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Paramedic: Floyd Was "Unresponsive" When I Arrived; Biden Holds 1st Cabinet Meeting as He Pushed Infrastructure Package; . Aired 1:30- 2p ET

Aired April 1, 2021 - 13:30   ET





SETH ZACHARY BRAVINDER, PARAMEDIC: Sorry, can you ask that last part one more time?

ELDRIDGE: What are the things you take into account when deciding whether to move a patient to another location?

BRAVINDER: Yes, in that case, moving into the ambulance, equipment was a consideration of that, and being in a good environment to resuscitate.

ELDRIDGE: And do you also -- I believe you may have testified about this, but does it require focus on your part?


ELDRIDGE: And are all those things part of your consideration on a scene about what to do?


ELDRIDGE: If I may have just a moment?

ERICA HILL, CNN HOST: I'm Erica Hill. This is day four of testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, charged in the death of George Floyd.

The gentleman you see on your screen right now, an EMS with Hennepin County there, in Minneapolis.

And let's listen in again.

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: -- to the scene of someone under the influence of methamphetamines?

BRAVINDER: Yes. NELSON: Do methamphetamines cause that same restriction in the


BRAVINDER: Not my understanding, no.

NELSON: It, in fact, dilates them, correct?


NELSON: Nothing further.

CAHILL: Thank you. You may step down.


CAHILL: Members of the jury, we'll take our lunch recess and try and reconvene at 1:30. Thank you.

HILL: So the judge there announcing this one-hour lunch break now.

I want to take a closer look at what we have heard and learned over these last few hours. With us is CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Laura Coates, and also with us Cedric Alexander, the former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and a former public safety director for Dekalb County, Georgia.

Laura, I want to start with you.

And I want to pick up where we just left off, with this witness, the paramedic who responded to the scene. He was driving the ambulance as we learned, was there, helped load George Floyd into the ambulance.

At the very end there, there was some back and forth. So we had heard the defense attorney in his questioning ask him about the crowd.

Because the paramedic mentioned initially they wanted to get Mr. Floyd into the ambulance and move him to a different area because they saw he was in cardiac arrest and there were a number of things they needed to do to treat him.

That came up with the defense. The prosecution then went back a little bit.

I think we can figure out what's happening here, because we've been hearing from the defense, there was this crowd. Made it very difficult for the officers on scene to do their job. It was very distracting. And it seems like that's what the defense attorney was trying to get at.

What did you make of those moments, and the different lines of questioning from both the defense and the prosecution?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know, it was a very powerful moment. And of course, trying to juxtapose two different things. On the one hand. you have the officer saying their ability and to

focus on the duty of care they owed to someone in their custody was somehow compromised by a vocal, what they describe as an unruly crowd.

Then you've got the paramedics coming in who have said -- this witness saying I had to ask the officers to get off of George Floyd's neck in order to be able to perform.

I also assume, when I first got on the scene, because multiple officers were still on him, that there must have been a continuing struggle. He was aware, just externally, of the factors that showed him this person was unresponsive.

And so you've got this idea of the duty of care, what duty of care is owed and could be performed? Well, look what happened.

The person who knew they had a duty of care at this point, the EMT, they were nimble, they were flexible, they decided how can we ensure that we can give the duty of care, and aid that's needed and still deal with the crowd.

We can move this person, we can have this person be in the ambulance, or we can perform whatever we need to do on the actual scene there.

And so you've got this duality going on of whether the duty of care could not have been performed at all by the officers, why was it able to be performed by the paramedics, even if they had to move him.

You've heard Charles Ramsey in the past talking about this issue. It belies logic to suggest that if the crowd was an issue, why would you not take greater pains to try to move this particular person to get them the aid they need to be responsive to the demands of the crowd as opposed to ignoring it flat out?

HILL: There was also -- there's been a lot made today about whether George Floyd was under the influence, how anything in his system may have impacted his behavior, how he was reacting at the time.

And, Cedric, I just want to bring you in on this point.

This is something, too, the defense was really hammering, it seemed, with the paramedic, who we just heard from, asking specifically about what he saw when he came on scene, what he would carry on him in the case of a potential overdose if he needed to use it.


And it seemed like an attempt to connect some dots, but the paramedic, I don't think, was connecting them in the way the defense was hoping.

What were you hearing in those moments?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, I agree with you 100 percent.

One thing that was perfectly clear to me through this testimony of that young paramedic was this. He responded to that scene, started out as a code 2, went up to a code 3, meaning they get there with blue lights and sirens.

It was very clear from his testimony, and even from the piece of footage that we saw there, that they went into immediate action to do what they could do.

He also clearly indicated, when he arrived to that scene, that, yes, there was a crowd that was yelling, but there was no indication, from what I gather from what he stated, was anybody a threat there.

But the most important thing is here, is the defense tried to paint this picture of George Floyd as being on trial. He's not on trial. Derek Chauvin is.

Because as George Floyd laid there, lifeless, limbless, upon arrival of medical care, if you notice, Derek Chauvin's knee never came off of his neck, even when the first EMT responded to that scene. So I think it becomes important.

And let me hit one thing before I hit in here. When we are talking about this being an unruly crowd or trying to paint this crowd as being a violent crowd, what you got was a group of passersby who saw something that was so bizarre and so insensitive that they had to say something.

And here's how I fundamentally, very basically -- and nobody has stated this, or made this observation.

You know why I know those officers were not under threat? Because had they been, as they indicated, they would have called for backup, without a shadow of a doubt. No more cars responded. You did not see that on the video.

In fact, when EMS arrived, and they went into their duties, the officers went into mode to help them get George Floyd on the van, turning their backs to the crowd.

Crowds were still speaking out loud. But there was no threat there.

And this is just an attempt to paint a dark picture of George Floyd who laid there lifeless. He is the victim in all of this.

And I think it's important that if we look at that video ourselves,+ we can make the -- you know, we certainly can see what we see. And we can't discount that whatsoever.

HILL: Well, the paramedic mentioned he had to ask the officer to get off of George Floyd's neck.

ALEXANDER: That's correct.

HILL: So that he could, in fact, help him.

It's interesting that you point that out, too, the lack of a call for backup. What we do know, we learned in testimony last couple days concern of

how we saw the police officers behaving, interesting when you point out what you just did.

In terms of what else we're hearing today, before we heard from the paramedic we heard from George Floyd's girlfriend, it was very moving testimony. You know, it was -- it was tough to watch at moments, understandably as she's talking about her boyfriend, and their relationship.

And there was a lot of discussion about the struggles that they both had, with opioids, with addiction. I know the prosecution is putting it out there ahead of time.

I'm curious. as you're watching all of this -- I know you're not a lawyer -- but as you're looking at this, how effective do you think that was in making sure that, yes, this is a part of the whole person that we're talking about, we're getting the full story out there?

What did you take away from that testimony this morning?

ALEXANDER: Well, you know, let me say this in regard to people in our country who have addictions. There are people who have addictions. They are diseases. It is a disease.

It is not oftentimes where people want to be. But it's a disease that oftentimes is treatable. We don't know what treatment George Floyd may have been receiving. And where he may have been trying to help himself. We don't know that.

We only have one thing to be clearly certain about, that on May 25th -- and if we look from the beginning of that video up to the time his body became lifeless, George Floyd was arrested, he was handcuffed, they attempted to put him in the backseat of the vehicle. It did not happen for a variety of different reasons.

They put him on the ground. He complied. He begged for his life. He just begged to breathe. That's all he wanted to do. But they did not allow him to do so.

It is very easy -- very easy for the defense to try to make a case, and paint a picture of George Floyd, as much as they want to.


But addictions in this country is not a new thing. It's not relegated just to George Floyd. It cuts across all ethnic groups, all economic groups in this country.

So we don't know what help he was receiving. But what we do know, and what we clearly see, that he was not treated with the respect he should have been given when he cried for his life. That is the focus here.

And for me, as a former law man, I will tell you this. I've been in situations where crowds have been very vocal, where crowds have been rowdy. I've had to fight people sometimes one on one, sometimes with the help of other officers.

But at the end of this, we always treated people with the sense of dignity.

If they had to put somebody on the ground, pick them up, you dust them off, you put them in the car. But we did not mistreat people. We did not have this insensitivity to humanity. And what we saw occur on May 25th was exactly that.

So no matter how the defense tries to paint this, what we saw was a man who had a disease, a disease, as millions of people in this country have. But he was not treated with respect.

HILL: Laura, real quickly, before we let you go, in terms of what Cedric just said, millions of people can relate to that disease, whether it's for them personally or someone that they're close to.

COATES: That's absolutely right. And the prosecution is keenly aware of this, Erica, the idea that this might resonate with members of the jury.

There's the idea of opioid addiction is no longer vilified the same way it is for a decedent or a victim or even a criminal defendant.

However, remember, what's important here is what was known by the officers at the time of this encounter.

Toxicology reports, George Floyd's drug history, the history of his girlfriend's use as well, all of these things are found out and discovered after the fact.

To focus this jury, the prosecution has to say, look, how and what was known at the time? Was it apparent? What type of substance it was?

We heard from Derek Chauvin he did not know. It must be something, he thought, in some respect.

So unless Chauvin can actually prove that at the time that he had this encounter, and used, applied and sustained that now lethal force on George Floyd's neck, that whatever took place outside of that particular instance is tangentially related.

We saw the body language. We saw that he was unconscious. We hear he was not breathing. There was no pulse ultimately. And as the paramedic said he flatlined. All these things can paint the picture.

The defense will try to vilify him but it does not go to the meat of the matter, which is why was this force used and sustained after any perceived threat had been neutralized and was it the substantial causal factor in his death, period.

HILL: Right.

I also do want to bring in Josh Campbell who is in Minneapolis there for us. So, Josh, there was also a lot of discussion, we touched on this with

Cedric Alexander a moment ago, the relationship between police and paramedics, can you put more of that into context for us?

JOSH CAMPBELL, CNN SECURITY ANALYST: Yes, I think what we just heard in that exchange, that paramedic being questioned, it was obviously very clinical and analytical. But it was important because the prosecution wants to lay out exactly what happened, the time frame, what that paramedic saw.

And, you know, I think that one key point that was gleaned there is there are two tracks essentially that we've seen thus far to this defense's strategy.

We just talked about the first one as it relates to talking about George Floyd's possible past drug use.

But a second aspect that I don't think we've talked enough about, but I expect is something that we will see in the coming days was gleaned just now during that discussion.

If you recall what the defense attorney had asked the paramedic was whether he had ever used this drug called ketamine.

And it's important for our viewers to understand because, in law enforcement, this has often been a controversial topic, that if officers roll up on a scene and they're encountering someone with superhuman strength, they sometimes will call in paramedics to give someone a shot of this drug ketamine in order to knock them out essentially.

I think that is a strategy that we will see. If you look at the video evidence that was released yesterday, this police body camera that was one officer who actually asked Derek Chauvin, should we turn him on his side? I'm concerned about this possible -- what's called excited delirium.

And Chauvin said in response was no, we're not going to turn him over but that's why we have paramedics on the way. We have the ambulance coming.

What I expect we're going to hear from defense attorneys, there was this question, what was Chauvin's plan? Why was he on him for so long? Why did they not move him?

They were waiting to have paramedics arrive to administer this drug to knock George Floyd out. We don't know if that will be successful.


Because the question is, you cannot restrict someone's airway or blood and kill them, simply because you're waiting for a paramedic to arrive in order to incapacitate someone. I don't know if that strategy will work.

That is certainly going to be brought up again based on that little nugget of information we just gleaned there in the exchange with the paramedic -- Erica?

HILL: Something else to keep an eye out for.

Josh Campbell, thank you.

Coverage of day four of the Derek Chauvin trial continues ahead.

Breaking news this hour, President Biden holding his first in-person cabinet meeting since taking office. This, of course, as he's pushing that $2 trillion infrastructure plan. We'll share with you what he had to say when we return.

And there are important new findings today about how long the protection from Pfizer's vaccine lasts, and also how effective it is against those fast-spreading variants. Those details ahead.



HILL: Just moments ago, the president making brief comments to the press at the start of his first cabinet meeting. Let's take a quick listen.

JOE BIDEN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Yesterday, in Pittsburgh, I laid out my vision for rebuilding America with the American jobs program.

And while most of the cabinet will have a role in helping shape and press the jobs plan, today I've announced I'm asking five cabinet members to take special responsibility to explain the plan to the American public.

Working with my team here in the White House, these cabinet members will represent me in dealing with Congress, engage the public in selling the plan, and help work out the details as we refine it and move forward.

These five members will be Pete Buttigieg, Jennifer Granholm, Marcia Fudge, Marty Walsh, and Gina Ramondo.

And I want to thank them in advance for the role they're going to play in this assignment I'm asking them to take on. And we'll be discussing that today among other things.

And one of those other things our administration is a commitment to buy American. The plan we're putting forward to make sure that when the governor's spending taxpayers' money that they're spending it on American-made goods, American corporations, and American employees.

Today, I'm directing every member of the cabinet -- I mean this sincerely -- everyone to take a hard look at their agency's spending and make sure it follows my buy American standard, which we set out in January.

I'm going to ask you all to report back to me at the next cabinet meeting.

And now we've got a lot of business to do and get done, and I thank the press for being here, but talk to you all later.

HILL: He'll talk to you all later. We get to talk to you right now.

CNN White House correspondent, Phil Mattingly, joining us.

Brief comments talking about, obviously, who will be helping to promote and explain this infrastructure plan. What else is happening at that meeting today, Phil?

PHIL MATTINGLY, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: You know, I think they're going to talk about a range of topics.

Obviously, the president just alluded to the $2.25 trillion, just first part of a two-part plan related to infrastructure, the jobs package the White House is pressing forward on now, their next major agenda item. That will be a central component of it.

You'll also -- there's going to be discussions about the last major legislative effort that was signed into law, the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, how the implementation of that is going.

The official President Biden named to oversee the implementation of the package was actually beamed in. He lives out in California but he was beamed into the meeting as well along with the cabinet secretaries.

I think it's going to be a range of issues that are often discussed. I think the most interesting thing by far is the president naming these five people related to the process of actually moving forward on this plan.

The reason why is because this is just such a different dynamic than what you saw with the coronavirus relief package. The president put $1.9 trillion on the table. The president got largely every plank of that plan that he wanted.

Now, no Republican support, but Democrats were able to stay united and pass it.

This is different. When you're talking about infrastructure, when you're talking about tax policy, when you're talking about energy policy, the White House has a very well-regarded legislative affairs team.

Steve, Luisa, their Senate and House hands, are well respected as well but putting the heft of cabinet secretaries.

Each of the five having a significant piece of the portfolio that would be covered by these proposals, is an important piece of this.

And making very clear that the White House has put stuff on the table, has put a very significant proposal on the table, certainly a sweeping proposal on the table. But they also know it's going to change and they know this is going to be a much longer, much more complex process going forward.

And the president seeming to allude to that by his decision to add the heft of cabinet secretaries as point people for this process so it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

There are people in that group that have relationships people in Capitol Hill, Marcia Fudge, Pete Buttigieg over at transportation, has had a ton of meetings with Republicans and Democrats in the lead-up to this package.

But how that all works, how that team works out, and whether or not that team can smooth over any divides in the Democratic caucus going to be instrumental in whether they can actually move forward in what will be in totality a about $4 trillion proposal.

HILL: Yes, it is getting to that next step and the many ones after that.

Phil, stay with us.

Also joining us, Gloria Borger.

As Phil points out, Gloria, President Biden really is working overtime. And we're not even 24 hours past the announcement at this point. Where he is really making it clear that this is going to be a major priority to get this plan passed.


Where do things stand, right? There's been a little time to digest. What's the sense about the path forward?

GLORIA BORGER, CNN CHIEF POLITICAL ANALYST: Well, look, as Phil was just saying, they know that they're going to have problems, not only with moderate Democrats but also with some liberal Democrats who think that they haven't done enough.

They're going to have problems with Republicans who don't want to raise taxes, even on corporations.

But can I just say, as we look at this picture, how different this is from the cabinet meetings we saw in the Trump administration. These people are sitting with masks.

In May of 2020, when President Trump had a cabinet meeting in the middle of the pandemic, people were not wearing masks.

One other thing I can say is that this was not a cabinet meeting in which the president goes around the table and asks people to pay homage to him.

I recall the first cabinet meeting with Mike Pence in which he said that serving President Trump was the greatest privilege of his life. And then around the table, you heard more dear leader comments. That is not this -- what this is about. This is about Joe Biden giving

his cabinet assignments, telling them what they need to do, telling them that they need to monitor their budgets, and how they're spending their money for buy American.

And telling them that they need to report back to him at the next cabinet meeting about how they're doing on that front.

So, very different. Much more about business than show. Threw the reporters out of the meeting so they could get some more work done. Completely different environment.

HILL: That may be the understatement of the day.


HILL: But I have to tell you, Gloria, I had the same thought too, even leading into it. Especially after what we had in some ways become accustomed to, even if it was not normal.

BORGER: Yes, absolutely.

HILL: Gloria Borger, Phil Mattingly, we're going to have to leave it there. Appreciate it. Good to see both of you today.

Stay with us, everyone. Our coverage of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused in the killing of George Floyd, that coverage continues after this short break.

Brooke Baldwin picks things up at the top of the hour.