Witnesses: Onlooker anger increased as George Floyd stopped moving

This image from a police body camera shows people gathering as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was recorded pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for several minutes as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off and Floyd saying that he couldn’t breathe on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis. From the moment a bystander filmed the incident, video shaped the public’s understanding of Floyd’s death. (Minneapolis Police Department via AP)This image from a police body camera shows people gathering as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was recorded pressing his knee on George Floyd’s neck for several minutes as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off and Floyd saying that he couldn’t breathe on May 25, 2020 in Minneapolis. From the moment a bystander filmed the incident, video shaped the public’s understanding of Floyd’s death. (Minneapolis Police Department via AP)
Protesters gather along a fence at the Hennepin County Government Center, Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Minneapolis where the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues. Chauvin is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)Protesters gather along a fence at the Hennepin County Government Center, Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in Minneapolis where the trial for former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin continues. Chauvin is charged with murder in the death of George Floyd during an arrest last May in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
In this image from video, witness Donald Williams wipes his eyes as he answers questions, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)In this image from video, witness Donald Williams wipes his eyes as he answers questions, as Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill presides Tuesday, March 30, 2021, in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. Chauvin is charged in the May 25, 2020 death of George Floyd. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Onlookers grew increasingly angry as they begged Minneapolis Officer Derek Chauvin to take his knee off George Floyd’s neck, but Chauvin would not let up, and another officer forced back members of the crowd who tried to intervene, witnesses testified Tuesday at Chauvin’s murder trial.

Witness after witness described how Chauvin was unmoved by their pleas, with the teenager who shot the harrowing video of the arrest that set off nationwide protests testifying that the officer gave the crowd a “cold” and “heartless” stare.

“He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying,” said 18-year-old Darnella Frazier, one of several witnesses who testified through tears.

Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd while fellow Officer Tou Thao held the crowd of about 15 back, even when one of the onlookers identified herself as a firefighter and pleaded repeatedly to check Floyd’s pulse, according to witnesses and bystander video.

“They definitely put their hands on the Mace, and we all pulled back,” Frazier told the jury.

The firefighter, Genevieve Hansen, wept on the witness stand as she recalled how she was not allowed to give any medical assistance or tell the police what to do, such as administering chest compressions.

“There was a man being killed,” said Hansen, who testified in her dress uniform and said she had emergency medical technician training. “I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities. And this human was denied that right.”

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter, accused of killing Floyd last May by pinning the 46-year-old handcuffed Black man to the pavement for what prosecutors said was 9 minutes and 29 seconds. Floyd was arrested after being accused of trying to pass a counterfeit $20 bill at the convenience store.

Floyd’s death, along with the bystander video of him pleading that he couldn’t breathe and onlookers angrily yelling at the white officer to get off him, triggered sometimes-violent protests around the world and a reckoning over racism and police brutality across the U.S.

The most serious charge against the now-fired officer carries up to 40 years in prison.

The defence has argued that Chauvin did what his training told him to do and that Floyd’s death was not caused by the officer but by a combination of illegal drug use, heart disease, high blood pressure and the adrenaline flowing through his body.

VIDEO: Witness describes seeing George Floyd ‘slowly fade away’

On Tuesday, the prosecution asked multiple witnesses to describe their horror at what they saw, buttressing the testimony with multiple videos, some of which had never been seen before. Many testified about feelings of helplessness and guilt as Floyd gasped for air, pleaded for his life and finally fell limp and silent, his eyes rolling back in his head.

The testimony was apparently aimed at showing that Chauvin had multiple opportunities to think about what he doing and change course.

But Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson also sought to bring out evidence of anger in the crowd, in an apparent attempt to show that Chauvin and his fellow officers found themselves in an increasingly tense and distracting situation, with the onlookers becoming more and more agitated.

Earlier Tuesday, Donald Williams, one of the onlookers, testified that he called 911 after paramedics took Floyd away, “because I believed I witnessed a murder.” In a recording of the emergency call, Williams could be overheard yelling at the officers: “Y’all is murderers, bro!”

During cross-examination, Chauvin’s lawyer pointed out that Williams seemed to grow increasingly angry at the police, taunting Chauvin with “tough guy,” “bum” and other names, then calling Chauvin expletives, which the defence lawyer repeated in court.

Williams, a professional mixed martial arts fighter, initially admitted he was getting angrier, but then backtracked and said he was controlled and professional and was pleading for Floyd’s life but wasn’t being heard.

Williams said he was stepping on and off the curb, and at one point, Thao, who was controlling the crowd, put his hand on Williams’ chest. Williams admitted under questioning that he told Thao he would beat the officers if Thao touched him again.

But witnesses also testified that no bystanders actually interfered with police.

When Frazier was asked by a prosecutor whether she saw violence anywhere on the scene, she replied: “Yes, from the cops. From Chauvin, and from officer Thao.”

Also Tuesday, prosecutors played cellphone video recorded by yet another bystander, 18-year-old Alyssa Funari, that showed onlookers shouting and screaming at Chauvin after Floyd stopped moving. The footage also showed the Minneapolis firefighter calmly walk up to Thao and offer to help, before he ordered her to get back on the sidewalk.

“I felt like there wasn’t really anything I could do as a bystander,” a tearful Funari said, adding that she felt she was failing Floyd. “Technically I could’ve did something, but I couldn’t really do anything physically … because the highest power was there at the time,” she said, referring to the police.

Frazier testified that she looks at her father and other Black men in her life and thinks of “how that could have been one of them.”

“I stay up at night apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more … not saving his life,” she said, adding of Chauvin: “It’s not what I should have done; it’s what he should have done.”

___

Steve Karnowski And Amy Forliti, The Associated Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Racial injusticeUSA

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Interior Health nurses administer Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
69 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The total number of cases in the region is now at 9,840 since the pandemic began

Kelowna General Hospital (File photo)
Interior Health hospitals not strained by rising COVID case counts

While provincial hospitalizations rise, health care systems in the B.C. Interior remain robust, say officials

BC CDC data showing the geographic distribution of COVID cases in the province. (BC CDC photo)
One new case of COVID-19 in Golden

Cases continue to surge in surrounding areas

The Golden Golf Club will open for a new season on the links beginning April 24. (Claire Palmer photo)
Golden Golf club eyes April 24 start

The golf course is supporting local businesses with the driving range and mini-golf

An Interior Health nurse administers Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccines to seniors and care aids in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16, 2021. (Phil McLachlan/Kelowna Capital News)
105 new COVID-19 cases in Interior Health

Just over 8,000 new vaccine doses administered in the region for a total of 158,000 to date

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A in Princeton

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Vernon Fire Rescue Services responded to a truck fire on Dallas Road in Vernon April 15, 2021. (Brendan Shykora - Vernon Morning Star)
WATCH: Vernon firefighters quick to douse fully involved truck fire

The fire was near multiple structures and spreading along the ground upon crews’ arrival

The father of Aaliyah Rosa planted a tree and laid a plaque in her memory in 2018. (Langley Advance Times files)
Final witness will extend Langley child murder trial into May or June

Lengthy trial began last autumn with COVID and other factors forcing it to take longer than expected

The corner of 96th Avenue and Glover Road in Fort Langley now has traffic signals, and new “touchless” signal activation buttons. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance Times)
Busy Fort Langley intersection gets ‘touchless’ crosswalk signals

The new traffic light started operation in April

Fire crews tend to a collision that is causing severe traffic delays on the William R. Bennett bridge headed east into Kelowna. (Aaron Hemens - Kelowna Capital News)
7 vehicle collision on WR Bennett Bridge under investigation

The collision backed up traffic on the William R. Bennett bridge for much of the morning

Kelowna company celebrates milestone of producing 46 million masks in under a year.
46 million masks and counting: Kelowna company reaches 1 year milstone

In under a year, Breathe Manufacturing Ltd. in Kelowna has hit production of 46 million masks for front-line workers

The organizer of a Kelowna protest against COVID-19 restrictions was fined by the RCMP for the third time Saturday, Jan. 16, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna RCMP investigating hit and run involving 11-year-old

Police said the boy suffered minor injuries

Most Read