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Biden Launches Infrastructure Plan; Testimony Continues in Derek Chauvin Trial. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired March 31, 2021 - 14:00   ET



BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: Here we go on this Wednesday afternoon. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

Let's just get right to our top story today, day three of the testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd.

Proceedings have taken a break for lunch right now. We will, of course, bring you back to the courtroom as soon as they resume.

But the majority of today's testimony has really been focused on this video footage here from inside and also, of course, outside that Cup Foods convenience store. And right there in the black tank top, that is George Floyd.

And the very first time, we are now hearing from the gentleman who was behind the cashier at Cup Foods that day. His name is Christopher Martin. And just a little background here. George Floyd allegedly paid for some items with a counterfeit $20 bill. And so when Martin reported the counterfeit bill to his manager, the store manager then escalated the whole thing to police.

And, of course, we know what ensued after that. Martin testified that he in some ways feels responsible for what happened to George Floyd.


MATTHEW FRANK, MINNESOTA PROSECUTOR: You saw him standing there with your hands on your head for a while, correct?


FRANK: What was going through your mind during that time period?

MARTIN: Disbelief and guilt.

FRANK: Why guilt?

MARTIN: If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.


BALDWIN: CNN's Omar Jimenez is outside the courthouse.

And, Omar, just hearing that from him, it's just we keep hearing from various witnesses saying they feel this guilt, this -- I failed him in acting or not acting that day.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, I mean, on this third day of testimony, what is abundantly clear is that, even after more than 10 months, these witnesses still feel like what happened is still very much in their hearts and minds and are not able to get past it.

And in some cases, they are questioning whether they should have done things differently, as we heard from Christopher Martin. Now, his testimony came as part of the day or has come as part of a day that's really been dominated by new video and context around that initial call to police on George Floyd about a counterfeit $20 bill.

And so we saw through surveillance video from inside the Cup Foods on May 25, 2020, Christopher Martin going back and forth in wrestling with that decision. He was examining that potentially counterfeit $20 bill. He thought it was fake. The store policy said that, well, if it is fake, and if you accept it, you have to pay it out of your own paycheck.

He was going to do that, but then reconsidered. And then this chain of events set off and eventually led to what he is still holding on to even after all this time.

And I should also know Christopher Martin is 19 years old. He is the fifth teenager or younger to testify out of 10 witnesses in total as part of this trial just three days in.

Now, after Martin exited the stand, a man by the name of Christopher Belfrey in his 40s took the stand. And he was someone who actually pulled behind the vehicle that police officers first interacted with Floyd in and says he was started when he saw one of the officers pull a gun, so he took out his phone and started filming.


CHRISTOPHER BELFREY, WITNESS: When two officers was coming across the street, I noticed them coming. And they approached the vehicle in front of me.

One officer drew a handgun and opened the door and pointed the gun at whoever was in the driver's seat.

It startled me when I seen the officer ready for the gun. I started recording.


JIMENEZ: And he eventually said that he stopped recording altogether, because the officers kept staring at him and he didn't want any problems.

But he did witness what those other bystanders we have heard from witness, Floyd eventually being dragged over to that side of the street and pinned under the knee of Derek Chauvin. As I mentioned, most of today has been dominated by new video and context around that initial 911 call.

The defense for Derek Chauvin chose not to cross-examine Belfrey, so he's done. So, once we come back from lunch in just about an hour or so, we will hear from a new witness, the 11th witness in this trial, now just three days in to testify -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: Yes, but I think we're coming back in about 15 to 20 minutes, so 2:00, 2:30, Eastern, I believe today, Omar.

Yes, thank you very much.

And Omar spoke so eloquently about these various witnesses, and, of course, the thing today. We're finally seeing this video from inside the Cup Foods.


So, let's start there.

Elie Honig is a former federal prosecutor. He's back with us today, as is Charles Ramsey, the former Philadelphia police commissioner and the former chief of D.C. Metropolitan Police.

So, Elie, let's start with you. And the witness Christopher Martin, the Cup Foods employee who confronted Floyd about the counterfeit $20 bill.

And I bring this up because this is a point the prosecution is clearly addressing, because he testified that George Floyd appeared to be intoxicated under the influence when he came into the store. Let's listen to this piece.


MARTIN: When I had asked him if he played baseball, he went on to respond to that, but it kind of took him a little long to get to what he was trying to say.

So, it would appear that he was high.

FRANK: So, you just had some signs that you thought he was under the influence of something?


FRANK: All right.

But were you able to carry on at least some conversation with him?



BALDWIN: Elie, why does this matter? Why is the prosecutor bringing this up and questioning him about that specifically?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, Brooke, so this is a common prosecutorial tactic that we call pulling the sting.

And what that means is, if you have a fact, as the prosecutor, that's not good for your case, you still bring it out, because it hits so much harder if the jury hears it for the first time from the defense, right?

Imagine if the prosecutors didn't front this fact that George Floyd appeared intoxicated, and the jury didn't hear about that until maybe a week or two from now, when the defense is putting on their case. The jury is going to think, why did the prosecution not tell me this? Are they hiding things from me?

And, as the prosecutor, you want that jury to look at you and believe that you have full credibility, that you're giving them the full story, for better or for worse. That's what was going on this morning with this witness.

BALDWIN: Got it, pulling out the sting, sort of neutralizing it, I suppose.

Chief Ramsey, over to you on -- for the first time, we're seeing this surveillance video from inside the Cup Foods store, where we see George Floyd. There's no audio for this tape. But, just given your experience. How does -- there in the black tank, George Floyd, how does he appear to you? Does he look like the high, strung-out person that the defense is arguing he was?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mean, he could very well have been high. It's really kind of difficult to tell.

But what -- to me, the most important part of this, I mean, for most people, the first time they saw George Floyd was when he was face down on the pavement with Chauvin's knee on his neck. Now they have a chance to see him before all this took place.

Was he aggressive toward any of the people in the store, whether it's a patron or a worker? Did he seem like he had been -- that he was agitated or anything? And the answer to all that is no. And if he was high, I mean, the real point of this whole trial is whether or not Chauvin was justified in the use of force over this extended period of time.

And so you can easily get distracted. The other part and the other video that I think is important is that you see exactly when he was handcuffed, when he was restrained by police. It wasn't by the patrol car. It was when the -- as soon after the police first encountered him and took him out of a car.

Why is that important? It's important because, when you're talking about use of force, if you're going to use force against a person who's already restrained, you have to have a better justification than you might have to have if the person is free to really kind of wrestle, swing their arms, all those kinds of things. And it's not that a person handcuffed can't become a problem. They

kick and they do all kinds of things. But it really does, I think, again, highlight exactly the behavior of George Floyd. Was he aggressive? Was he doing something to the officers that would justify, ultimately, that high level of force they used over an extended period of time?

And in my mind, so far, I don't think the defense has shown anything.

BALDWIN: And, Chief, let me just stay with you, because we heard Christopher Belfrey, the last witness, talk about how he had pulled up in the car behind George Floyd's car, and he saw the officer come over and pull his gun.

And I'm just wondering, what's protocol in that sort of situation?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, it depends on the training they received there in Minneapolis.

But let me just say this. When an officer draws their gun, usually, it's considered a use of force if they point it at a person. If the gun is drawn, but it's at what we call the ready, in other words, in a down position, the muzzle pointed downward, that is not considered use of force.

If you're making a felony car stop, for an example, you don't know exactly what you have. Sometimes, you do unholster. So it depends on the circumstances. I don't know what was going through the officer's mind at the time or what the procedure is in Minneapolis.

I do a lot of work with consent decrees with the DOJ. And that's some -- that's an area that they pretty much agree, if you point toward a person, that's considered a use of force. If you don't, it's not considered a use of force.


I don't know how that is the policy in Minneapolis.

BALDWIN: Got it.

Elie, just we keep hearing witness upon witness. And Omar was making this point too earlier. They're sitting there and they're just feeling a year later that they failed George Floyd for not doing more to save his life. And then you have the employee of Cup Foods, Christopher Martin, sitting there and describing the disbelief and guilt during a moment in the video when he had his hands just on his head, as Floyd was there pinned to the ground.

And he said -- quote -- "If I would not have just taken the $20 bill, this could have all been avoided."

What does that testimony mean for the prosecution and for the defense? And just how will his testimony potentially affect the jury?

HONIG: So, first of all, Brooke, that is such a normal and common human reaction to witnesses to traumatic, violent events like this. I have seen it many times.

People who live through these events, who witness these events, months, years later, when they're testifying in court, almost always ask, could I have done something different? Could I have done something more?

And I think a large part of what that does is, it humanizes the case for the jury. Let's remember, the jury is human beings. We're not seeing them, but they are 12 human beings. They react to what they see in front of them. They are seeing witnesses who cover the range of diversity of age, race, both sexes, different professions, all telling sort of fundamentally similar stories about what they saw that day.

And I think the prosecution is really bringing that story to life for the jury through these witnesses.

BALDWIN: Elie and Commissioner, hang with me. We're going to come back to this in a little bit, as they're about to come back from their lunch break.

In the meantime, let's go to Washington. Today, President Biden is launching this historic effort to overhaul the country's crumbling infrastructure. A senior official tells CNN the White House wants to see progress on roads and bridges, airports, and even the Internet by Memorial Day. That is just two months away.

This White House is proposing to fund this $2 trillion package by reversing the Trump corporate tax cuts, a plan that is being strongly denounced as -- quote -- "dangerously misguided" by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

And CNN's White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly, is there live in Pittsburgh, where the president is set to present this plan to the country in just a couple hours.

It's obviously a huge proposal, Phil. Tell me more just about what's in it.

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN SENIOR WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, look, it's a huge lift politically.

But I think, policy-wise, when you talk to White House officials, they made clear they believe this is a necessity and if there was ever a moment to do this -- and, keep in mind, infrastructure has historically been bipartisan on the top line. It's the details where everybody gets tripped up.

And the details here are big, and intentionally so. You have $621 billion in this $2.25 trillion proposal for things like physical infrastructure. We're talking about 20,000 new miles of roads, 10,000 bridges to be repaired, waterways, ports, all of that, kind of a traditional what you would think of infrastructure.

But this proposal also serves as an umbrella for several other key agenda items for the Biden administration. You're talking about education infrastructure, hundreds of billions of dollars for what they term as the care economy, home care facilities, home care workers as well. And also elements of climate and climate goals from this administration are wrapped in throughout this proposal, most notably the electric grid, also electric vehicles. A fleet of electric vehicles would be financed as well.

It is a very big proposal. Worth noting it's only part one of a two- part proposal, the second which is expected to come in April. Now, you noted there is already strong Republican opposition to this. And we heard some of it from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell in Kentucky today. Take a listen.


SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL (R-KY): It's like a Trojan horse. It's called infrastructure. But inside the Trojan horse is going to be more borrowed money and massive tax increases on all the productive parts of our economy.


MATTINGLY: So, obviously, the scale of the spending is one issue Republicans have mentioned, but it's the pay-fors, which you noted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce has already been opposed to.

And how the Biden administration plans to pay for this plan, it would be about eight years of spending paid for over the course of 15, would be largely reversing key components of President -- former President Trump's 2017 tax law. It would be increasing the corporate rate, which is currently a 21 percent, up to 28 percent tax or increase the global minimum tax, which is now at 13 percent, to 21 percent.

It would seek to do away with fossil fuel subsidies as well, kind of a hint of the climate agenda items that the administration has here. Republicans have been very clear they are not for tax increases. And so that raises the question for the Biden administration at this point in time, what is the pathway forward to getting this passed?

Obviously, they are just following a cornerstone legislative achievement in that $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief law. That law was passed with Democrats only, not a single Republican.

Keep an eye on Democrats trying to use the same mechanism here. One thing I would just say, this is not coronavirus relief. The details here are extraordinarily thorny. You're talking about energy policy. You're talking about tax policy. Democrats are not aligned on this issue, unified, like they were on coronavirus relief.


So, there is a lot of work to come. I would note, however, administration officials know that. They know this isn't going to be clean. They know this isn't going to be easy. And they know it's going to take time. The big question is how much time and can they finally get infrastructure across the finish line, something administration after administration has tried after the last couple of decades. BALDWIN: You would know about all the work that this will require among various members, including within the Democratic Party itself, having covered the Hill as long as you have.

Phil Mattingly, thank you. We will look for the president in a couple hours. Good to see you.

Any moment now, the Derek Chauvin trial will return, after a lunch break. We will take you to Minneapolis momentarily.

Also, great news for parents who would like to protect their kids from COVID. Pfizer is reporting today that its vaccine is 100 percent effective. Let me say that again, 100 percent effective for kids ages 12 to 15. We have that news for you coming up.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.



BALDWIN: All right, any minute now, the jury in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin will return to that courtroom there in Minneapolis. They have just been on this lunch break, after another emotional morning of testimony. So, we will bring you back to the next witness, as he or she is about to take the stand momentarily.

Meantime, we are following major news in the coronavirus pandemic concerning vaccine maker Pfizer. First, the company says it has met its commitment to have 120 million vaccine doses ready to ship to the U.S. by the end of this month. So that's huge.

Number two, Pfizer also says its vaccine is 100 percent safe for teenagers ages 12 to 15 prevents illness. Clinical trial data also shows this age group can tolerate the vaccine much better than adults who have gotten the vaccine. This potentially game-changing data still needs to undergo a peer review, but Pfizer plans to submit the results to the FDA for emergency use authorization.

And with that, let's take you back to Minneapolis to the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin.

PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA, JUDGE: First of all, if you feel comfortable, we'd appreciate it if you could remove your mask, because it'll be easier to hear you. I will keep my mask on, so that we have protection.

And we're going to test out the microphone and how it works with you.

So, if you could state your full name, spelling each of your names.

CHARLES MCMILLIAN, WITNESS: First name, Charles, C-H-A-R-L-E-S. Last name, McMillian, capital M-C-M-I-L-L-I-A-N.

CAHILL: Thank you.

Ms. Eldridge.


Good afternoon, sir.

MCMILLIAN: Good afternoon.

ELDRIDGE: How are you doing today?


ELDRIDGE: Thank you for being here.

I'm going to start with some questions about your background and then we will move on from there, all right?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am so.

ELDRIDGE: So, could you tell the jury how old you are?

MCMILLIAN: Sixty-one years old.

ELDRIDGE: And how far did you go in school?

MCMILLIAN: Third grade.

ELDRIDGE: And what city do you live in?

MCMILLIAN: Hennepin County.

ELDRIDGE: And you're in Hennepin County. Are you in Minneapolis?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: I'm going to ask you some questions about Memorial Day, May 25, of last year. Do you live in an area close to Cup Foods?


ELDRIDGE: And that evening, on May 25, were you driving by that area?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, I was.

ELDRIDGE: And what kind of car do you drive?

MCMILLIAN: I drive a 2006 Dodge Caravan, blue.

ELDRIDGE: OK. Is that a van?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: So, when you were in the area of 38th and Chicago, did something draw your attention?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, it did. ELDRIDGE: What was that? What did you see?

MCMILLIAN: I was at the red light going south, and at the time, I was going to go east onto 38th. That was to my left.

And when I got there to make a left turn, I see ahead action with a car, with a man and with a police officer.

ELDRIDGE: So, I'm going to show you a map, if we could put up Exhibit 1, please. All right

So you were talking about where you were. Using this map that's up on the screen, could you just describe -- you can actually use your -- there is a little pen there, stylus pen. You can use that to sort of show the jury on the screen where you were and where you were headed.

MCMILLIAN: It's hard for me to see, because I'm old.

I can start (INAUDIBLE) because I can't see what's...



MCMILLIAN: I was on the corner of 38th and Chicago...

ELDRIDGE: All right.

MCMILLIAN: ... to make a left to go east toward 47th and Hiawatha. So, I was right on the corner of 38th and Chicago.

ELDRIDGE: So, you were headed east on 38th Street; is that right?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, which would be right here.

ELDRIDGE: OK. Perfect.

So, and you just made a mark at that intersection there where -- in the direction you were headed, which was eastbound; is that right?


ELDRIDGE: All right.

And when you were headed down 38th, you said you saw an interaction with somebody and some police officers.

What did you see at that point?

MCMILLIAN: When I made the left, I seen a gray -- a blue -- there was a Mercedes-Benz truck on the right side with a police officer standing at the door.


So, I automatic made a right turn and pulled over. ELDRIDGE: And what made you decide to stop and pull over?

MCMILLIAN: Being nosy. Just being nosy. I'm in the neighborhood. I'm a nosy person.

ELDRIDGE: Did you want to know what was going on?

MCMILLIAN: Yes. I was being nosy. That's what it was.

ELDRIDGE: So, when you first approached that area, you saw them, you said, an officer standing next to a blue Mercedes truck.

MCMILLIAN: With the door open.

ELDRIDGE: With the door open.

Did you see what the officer was doing at that point?

MCMILLIAN: No, not at the time.


So you said you decided you wanted to pull over, see what was going on?

MCMILLIAN: Get out, yes.

ELDRIDGE: All right. So, did you drive up the street a little bit and then park.

MCMILLIAN: Immediately pulled -- immediately parked, got out.

ELDRIDGE: OK. So, when you got out, what did you do?

MCMILLIAN: I walked across the -- I went to the other side of the street.

ELDRIDGE: All right. And would that be the Cup Foods side of the street?


ELDRIDGE: OK. So, what did you do on the other side of the street?

MCMILLIAN: I engaged in what was going on by watching.


So, what did you see from the Cup Foods side of the street?

MCMILLIAN: First, I seen the officer asking Mr. Floyd to get out the truck. And (INAUDIBLE) they got Mr. Floyd out the truck. And they walked over to the sidewalk, where -- just walked over to the sidewalk behind Mr. Floyd's truck.

ELDRIDGE: OK, so I'm going to stop you right there. We will just break it down a little bit.

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: You said you saw the officers getting Mr. Floyd out of the truck; is that right?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And you said Mr. Floyd. Did you know who he was at the time?

MCMILLIAN: No, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: Did you later learn that that man was George Floyd?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.


So, you saw -- how many officers at that time did you see interacting with Mr. Floyd?

MCMILLIAN: I want to say one at the time. Then another one walked over to help him.

ELDRIDGE: OK. So, tell the jury about that. What did you see the first officer do? And then what happened next? So, start from that point.

MCMILLIAN: Well, when I got out my truck and started watching, I basically just seen the officers asking Mr. Floyd get out.

And from that point on, I want to say the other officer walked up to the truck where the other officer was. The other officer was on the other side. So, he walked up to where the officer tried to get Mr. Floyd out of the truck.

All of a sudden, I heard a couple words. I don't know what it was. They finally got Mr. Floyd out of the truck, handcuffed him, walked him down.

ELDRIDGE: OK. So, I'm going to stop you right there.

So, first, you saw one officer interacting on the driver's side of the car with Mr. Floyd.


ELDRIDGE: Is that right?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And then you said there was another officer who was on the passenger's side initially of that blue Mercedes truck; is that right?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am. ELDRIDGE: And then I think you are describing that eventually that

officer on the passenger's side came over to assist on the driver's side; is that right?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.


And you said that those officers got Mr. Floyd handcuffed. Did you see that happen?

MCMILLIAN: No, I didn't. No, I don't recall that.

ELDRIDGE: So, what did you see while you were standing on the Cup Foods side of the street happen at the -- right next to that SUV?

MCMILLIAN: Well, after that, I seen -- because I was looking away, but then, when I turned back and looked, I did see Mr. Floyd handcuffed.

Then they started to walk him down the sidewalk.

ELDRIDGE: So, you didn't see the very moment he handcuffed.

MCMILLIAN: No, ma'am. No.

ELDRIDGE: But you did see that he ended up in handcuffs?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And were you looking around you, but not focused the entire time on what the exact moment was that he was handcuffed?




So, you said that he was handcuffed. And then you said they walked across the street. So, can you describe or show on the map what you saw happen next?

All right. So, if you could just put a -- either a line or a mark where you saw them walk.

Can we enlarge it? Is that possible?

MCMILLIAN: He was on the right-hand side, but I can't see where that little restaurant is on the right side.

ELDRIDGE: OK. So, let's take off the enlarged portion just for a second there.

MCMILLIAN: It wasn't -- it was a little small restaurant on my right- hand side behind the truck. ELDRIDGE: OK.

MCMILLIAN: That's what I'm looking for, and I can't see it.

ELDRIDGE: All right. Would that be the Dragon Wok restaurant?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, little restaurant on the corner.


So, was that where officer -- the officers that you saw walked with Mr. Floyd at that point?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.


And you said he was in handcuffs. Was Mr. Floyd walking across the street?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, he was walking and -- he was walking up the sidewalk with them.