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Fourth Day of Witness Testimony in Derek Chauvin Trial; Firefighter Saw Unresponsive Body on a Cot on Arrival at Ambulance. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired April 1, 2021 - 15:30   ET

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


[15:30:00]

ERIN ELDRIDGE, MINNESOTA ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: All right, you made a green mark above where -- indicating Genevieve Hansen. Can you just indicate where you are in this photo as well? All right, and there's an arrow showing where you just made that mark. And then could you identify Jennifer Hall as well. Did you know any other individuals in this?

CAPT. JEREMY NORTON, MINNEAPOLIS FIRE DEPARTMENT: In this photo, no, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And if we could move to exhibit 71, please. I'm sorry, 72, please. All right, so did you ultimately enter the store and have a brief interaction, as you described, with a law enforcement officer in there?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And does exhibit 72 show that? I should be more clear. What does exhibit 72 show?

NORTON: I believe it would be the body camera of the officer with whom we were speaking.

ELDRIDGE: And who is pictured in this image?

NORTON: I'm on center -- I'm in the center and firefighter Hall is to the right.

ELDRIDGE: And was this inside Cup Foods?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am, towards the back of the store.

ELDRIDGE: All right. And as you described, when you learned that there was no patient there -- we'll go back to exhibit 71, please. Now I've got exhibit 71 on the screen, did you then exit the store?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: Can you describe -- is that what you were doing in exhibit 71 here?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: All right. So once you have the additional information -- you can take that down. Thank you. What you did you do next and where did you go?

NORTON: We were directed to meet the medics at park and 36th avenue south, and we got back on our fire truck and we responded to 36th and Park.

ELDRIDGE: And what did you see when you got there?

NORTON: The Hennepin County Medical Center ambulance was parked on the east side of the street just south of 36th.

ELDRIDGE: And I going to put up exhibit 74, which is already been admitted. Ultimately can you just describe what point of view this is showing in exhibit 74.

NORTON: Yes, ma'am. That is not me, but this would be the view from my seat.

ELDRIDGE: And so in the foreground, is that the fire truck you were in?

NORTON: That is -- I'm sorry, yes. This photo was taken from the front seat of the fire truck facing the ambulance.

ELDRIDGE: And is that where your fire rig parked once you arrived at that location to meet up with the ambulance?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: What did you do once arrive at that location?

NORTON: Again, my partner, firefighter Hall and I got out of the fire truck and went into the ambulance entering from the side door.

ELDRIDGE: And what did you observe at that point in time?

NORTON: Two paramedics and one police officer and a patient on the stretcher.

ELDRIDGE: What appeared to be the condition of the patient that you observed?

NORTON: He was -- he was face up on the stretcher. He had an airway in, an advanced airway in so he had a breathing tube going into his throat and he had the Lucas compression device, which is a CPR kind of a pneumatic CPR device in place and working.

ELDRIDGE: No when you say working, what does that mean?

NORTON: It was pumping up and down to pump his chest, pump his heart.

ELDRIDGE: OK. And -- first of all, this patient, was he later identified by name?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am, it was George Floyd.

ELDRIDGE: So you said that he had an airway in place and the Lucas machine was pumping. What did you observe about his overall condition?

NORTON: I mean, other than that he was unresponsive.

ELDRIDGE: Right. I mean, maybe not other than that, but what do you mean by unresponsive. What did you see?

NORTON: A person who is not -- basically who is -- sorry, it's a confusing question, I'm sorry.

ELDRIDGE: It's not a good question. I apologize. Just tell --

[15:35:00]

NORTON: He was an unresponsive body on a cot. The airway was in place so that we breathe for him -- or so that responders could both people could breathe for him and the Lucas device was compressing his heart to get blood going through his body.

ELDRIDGE: And when you say breathe for him, what does that mean?

NORTON: I was unclear about that. An airway device goes through to the throat and basically gets better access into the lungs for some sort of airway and oxygen delivery device, and in our case it would be a bag valve mask, a BVM, which is like a nerf football size. Compressing the bag that the squeeze that we need, six seconds to breathe into their lungs, and it's oxygenated air.

ELDRIDGE: So when you say breathe for him, does that imply using that BVM and actually squeezing it?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: OK.

NORTON: I'm sorry, to answer your question, in the absence of those actions, the patient would have been pulseless and unresponsive and not breathing and for all intents and purposes, dead.

ELDRIDGE: OK, and was -- were you aware the status with respect to any pulse that --was the patient pulseless when you arrived?

NORTON: We did not check a pulse until we took over -- excuse me. They were working and we joined them as part of their protocols, we did pulse checks multiple times from we arrived, until we arrived the state room at HCMC.

ELDRIDGE: Did anyone ever find a pulse?

NORTON: No, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And when you first -- getting back to when you first got on this ambulance, did you talk to paramedics? Was there a law enforcement officer who was also in the back of the ambulance?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And when you arrived, did you switch places essentially? Did he exit the ambulance?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am, he was I believe on the bench seat. I cleared him out, took the seat up ahead and took over the ventilations for the patient?

ELDRIDGE: And when you say ventilations, are you talking about the BVM?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: So were you squeezing it for --

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: -- the process to work?

NORTON: Yes.

ELDRIDGE: OK. After the officer left the ambulance and you were working on squeezing the BVM, what happened next? Did you proceed to the hospital with the paramedics?

NORTON: I'm sorry. Those are two questions.

ELDRIDGE: OK. Let's start with the first one and maybe I can rephrase it better. What did you do after you took over the squeezing of the BVM?

NORTON: I, myself, continued that until we were cleared at the state room at the head of county emergency?

ELDRIDGE: OK. So did you continue to do that -- perform that act all the way until you got to the hospital?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And what did you do once you arrived at the hospital with the patient, Mr. Floyd?

NORTON: We continued from the ambulance into the state room, which their critical care room. I believe there were two other cases -- patients already in there so the room was a little hectic and they were assembling their stats, so I continued at his head breathing for him for a short amount of time until their team took over and cleared us.

ELDRIDGE: And once you were cleared, what does that mean, cleared?

NORTON: Well, it's a hospital. They have a lot of people that can do our job so they basically kick us out so they can take over the more comprehensive care. ELDRIDGE: What did you do at that point, once you were cleared?

NORTON: How do you mean?

ELDRIDGE: Did you ultimately need a ride?

NORTON: We leave -- we left the hospital and I often times when we accompanied the medics down to the hospital in critical patient cases, our fire truck is not allowed to drive through lights, just to follow us. Like we'll be OK with the medics. And so they will respond and depending on how far away it is we can stand on the street for several minute. And additionally I had radioed to my driver to go back to the scene at 38th and Chicago to check on the off-duty firefighter.

ELDRIDGE: And why did you do that? Why did you have other members of your team check on the off-duty firefighter?

NORTON: Ma'am, as I said, we came in with very little information, and even when I spoke with her on the scene I had no understanding of the cause of her distress. So once we got in the ambulance and I saw the severity of Mr. Floyd's condition and the gravity, I was able to infer or put together what she had been talking about, and I understood the justification of her duress. And so I sent my crew back to check on her to make sure she was OK.

[15:40:00]

ELDRIDGE: So once you put those pieces together and understood Mr. Floyd's condition, were there additional actions that you took after leaving the hospital?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am, once the fire truck came to pick us up, we kind of had a brief -- kind of a debrief in the room talking because we had -- my partner and I had a very different experience from my driver and the other firefighter. Because especially during COVID we were either going in one at a time or because I had a rookie I was trying to give her experience. So my senior firefighter and my driver remained on the rig for most calls from the end of March through midsummer. In this case while my partner, Jennifer Hall and I entered the rig and encountered someone who was not responsive and that -- excuse me, the police officer --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Ask another question.

NORTON: I'm sorry.

ELDRIDGE: Let's just back up for one second. You said that you and your partner, Jennifer Hall --

NORTON: Yes.

ELDRIDGE: -- were working together and you got on the ambulance. What were the other members of your crew doing and who were they?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am, I apologize for that. Steven Murdock (ph) is a firefighter, and Tracy Turbel (ph) is my driver or fire motor operator.

ELDRIDGE: So were all four of you together on May 25th --

BALDWIN: Yes.

ELDRIDGE: -- this last year. And I'm sorry, I should have finished the question first so she can take it down. But all of you, you said, were together on May 25th responding to this call, is that right?

NORTON: Yes.

ELDRIDGE: And who was it that you sent to go and talk to the off duty firefighter, Genevieve Hanson.

BALDWIN: I had Turbel, and firefighter Murdock take the rig back to the scene.

ELDRIDGE: And when you say the scene, is that Cup Foods?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And where were you while that was going on?

NORTON: We were in the ambulance at 36th and Park and then en route to the hospital, and then they met us at the hospital.

ELDRIDGE: And when you say they, ultimately did Tracy Turbel and Steven Mudack from your team meet you at the hospital?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And then you said that the four of you had a debrief, is that right?

NORTON: Briefly, yes.

ELDRIDGE: What did you do after that?

BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: OK, so they're taking a quick sidebar. They're talking to this Minneapolis Fire Captain. Eli, what do you make of this back and forth?

ELIE HONIG, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: So this is fairly common in trials, first of all, when you have the sidebars. Normally you would actually see the lawyers going to the side of the judge's bench, which is sometimes called the bar here. Because of COVID they are on the remote systems here.

Sometimes you will see evidentiary objections. The defense lawyer may not like something that he believes this witness is about to say. It's called hearsay. It is what it sounds like. You cannot generally get on the witness sand and say I heard another person say this or that. So that may be what they're arguing about here. In general this witness, again, is setting the stage for the way that this witness appears physically and the treatment he was given on the scene.

BALDWIN: All right. Here we go.

ELDRIDGE: Capt. Norton did you ultimately report this incident, what you saw, and you observed internally to the fire department?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: And why was that?

NORTON: Twofold. I was aware that a man had been killed in police custody and I wanted to notify my supervisors to notify the appropriate people above us in the city, about the fire department and whomever else. And then I also wanted to inform my deputy that there was an off-duty firefighter that there was a witness at the scene.

ELDRIDGE: Nothing further, your honor.

JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA: Mr. Nelson.

ERIC NELSON, LAWYER REPRESENTING DEREK CHAUVIN: Good afternoon, Captain Norton.

NORTON: Good afternoon.

NELSON: Thank you for being here. I just want to clarify a couple things on the timeframe.

NORTON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: So I'm going to show you what's already has been admitted as exhibit 151. You're familiar with the computer-aided dispatch or incident detail reports?

NORTON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: This is an exhibit 151, is a computer aided dispatch report from this incident. This initial call for EMS code 2 occurred at 8:20 and 11 seconds according to this, agreed?

NORTON: That's what it says.

[15:45:00]

NELSON: And that was upgraded. This incident was upgraded at 8:28, correct, to code 3?

NORTON: Yes, sir. It says something different above.

NELSON: So multiagent -- multiagency police? Are you talking about that?

NORTON: No, sir.

NELSON: Pardon?

NORTON: No, sir.

NELSON: So you've got 3:30 EMS code 3 at 8:21:35.

NORTON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: All right. And then you have some info for EMS at 8:27:21.

NORTON: That is correct.

NELSON: And that is that have -- someone had a male restrained on the ground, correct?

NORTON: Yes, it says PDF male restrained.

NELSON: Fire was E-412, which the emergency ambulance, added fire at 8:28, agreed?

NORTON: That's what it says. EMS alerted everybody that they were at 36th and Park at 8:31 and 12 seconds?

NORTON: Yes, sir, that's what it says. Then there's this Metcom call at 8:33, where EMS is asking for the fire department for patient condition, right?

NORTON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: At -- down here at 8:35 and 13 seconds, it says Minneapolis Fire Department en route to Park and 36th?

NORTON: That's correct.

NELSON: And you were two minutes out at 8:36 and seven seconds?

NORTON: That's what I reported, yes.

NELSON: And so you arrived at about 8:38, correct?

NORTON: I am not sure what time we arrived?

NELSON: There abouts. Within about two minutes of your call.

NORTON: I believe so. I believe it was 8:37, but yes.

NELSON: OK, so the original call for EMS code 2 was 17 minutes prior to when you got to the ambulance.

NORTON: Could you clarify please.

NELSON: The original call EMS code 2 for mouth injury at 8:20 --

NORTON: That is not for us.

NELSON: Understood. But that's -- it's 17 minutes after the original call went out, correct?

NORTON: That looks appropriate, yes.

NELSON: You were called -- or fire, I should say, was called at 8:28 and 36 seconds.

NORTON: That was somebody's radio transmission, yes, sir.

NELSON: And the fire incident was created seven seconds later at 8:28 and 43 seconds. So fire was notified at 8:28:43.

NORTON: Our dispatch was, yes.

NELSON: And what time did you arrive based on your recollection at Cup Foods?

NORTON: Our station opened up at 20:30, and we arrived at 20:32 and change.

NELSON: OK. So again, 12 minutes after the original call for service.

NORTON: Yes.

NELSON: All right. And when you arrived paramedics had already removed Mr. Floyd from the scene and gone to 36th and Park -- which is why you didn't find him at Cup Foods?

NORTON: Yes, sir.

NELSON: OK. I have no further questions.

ELDRIDGE: Captain Norton, you were asked a series of questions about your response time and the timing of that. I think you testified on cross that the initial call you said regarding the code 2 mouth injury was not for us. Can you just describe what you were -- what you mean by that?

NORTON: Well, there -- to the best of my understanding the 911 system -- which is many stories below us -- that there is a 911 dispatcher for civilian calls. There is a police dispatcher, and there's a fire department dispatch and there's an EMS, or medics dispatcher. They are all in the same room. They are all on different channels.

So if what I believe is a call from one of the police officers for EMS code 2, would have gone from that officer's radio directly to their dispatch. And then their dispatch would have made a decision based on information given what level of the EMS response to set.

ELDRIDGE: So when get -- when you're responding to a call, are you -- this information isn't necessarily showing up for you on a screen somewhere when you're sitting in the station?

NORTON: Ma'am, which information?

ELDRIDGE: Exhibit 151 that was shown to you the CAT report.

[15:50:00]

NORTON: Not that is -- no, ma'am. This is kind of more of an aggregate. ELDRIDGE: OK. So, just to be clear, you -- what was the initial

information that you received with respect to your firefighters and your fire station?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am. I believe it was code two. I don't remember what the dispatcher said over the air, but it was something to the effect of either respond to help medics or code two to Cup Foods, and then what popped up on our screen was one with the mouth injury.

ELDRIDGE: So when would you have received that information?

NORTON: As soon as the station opened up and the run was generated on to our screen by the dispatch.

NELSON: And when you say the station opened up and the run was generated, when would that have been?

NORTON: 8:30, 20:30 and 21 seconds. So the information you received from your dispatch was approximately 8:30, is that right?

NORTON: Yes, ma'am.

ELDRIDGE: OK. And that would have been after information communicated from other sources to other dispatches, is that right?

NORTON: I have no knowledge of that.

NELSON: Fair enough. Thank you. No further questions.

CAHILL: You may step down.

Members of the jury, we're going to take our 20-minute midafternoon break. Let's reconvene at 3:10.

BALDWIN: OK. So let's chat. Ellie Honig, Cedric Alexander. We've been listening to the testimony of this Minneapolis Fire Captain, Jeremy Norton. Ellie, was there a dispute over time of death? What was that back and forth about?

HONIG: Yes, this is a really important point. I want to make sure people understand. We have been seeing and we'll continue to see a push and pull between the prosecution and defense as to when George Floyd died. Generally speaking the prosecution is going to be arguing that it was earlier in the timeline.

Because their theory is Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, hence, George Floyd died while under Derek Chauvin or shortly thereafter. The defense -- Derek Chauvin's defense is going to be arguing that he could have, or he did live longer. That his time of death was later because that's more consistent with an overdose. So we've been seeing that push and pull between earlier and later happening all day. We'll continue to see that throughout the trial.

BALDWIN: Cedric, what did you think of the captain's testimony?

CEDRIC ALEXANDER, FORMER PRESIDENT NATIONAL ORGANIZATION OF BLACK LAW ENFORCEMENT EXECUTIVES: Well, first of all, I thought he was very succinct in terms of what his experience was, and how he responded and what his responsibility was during his time there on the scene, even though he arrived later after they had left.

The important thing here for me, you know, when I think about this, is that during the time of the incident, and I have to think about it from a law enforcement perspective for myself, because that's how I understand it, that's how I experience it.

But from the time of his knee on his neck up until the time he was begging, until the time he went totally limp, his body just stopped. There was no need to hold him even any longer at his feet and his legs. It becomes very clear to me, a layperson, as many other lay people -- and lay people on the street that day -- that something was seriously wrong. And he looked like -- he appeared as if he had died right there on that scene.

And if you notice one thing that the captain said -- I don't think anyone picked up on -- all he said we responded to a call where a person had been killed. Remember that? And that's a very significant statement to me in the sense is that in his mind, what he may have experienced -- and I don't know this -- I'm not in the head of that captain. But those were his words, we responded to the scene where the patient, in this case Mr. Floyd, had been killed in police custody.

BALDWIN: We hadn't heard that from the two paramedics who, you know, who did testify that as they essentially rolled up on the scene they thought he looked dead. But to hear that language from the fire captain, I appreciate you pointing that out.

Cedric, I want to stay with you. What did you make of the fire captain's interactions with the Minneapolis police officers once he arrived there at Cup Foods?

ALEXANDER: Well I mean, you know, I don't make too much of anything. You know, these guys have all worked together probably from time to time on other scenes. But here's what I noticed very clearly about that captain and the other two paramedics. Those guys were very clear about what their experience was, what they saw, what they felt, what they experienced, and they talked from their experience as paramedics. So we cannot minimize their statements.

[15:55:00]

You cannot take it any direction other than what they stated from their expertise and their state-certified training, which the prosecution brought out. Because that's very important. They're certified. They're professionals. And this is what they observed and saw.

The body was limp. The body appeared to have been already deceased. Whatever the case may happen to be. So I think it's important to note for me that those emergency personnel persons -- the last three witnesses that we just observed -- they were pretty sincere.

BALDWIN: Two paramedics and a fire captain with 21 years on the job. Cedric Alexander, Elie Honig, quick break. Again, they're in a break here in the Derek Chauvin trial and the murder of George Floyd will resume. Once it does, we'll jump back in. I'm Brooke Baldwin, quick break, we'll be right back.

END