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Officials Give Update on Deadly Condo Collapse, Rescue Efforts; Derek Chauvin Faces Sentencing for Killing George Floyd. Aired 2:30-3p ET

Aired June 25, 2021 - 14:30   ET

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


[14:30:00]

CHRIS CUOMO, CNN HOST: I'll give it to you right after we listen in to what's being said right now in the press conference.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It's like this. It's like having a governor who steps up and steps in.

It's having a president who cares and leads with his heart. It's having a mayor who's out here tirelessly, a chairman and commission that all stand together.

People all over this county, people all over this country actually praying. This is independent of the rain and the overcast. I understand how dark this day is.

I understand the possibility exists that it gets darker. That it gets sadder. But we have to always understand that we can get through anything together.

And that's this. We wrap ourselves around those families with our resources and our love and our effort and our work because we're going to keep working and we're going to keep praying.

That's what this community does. That's what's gotten us through hurricanes. That's what's gotten us through every tragedy we've ever experienced. Our togetherness, our sense of community.

I'm happy to have a president, a governor, a mayor, a chairman of the county commission, we all understand that. We all understand it. And it's important that you all understand that. Understand your role in this.

If you can hear my voice, give, please, donate. Help these families. But most of all, please pray. Please pray.

(CROSSTALK)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Look, my dad was a Baptist pastor. The fervent prayers of the righteous avail much. That means, if we all pray, and we all agree, and if we actually all believe and pray, it can do something for us. But let's make it do something for us.

How do I say that in Spanish? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There you go. All right.

(APPLAUSE)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Thank you, vice chairman.

And now Commissioner Regolar (ph).

UNIDENTIFIED COMMISSIONER: (SPEAKING FOREIGN LANGUAGE)

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: All right, Chris, continue your thought as we just got that message of continuing to pray for this community. Says that, yes, this is a dark day, but you need to wrap yourself, this community wrapping themselves around these victims.

Continue it.

CUOMO: You're absolutely right, Victor. And we've seen it in real time. We're seeing the challenge --

BLACKWELL: Chris, I got to interrupt you now.

More breaking news. We're going to Minneapolis. This is Judge Cahill in the sentencing of Derek Chauvin.

KEITH ELLISON, MINNESOTA ATTORNEY GENERAL: Your Honor, Keith Ellison, attorney general on behalf of the state.

PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN DISTRICT COUNTY JUDGE: And for the defense?

ERIC NELSON, DEFENSE ATTORNEY: Good afternoon, Your Honor. Eric Nelson and Amy Vox, appearing on behalf of Mr. Chauvin.

CAHILL: All right. Thank you.

We are still, for all those attending, under somewhat modified COVID restrictions so we are asking that everyone keep their masks on unless they are speaking.

I'll ask for people who are speaking to come up to the lectern and use the microphones. And please remove your mask so we can hear you clearly.

And also, to maintain the distances that we have set out in the courtroom.

With that, we'll proceed first with the state.

Mr. Blackwell, you may proceed with victim input.

JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTOR: Your Honor, we have four victim impact statements.

We will start with the 7-year-old daughter of George Floyd, Gianna Floyd, who will present hers by video.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: What do you miss most about your daddy?

GIANNA, DAUGHTER OF GEORGE FLOYD: Well, I ask about him all the time. And that's kind of it.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: Yes? Well, when you ask about him, what are you asking about?

G. FLOYD: Well, I was asking how did my dad get hurt?

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: Do you wish that he was still here with us?

G. FLOYD: Yes. But he is.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: Through his spirit?

G. FLOYD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: Yes. And when you see your daddy again one day, what do you want to do when you see him?

G. FLOYD: I want to play with him.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: What kind of games do you want to play with him?

G. FLOYD: I want to play with him, have fun, go on a plane ride, and that's it.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: Yes?

G. FLOYD: We used to have dinner meals every single night before we went to bed. My daddy always used to help me brush my teeth.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: Oh. Do you miss him helping brush your teeth?

G. FLOYD: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: How do you hope that the world remembers him?

G. FLOYD: Well, they help him because those mean people did something to him.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: Yes. If you could say anything to your daddy right now, what would it be?

G. FLOYD: It would be, I miss you and I love you.

[14:35:05]

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: All right. Thank you, Gianna. I really appreciate you answering questions today.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

J. BLACKWELL: That was Gianna Floyd.

Your Honor, next we'll hear from the nephew of George Floyd, Brandon Williams.

Mr. Williams?

CAHILL: Give us your full name and spelling.

BRANDON WILLIAMS, WITNESS: Brandon Williams, B-R-A-N-D-O-N, W-I-L-L-I- A-M-S.

CAHILL: Thank you. You may proceed.

WILLIAMS: On Monday, May 25, 2020, George P. Floyd Jr was murdered by Derek Chauvin. In a malicious and insidious display of hate and abuse of power.

Chauvin killed George, not only did he kill George, but he also displayed a total lack of consideration for human life as he did so.

You saw it. I saw it. And millions of people across the country and the globe witnessed the act of hate.

A year and one month later, I stand here before you, tasked with the duty of expressing how George's death has impacted me personally and the rest of our family.

As I rack my brain and thought about what I could say today, I came to this conclusion.

It is humanly impossible for me to stand here and convey or articulate the right words that would capture all that we are feeling and what we have felt over this period, so please bear with me as I attempt the impossible.

The sudden murder of George has forever traumatized us. You may see us cry, but the full extent of our pain and trauma will never be seen with the naked eye.

The heartbreak and hurt goes far beyond any number of tears we could ever cry. Words simply cannot express the pain, anguish, and suffering that our family and friends have endured since George's murder. It has been truly unimaginable.

But not nearly as unimaginable as the defendant's decision to take the life of a human being with no regard for the effect it may have on others.

All those Chauvin will be seen today and spend time in prison, he will have the luxury of seeing his family again. Talking to them. He will likely get to spend time with them upon his release.

These are all luxuries that my young cousin Gianna was robbed of when Chauvin made the active decision to kill her father.

There will be no more birthday parties, no graduations, holiday gatherings, or other family celebrations. The laughter, hugs, guidance, advice, sense of security and those opportunities to simply say I love you are forever gone.

They say time heals all, and while I generally believe that saying, it's challenging to do so given these unfathomable set of circumstances.

Before I conclude, I must highlight a few things. George's murder, this trial and everything in between has been tragic and devastating. Our family is forever broken. And one thing we cannot get back is George Floyd.

It is the request of my family that the maximum penalty for the crime for which the defendant was convicted be imposed.

On behalf of my family, friends, community, and supporters, I wish to express my sincerest gratitude for allowing us this opportunity of expression.

Thank you.

CAHILL: Thank you, sir.

J. BLACKWELL: Your Honor, just for the record, this wonderful lady standing here is a Hennepin County victim advocate.

CAHILL: She is well known to the court.

UNIDENTIFIED VICTIM ADVOCATE: Yes. Thank you, Judge.

J. BLACKWELL: And so, Your Honor, we'll next hear from the brother of George Floyd, Mr. Terrence Floyd.

CAHILL: Mr. Floyd, if you could state your full name, spelling of each of your names.

TERRENCE FLOYD, WITNESS: Yes. Terrence Floyd, T-E-R-R-E-N-C-E, F-L-O- Y-D.

CAHILL: Go ahead.

T. FLOYD: I'm here representing my brother. I'm from New York. On May 25, 2020, my brother was murdered. Everyone knows by Derek

Chauvin. The facts of this case were proven beyond a reasonable doubt and three guilty verdicts have been rendered.

The situation has really affected me and my family.

[14:40:05]

CAHILL: Take your time.

T. FLOYD: Any family member that has went through this, we are part of a fraternity of families, and it's not one of those, you know, fraternities that you enjoy.

I just, over this last year and months, I actually talked to a few people, and I wanted to know from the man himself why. What were you think? What was going through your head? When you had your knee on my brother's neck.

Why -- when you knew that he posed no threat anymore, he was handcuffed, why you didn't at least get up? Why you stayed there?

CAHILL: Take your time.

T. FLOYD: A month before my brother was murdered, I was on the phone with him, and we had a long conversation.

And as I looked at the video of my niece, the last conversation me and my brother had was he wanted to have play dates.

He wanted to plan play dates with Gianna and my daughter. At least we started setting it up. That can't happen.

And my daughter's still young, but I still have to explain to her, because this is history. This is a case everybody knows about.

So, she's going to find out. And I'm going to have to explain that to her.

And I think that's, to me, harder than even just standing here, that I have to talk to my daughter and tell her, you know, about her niece, about her uncle, about the situation. That's basically reliving it all over again, years down the lean line.

I'm here on behalf of my family, of me, on -- sorry.

CAHILL: It's OK. Take your time.

T. FLOYD: On behalf of me and my family, we seek the maximum penalty. We don't want to see no more slaps on the wrist. We've been through that already. And my community and my culture, we've been through that already.

Smacked on the wrist, no, no, no, no. Because if it was us, if the roles was reversed, there wouldn't be no case. It would have been open and shut. We'd have been under the jail. For murdering somebody. So, we ask for that same penalty for Derek Chauvin.

Thank you.

CAHILL: Thank you, sir.

J. BLACKWELL: Your Honor, the final victim impact statement for the state will come from George Floyd's brother, Philonise Floyd brother, Philonise Floyd.

CAHILL: And sir, if you could begin by giving us your full name and spell each of your names. And I have permitted you to use your phone because you have notes on it, is that correct?

PHILONESE FLOYD, WITNESS: Yes, sir.

CAHILL: All right. And you may proceed when you're ready, giving us your full name first.

P. FLOYD: Philonise Floyd, spelled P-H-I-L-O-N-I-S-E, last name Floyd, F-L-O-Y-D.

CAHILL: And you may proceed.

[14:45:10]

P. FLOYD: One year ago, May 25, my brother, George, was murdered by Derek Chauvin and his codefendants in broad daylight with a knee to his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds.

I was a trucker and, immediately, my life changed forever. I began to speak to the world for George in front of the United Nations, Africa, Canada, Japan, and so many other countries.

Every day, I have begged for justice to be served, reliving the execution of George while others begged and pleaded for Officer Chauvin to simply just allow George to take a breath.

I haven't had a real night's sleep because of the nightmares I constantly have, hearing my brother beg and plead for his life over and over again.

Even saying, they're going to kill me, please, officer, screaming for our mom. I have had to sit through each day of Officer Derek Chauvin's trial and watch the video of George dying for hours, over and over again.

For an entire year, I had to relive George being tortured to death every hour of the day, only taking naps and not knowing what a good night's sleep is anymore.

I've been lifting my voice, tirelessly, every day so that George's death will not be in vain.

Honorable Judge Peter Cahill, I thank you for allowing me to share this today. George's life mattered. So, my family and I, most of all, my niece, Gianna -- my niece,

Gianna, she needs closure.

I'm asking that you please find it suitable to give Officer Chauvin the maximum sentence possible, charge that he has been found guilty for.

My family and I have been given a life sentence. We will never be able to get George back. Daddies are a daughter's first love.

He will never be able to walk Gianna down the aisle in her wedding, attend those magical moments of her life like a daddy-daughter dance, Sweet 16 party, seeing her out for prom, graduations.

And she will never be able to have any personal memories with her father.

With a smirk on his face and children present, Officer Chauvin used excessive force and acted against his training. Chauvin had no regard for human life, George's life.

I stand before you today, asking you to please help us find closure by giving Chauvin the maximum sentence possible, making sure he does his time consecutively without the possibility of parole, probation, or getting out early for good behavior.

Thank you.

CAHILL: Thank you, sir.

Mr. Frank?

MATTHEW FRANK, MINNESOTA ASSISTANT ATTORNEY GENERAL: Thank you, Your Honor.

Here today, of course, for sentencing gives us an opportunity to speak about, you know, other matters that I think are involved in sentencing and where we are in the criminal justice system in the processing of this case.

As a -- as a member of an elected office, representing the people of the state of Minnesota, as well as the people of the local community, I want to say a couple of things.

And first of all, I want to really thank some of the police officers in the Minneapolis Police Department.

Who, under great pressure, great stress, to some extent, apparent to their occupations, what they have devoted their life to, stuck to their oath and their commitment as police officers to speak openly and honestly about policing and the training that is given and received by police officers.

[14:50:03]

Those officers didn't hide behind a blue wall. They came forward. They told this court and those jurors what they knew about training and responsibility. And I think they deserve recognition and credit for that.

I would also like to thank members of the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Those agents get called in. A great sacrifice to their personal lives. Whenever things happen, they go.

They did that here. And under really extraordinary circumstances completed a professional and thorough investigation.

Conducting interviews is hard enough but conducting them in the atmosphere of the city following the murder of George Floyd was even more difficult. And they did so, I think, above and beyond the call of duty.

I want to thank them for doing that on behalf of the whole prosecution staff.

Your Honor, I want to thank the family, the loved ones, the friends of George Floyd. They have been through so much more than families involved in murder cases.

He's right. It is a fraternity you don't want to be part of. They've been through so much more because of the pandemic and because of security, safety precautions that we've had to take. They have been through a lot.

At a time when they try to grieve, like everybody does for the loss of someone, they are going through so much more.

I want to thank them, all of them, the family.

The court saw testimony from Floyd, Courtney Ross. These are people trying to deal with their loss but they have to do it very publicly and under very trying circumstances through no fault of their own.

So I thank them.

They have all been models of grace and understanding. It's really remarkable, quite frankly.

I'll come back to them again in a little bit.

Your Honor, we have submitted a sentencing brief. I want to incorporate that. I want to incorporate my comments today in that memo.

But I do think there's things I want to bring out today in my arguments.

For hundreds of years, the court had discretion in sentencing. It was the trial court's decision in what the sentence should be.

The recognition that the trial court sat through the trial, watched the evidence and saw how it affected people, informed the court's discretion. When the legislature passed the guidelines in a legitimate attempt to

try to even out sentences, they defined certain presumptive sentences for typical crimes.

But they did not remove discretion for sentencing judges. They recognized that no better is better suited to decide whether this is the typical case represented by that guideline's presumptive sentence or if there's reasons why this is worse than that.

The guideline still gives this court discretion when there are aggravating factors to give more serious sentence than what the guidelines presumption calls for.

As you know, we are asking you to do that today. There are four aggravating factors. They go beyond a list of just what those factors are. We have not just done our homework and found a list.

The court made good findings, detailed findings about those factors. We think they justify a greatly increased sentence. This is not the typical second-degree unintentional murder.

The Supreme Court in our state said, very recently, even one aggravating factor is sufficient to go twice the top of the range. Here we have four.

The first one that the court found is abuse of position, of trust and authority. The court specifically found there Mr. Chauvin, who was acting as a police officer, he had a position of trust and authority.

That's certainly true. We trust police officers. We trust them when we need help, we call them for help. With trust, they will take care of the problems that they are assigned to deal with, right? We trust them.

[14:55:07]

We also give them great authority. We give them great power. We give them power to use force that individuals would be prosecuted for using. We give them authority to arrest, to detain and with great power comes great responsibility.

They're not sent out there by themselves to do this. They are given substantial training.

This court saw all of that through the trial, in general, and in specific to Mr. Chauvin and the other three officers.

They are given training on the use of force, the force used has to be warranted by the threat.

They are given training on de-escalation because we recognize that police officers are called in when people are not having their best day, when people might be affected by mental illness, drug abuse, any number of issues.

They are just having a bad day and trained for that and should be. They are taught how to use that to deescalate and control a situation.

They are taught medical intervention. They are taught to provide medical attention to people who need it.

Being a police officer is a difficult job. We ask a lot of them. It's a profession, there's no doubt about it. We give them a substantial amount of training and most officers do it right.

This case wasn't about police officers, all police officers. It wasn't about policing. This case was about Derek Chauvin disregarding all that training he received and assaulting Mr. Floyd until he suffocated to death.

One of the things that you heard, Your Honor, and the jurors heard that can really encapsulate an important issue here, seven words -- if your custody, as in your care.

It's a real simple mantra. It's real easy thing to remember. If you take custody of somebody, you have to provide care. You have to do it in caring way. You can't disregard their care.

Mr. Chauvin abused his position of trust and authority as a police officer by doing that. Just disregarding all his training.

It was an abuse of that because, what did he decide to do?

We often are forced in this criminal justice system to infer people's state of mind by conduct and their statements.

What was Derek Chauvin's end game here? What was the plan?

It seems apparent the plan was hold him down until we can dump him in an ambulance and no longer have him be our problem.

Recall, he said to Charles McMillan, he's a big guy, might be on something. That's it.

He held Mr. Floyd down as Mr. Floyd begged for his life. He had the other officers help him in that regard.

And rather than doing the simple expedient of putting him on his side, he said yes, mm-hmm, mm-hmm. He was dismissive to that duty of care.

We trust that arrestees will be treated with respect, reasonable force, and that their medical needs will be addressed.

I'm paraphrasing from the court's findings. That trust was violated.

We trust that they will use their authority reasonably and this was a particularly egregious abuse of that force. Again, paraphrasing the court's findings.

The typical second-degree murder does not include, does not involve that extent of abuse of a dearly held position of abuse in a position of authority and trust by the community and by individuals of the community. Your Honor found that Mr. Floyd was treated by Mr. Chauvin with

particular cruelty. I think torture is the right word.

[15:00:00]

We know that -- I mean, we have all seen it. Mr. Floyd did not want to be in the backseat. That's it. That's the rub.