Return to Transcripts main page

CNN NEWSROOM

Baseball's Opening Day; Testimony Continues in Derek Chauvin Trial. Aired 2-2:30p ET

Aired April 1, 2021 - 14:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[14:00:20]

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: We will take it from here. I'm Brooke Baldwin. You're watching CNN. Thank you for being with me.

In just a couple of minutes, day four of testimony in this Derek Chauvin trial will resume. He, of course, is the former Minneapolis police officer who is charged with multiple counts of murder in the death of George Floyd.

Now, before the lunch break, just earlier this afternoon, we heard from this gentleman. This is the paramedic who treated George Floyd, who said that, when the ambulance arrived, when his ambulance arrived at the scene -- quote -- "I assumed that there was potentially some struggle still, because they were still on top of him" -- end quote.

The defense also played never-before-seen body cam video of George Floyd's lifeless body being placed on a gurney. And we will play now parts of the paramedic's testimony for you right here.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIN ELDRIDGE, MINNESOTA ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Back when Mr. Smith was bending down over the -- over Mr. Floyd, was at the point in time when he was checking for a pulse and pupils that you described?

SETH ZACHARY BRAVINDER, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA, EMS: Yes.

ELDRIDGE: And you may have been out of the frame for that, but were you -- what were you doing while that was going on?

BRAVINDER: I was at the back of the ambulance. Yes, I was standing in the back the ambulance.

ELDRIDGE: And while your partner was checking for a pulse and checking people's -- were the officers still on top of George Floyd while that process was going on?

BRAVINDER: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

ELDRIDGE: You were seeing bending down over Mr. Floyd. There was a gesture made with your hand. What were you attempting to do at that point in time? BRAVINDER: Just have the officer move.

ELDRIDGE: And, again, at -- did you have a conversation at that point? Or was there -- what was the intent behind that?

BRAVINDER: I don't recall if I said anything or not. I'm not sure.

ELDRIDGE: And why did you need the officer to move?

BRAVINDER: So, we could move the patient.

ELDRIDGE: And then were you continuing to assist on the head side of Mr. Floyd while the patient Mr. Floyd was moved?

BRAVINDER: Yes.

ELDRIDGE: I believe there was a clip in there where you were holding or had your hands near his head. What were you trying to do there?

BRAVINDER: I was just trying to keep it from slamming down on the pavement as we moved him over.

ELDRIDGE: And you were trying to keep his head from slamming into the pavement. Why is that?

BRAVINDER: Because he was, I guess, limp would be the best description. He wasn't -- he was unresponsive and wasn't holding his head up or anything like that.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: Let's go to our correspondent there just outside the courthouse who has been covering this trial from the beginning, Omar Jimenez.

And just, Omar, listening to this paramedic's testimony, and, of course, the cross-examination, the redirect, what did you think?

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke.

Well, for starters, puzzle pieces are coming together here. Where, yesterday, we got a clear picture of what happened after the ambulance left and what happened before police were called on May 25, 2020, today, prior to the paramedic, we got a sense for what George Floyd's prior pattern of drug use was and then, from the paramedic, critically, what happened when paramedics actually arrived to the scene and the nature of the call of what got them there in the first place.

That paramedic, Seth -- excuse me -- the paramedic there, Seth, had spoken about -- Seth Bravinder -- had spoken about the initial call and it being a Code 2, where it wasn't deemed serious at first. And then the upgrade in just 90 seconds later to a Code 3 of it being an emergency, getting to the scene, assuming that there was some sort of struggle, because all of the officers were still on top of him. And he testified to the fact that when he -- that he -- his partner

was still checking and trying to check for a pulse while all three officers were on top of Floyd, and, critically, Chauvin's knee still on Floyd's neck. He told Chauvin to eventually move, all of them, so that they could start moving him towards the ambulance and checking for those vitals.

He testified to the fact that this was a limp body. It was -- it'd been under cardiac arrest, which he defined as no activity coming from the heart, which was confirmed by the cardiac monitor showing that it had flatlined. And then, after that, we again got the clue yesterday Chauvin had walked away from that ambulance, gotten back into his vehicle, and was defending his actions to a bystander, saying: We had to control this guy. This was a sizable guy. He was probably on something.

[14:05:07]

And that last portion was the focus of testimony beginning today, the pattern of Floyd's prior drug use that was testified to by his girlfriend, Courteney Ross. And it was tearful at times. It was emotional.

But even prosecutors acknowledged that, as they forced -- or as they methodically tried to push through these very difficult questions, and she talked about how they had struggled with addiction for so long. Both of them had used drugs together.

But I want to play a portion of her testimony, because she also talked about Floyd's reaction to some of these drugs as they had been taking them as late as May 2020.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

MATTHEW FRANK, MINNESOTA PROSECUTOR: The pills that we were talking about, you obtained in March...

COURTENEY ROSS, GIRLFRIEND OF GEORGE FLOYD: Yes.

FRANK: ... that caused you to feel jittery, and were different.

ROSS: Yes.

FRANK: Did you also see Mr. Floyd taking that kind of pill?

ROSS: We did not take them together that time.

FRANK: Did you think that he had some of them for himself?

ROSS: Yes.

FRANK: Obviously, he did not die in March.

ROSS: No.

FRANK: And the pill that gave you a similar experience in May -- yes? ROSS: Yes.

FRANK: Did he have some of those pills as well?

ROSS: Yes.

FRANK: Did he take some of those pills in May?

ROSS: Yes.

FRANK: He did not die before May 25 of 2020, correct?

ROSS: Yes.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

JIMENEZ: When you hear some of that, the last thing that I take away from all of this is that, of course, we're trying to establish a clear picture from all these different contexts of what actually happened that day and what led up to that day

But part of her testimony was incredibly emotional. She's breaking down on the stand. And so while we are trying to establish these facts for this trial, these are people that are reliving moments that have brought them trauma, reliving moments that have stuck with them for more than 10 months, and reliving moments that they likely will never be able to let go of for the rest of their lives -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: The collective trauma on that witness stand.

Omar Jimenez, thank you so much. And I know we will jump back into more testimony momentarily.

Let's talk about all of this, though. Omar set it up just perfectly for us.

CNN legal analyst Elie Honig is back today. He's a former federal prosecutor. And Cedric Alexander is with me today. He's the former public safety director of DeKalb County, Georgia, and the former president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

So, gentlemen, welcome.

And, Elie, just starting with you on some of Omar's points, let's start on this paramedic there who was up on the witness stand. They went through, of course, the care and treatment that the paramedics attempted to give George Floyd when they arrived on the scene.

And then he testified that he saw multiple officers still on top of George Floyd. He could see George Floyd wasn't breathing, asked the officer finally had to get off Floyd's neck, as he said -- quote -- "So we could move the patient."

What did you make of that, the prosecution line of questioning there?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Yes, so two big points, Brooke.

First of all, building on Omar's point, there's a pattern here. Every single person in this vicinity of Cup Foods, the cashier, the bystanders, the woman who was a firefighter, and now the paramedics, were trying to do one thing, which was to help George Floyd, to help him survive and live.

The only people who are not doing that, who were doing, in fact, the opposite, were the police. I mean, it is the police's job to take care of people, to protect people. I think that's notable.

The other really important detail that we got from the paramedic, he testified that he could tell from a distance that George Floyd had stopped breathing. Now, if that young man could tell from a distance that George Floyd had stopped breathing, Derek Chauvin, who's literally on top of George Floyd, surely had to have known that, yet he remained pinned down on George Floyd's neck.

That's going to be a really tough fact when it comes to intent.

BALDWIN: Right. So, the key piece of this is, was this use of force warranted?

And, Cedric, I was listening to you earlier just talking about dignity. And, as we talk about this testimony from this paramedic, he was talking about, while his partner, his paramedic partner was examining George Floyd for a pulse, checking his pupils, that, again, that police officer, Derek Chauvin, was still on top of him.

And just from a law enforcement perspective, is that normal?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: No, it's not normal.

And what it's -- and what clearly was absent there was a regard for human life, because, even in the moments that you're wrestling with someone and they become steel, regardless of what position they may be in, that fight has ended, that struggle has ended.

There was just absolutely no reason for his knee to remain on his neck as he became lifeless. And even to the -- clearly, to the other two officers, where -- where -- was it Officer Lane that said to him, shouldn't we roll him over?

And Chauvin, being the senior officer on that scene, and be reminded, if I'm not -- if I remember correctly, Officer Lane had only been released out of field training officer -- from the field training program only for about four days. He was a young man that even hadn't a week on the job yet.

[14:10:05]

But you had a senior officer there, Derek Chauvin, who is saying...

BALDWIN: Chauvin.

ALEXANDER: Yes -- no.

And that is just -- it gives the appearance of being heartless, callous, and a total disregard to the safety even of George Floyd, which we still have a responsibility to, even once they become in our custody.

So, the evidence of what we're seeing with our own eyes is just corroborating the witness statements. And the witness statements are corroborating what we all have seen. Any of us can virtually get up on that stand and talk about what we have seen. And you're going to continue to see the same consistency in these statements as it goes forward, because it is clear, it is sad, it is unfortunate.

And this just should not have occurred. And, here again, let me reinforce the fact about this to our listening audience. Drug abuse is a disease in this country that affects millions of people. We have friends, we have families in every household. All of us have had some experience with someone in our orbit who have struggled with, is struggling with abuse, drug abuse.

We do not take their dignity away from them. Even when we have to confront them in the street, we still owe them the same respect we owe anyone else to get them the help that they need. And, in this case, that did not happen. You had everybody in that community on that street of 38th and Chicago begging, even telling the officers how to help Floyd.

And they totally neglected any support, any help from anyone. And, here again, this whole notion of feeling so afraid, but they never call for additional cars and additional backup, because, if they had, they would have been coming from everywhere. That did not occur. That is just a smokescreen to a larger systemic issue that exists within that department.

And, clearly, Chauvin was a representative of that agency, unfortunately.

BALDWIN: I'm hanging on your every word so, so carefully, Cedric.

And you bring up drug abuse and addiction, which was something that Mr. Floyd was struggling with, as the former girlfriend had testified. And this is all -- this came up in the questioning today.

Elie, this is for you, because the defense and the prosecution, they went back and forth with this paramedic about how he has responded to potential drug overdose calls. Let me play this clip.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

ERIC NELSON, ATTORNEY FOR DEREK CHAUVIN: As a course of being a paramedic, have you responded to other overdose calls or overdose calls?

BRAVINDER: I have responded to overdose calls, yes.

NELSON: And is it -- it had it been EMS policy to have police respond to those calls with you?

BRAVINDER: They -- yes, they do usually. I can't reference a policy.

NELSON: OK.

BRAVINDER: But, in my practice, they -- or my experience, they do respond with us.

NELSON: And is that because, when people are sometimes resuscitated or treated for an overdose, they become aggressive and violent?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Objection, Your Honor. (OFF-MIKE)

PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA, JUDGE: Overruled.

BRAVINDER: Sorry. Can you say that again?

NELSON: Sure.

Is it the practice to have police respond to those calls because, when people are resuscitated or revived from an overdose, they can become violent or aggressive?

BRAVINDER: It can happen sometimes, yes.

NELSON: Have you personally seen that happen?

BRAVINDER: Yes.

ELDRIDGE: Now, you were some questions about responding to scenes where someone might be violent or struggling, things of that nature. Do you remember those questions?

BRAVINDER: Yes.

ELDRIDGE: And when you got to the scene, was Mr. Floyd struggling or violent in any way?

BRAVINDER: No.

ELDRIDGE: Did it appear to you that he was already dead when you got there?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (OFF-MIKE)

BRAVINDER: I wouldn't know when I pulled up on scene, but I did not see him -- as I testified earlier, when I was standing at the back of the ambulance, I didn't see him moving or breathing.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

ELDRIDGE: All right, Elie, so both sides.

What are they getting out here?

HONIG: Yes, so that was a really strong comeback by the prosecutor on the redirect exam, that last clip that we just saw, because what the defense lawyer is driving out here is, well, sometimes when a person is revived from an overdose, they become violent. OK, sometimes is sometimes.

[14:15:02]

That doesn't mean that's what happened here. And I think the prosecutor really explained that on her redirect. And the prosecutor asked the paramedic, well, forget about hypothetically or sometimes. How about here? How was George Floyd when you saw him? Was he violent and resisting? And the paramedic said, no, not at all.

So, I think she very effectively knocked out that sort of strange line of defense.

BALDWIN: And just quickly, Cedric, how common is it for somebody to come back after an overdose and be combative?

ALEXANDER: It certainly has happened. I have seen it before.

But, clearly, in this case, that was not the case. We were there from the beginning of the end of this. And that was not the case. And there was just absolutely no need. When he went lifeless even before then, it goes against any regulation. He should have never had his knee in his neck, period.

BALDWIN: Cedric, Elie, gentlemen, stay with me.

And we will come back to all of this. And, of course, we will jump back into coverage and listen.

Just for all of you watching this with us and just these images and these difficult, difficult videos, if the trial is bringing up just troubling emotions for you, you're not alone. On the screen here, a couple of resources available to you, all of us, or someone you know who needs to talk. You can also check out CNN.com/Impact any time for more information.

Any moment now, the Derek Chauvin trial will return from a lunch break. We will bring that for you live.

Also ahead, in COVID news today, Pfizer reports its vaccine can protect patients for at least six months, possibly even longer, those new details ahead.

And another mass shooting in America. This time, four people are dead, including a child, after this shooting at an office complex in Orange, California.

You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. We will be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:21:08]

BALDWIN: We are back. You're watching CNN. I'm Brooke Baldwin. Thank you for being with me.

Testimony in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is set to resume in Minneapolis any moment now. Some of the most powerful testimony came from this morning, when George Floyd's longtime girlfriend took the stand. Her name is Courteney Ross. She spoke about the struggles that she and George Floyd had with opioid addiction.

We will take you back to that courtroom as soon as the jury comes back from lunch.

Meantime, a major development in the coronavirus vaccine effort. Pfizer says its vaccine can protect patients for at least six months, maybe longer, after the second dose. And it also works against the worrisome variant first detected in South Africa.

This is the first look at how long protection from the vaccine might last. But it's only based on six months of data. So, we're keeping that in mind. Pfizer's ongoing phase three clinical trial shows the vaccine is fully effective against the B1351 variant that researchers feared could evade protection of some of these vaccines.

And there's even more evidence the shots are working. Nursing homes have seen a 96 percent drop in cases since the rollout began in December; 51 percent of seniors in the U.S. are fully vaccinated. That's the good news.

Here's this. Johnson & Johnson today is dealing with a major setback at this Baltimore manufacturing plant. "The New York Times" is reporting today that the company lost something like 15 million vaccine doses because some of the workers accidentally mixed the wrong ingredients.

Meanwhile, cases in 25 states are up this week. The variant first identified in the U.K. is the highest in Florida and in Michigan. It accounts for 70 percent of the cases too in New York City.

Dr. Adrian Burrowes is a family medicine physician.

Dr. Burrowes, welcome.

DR. ADRIAN BURROWES, FAMILY MEDICINE PHYSICIAN: Thank you.

BALDWIN: Let's start with the good news. Let's start with Pfizer, right? The vaccine is at least effective for first six months. We should note that it's at least six months, because, as I mentioned, that's all the data they have.

How significant is this?

BURROWES: So, having lived all through this pandemic, as we all have for the last year and a couple of months, this is great news. We waited for this for quite a while.

My patients ask me all the time, once I get the vaccine, how long am I immune for? And I didn't have an answer for them. And so we know now that, at least for six months, you have some immunity to the vaccine, and it's holding up pretty well.

And, again, because the timeline is so short, it could be a lot longer than that, but at least for six months, and that's great news.

BALDWIN: So, let me ask you a question, and you may not have the answer to, but channeling your patients, is this the kind of thing we're going to need to come back year after year after year like a flu shot to get a COVID vaccine if this thing only lasts for six months? How's that supposed to work?

BURROWES: Another wonderful question. No, I get asked that question virtually every day.

And so the answer to that is, we don't know. Right now, we're they day to day on the pandemic. And we're getting new information every day about how to how to manage it.

It's possible, certainly, that we could have to get recurrent shots for coronavirus, and have a booster maybe every year, like we do with the flu vaccine. But, right now, focusing in on what we heard today about the about the efficacy of the vaccine, and it lasting six months, is great progress.

BALDWIN: What about the story today now with J&J -- this is the reporting from "The New York Times" -- that they're dealing with this mix-up of ingredients, and now 15 million potential doses are just essentially getting chucked?

How far back does that set them?

BURROWES: First of all, that's a completely unacceptable error. I mean, there has to be quality control, especially when you're dealing with what we're with -- with this pandemic that Americans are tired of. And we want to get back to our regular lifestyle.

And to waste critical supplies, 15 million doses, because we mixed two things together that shouldn't have been mixed together, that should not have happened.

[14:25:03]

And so it is troubling, certainly. And I know that Johnson & Johnson is now intervening with the subcontractor to try to make sure that that doesn't happen again.

But it does put us back a little bit, because that's 15 million doses that could be an arms that are now wasted.

BALDWIN: Dr. Burrowes, thank you. Thank you for all that you do there in Orlando. Appreciate you.

BURROWES: Appreciate it. Thank you.

BALDWIN: One sign that the country is returning back to -- quote, unquote -- "normal," it is opening day. Major League Baseball stadiums across the country are welcoming fans. They are at reduced capacity with safety protocols in place, of course, with one exception, the state of Texas.

The Rangers opening day will have 100 percent capacity. There is already a setback for today's game between the Washington Nationals and the New York Mets. It's been postponed because of COVID-19 issues.

CNN's Polo Sandoval is at New York's Yankee Stadium with the details on what happened.

And, Polo, what's going on?

POLO SANDOVAL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Brooke, when it comes to that -- those particular cases with the Washington Nationals, there was one player, unnamed player, that had recently tested positive. They performed some of that contact tracing. As a result, they placed multiple players, about four, in quarantine, along with a staff member.

So, as a precaution, they're going to go -- they're postponing the game that was scheduled for this evening. But, really, when it comes down to it, it doesn't get much better than coming out to the ballpark and catching a game in terms of reassuring Americans that it is bound to get better and that we are slowly taking those steps towards normalcy.

And that is, of course, where we are today, with opening day, fans here at the iconic Yankee Stadium heading out to the catch their first game, at least the first game that they have seen in person since the championship series back in 2019.

So you can bet that there was a lot of excitement earlier this morning when folks started lining up here. But, of course, they were certainly met with an anything-but-usual season. They were subject to temperature checks, had to wear those masks, as you point out, also capacity limits here at Yankee Stadium, 20 percent, meaning about 11,000 Yankee fans were allowed at the game this morning, all of them having to show a recent negative COVID test or that they were recently vaccinated against the virus here.

And, really, it depends on where you are in the country, it's what you're going to see at your local stadiums. When you look at these numbers and you look at how each individual states handling this, it ranges everything from allowing only 10 percent capacity all the way to what you just point out, 100 percent capacity, the only MLB stadium to allow that at this point.

President Biden also criticizing that move, calling it a mistake. But, in the meantime, again, Brooke, this is certainly a sign that things are bound to get better. Those creepy cardboard cutouts in the stands, those are no more, tossed out and replaced by few of those fans that have been, again...

BALDWIN: Actual people.

SANDOVAL: Exactly, and cheering inside Yankee Stadium as we speak, Brooke. BALDWIN: Hey, 20 percent, it's what we're going to have to deal with for now.

I do want to ask you, because, of course, Yankee Stadium has served as one of those mass vaccination sites, and now that the season is opening up, will they continue offering that to the public as well?

SANDOVAL: At least for now, Brooke. That's what state officials here are saying.

And to your point, Yankee Stadium saw plenty of activity even before today's opening day. That's because it was serving as a mass vaccination site beginning in February, as I recall.

And so, as a result, we had seen -- I had been out here in seeing long lines of people waiting to get that shot in the arm. So, what's going to happen now, at least through the end of this month, places like Yankee stadium and places like Citi Field in nearby Queens and about at least 10 other stadiums across the country, they are going to continue with those vaccination efforts, at least for now.

That is, of course, working around game schedules.

BALDWIN: Polo Sandoval, love the sound of a crack of a baseball bat. It is time.

SANDOVAL: Yes.

BALDWIN: Polo, thank you very much at Yankee Stadium. Good to see you.

SANDOVAL: Thanks, Brooke.

BALDWIN: And all this talk about COVID and vaccines.

Join our favorite doctor, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, on this journey just to understand why so many people are afraid of vaccines. The new CNN special report,"The Truth About Vaccines," it airs Monday night, 9:00 Eastern.

Any moment now, witnesses will return there to the courtroom in the Derek Chauvin murder trial. We will take you live to that Minneapolis courthouse the second they come back from lunch break.

In the meantime, we are following another mass shooting. This is in California. A child is among those killed. The latest in that investigation is next.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

[14:30:00]