The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began Monday (March 29) with opening statements from the prosecution and the defense. Chauvin is facing charges in the May 2020 death of George Floyd who died while being arrested by Chauvin and three other officers.
Chauvin knelt into Floyd’s neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds despite pleas from Floyd and bystanders to stop. The murder was captured on video and shared around the world on social media, sparking months long protests.
Court proceedings in the trial began earlier this month as the jury selection process started March 8 and lasted nearly two weeks.
On the first day of the trial, three witnesses were called to the stand and underwent questioning.
The 911 dispatcher who coordinated authorities’ response to the scene and a cashier who was working at a convenience across the street from where Floyd was being arrested were on the stand. Here’s what they said, as reported by CNN.
Minneapolis 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry testified she was the one who dispatched Chauvin and the other officers to the Cup Foods where Floyd died. Scurry revealed that she dispatched additional officers when officers Thomas Lane and Alexander Kueng reported they were taking someone out of a police car and she heard a loud noise. She told the defense that someone from squad car 330, either Chauvin or Tou Thao, requested a faster response from ambulances.
At one point while monitoring the situation on screens, Scurry thought the picture froze, but confirmed they weren't after she saw other people moving on the screen.
Scurry told the court she had a feeling “that something’s wrong, something is not right.” Though she told the defense she isn’t familiar with police training regarding use of force requirements, nor did she hear any of the officers place a call to a superior for assistance, her instincts prompted her to call the sergeant to the scene.
Alisha Oyler was working as a shift lead at a convenience store across the street from where Floyd was getting arrested by Chauvin and the other officers. She told the court she recorded the incident, because police were “messing” with Floyd and noted that she’s seen other similar instances by police in the area.
Oyler testified that she recorded a total of seven videos of Floyd’s arrest, two taken inside her workplace and five outside.
She told the court that Floyd was not resisting arrest when officers brought him across the street.
9:29 Is Emphasized By Prosecution
In his opening statements, Attorney Jerry Blackwell told the court, 9:29 were the “three most important numbers in this case.” The numbers mark the corrected time Chauvin was on Floyd’s neck, though it had been previously marked at eight minutes and 46 seconds based on a bystander’s video.
Blackwell broke down the timing, explaining that for 4 minutes and 45 seconds, George Floyd called out from under Chauvin’s knee, asking for help. For 53 seconds, video of Floyd’s death show his body flailing because of seizures. For 3 minutes and 51 seconds, Floyd was unresponsive.
The defense didn’t argue against the new timing and incorporated it into its own remarks.
Donald Williams, a professional mixed martial arts fighter who was called by the prosecution as its third witness on Monday, recalled walking around the corner from Cup Foods store when he heard a commotion and saw Floyd on the ground with Chauvin pressing his knee on Floyd's neck. As he testified, Williams said Floyd "was speaking in a distressed way" when he arrived and he noted that he heard Floyd vocalizing that he was in pain and wanted his mom.
"His breathing was getting tremendously heavy," Williams recalled, adding that Floyd was struggling to breathe and even gasping for air.
Family Holds Press Conference
Before the trial began, the family, their attorneys, and other leaders held a press conference. Terrence Floyd, George Floyd's brother, told reporters, the trial against Chauvin was a "chance" to establish trust in the criminal justice system.
The group knelt in a symbolic moment before Philonise Floyd, also a brother of George, headed into court as the family's allotted one member for the day.
Resources To Process
Watching the trial, taking in traumatic moments may be difficult as video is played and replayed and verbally described.
A few resources that may aid in processing the trial are below:
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001
The resources listed have resources including peer groups and other counseling services that may be helpful. They also offer ways to cope with stress, anxiety, depression and other conditions that are important to monitor.
The Black Information Network's trial-related content includes a nightly news special, titled "Searching for Justice for George Floyd," that airs at 7:00 pm ET Monday through Friday on all BIN 24/7 affiliates. Emmy Award-winning journalist Vanessa Tyler will anchor the daily 30-minute commercial-free recap of that day's testimony.
Additionally, BIN's Morgyn Wood will anchor live coverage of the trial on our Minneapolis affiliate BIN 93.3 FM. Tune in to Black Information Network 24/7's coverage on 31 Black Information Network affiliate stations and on the iHeartRadio app. Frequent updates and breaking news will also air on all 92 iHeartMedia Hip Hop, R&B, and Gospel music stations
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