Last May, an encounter between former police officer Derek Chauvin and George Floyd sparked protests around the world that are unlike anything that we've ever seen. Nearly a year later, protests outside of a Hennepin County Courthouse continue as the second day of Chauvin's trial wraps up.
On the first day, attorneys delivered their opening statements and key witnesses delivered compelling testimonies. Minneapolis 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry, convenience store worker Alisha Oyler and mixed martial artist Donald Williams shared their recollections of what happened on that fateful day. With the second day of the Chauvin trial complete, here is a brief recap of what has happened thus far and what we expect to happen moving forward.
What Has Already Happened
As previously mentioned, former police Derek Chauvin is being charged with second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree manslaughter. If convicted, Chauvin faces upwards of 40 years in prison.
During the first day of the Chauvin trial, both the prosecution and defense presented their opening statements. Throughout the prosecution's opening statement, attorney Jerry Blackwell focused primarily on the length of time that the encounter lasted. In the immediate aftermath of Floyd's death, it was publicized that Chauvin appeared to press his knee against Floyd's neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds. However, Blackwell focused on the time period of nine minutes and 29 seconds. Blackwell explained that Floyd called out for four minutes and 45 seconds. Then, Floyd appeared to be suffering from a seizure for 53 seconds. Finally, he laid unresponsive for 3 minutes and 51 seconds.
After the opening statements took place, three witnesses were called to the stand, Jenna Scurry, Alisha Oyler and Donald Williams. Scurry is a 911 operator who dispatched Chauvin and another officer to Cup Foods where Floyd was accused of using counterfeit currency. Scurry was later followed by Oyler, who was working across the street when Floyd encountered the officers. Oyler recorded seven videos and she was asked to recount what she observed that day. Wrapping up the events of the first day, Donald Williams was questioned about what he observed that day as a bystander who later called the police on Chauvin. However, questioning was cut short and Williams was asked to return for a second day.
To read a full recap of the first of the Chauvin trial, please click here.
What We Expected
Heading into the second day of the trial, there was one name on everyone's mind, Donald Williams. During the first day of trial, Williams provided detailed and descriptive accounts of what he saw on May 25 outside of Cup Foods in Minneapolis. The mixed martial artist and security guard said that he came over to the scene when he heard a commotion nearby. After arriving on the scene, he saw Chauvin pressing his knee against Floyd's neck. He later said Floyd "was speaking in a distressed way" and calling out for his mother.
"His breathing was getting tremendously heavy," Williams told the court.
Given his testimony on day one, he was definitely expected to be a centerpiece for the second day of trial. There was also an expectation that there would be a number of younger witnesses that would testify on the second day. On the day that Floyd died, a number of teenagers and children also witnessed portions of the fatal encounter.
Outside of the courtroom, protests continue to take place. While demonstrators remain persistent, there have been no major incidents of confrontation between security and protesters.
Much of the trial's opening day was spent laying out the arguments of both the prosecution and defense. However, the second day of the trial was primarily spent questioning witnesses that observed the encounter between Floyd and the four officers. Many of these witnesses ultimately became overwhelmed with emotion when describing Floyd's tragic death. There was also a seemingly intense back and forth between Donald Williams and the defense. All in all, it was an eventful day in the Hennepin County Courthouse.
Donald Wynn Williams II
Donald Williams kicked off the day's proceedings by returning to the stand to answer more questions regarding the events of May 25. Repeating what he shared on Monday, Williams said that he saw Floyd gasp for air, his eyes roll back in his head and blood come out of his nose. Using his experience as a mixed martial artist, Williams said that Chauvin performed a "blood choke" on Floyd.
As his testimony moved forward, Williams was asked to go back through the 911 call he made after Floyd was transported by an ambulance. The security guard said he "felt the need to call the police on the police" because he believed he had "witnessed a murder." Williams also noted that Floyd "was not resisting arrest."
"I don't know if he is dead for sure. But he was non-responsive when the ambulance came and got him," he said before the court.
The entire 911 call was eventually played for the jury and Williams became visibly shaken by the moment. At one point, he picked up a tissue to wipe his eyes.
Later on, the defense focused on his interactions with the police. Specifically, defense attorneys asked if Williams said that he was hoping one of the officers "would shoot himself."
"I didn't say I hope he's going to shoot himself. I said within the next two years, you will shoot yourself in your head for what you did," he explained.
"I didn't say hope. I don't hope death on anyone. The bible doesn't allow that."
Unidentified Witness A
Following Williams, an 18-year-old student testified before the court. While the witness is an adult now, she was a minor at the time of Floyd's death. Therefore, her face and name were not shared with the public. However, she did offer the court a recollection of what she saw last May. The witnesses said that she was walking by Cup Foods with her cousin when she noticed what was going on. When she neared the scene, she says that she was Chauvin pressing his knee against Floyd. She explained that Floyd appeared to be "a man terrified, scared [and] begging for his life."
"It wasn't right. He was suffering. He was in pain," she continued.
After arriving on the scene, she began recording the encounter.
"I heard George Floyd saying — I can't breathe. Please. Get off me. I can't breathe. He cried for his mom... It seemed like he knew — seemed like he knew it was over for him," she said.
Her testimony ended by ID'ing Chauvin by photo.
"This is the officer that was kneeling on George Floyd's neck."
While there were several videos taken of the encounter between Floyd and the four former officers, Frazier's video was the one shared most often on social media and the news. Frazier was walking with her cousin when she noticed the encounter between Floyd and Chauvin unfolding at the time of the incident. After she got closer to Cup Foods, she could see Floyd lying on the ground as Chauvin hovered above him.
"I heard George Floyd saying — I can't breathe. Please. Get off me. I can't breathe. He cried for his mom... It seemed like he knew — seemed like he knew it was over for him," Frazier said.
During her testimony, she stated that a firefighter, most likelyGenevieve Hansen, began asking to intervene and offer medical assistance. However, Frazier says that Chauvin "remained kneeling on his neck, and she asked multiple times, not just once."
The line of questioning later moved towards the crowd. When asked why she or her cousin didn't intervene, Frazier says that they felt threatened.
"They put their hand on their mace. I can't remember if they actually pointed it at us but they definitely put their hand on the mace and we all backed back," she explained.
Most notably, Frazier offered a startling characterization of Chauvin's demeanor as the encounter unfolded. According to Frazier, he looked as if "he didn't care" about what was taking place.
"He just stared at us, looked at us. He had like this cold look, heartless. He didn't care. It seemed as if he didn't care what we were saying. It didn't change anything he was doing," she said.
Frazier's testimony ended with an emotional description of what she felt in that moment. She also spoke to the emotional toll that Floyd's death has taken on her in the months since it happened.
“When I look at George Floyd, … I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles. Because they are all Black. I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends. And I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them,” she said.
“It's been nights I've stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it's like it's not what I should have done. It's what he should have done."
Unidentified Witness B
After Frazier testified, the court turned toward a nine-year-old girl who witnessed Floyd's death. During her testimony, she said that she had asked Chauvin "nicely" to get off of Floyd. The nine-year-old witness also said that she "mad" about what had happened to Floyd.
"I was sad and kind of mad," she said.
"Because it felt like he was stopping his breathing, and it was kind of like hurting him."
Unidentified Witness C
After lunch, an 18-year-old witness took the stand to describe what she saw on May 25. Much like the witnesses before her, she recalls Chauvin pressing his knee against Floyd's neck. From the moment she arrived, she began recording the incident because she immediately felt that something was wrong.
"I knew initially that there was something wrong, so I started recording," she said.
She described Floyd's gradual physical decline during the encounter. As she said before the court, Floyd was "vocal" when she first arrived, but he became "less vocal" as the encounter unfolded.
"He was struggling with his ability to breathe. He was focused on trying to breathe," she explained.
"You could tell he was talking with, like, small – smaller and smaller breaths and he would spit a little when he would talk, and he would try and move his head to – because he was uncomfortable."
During the course of her testimony, she became audibly shaken while recalling the events of May 25.
“You could see in his face that he was slowly not being able to breathe. His eyes were rolling back, and at one point, he just kind of sat there, or laid there,” she said.
“I felt like there wasn't really anything I could do as a bystander. The highest power was there, and I felt like I was failing him."
Genevieve Hansen provided the most talked about testimony of the day. The firefighter and EMT offered her recollection of the incident form the view of a medical professional. During the incident, Hansen said it was clear that Floyd needed medical assistance, but she says the officers denied her from providing any help.
"There was no medical assistance on scene and I got there and I could have given medical assistance. That's exactly what I should have done," she said.
What The World Is Saying
With all that happened on Tuesday, there were plenty of onlookers ready to offer their reaction to the trial's latest development. Kicking off the day, the back and forth between Williams and the defense caught many people's attention. When questioned if he called certain officers out of their name on May 25, he did not back down. From Ava Duvernay to Kamau Bell, Williams was the star of the trial for many.
Later in the day, the name, Darnella Frazier, began to trend on Twitter. While many people had seen the video she took on the day of Floyd's death, this was the first time that many came to know her name and hear her voice. She stood before the court and offered an in-depth recollection of all that she has seen, heard and experienced since Floyd has passed. At just 18 years old, her name has been cemented in American history.
Wrapping up the day's events, Genevieve Hansen may have delivered the most revealing testimony of the day. While on the stand, the EMT explained that she asked the officers if she could provide Floyd with medical attention but she was denied. She also appeared to go back and forth with the defense. Simply put, she wasn't having it.
What Resources Are Available
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
Photo Credit: Getty Images