, once we get back from that lunch recess, Brooke.

BALDWIN: Omar, thank you so much for setting up what we have seen and heard thus far today. Thank you.

My analysts are back today, watching alongside this, Elie Honig, Charles Ramsey, former Philadelphia police commissioner and former chief of D.C. Metropolitan Police.

So, gentlemen, here we are, lunch break. We're about to dive back into this trial.

Omar did an amazing job at just going through the various witnesses we heard today.

Elie, first to you.

What did you make of Donald Williams' testimony? And just for everyone, he was the MMA fighter who was the eyewitness who ended up being the second witness to call the police on the police. What did you think of him?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I thought he was an exceptional witness for the prosecution.

What the prosecution is doing here is, they are building their case brick by brick. This is how it works in trials. It doesn't all come in at once. You need to hear from each different person.

The thing about Donald Williams is, he sort of embodies the theme that the prosecution is putting forthright now, which is, everybody who saw what was happening recognized that there was something very wrong and very dangerous happening.

Mr. Williams talked about how he called the police on the police because he thought he had witnessed a murder, similar to yesterday, if we think back, the dispatcher who let her sergeant know for the only time in her career, the cashier from across the street who took out her cell phone and took videos, the young people who have been testifying the last couple hours who took cell phone videos.

That is the prosecution's theme. Everyone who was there recognized just how wrong and dangerous this was.

BALDWIN: And then, Chief Ramsey, to you, the theme really from the defense, which we're seeing in cross-examination, they're trying to portray these various eyewitnesses, these bystanders as part of this angry mob, right, that diverted the officers' attention from George Floyd there on the ground.

And so my question to you in your 50-plus years in policing, if you were the responding officer -- and you and I have talked about excessive force, what's right and what's too much -- in your eyes, does the way the crowd, the just small handful of people standing there, the way that they behaved warrant that level of response from then Officer Chauvin?


I mean, listen, I have seen hostile crowds. And what I saw on video was not, in my opinion, a hostile crowd. Were they upset? Yes. I mean, they were watching a person slowly lose their life right in front of them. And that doesn't happen every day. I mean, it's traumatic.

You can expect to get some kind of reaction from a crowd. And, again, if you did, in fact, think it was a hostile crowd, that's all the more reason to try to get him up, get him in the car, and get him out of there before gets even worse.

So, I would say no. And just look at the actions of Chauvin. I mean, he's so nonchalant, his sunglasses on top of his head, his arm on his hip. I mean, he doesn't look like a person who is intimidated at all by that crowd.

BALDWIN: We heard within that crowd there was a 9-year-old, 9 at the time, the cousin of the woman who we just heard her voice a moment ago saying she stays up at night thinking she should have done more.

RAMSEY: Right.

BALDWIN: She sees her brothers. She sees her brothers, right?

And so we heard from this 9-year-old who witnessed this confrontation. Let me just play this. Again, we're not seeing her. She's 9 -- or she's 10 now, but this is what she told the court. Listen to this.


BLACKWELL: Are you able to tell us, having been there on this day and seeing the officer on top of George Floyd, how did you feel about that? How did it affect you?

J.R., WITNESS: I was sad and kind of mad.

BLACKWELL: And tell us, why were you sad and mad?

J.R.: Because it felt like he was stopping his breathing, and it is kind of like hurting him.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Judea. I won't ask you any other questions.

CAHILL: Mr. Nelson.

ERIC NELSON, ATTORNEY FOR DEREK CHAUVIN: I have no questions for this witness, Your Honor.

CAHILL: Thank you.

Judea, you can go. You're excused.


BALDWIN: So, Elie, this is for you, you know, 9, 9, and witnessing this.

And I know that you have gotten testimony from children, from minors in the courtroom before. How difficult is it, and how important is it to hear their testimony too?

HONIG: Yes, Brooke, it's extraordinarily difficult to call a child as a witness.

It's so important that it be handled responsibly, because that testimony can be incredibly powerful. The first priority of the prosecutor, you have to make sure that child feels safe, feels protected, feels secure. That's a big part of the reason we didn't actually see visually those two juveniles testifying today.

You need to make sure that they understand what's happening. It's scary for any person, grownup, any age, to testify in a criminal trial. Now imagine doing that at age 9 or 18, like the other juvenile.

But the thing is, testimony from a child can be enormously powerful. I think we just saw that exactly happening this morning, because children generally don't have the baggage, the biases, the grudges that adults sometimes have.


BALDWIN: So unvarnished and raw.

HONIG: Exactly. From the mouth of babes, right? They tell truth, and it hits hard.

BALDWIN: Elie, thank you. Commissioner, thank you.

Let me ask both of you to stand by. We're going to dump -- we will jump back into the trial. Again, they're taking a lunch recess. It should begin again momentarily, so we will bring that as soon as that happens.

Also, the Biden administration is taking new action to address the crisis at the U.S.-Mexico border, as we had a firsthand look now, really, at the conditions these migrant children are facing.

I'm Brooke Baldwin. This is CNN. We will be right back.



BALDWIN: I actually want to pick up where we just left off just before break.

I have got Elie Honig and Commissioner Charles Ramsey standing by, because a couple more questions in this Derek Chauvin trial before everyone heads back into the courtroom after their lunch break.

Two things.

One, Commissioner Ramsey, to you. I know that, at some point in this trial, the Minneapolis police chief will be testifying, right? And he is being called to testify essentially against one of his own, Derek Chauvin obviously no longer a police officer, but still.

And just, as a former officer yourself, if this were one of your former officers, how do you even begin to prepare yourself for having to testify?

RAMSEY: Well, you just tell the truth.

I have had to testify against my officers in the past that I have fired. You just go in and just answer the questions. I mean, I have never done anything as high-profile as this, but, clearly, he will probably be asked to focus on policy and on training, those two areas.

That will probably be where most of the questioning will occur as far as the chief is concerned.

BALDWIN: And what about, Elie, former Officer Chauvin? Is there any chance he takes the stand?

HONIG: It's very, very unlikely. Any criminal defendant has the option to testify if he wants. It happens fairly rarely in our system.

I know, in TV and movies, the defendant always takes the stand, and it's a very dramatic moment.

BALDWIN: Exactly.

HONIG: In reality, it happens in a distinct minority of cases.

I think the only way Chauvin ends up taking the stand is if his defense lawyers sort of realized that they have absolutely lost on all their other defenses, causation and whether he used excessive force. I would not bet on Derek Chauvin taking the stand.

BALDWIN: OK. Gentlemen, thank you.

We're going to hit pause. We will come back to this in just a second.

We're also getting now some new video. We're getting this just into us here at CNN. U.S. Customs and Border Protection is giving us a little bit more as far as what's happening with the migrant situation on the border. They are sending hundreds more agents to the border with Mexico, as the number of migrants coming into this country continues to swell.

We are now getting a firsthand look at the conditions inside a Customs and Border Protection facility. This is set up for migrants in Donna, Texas.

It is Rosa Flores, my colleague here, who is getting us this video.

Rosa, you got in this facility in Donna today. Tell me everything.


It's important to note that I was not allowed inside this facility. This is pool video provided by another network. My team and I have been here for three weeks outside this facility that you see behind me. We still have not gained access.

But we have gained access to this video from our colleagues who were allowed inside. Now, what we were able to see is a lot of the processing facilities. The video is still being fed in, so we haven't actually been able to see the overcrowded pods that so many of the migrants that I have talked to here on the ground have described.

These migrants have described that there is very little room in between the mats that are on the floor for both families with children and also for children. This is as the Biden administration scrambles to figure out where to house these facilities.

Now, in this tape that we're watching currently, actively, right now that is feeding in, there was an interview with a Border Patrol agent who explained that one of the reasons why this facility is so overcrowded, according to this Border Patrol agent, is that HHS, Health and Human Services, doesn't have bed space, doesn't have room to house a lot of these children.

And that's why they end up in facilities like the one that you see behind me, overcrowded and led by Customs and Border Protection. Now, I did talk to one of the migrants who was in this facility a few days ago, and here is how he described some of the conditions. Take a listen.


FLORES: How many people were in there? Was it four?

Very full, he says, one on top of another because there's no space.

How much space between you and the next person? Forty centimeters.


FLORES: Now, according to Border Patrol, capacity at this facility is 250. And, right now, there are more than 4,000 individuals inside.

Now, as the administration scrambles to try to make space for children, I want you to look behind me, because what you will see is the CBP facility is on the far end of the property, and all of these tents that are being built right now, this is an active construction site.


This is an HHS facility. It's being built to house unaccompanied migrant children. And of course, it's still under construction. This is going up very quickly, a sign that when the U.S. government wants to build something quickly, they can build it very, very fast.

Now, Brooke, just to describe a little more what we're being able to see in this video -- and, again, I have not been able to watch all the video because it's still feeding in.

One of the Border Patrol agents that was interviewed that described some of the areas inside, he says that they're very crowded. There was also an interview conducted in an area where it looks like a playpen area, with a lot of children in this playpen. And this man described that all of these young children were unaccompanied when they entered this country.

They were very young. According to this Border Patrol agent, they keep them in that playpen, because it is not safe for these children, because they're so young, to go into the very overcrowded areas.

Again, I haven't been able to see the video of the overcrowded areas. I'm assuming it's going to be fed here in the tape shortly. But just based on the videos that have been released by lawmakers who have had access to this facility, and the migrants that I have been able to talk to, they describe that these pods are very, very full.

Again, this as the Biden administration is trying to grapple with the influx of migrants and also trying to find space to process them and to house them, especially unaccompanied minors, because they are first being held in CBP custody, and then, as this Border Patrol agent explained, Health and Human Services doesn't have space for them.

So that's why they're not being moved out of this facility fast enough. I reached out to Health and Human Services just now, as we're seeing this tape, and as we learned this from this Border Patrol agent, Brooke, but we haven't heard back -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Listen, I appreciate every single detail that you have. I also appreciate your transparency as far as what you have not seen with your own eyes vs. what you have as a correspondent. I appreciate that.

Listen, we have to continue to demand -- I know you have been there for three weeks, wanting to get your own eyes on these facilities and these conditions of these migrants. Continue to do that, to demand that, and the transparency that we so deserve from this current White House.

Rosa Flores, for now, thank you to you and your crew. And we will keep our eyes on all that video feeding in.

Again, the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis is expected to resume any moment. They have been out for their lunch break. They're about to begin again.

So, as soon as that begins, we will take it live. We will be right back.


BALDWIN: All right, we're going to take you back right now to this Derek Chauvin trial under way in Minneapolis.

CAHILL: And if you could turn towards me and raise your right hand.

Do you swear or affirm, under penalty of perjury, that the testimony you're about to give will be the truth?



Well, we're going to go off the audio, which means it's not going to be broadcast.

BALDWIN: All right, we're going to talk over this just a little bit before this witness begins.

And, Elie Honig, if I can get -- yes, maybe they're about to begin again?




ELDRIDGE: How old are you?


ELDRIDGE: And are you currently a high school student?


ELDRIDGE: What grade are you in?


ELDRIDGE: And do you also have a part-time job in retail or a retail pharmacy?


ELDRIDGE: And what city do you live in?


ELDRIDGE: Have you lived in Minneapolis your whole life?


ELDRIDGE: And in terms of your general neighborhood, do you live relatively close to Cup Foods? UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: In the area.

ELDRIDGE: So, I'm going to ask you some questions about Memorial Day, May 25, of last year, OK?


ELDRIDGE: What were you doing that evening?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was going to the corner store to get an aux cord for my car.

ELDRIDGE: And when you say corner store, what store is that?


ELDRIDGE: And you said you were going to get an aux cord? Can you just explain what that is?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like a cord to play music on the radio.

ELDRIDGE: And you called Cup Foods the corner store. Did you go there often?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not, like, a lot, but, if I was around, I'd go there for, like, snacks or something.

ELDRIDGE: So, you had been there before?


ELDRIDGE: And who were you with that day?


ELDRIDGE: And who's Karen? Is she a friend?


ELDRIDGE: And how did you get to Cup Foods that day?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I drove my grandfather's vehicle.

ELDRIDGE: What kind of car is that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A 2003 Buick Century.

ELDRIDGE: And what color is it?


ELDRIDGE: And you said you drove, so you were in the driver's seat driving the car that day?


ELDRIDGE: And who -- you said Karen was with you. Where was she in the car?


ELDRIDGE: So, she was in the front passenger seat?



And at that time, Memorial Day last year, how old were you then?


ELDRIDGE: So, you talked about going to get an aux cord at the corner store at Cup Foods. And you were in your grandpa's car. What did you see when you first pulled up in front of Cup Foods?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I had seen that there was some police cars. I just -- were -- I was just looking for somewhere to park. So...

ELDRIDGE: So, when you said you were looking for somewhere to park, you said you saw a police car. Did you see anything else?


ELDRIDGE: Did you get to park the car after you first pulled up?


ELDRIDGE: And where did you park?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A couple feet in front of the bus stop.

ELDRIDGE: And I'm going to put up Exhibit 1, which has already been admitted.

Now, if you look in front of you, you can see a map. Can you sort of circle or point with your finger on that screen in front of you about the area where you parked your car?

All right, and you said in front of the bus stop. Right next to that little circle you put, is that the bus stop that you're talking about?


ELDRIDGE: So, you said you parked your car. What'd you do at that point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I told my friend to stay in the car, because I didn't really know what was going on. And I originally was just still going in to get a charger, or an aux cord, so I got out the car and started walking towards the store.


So, what first -- you said you didn't really know what was going on. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.

ELDRIDGE: Was there something that drew your attention somewhere?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Right before I walked in the door, I saw there was four police officers and George outside.

ELDRIDGE: And when you say George, who's George?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The black male on the ground.

ELDRIDGE: Did you know who he was at that point in time?


ELDRIDGE: Did you later learn his name?


ELDRIDGE: And are you talking about George Floyd?


ELDRIDGE: So, you saw a black male that you later learned to be Mr. Floyd on the ground and some officers. Did you hear what was going on at that point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard a couple -- there was already a couple bystanders there. And I just heard some people talking to let him up and just to stay calm, talking to George. Yes.