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Underage Witness Testifies Off Camera in Chauvin Trial; Bystander Said I Stay Up at Night Apologizing to George Floyd. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired March 30, 2021 - 15:30   ET



ERIN ELDRIDGE, MINNESOTA ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: What else do you see and hear going on around you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We he says, telling him to check for a pulse.

ELDRIDGE: And what happened at that point? Did you -- did you see anybody check for a pulse or do anything at that point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No, not that I saw.

ELDRIDGE: OK. Did you see Mr. Chauvin or anybody else move or change -- or get up off Mr. Floyd?


ELDRIDGE: Did you -- were you concerned at that point in time?


ELDRIDGE: Were you saying anything once you got into that group of people?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. I asked why are you guys still on top of him? He's not doing anything wrong. He's handcuffed.

ELDRIDGE: And after you said that was there any response from any of the officers? Did any of them move, did Mr. Chauvin move?


ELDRIDGE: Did any of them address your concerns?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. They were really hostile.

ELDRIDGE: So when you say hostile, tell the jury what you mean by that, please.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The tone in their voice was really -- well, the -- Officer Thao's voice was really angry. ELDRIDGE: Was Officer Thao interacting with people on the street at

that point?


ELDRIDGE: I'm sorry, is that a yes?


ELDRIDGE: OK. So you just have to wait until I'm done asking before you answer.


ELDRIDGE: That's OK. I do it, too. OK, so Officer Thao appeared hostile. Can you just describe what he was doing that made you feel that way?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He pushed one of the witnesses there onto the sidewalk.

ELDRIDGE: And did you know that person?


ELDRIDGE: Did you see anybody being -- any of the -- you said witnesses. But any of those bystanders, any of those people on the curb with you, any of those people being violent or aggressive in any way?


ELDRIDGE: But you saw --

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They were just using their voice.

ELDRIDGE: OK. So you heard people using their voices but saw Mr. -- Officer Thao being hostile?


ELDRIDGE: What else did you see? Did you see any of the other officers who were there when you were on the curb?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not when I was on the curb.

ELDRIDGE: And what about Mr. Shaw, then, did you see him?


ELDRIDGE: How would you describe his body movement or body language at that point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Kind of angry. Like --

ELDRIDGE: So I'm going to stop you there. But tell me what he was doing with his body.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was, like, digging his knee into George Floyd's neck.

ELDRIDGE: Did you notice anything else about Mr. Chauvin reaching for anything or touching his mace or anything like that?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. He did grab his mace and started shaking it at us.

ELDRIDGE: And how did you feel at that point?


ELDRIDGE: and why did you feel scared then?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Because I didn't know what was going to happen.

ELDRIDGE: And were you scared of Mr. Chauvin or scared of Mr. Floyd or something else?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was scared of Chauvin.

ELDRIDGE: At that point that you saw Mr. Chauvin go for his mace, was there anybody in your group of witnesses or bystanders that were, again, being violent or attacking in any way?


ELDRIDGE: OK, I'm going to put up exhibit 184, please. You should see that on your screen in front of you. Do you see yourself in this picture?


ELDRIDGE: Can you just circle yourself on that screen? It's a touch screen. Use your finger. And do you see anyone else you recognize there?


ELDRIDGE: You circled Alyssa second. What is Alyssa doing there?


ELDRIDGE: And is that your cell phone she has?



ELDRIDGE: And what were you doing at this point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I was telling Donald Williams, I believe his name is, because the cop, I think, pushed him. I don't exactly remember, but I told him, like, don't -- because I didn't know what was going to happen. I didn't want anybody like fighting the cops or anything like that because I knew it would escalate.

ELDRIDGE: Did you know Donald Williams at that time?


ELDRIDGE: Did you learn his name somehow after the fact?


ELDRIDGE: Was there anybody fighting with the cops?


ELDRIDGE: Was there any fight that happened with any of those bystanders with the cops?


ELDRIDGE: Were you concerned for everybody's safety?


ELDRIDGE: OK. At some point did you see -- we can take that down. Did you see an ambulance arrive?


ELDRIDGE: And what was going on at that point in time?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The ambulance pulled up and Derek was still on his neck. The ambulance people had to tell him -- signal him to get up.

ELDRIDGE: And you just made a motion with your hands. When you say signal him to get up, did you see a paramedic make a motion to Mr. Chauvin that looked to you like a get up kind of motion?


ELDRIDGE: OK. After the paramedics arrived, was that the first time that you saw Mr. Chauvin get up off Mr. Floyd?


ELDRIDGE: And how did Mr. Floyd look to you? What did his condition appear to be to you?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He looked kind of like purple, like he wasn't getting enough circulation.

ELDRIDGE: And was he moving or talking or anything at that point?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He was really limp.

ELDRIDGE: OK. And I know this is tough to talk about and I know it's hard, so take your time, but what did -- what did you think at that moment?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I didn't know for sure if George Floyd was dead until after the fact, but I had a gut feeling.

ELDRIDGE: So based on what you saw and how his body looked to you when they took him away, did he look dead to you at that point?


ELDRIDGE: Did you see anybody, until the paramedics arrived, any of the officer's attempt to render first aid or CPR or give any medical help before that?


ELDRIDGE: Nothing further, your honor.


BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: OK. We're going to take a -- they're going to take a quick break. We'll take a quick break. Be back in a moment.



BALDWIN: All right. We are back. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You are watching CNN. And they have taken a little bit of a break. So we'll resume a second as that Derek Chauvin trial resumes there in Minneapolis.

But let's do a little bit of just, you know, a little bit of context, a little bit of just digesting everything we've just heard from a number of these minor, m-i-n-o-r, witnesses.

This is obviously significant here in the overall scheme of things there. But we haven't been seeing their faces, but we've been hearing some pretty compelling testimony.

Elie Honig and Charles Ramsey are both with me. And Elie, let's pick up with the 17-year-old whose voice we just heard. A couple of my notes that I just jotted down. Just of people just tuning and just trying to keep track of everything that's happening here.

So, she pulls up at the Cup Foods where all of this is happening with Officer Chauvin and George Floyd. She hears George Floyd yelling for his mother, hearing him saying, I can't breathe. She gets out of the car. She has a sense that it feels serious, is what she said. Saw Officer Chauvin's knee on George Floyd's neck. And at one point she testifies she that sees Officer Chauvin, while the knee is on the neck, then like going for his mace because this crowd has formed around this whole scene and she testified that he was shaking it at us, she said. I was scared of Chauvin.

[15:45:00] And then the other note I have from her, the paramedics arrived and finally that's when Officer Chauvin got up off George Floyd and she said George Floyd looked purple, not getting enough circulation. Looked really limp.

What did you think of her testimony? And also, why was she not cross- examined, do you think?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Brooke so let me start with the second part of that. What we saw at the end there was the prosecution finishing asked that witness questions on direct examination. And we saw the defense team sort of huddle up.

This happens all the time in trials. You have you to make split second, on-the-spot decisions. They were deciding, do we cross- examine, they decided not to.

I think that was the right decision. People assume that the defense always cross-examines every witness. Not so. The defense does not have to and often it's the smarter tact not to cross-examine.

You have to ask is there anything I can really do to sort of undercut this witness, versus the risk of am I going to alienate the jury? I think they made the right decision there. That was another very powerful witness.

Echoed the same themes we've been hearing from a lot of different witnesses who were at the scene and really the testimony has been essentially unchallenged so far. I don't think there's been any real question about what those people saw and heard that day. The prosecution's really driving those key points home right now.

BALDWIN: Let me come back to you on what is still to come in terms of, you know, these expert witnesses and the details that they'll be providing.

But commissioner Ramsey, just over to you, also hearing her testimony and that of a number of other younger folks. You made the point earlier that hopefully they will get counseling. Can you just imagine having witnessed essentially the death of this man lying on the ground there in Minneapolis?

I'm wondering from you from a law enforcement perspective, hearing her testimony about the grabbing of the mace and the shaking it and also the other officer she testified looking to maybe shove one of the bystanders. What do you make of all that?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean the testimony today, again, was just incredibly compelling as it relates to the actions of the officers. Not just as they were kneeling on George Floyd, whether his neck, back or what have you, but also just their general actions.

The other thing that came to mind because the defense keeps, you know, pounding on this, you know, issue, was the crowd hostile or not. You know, if you're confronted with a hostile crowd, one of the first things you do is get on radio to get additional units there just to make sure you can adequately control the crowd.

I don't know of any such call was made. I just don't buy this whole notion that they were afraid because of the crowd. I think you had a lot of indifference that was taking place on that day for whatever reason.

I think when we get the officer's body-worn camera footage, you're going to learn an awful lot because you'll hear the conversation that occurred between the officers. And I think that's going to be key.

BALDWIN: That's such a great point, commissioner. Also that makes me think, too. Elie, again, like this split screen of what we have all seen thus far, right, the surveillance video, the backs of those officers, you see George Floyd's head, you see the car, you see that Cup Foods sign. But then to juxtapose that with the cell phone videos that we're seeing from some of these bystanders and the narration of what they're seeing through their own eyes, you know, their conversations with these officers trying to get them to stop.

I'm wondering, you know, it's almost as though the defense side is the surveillance video, right, to the commissioner's point, the bystanders were all, quote/unquote, hostile and yelling and angry, but then you look at this individual cell video and you hear how disturbed these people were by what they were watching.

HONIG: Yes, Brooke, that defense to me is the worst single argument that I've heard so far in this case. This notion that, well, it wasn't angry, it was a hostile crowd and that somehow distracted Derek Chauvin from doing his job.

I mean first of all are the facts just do not bear that out. The testimony, the video does not bear out that this was a hostile crowd. In fact, several witnesses have made clear, we only escalated our anger as George Floyd died. As the situation looked more and more dire, more and more sort of helpless for him.

I don't think that argument is going anywhere. I actually think the defense is damaging their credibility by continuing to push that.

BALDWIN: What about the point we also heard, Elie, from several witnesses, and you and I have been watching and we've been texting about some of this testimony.

And you were making this point to me over texts and I just want you to do this over TV. That you know, through the witnesses the prosecution is making the point that Chauvin appeared to be pushing more of his weight down on George Floyd. And you were saying that could be key. Tell me why.

HONIG: That is a vital point. Because we've now heard from three or four different witnesses, and we can see it on the video but we heard from the people who were there that it appeared to them that Chauvin was trying to increase the amount of pressure through his knee onto George Floyd's neck.

If the jury credits that, if they find that believable, then this case will be over because that shows that Derek Chauvin was trying to hurt George Floyd. When we talk about intent, was he just trying to take care of George Floyd and make sure he was safely taken into custody or was he trying to hurt him?


If the jury credits that and finds that Chauvin was driving his knee into George Floyd's neck, then they must find him guilty.

BALDWIN: OK. This trial is about to resume. We're going to take another quick commercial break. We'll be back after this.


BALDWIN: All right, we're going to keep rolling along with a little bit of analysis as they have still not come back from this break in the courtroom there in Minneapolis.

So former police commissioner Charles Ramsey, I got a question for you. You made a great point a second ago but how you know we've seen all this various eyewitness cell phone video, we've yet to see and hear the police officer's body cam and how revealing that will be.

My question is in listening to a number of these younger witnesses, they've been making the point as whether or not or some of whom were saying to the officers, you know, check his pulse, check his pulse.


RAMSEY: Right.

BALDWIN: The pulse of George Floyd, what is protocol in terms of duty of care if you are an officer and you are putting someone in a situation such as this. Checking pulse.

RAMSEY: I mean there is nothing more important than a person's life, sanctity of life. And so you do whatever you need to do in order to see to it that the person doesn't die or was seriously injured if you can avoid it all.

So as far as that goes because he was in a position, he was in you'd have to be concerned about positional asphyxia which when your face down, your chest is on the pavement.

You can't expand your lungs the way you would normally expand in order to be able to breath. You couple that with a knee to the neck, which probably is also cutting off blood supply to the brain. He's in a very, very bad position to begin with.

So you would have to do everything you can to get him out of that position as quickly as possible. So that you don't run into a problem. Checking his pulse would certainly be one thing you would do, checking to make sure he's still breathing would be another.

That's part of the training that you go through as a police officer, and -- and what that body camera will -- will show, I mean, initially there was a bit of a struggle, but once they get him down, the video -- the body worn video that I have observed has a clock in it. It would tell you how long it took to actually get him down on the ground, but it will also tell you exactly when the struggling stopped because you'd be able to tell from the camera, and so you'll know exactly how long they went when there was no resistance taking place.

And that's when the force should stop, you know. Just because you could do it early on because you had a resisting offender, that doesn't mean that a minute from now, two minutes from now, three minutes from now it's OK to continue to use that level of force, no. When -- when his actions decrease, your force decreases.

BALDWIN: And that is the issue here. Elie, I want to play some sound before I ask you my question because commissioner Ramsey is alluding to what is to come in terms of these expert witnesses and ultimately also the Minneapolis Police Chief, but just again for people who are jumping in and out of our coverage today, I want to play the sound, this is from the 17-year-old eyewitness who took the now infamous cell phone video and this is what she said.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: 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 -- 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.

ELDRIDGE: Thank you.

CAHILL: I will consider the answer, thank you.


BALDWIN: Elie, just so powerful.

HONIG: Yes, Brooke, that's the single most powerful moment of this trial so far. I think quite easily I think it spoke very loudly to the jurors and to the American public.

When you're prosecuting a case, you want to appeal to the jury's heads and their hearts and look the facts here I think are fairly straightforward thus far. We haven't gotten into the deep expert scientific testimony yet, but I think the prosecutors have pulled together the facts in a very compelling manner.

And hearing from this witness and really the other young women who testified today I think really should resonate with the jury and really should hit in the jury in a visceral way that I think they will take back to the jury room with them when they deliberate.

BALDWIN: 60 more seconds, Elie. Just close this out on what is to come in terms of the complexities of these expert witnesses.

HONIG: Two big categories of witnesses to come. The first one, place experts. People will talk about how are police officers trained and what is the appropriate level of force?

If you want a preview, commissioner Ramsey just gave it to us in his prior answer where he outlined what's appropriate and what is not appropriate. The second big batch of experts is going to be medical examiners. We're going to hear detailed in-depth testimony about what was found in the autopsy and the toxicology, which is the blood reports relating to George Floyd. That's going to be a key battleground for this case as well.

BALDWIN: All of this coming. This is just day two. We have no idea how long this will go. Again, former Officer Derek Chauvin on trial for manslaughter and second and third-degree murder here of George Floyd. Gentlemen, thank you so much. I really, really appreciate all your expert analysis. We will do this again tomorrow. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you so much for being here with me in New York. Let's go to Washington. The Lead with Jake Tapper starts right now.