• Wed. May 12th, 2021


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Derek Chauvin trial blog Day 3

Jurors get put ‘into the shoes’ of responding Minneapolis police officers

Police body camera footage put jurors “into the shoes” of officers, giving them the best look possible in judging their — potentially criminal — actions, a legal analyst said. 

“Body camera footage has gotten so detailed and the audio is so crisp, it really puts you into the shoes of the officer and a jury can assess, in looking at that, whether or not what they were doing was reasonable,” NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos said.

While the footage played for jurors on Wednesday will probably work against former officer, and now murder suspect, Derek Chauvin, the videos do offer some room for the defense, Cevallos said.

Footage clearly showed George Floyd refusing to sit in the back of a police vehicle, leading to officers  putting him on the pavement — all, potentially, reasonable acts by the defendants.

“The defense is going to make the argument that there was resistance,” Cevallos said. “What you do see is a kind of passive resistance. But is a jury going to conclude that it warrants  putting your knee on the back someone’s neck for nine minutes, even after they’ve completely stopped moving? That’s where the defense has a problem.” 

Day 3 of witness testimony ends Wednesday after body-worn camera footage from officers shown in court

The third day of witness testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial ended Wednesday after jurors watched extensive footage from the body-worn cameras of the officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd.

The footage showed the moments leading up to officers approaching George Floyd’s car until he was taken away in an ambulance. 

The body-worn camera footage was shown during the testimony of Lt. Jeff Rugel, a Minneapolis police officer who manages the police business technology unit.

Rugel’s testimony was focused on technical aspects of camera footage, including how body cameras are worn and operated. He was not asked to comment on the contents of the videos.

His testimony followed that of a teenager who worked at Cup Foods and witnessed Floyd’s restraint and other bystanders.

Witness testimony will continue Thursday around 9:30 a.m. local time.

This concludes today’s live coverage of the Derek Chauvin murder trial. Please check back tomorrow morning for live updates.

Body-worn camera shows officer interaction after George Floyd restrained on the ground

Police body-worn camera footage played in court in the Derek Chauvin trial Wednesday afternoon showed officers put George Floyd on the ground and restrain him until medical responders arrived and put him onto a stretcher.

“I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe,” Floyd begins to say repeatedly after officers remove him from a police vehicle and place him on the ground to restrain him. Floyd had resisted getting in the police car, saying he was claustrophobic and recently had the coronavirus.

The officers hold Floyd down on the ground as he is handcuffed and tell him to stop moving while he begins to call out for his mother and cry out.

As Floyd says he can’t breathe, the officers tell him to relax.

“He’s got to be on something,” one of the officers says, and they discuss what drugs Floyd might possibly be on.

“They’ll kill me,” Floyd says, while repeating he can’t breathe.

At one point an officer asks if they should roll Floyd onto one-side and says he is worried about “delirium or whatever.”

“I think he’s passed out,” an officer says soon after.

Members of a crowd that had gathered can be heard yelling at the officers and asking them to check his pulse, saying Floyd was “unresponsive.”

The officers, including Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck, continue to hold him down.

Medical responders then arrive onto the scene and eventually pick up Floyd’s body and place it onto a stretcher and place him in an ambulance.

The videos shown in court Wednesday from cameras worn by officers Thomas Lane and Alexander Kueng were previously unsealed this summer showing the encounter between Floyd and police.

Jurors shown the body camera footage from Tou Thao

Jurors watched body camera footage from former officer Tou Thao, showing how police appeared to ignore pleas of concerned bystanders in the moments before George Floyd’s death.

Thao was responsible for keeping bystanders away from police, as murder suspect Derek Chauvin put his knee into Floyd’s neck on May 25 outside Cup Foods. 

The footage from Thao dramatically captured off-duty firefighter Genevieve Hansen and mixed-martial arts fighter Donald Williams as they begged officers to help Floyd, who appeared to be losing consciousness while pinned under Chauvin’s knee.

Jurors see body camera footage from of officer J. Alexander Kueng

Prosecutors showed jurors body camera footage from former officer J. Alexander Kueng, a co-defendant of murder suspect Derek Chauvin.

Kueng, who is who is charged with aiding and abetting murder, is one of the first two Minneapolis police officers to arrive at Cup Foods on May 25 to confront George Floyd over an alleged fake $20 bill. 

The officer’s body camera footage showed he and his colleagues pinning Floyd to the pavement as Chauvin puts his knee into the man’s neck.

Kueng, who is being tried separately is the closet officer to Chauvin and can hear Floyd telling officers he can’t breathe and asking for his mother.

Jurors get first extended look at Officer Lane’s body-camera footage

Jurors got a first extended look Wednesday afternoon of the body-worn camera footage captured by Officer Thomas Lane as he approached George Floyd in his car.

The video shows Lane approach Floyd’s vehicle and tap on the window.

Floyd opens the door and begins apologizing before asking what he did.

Lane tells him to put both of his hands up and pulls out a gun and points it at Floyd. 

The officer then tells Floyd to put his hands on top of his head. He then tells him to step out of the car.

“Mr. Officer, please don’t shoot me, please man,” Floyd begins to say.

The officer responds he will not shoot Floyd and tells him to step out of the vehicle.

Floyd continues to plead with the officer not to shoot him.

“I didn’t know man, I didn’t know Mr. Officer,” Floyd added.

As Floyd exits the vehicle, Lane tells Floyd to put his hands behind his back and handcuffs him. The officer asks Floyd to stop resisting, which Floyd denies doing.

Lane then encounters and questions two bystanders while another officer leads Floyd off the frame.

Lane can then be heard asking Floyd if he is “on something” because he is acting “erratic,” which Floyd denies.

Officers then lead Floyd across the street to the police car in front of Cup Foods.

March 31, 202105:42

Bystander explains why he challenged Chauvin, moments after Floyd’s body was removed from scene

A bystander immediately challenged Derek Chauvin moments after George Floyd’s lifeless body was hauled away, telling the officer he was wrong to put his knee into the man’s neck.

In fuzzy audio from police video, Chauvin could be heard defending his actions to the criticism of Charles McMillian, 61. 

“That’s one person’s opinion,” Chauvin could be heard saying in footage to McMillian, also adding that Floyd was a “sizable guy” who was “probably on something.” 

When a prosecutor asked McMillian why he felt the need to challenge Chauvin in that moment, the witness said:  “’Cause what I watched was wrong.” 

McMillian also testified that he recognized Chauvin from patrols in that south Minneapolis neighborhood where Floyd was killed outside Cup Foods.

“I think I said to him five days ago, I told him the other day to go home to your family safe (and) let the dead person go to their family safe,” McMillian testified, recalling his chat with Chauvin. “But today I got to look at you as a maggot.” 

Witness breaks down in tears on stand as he watches video of George Floyd calling out for his mother

March 31, 202104:01

Charles McMillian, 61, who was driving near Cup Foods on May 25 when he came upon the arrest of George Floyd, sobbed on the witness stand after video was played of Floyd calling out for his mother.

McMillian yelled, “You can’t win!” at Floyd while he was being arrested and as officers tried to put him in the back of a squad car, according to bystander video.

McMillian testified that he was trying to convince Floyd to get into the car. 

“Oh my God,” McMillan sobbed after the video was turned off. He grabbed several tissues and wiped his eyes and face.

Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge asked McMillian what he was feeling and he said that he felt “helpless” and that he understood Floyd because he had lost his mother on June 25. 

Judge Peter Cahill called for a 10-minute break.

Juror in Chauvin trial has ‘stress-related reaction’

A juror in the high-profile trial against Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd had a “stress-related reaction” Wednesday.

Juror 7 returned to the courtroom Wednesday while the rest of the jury was out of the room during a break and was seated on the witness stand. 

Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill asked the woman how she was feeling.

“I’m shaky, but better,” the juror responded.

The judge asked her if she had a “stress-related reaction” adding, “We have to make a record of this.”

The juror said that she did and the judge said he understands she has been having trouble sleeping. 

The juror then said she had been awake since 2 a.m.

“I think I’ll be OK going forward,” she added.

Docking workers for fake money is against state labor law; Cup Food denies it ever did so

It’s against Minnesota labor law for employers to dock workers for receiving counterfeit money, as a store clerk testified in former officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. 

Cashier Christopher Martin told jurors he flagged a possible fake $20 bill from George Floyd on May 25 at Cup Foods because it is store policy that any counterfeit money received by the store would be taken out of an employee’s paycheck.

Such a move would be against state labor codes which say “no employer shall make any deduction” from a worker due to “lost or stolen property.” Receiving counterfeit money would fall into this category of loss, a labor department representative said.

But a spokesman for Cup Foods pushed back at Martin’s testimony, saying employees would only be liable “for counterfeit bills if they don’t check them” as a deterrent.

“We’ve never made an employee pay for a counterfeit bill,” Cup Foods spokesman Jamar Nelson said in a statement.

After Martin told managers about the $20 Floyd used to buy a pack of cigarettes, it set in motion the deadly chain of events that ended with a police officer’s knee on his neck.

“I took it anyways and I was planning to just put it on my tab until I second-guessed myself,” Martin said. “I kept examining it and then I eventually told my manager.” 

The state labor department has no record of any such a wage complaint against Cup Foods, the agency’s spokesman said.

Witnesses paint a calm picture of Cup Foods the day George Floyd was killed

Eyewitness accounts of the calm moments leading up to police arriving at Cup Foods raised doubts that officers needed to confront and arrest George Floyd, legal experts said.

Store clerk Christopher Martin told jurors he feels “disbelief and guilt” for the inadvertent role he played in the man’s death, under the knee of then-officer Derek Chauvin.

Martin believed Floyd passed him a bad $20 bill and was going to let it slide, before having second thoughts and telling his manager. Martin also testified that he believed, due to slow speech, Floyd might have been under the influence of drugs — but was in otherwise good spirits while in the store on May 25.

“This is actually a gross misdemeanor in Minnesota,” passing the counterfeit bill, former Hennepin County Public Defender Mary Moriarty told MSNBC’s “MTP Daily.” 

“It should not have meant that the police were approaching (Floyd’s) car with a gun and immediately taking him into custody. He could have been given citation.” 

Martin’s appearance on the witness stand on Wednesday followed compelling testimony from four minors, an off-duty firefighter and a mixed-martial arts fighter who all told jurors they saw police have control of a handcuffed Floyd.

NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos said Chauvin’s defense has generally done well, by simply letting prosecution witnesses testify without much cross-examination.

“There are some witnesses that are just going to do damage and there isn’t a whole lot you can do about it,” Cevallos said. “Especially these witnesses who have been traumatized by what they saw.”