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Testimony Continues in Derek Chauvin Trial. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired March 31, 2021 - 15:00   ET



CHARLES MCMILLIAN, WITNESS: When he kept saying, "I can't breathe," and when he said: "Momma, they're killing me. They're killing me."

That's what I kept hearing. "I can't breathe. Momma, they're killing me."

Then, when he started saying, "My body's shutting down."

ERIN ELDRIDGE, MINNESOTA ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: And was it your voice somewhere in the middle of all this saying, get up and get in the car? Was that you?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And why were you saying that? What were you trying to do at that point?

MCMILLIAN: I was trying to help him.

ELDRIDGE: And how did he look to you after this continued, when you said he was saying, "Momma," and "I can't breathe"?

How did he appear to be to you?

MCMILLIAN: He appeared to be in and out with the foam running out of his mouth.

ELDRIDGE: And you said you saw foam running out

MCMILLIAN: Yes, white foam around his mouth. (INAUDIBLE)


And you said in and out. What do you mean by that?



MCMILLIAN: Like -- yes, I don't know. I can't really describe it, but he was-- ELDRIDGE: Did you hear him talking at one point, and then did he later stop talking?

MCMILLIAN: I heard him keep trying to ask them to let him up, because he can't breathe. And even I said to the officer, I said, man, he said he can't breathe. They said, if he keep talking, well, he can breathe.

ELDRIDGE: Is it OK with you if I play this clip?


ELDRIDGE: OK. We will keep playing it if you're ready for it.



GEORGE FLOYD, DIED IN POLICE CUSTODY: I can't breathe or nothing, man. This is cold-blooded, man.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're doing a lot--

FLOYD: Momma, I love you. I can't do nothing.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: -- is on their way.

FLOYD: My face is gone. I can't breathe, man. Please. Please let me stand. Please, man, I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up on the sidewalk, please, one side or the other, please.

FLOYD: My face feeling bad.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get his legs up.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, just leave him. Just leave him. Yes, just leave him.


FLOYD: Oh, I'm dead. Look at my face, man.


ELDRIDGE: All right.

And you were describing, you said a hog tie or you saw an officer going to get one. Did you ever see the officers use any kind of tie or other type of restraint for Mr. Floyd? MCMILLIAN: No, they did not.


I'm going to take this video down. We're going to put up another one, but I'm just not going to -- not play it. It's going to be Exhibit 16. It's already admitted, if we could just put that up on the screen.

Yes, on the (INAUDIBLE) screen as well. I believe it's already admitted into evidence.

So, this is Exhibit 16, which is a video clip. But there is -- this is not playing. It's marked 8:20:05 is the time stamp. Do you see where you were standing in this particular image?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: Can you just point yourself out? All right.

And what do you see the officers doing, from your perspective, on the street?

MCMILLIAN: I see Mr. Lane, it's the first officer to the right there, just holding him down. They got his knee on his neck, between the neck and back, holding him down.

The other officer, I really can't see around, but it look like they are holding George Floyd down also.


So, you talked about -- did you see three officers with Mr. Floyd?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am. I see four all together. Three of them is on Mr. Floyd (INAUDIBLE) standing back to him.

ELDRIDGE: And looking at this picture, can you tell which officer was which at this moment?

MCMILLIAN: The first officer is Mr. -- Mr. Chauvin.


MCMILLIAN: I don't know--


ELDRIDGE: All right. So, let's just stop right there.

When you say Mr. Chauvin, can you tell where Mr. Chauvin is in this picture, or is it too difficult to see in this picture?


All right, can you actually press that again if you're trying to point to Mr. Chauvin? OK. So, the officer you have justified with an arrow, is that the one you

recognized as Mr. Chauvin?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.


And then there were two other officers you described on top of him; is that right?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And then a fourth officer standing at the back of the truck; is that right?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.


If it's OK with you, I'd like to play just a little bit of this video. Are you ready for that?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: OK. Go ahead.

And this part of the video doesn't have audio, but does that show you in the screen?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And at some point, do you just step back a little bit out of the frame? Is that you walking off right there?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.


So, we're going to fast-forward a little bit. But during this time, you're watching what's going on. You're just not on the frame of this video; is that right?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.


So, moving forward to 8:21:30, we will just play a little bit of this here. Go ahead.

Can you come back into frame there?


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

FLOYD: I can't breathe. (CROSSTALK)


ELDRIDGE: Do you see yourself back on the screen?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.


Go ahead.


FLOYD: I can't breathe.




FLOYD: I can't breathe. My face.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What are you on?

FLOYD: I can't breathe. Please, a knee on my neck, I can't breathe, sir

MCMILLIAN: Well, get up and get in the car, man.

FLOYD: I will.

MCMILLIAN: Get up and get in the car.

FLOYD: I can't move.

MCMILLIAN: I have been watching the whole thing, man.

Just get up and get in the car.

FLOYD: Momma.

MCMILLIAN: Get up and get in the car right.

FLOYD: Momma.

I can't.

MCMILLIAN: (INAUDIBLE) the opportunity to get in, bro. I'm telling you, you can't win.

FLOYD: My knee. My neck.

MCMILLIAN: You can't win, man.

FLOYD: I'm through.

MCMILLIAN: I know you are (INAUDIBLE) because you didn't listen.

FLOYD: I'm claustrophobic. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. Give me some water or something. Please, please. I can't breathe, officer. I can't breathe. They're going to kill me, man.


MCMILLIAN: Bro, with your feet on his neck, man. You can get off him.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His nose is bleeding. Like, come on now.


MCMILLIAN: That's wrong right there.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Look at his nose.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your knee on his neck.

MCMILLIAN: You have got your feet right on his neck, officer.

FLOYD: I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a tough guy. A tough guy, huh? Because he's a tough guy. Because he's not even resisting arrest, bro.




ELDRIDGE: Stop it there, please.

So, there's someone in that clip that says, your knee on his neck, that's wrong, man, something like that. Was that you?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And there are also before that there are some statements about, you can't win, get up and get in the car. Was that also you?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: Again, was that what you were describing earlier, just trying to help with him?

Well, could you describe what you were trying to do at that point?

MCMILLIAN: Basically, what I'm saying to him, he can't win, because once -- like I said before, once the police get the cuffs on you, you can't win.

So, I'm trying to tell him, just cooperate with them. Get up, if you can, get in the car. Go with them. You can't win.

ELDRIDGE: And did he say "I can't" to you?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.


And did you understand him to be talking to you?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And when you were saying, your knee on his neck, what were you -- were you concerned in that moment?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And why was that?

MCMILLIAN: Because he was saying, I can't breathe, my stomach hurt. He said things that made me believe that he's in trouble.

ELDRIDGE: When you say in trouble, do you -- what do you mean by that?

MCMILLIAN: He's going to die.

ELDRIDGE: Did you stay -- and I'm not going to keep playing this clip. You can take it down. But did you continue to watch what was going on?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And, eventually, did you see an ambulance come?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: At any point in time, did you see Mr. Chauvin or any of the officers give any medical attention, help give CPR, anything like that for Mr. Floyd?


MCMILLIAN: No, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And did you see Mr. Chauvin or any the officers get off Mr. Floyd before the ambulance came?

MCMILLIAN: No, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And while you were watching that, did your concerns increase over time, the longer it went on?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And why was that?

MCMILLIAN: My -- it grew because, when the paramedics arrived for Mr. Floyd, I knew then, in my mind and my instinct, it was over for Mr. Floyd; he was dead.

ELDRIDGE: After the paramedics arrived and then left the scene, did you have some additional interaction with Mr. Chauvin?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, I did.

ELDRIDGE: And prior to today, did we show you some video clips of that interaction?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, you did.

ELDRIDGE: And we have marked those clips as Exhibit 40 and 41. But reviewing those two clips, did they fairly and accurately show your interaction with Mr. Chauvin on May 25, that day?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, it did.

ELDRIDGE: Your Honor, I offer Exhibits 40 and 41.



CAHILL: Forty-two and 41 are received.

ELDRIDGE: Your Honor, I'd ask to publish Exhibit 40. And before we press play, one of these videos, Exhibit 40, contains a composite, so a video showing you, as well as Mr. Chauvin's perspective from his body camera, is that right?


ELDRIDGE: All right. Let's play Exhibit 40.

And is that you walking down the street?

ELDRIDGE: Yes, ma'am.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: That man going to haunt for the rest of your life, bro.


MCMILLIAN: How you doing, man? I know you. You know me from--




(INAUDIBLE) your foot off his neck. I know you (INAUDIBLE).


ELDRIDGE: So, that can be -- we can pause it right there. But that can be difficult to hear.

What was it that you were saying to Mr. Chauvin at that time?

MCMILLIAN: I can't recall, but in my mind that I said to Mr. Chauvin -- and I think it was like five days ago. I'm not all sure I know (INAUDIBLE) what I did say to him.

I think I said to him, five days ago, I told you, at the end of the day, go home to your family safe, and let the next person go home to their family safe. But, today, I got to look at you as a maggot.


So, your interaction continued with him in these two -- over these two clips; is that right? Did he move his car at some point?

MCMILLIAN: Well, either that clip or the other clip, yes, he did.


And then did you also have another conversation with him as well?

MCMILLIAN: I think so.

ELDRIDGE: And, initially, did you remark about his foot on his neck or something to that effect?

MCMILLIAN: I can't recall.

ELDRIDGE: OK. But if it's there, it would be in the videos?


MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And, again, some of these can be difficult to hear.

Can we put up Exhibit 41, please?


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you advise, the fire department, if they're still with you, they need to go to 36th and Park?



DEREK CHAUVIN, DEFENDANT: That's one person's opinion.


CHAUVIN: We got to put force, got to control this guy, because he's a sizable guy.

MCMILLIAN: Yes. And I tried to get him to get in the car.


CHAUVIN: Looks like he's probably on something.

MCMILLIAN: Right. I'm just saying (INAUDIBLE). But, no, I got nothing bad to say about you because you respect me, I'm going to keep respecting you.


MCMILLIAN: You have a good night. You go home safely to your family, and let other people do the same.


ELDRIDGE: OK. So, there's a voice that's heard. There are two voices. Which voice is yours?

MCMILLIAN: The one when I told him, I'm going to respect him. At the end of the night, you go home safe, and let the next person go home to his family is safe.

ELDRIDGE: And whose voice is the other voice?


MCMILLIAN: Mr. Chauvin.

ELDRIDGE: And one of the voices was saying something to the effect of, I don't respect what you did, something like that.

Was that your voice or Mr. Chauvin's voice?

MCMILLIAN: My voice.


And was Mr. Chauvin's voice the other voice on that?


ELDRIDGE: And what were you trying to do at that point in time, when you were talking to Mr. Chauvin? Why did you feel the need to talk to Mr. Chauvin?

MCMILLIAN: Because what I watched was wrong.

ELDRIDGE: And did you feel it was important to tell him that?

MCMILLIAN: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: Nothing further, Your Honor.

CAHILL: Mr. Nelson. Sure.


As we're waiting for the defense attorney to cross-examine this witness, Mr. McMillian, Elie, how will he do the cross?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: I think what the defense lawyer is going to try to do here is build on his defense that George Floyd was struggling, was resisting.

There are bits and pieces of evidence that we have seen that support that. But I think the more important point here, the prosecution's response to that will be, what really matters is what happened, after all the struggle was done, at the point we saw the body camera footage where George Floyd is prone, on the street, rear-handcuffed.

And there was a really interesting moment just now. I don't know for our viewers caught it. When you're watching the body camera footage, one of the police officer says to the other -- and this is before Derek Chauvin really puts his knee hard into the neck -- he says, just leave him. Just a quick three words, just leave him.

And if I'm the prosecutor, I'm saying to the jury, why couldn't they have done just that, just leave him? They did a lot more than that. That's why George Floyd was killed, is what I would argue to the jury.

BALDWIN: And also tell me what's happening. Is this -- the defense is huddling before they cross-examine?

HONIG: Yes, typically, judges will give a defense team a few minutes to get their thoughts together. They have to respond very quickly on the spot to what they just heard. So judges will give a little bit of leeway, so they can strategize.

Well, it looks like the witness is now leaving the stand.


BALDWIN: I think he's leaving. Does that mean they won't be cross- examining?

That's correct. I'm being told--

HONIG: Either they're taking a break, and they have decided they do not want to cross-examine.

BALDWIN: Yes, I'm being told it's not happening. Why do you think?

HONIG: Yes, that's an interesting strategic decision. That can be smart sometimes. If you don't think there's any points you can score, so to speak, as a defense lawyer or a prosecutor, sometimes, it's better to just say, no cross, we don't contest anything this witness says, and then you make the best of what he says in closing.

It can actually be quite smart sometimes to pass on cross-examination. You don't always have to do it. Sometimes, discretion is the better part of valor in this kind of situation.

BALDWIN: Why do you think, at the very end of his testimony, that they wanted to make the point to have the witness talk about the interaction with Derek Chauvin once he was back in the cop car and Mr. Floyd was taken away? What was that about?

HONIG: Yes, I think the witness was saying some of the things to Derek Chauvin that the jurors may be thinking. Why did you have to do it that way? Why did you have to handle it that way?

And, also, let the jury hear Derek Chauvin's voice, right? He is -- what do you notice about that recording? Derek Chauvin is sort of strikingly calm--

BALDWIN: Very calm.

HONIG: -- in a way that, to me, is a little unsettling, right, given what has just happened.

And whether he knows George Floyd is dead or not, that was just a very violent, ugly encounter. And Derek Chauvin is just calm as can be. I think that's sort of disturbing. And I think I'd want the jury to hear that.

BALDWIN: OK, we're going to take a quick break. We will come back to this trial in just a moment.



BALDWIN: Welcome back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin.

We are in this brief recess -- recess in the trial -- excuse me -- of the former police officer there in Minneapolis Derek Chauvin. He is on the right side of your screen there wearing the mask. He is the one charged with murder in the death of George Floyd.

Testimony today has been from more eyewitnesses who saw this encounter with police unfold really from beginning to end. And moments ago, just gut-wrenching testimony from a gentleman by the name of Charles McMillian, who was standing on the curb there at Cup Foods as George Floyd was being detained by police.

So, in case you missed it, this is what happened when the body-cam video, the police body cam video was played for the very first time in court.

And, again, wanting you: It is tough to watch.


MCMILLIAN: Oh, my God.

CAHILL: Please, take your time. We will resume when you're ready.

ELDRIDGE: We will just give you a moment, Mr. McMillian.

I'm not sure if there's water for you as well.

You need a break to get some water, let me know.


May I approach, Your Honor?

CAHILL: You may.


MCMILLIAN: Thank you.



ELDRIDGE: I know this is difficult.

Can you just explain sort of what you're feeling in this moment?

MCMILLIAN: I can't -- I feel helpless.

I don't have a moment here to understand him. My mom passed June 25.

ELDRIDGE: Hang on just one second, Mr--

CAHILL: Let's -- let's take a 10-minute break.

ELDRIDGE: We will take a little break.


BALDWIN: Elie Honig, Charles Ramsey, I know you all are back with me.

And, Elie, to you.

This was -- they had just play the body-cam footage from the police officers, which was just beyond compelling, disturbing, which then led to this grown man breaking down on the witness stand.

And, so, Elie, to you just again, this theme of the shared trauma for the eyewitnesses, right, who have literally seen a man die and are now reliving it in this trial. How will that sit with the jurors? HONIG: It's a great question, Brooke.

You said the exact right word, trauma. I think, when we watch trials on movies or TV, we're getting a very stylized, sort of packaged view of what a trial is. But now we are seeing what trial is really all about. It is real human beings, raw human emotions, particularly in murder trials.

I have done my share of those. And we saw that trauma on display here. I mean, our Web site,, has had up information where to call for help if you feel traumatized because you have been watching this trial. So now imagine the people who are actually there.

And you have to be thinking about the jurors as well, because jurors -- again, we're not seeing them, so it's hard to put a face to them. But they are human beings sitting just feet away from these witnesses. And we're already having signs that one of the jurors perhaps is struggling with some trauma of his or her own.

So, it is a human experience at heart here.

BALDWIN: Commissioner Ramsey, so many of these witnesses are sitting there and saying -- I remember a witness yesterday saying she felt like she failed George Floyd. They wish they could have done more.

You have the witness today, Christopher Martin, who is the one who made the big deal about the counterfeit $20 bill and wishes he hadn't made such a big deal about and feels guilt over that.

If people are watching this, if they witness something, what are people supposed to do?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I mentioned this yesterday, I believe. It would be great if the witnesses could have access to some kind of mental health treatment.

BALDWIN: Counseling.

RAMSEY: Counseling or something, because, obviously, you can see it. It doesn't matter if you're young or old.

I mean, we saw minors yesterday who clearly were suffering from trauma. And now you see an individual who looks like a senior citizen or so who's going through the same thing. So, young or old, when you see this for real, and you have to relive it, I mean, I don't know if people really realize just how powerful a tool video really is.

It is incredibly powerful, because you're watching it. You know what's going to happen, and yet you -- there's nothing you can do about it. I have had veteran homicide detectives tell me that -- and they have -- I mean, 15, 20 years in homicide, and now that they're watching actual video of a person, how it affects them, because they want to reach out and help them, but there's nothing they can do.

BALDWIN: I'm also curious your take, just, Commissioner, staying with you. Elie and I were talking about that last piece of video that the

prosecution show the witness, Mr. McMillian, of his interaction after George Floyd has been taken away in the ambulance and his interaction with Officer Chauvin.

And Elie's point was, man, after that nine minutes and 29 seconds, knee on the neck, and that entire thing, he was mighty calm sitting in his squad car. What was your read on that?

RAMSEY: Yes, I thought so too.

But I thought that was during the entire event. I mean, just look at his body language during the entire nine minutes and 29 seconds. I mean, he's very nonchalant. It's no big deal, just -- he's on top of this guy. It's like he's just -- he's just not there.

And so I don't get it. I don't know. It looks like, when the reality of what just happened hit you, that you would have -- show a little bit of emotion. But it's pretty consistent, actually, with what you saw earlier during the event itself.

BALDWIN: Is that a point, Elie, that the prosecution can jump on at all, that, man, after that entire ordeal, he was cool as a cucumber?

HONIG: It is, Brooke.

The way I would phrase it to the jury is cold-blooded. I mean, you're allowed to say things like that. And I think it's apt.