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Trial Begins for Ex-Police Officer Charged in George Floyd's Death. Aired 11:30a-12p ET

Aired March 29, 2021 - 11:30   ET


JERRY BLACKWELL, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: They were using the foulest of language.


You'll be able to see them getting out of his car, put him right away in hand cuffs. You see them pan him down so that they know he doesn't have any weapons. And not only that, you'll able to hear George Floyd when he approaches the squad car saying he is terrified to be put into that squad car. You hear him say, I think I'm going die if they put me in there. I think I'll die if I'm put in that squad car. He was terrified. You'll hear him talk about that. He says he was claustrophobic.

And then he asked to count himself, let me count my way into the squad car. And he starts trying to count one, two, up the man handle him, shoved him into the car with the handcuffs on and you'll see how he freaks out from that. You hear him saying, I can't breathe in the back of the squad car and we'll show you in the back of the squad car when Mr. Chauvin, at one point, has hands around Mr. Floyd's neck in the squad car and another, his arm and elbow around his neck with Mr. Floyd's head here when they pull him out of the squad car, put him on the ground in prone position and when the nine minutes and 29 seconds begins.

But you're also going to learn, ladies and gentlemen, at the time they put Mr. Floyd on the ground that way, there were five grown men, armed police officers who are on the scene over a fake $20. There were five of them there. Mr. Chauvin and his partner, the two officers who shown up there earlier in the first place Mr. Chauvin was there and a member of the park police. There were five there. For a man who didn't threaten anybody. He will see committed no act of violence in any way who didn't try to run away and who is put in the prone position this way with five grown men, armed police officers present.

None of that, ladies and gentlemen, we submit you will find to be an excuse for what happened in the nine minutes and 29 seconds.

We're also going to want you to learn something about George Floyd, George Perry Floyd. His family members call him Perry because he was not simply just an object, the excessive use of force of police, he is a real person. And I want you to learn something about him. Time that he was killed, he was 46 years old. He was a father, a brother, a cousin, a friend to many, he is originally from Houston, Texas. Even before Houston, he was from my original home state. North Carolina, Fayetteville, North Carolina, before Houston is where his family is from.

He excelled in basketball and football. He loved shooting hoops even to the end. And he kept himself fit that way. He moved to Minnesota from Texas for a fresh start and the rest of this you'll learn about him. He's worked as a security guard, then lost his job when COVID hit. He is a COVID survivor, George Floyd was. And he lost his job when his employer was forced to close because of COVID-19.

But the point to all of this is that we want you to know something about who George Floyd was as a person, because he was somebody to a lot of other bodies in the world.

So, ladies and gentlemen, I'm going to sit down in a moment this morning. We're going to show you through the evidence that there was no excuse for the police abuse of Mr. Chauvin. We're going to ask at the end of this case that you find Mr. Chauvin guilty for his excessive use of force against George Floyd that was an assault, contributed to taking his life and for engaging in imminently dangerous behavior, putting the knee on the neck, the knee on the back, for nine minutes and 29 seconds without regard for Mr. Floyd's life. We're going to ask that you find him guilty of murder in the second-degree, murder in the third-degree and second-degree murder manslaughter. Thank you.

JUDGE PETER CAHILL, HENNEPIN COUNTY, MINNESOTA DISTRICT COURT: Mr. Nelson, do you wish to open at this time?


CAHILL: You may.

NELSON: May it please the court, counsel, Mr. Chauvin, members of the jury. Unreasonable doubt is a doubt that is based upon reason and common sense. At the end of this case, we're going to spend a lot of time talking about doubt.

But for purposes of my remarks this morning, I want to talk about reason and common sense and how that applies to the evidence that you're about to see during the course of this trial.

Reason is an idea that wholly permeates our law, legal system and informs the foundation, and you will see and hear that repeatedly throughout the course of this trial.


What would a reasonable police officer do? What is a reasonable use of force? What would a reasonable person do in his or her most important affairs? What is a reasonable doubt? As such, reason dictates and necessitates how the evidence must be looked at and analyzed in every single case.

And common sense is exactly that. It's common sense. Common sense tells that you there are always two sides to a story. Common sense tells us that we need to examine the totality of the circumstances to determine the meaning of evidence and how it can be applied to the questions of reasonableness, of actions and reactions. In other words, common sense is the application of sound judgment based upon a reasoned analysis.

And that's what this case is ultimately about. It's about the evidence of this case. The evidence that you will see in this case during this trial, I agree with counsel for the state, it is nothing more than that. There is no political or social cause in this courtroom.

But the evidence is far greater than nine minutes and 29 seconds. In this case, you will learn that the evidence has been collected broadly and expansively. Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension employed nearly 50 case agents, analysts and technicians to investigate this case. The Federal Bureau of Investigation included at least 28 additional agents in their investigation.

These agents combined have engaged in an extensive and far reaching investigation. They have interviewed over 50 members of the Minneapolis Police Department, including the officers who responded to the scene after Mr. Floyd was brought to the hospital. They interviewed members of the Minneapolis Police Department command staff. They interviewed officers who oversee training and policy- making decisions within the Minneapolis Police Department. They have interviewed nearly 200 civilian witnesses in this case. Some of these witnesses saw the entire incident, some who saw a portion of the incident, many who saw nothing and some who had some piece of information to give to the officers, and others who had nothing.

These agents interviewed the numerous medical personnel who interviewed -- excuse me, who attended to Mr. Floyd and they interviewed the numerous firefighters and paramedics who responded. Agents executed approximately a dozen search warrants in this case to gather information. And in the end, you will hear a term throughout, I believe, this case called the Bates stamp number.

The Bates stamp system is a way for lawyers to keep track of the case, to make sure that we are working from the same set of documents, the same set of evidence, to preserve the integrity of the investigation. You will learn that we are approaching 50,000 Bates stamped items. So this case is clearly more than about nine minutes and 29 seconds.

As you all saw during jury selection, the witnesses in this case, nearly 400 people, so how do we begin to analyze and organize this evidence? I suggest that you let common sense and reason guide you. I propose that every witness you will hear from and every piece of evidence that you'll see or hear during this trial can be assigned to one of four basic locations, Cup Foods, Mercedes Benz, Squad 320, and Hennepin County Medical Center.

So let's start at the first, Cup Foods. You will learn that on May 5th -- excuse, may 25th, 2020, shortly after 7:00 P.M. Mr. Floyd and his friend, Maurice Hall, entered the Cup Foods located at 38th and Chicago. While they were there, they ran into their other friend, Mr. Floyd's ex-girlfriend, Shawanda Hill, and he offered her a ride.

You will hear from Chris Martin, who is the store clerk at Cup Foods, Mr. Martin observed Mr. Floyd.


He watched his body language. He interacted with Mr. Floyd in this moment. And Mr. Martin formed the opinion that Mr. Floyd was under the influence of something. You will see the actual video from inside Cup Foods. Mr. Floyd did use a counterfeit $20 to purchase a pack of cigarettes. Mr. Martin realized this and first, along with another one of his co-workers named Bill Walter, went outside to the car where Mr. Floyd and Mr. Hall and Ms. Hill were sitting.

Mr. Martin asked Mr. Floyd to come in and either buy the cigarettes, exchange or return the cigarettes. And you will hear from Mr. Martin that Mr. Hall and Mr. Floyd refused.

You will hear that a short time later, Mr. Martin went back to the car a second time, went back to ask them again, please, come inside, give us the money or return the cigarettes. And that second time, again, Mr. Floyd refused.

So at 8:01:00 P.M., a second clerk from the Cup Foods named Omar Camara (ph) called 911 to report Mr. Floyd. During that call, Mr. Camara (ph), you will hear, describe Mr. Floyd as drunk and that he could not control himself. He's not acting right. He's 6 to 6 1/2 feet tall.

Accordingly, Minneapolis Police Officers Thomas Lane and Alexander King were dispatched to the scene and arrived at 8:08:00 P.M. They were driving Minneapolis Squad Car 320 and they faced parking southbound in the northbound lane of Chicago Avenue and were directed by store employees immediately to the second location, the Mercedes Benz.

During this trial, you will hear evidence of what happened in the Mercedes Benz in the 20 to 30 minutes prior to the police arriving. You will hear from Mr. Floyd's friends, Shawanda Hill and Maurice Hall. This will include evidence that while they were in the car, Mr. Floyd consumed what were thought to be two Percocet pills. Mr. Floyd's friends will explain that Mr. Floyd fell asleep in the car and that they couldn't wake him up, that they kept trying to wake him up to get going, that they thought the police might be coming because now the store was coming out. And they kept trying to wake him up.

And, in fact, one of the friends called her daughter, Ms. Hill, Shawanda Hill, called her daughter, Shakir Prince (ph), to come and pick her up because they he couldn't keep Mr. Floyd awake.

At 8:09:00 P.M., the Officers Lane and King approached the vehicle and Officer Lane approached the driver's side of the vehicle and Officer King approached the passenger side. During the course of this trial, you will see and hear the body-worn cameras of these officers that fully capture the entire interaction with Mr. Floyd and his friends. You will see Officer Lane draw his service weapon after Mr. Floyd failed several times to respond to his commands to show him his hands. You will learn that that is an acceptable police practice. You will see the officers struggle with Mr. Floyd to get him out of the Mercedes Benz and handcuffed. And you will see and hear everything that these officers and Mr. Floyd say to each other. The evidence will show that when confronted by police, Mr. Floyd put drugs in his mouth in an effort to conceal them from the police.

At approximately 8:10:00 P.M., Officer Peter Chang of the Minneapolis Park Police responds. He responds to the scene to assist Officers King and Lane. And he helped in detaining the passengers. You will see Officer Chang's body worn camera and you will hear his interactions. This becomes important as we learn about police practices. Because what you will learn is that when an officer responds to what is sometimes a routine and minimal event, it often evolves into a greater and more serious event.

You will see surveillance videos near Squad 320 from a local business called the Dragon Lock that capture the actions and reactions of all -- of everyone present at that location, including evidence of further concealment of controlled substances.


During the course of the investigation, two search warrants were executed on the Mercedes Benz, the first on May 27th of 2020, the second, several months later, on December 9th of 2020.

BCA agents located various pieces of evidence during both of these searches, including two pills. That later analysis by the BCA revealed to be a mixture of methamphetamine and fentanyl. This is what's called a speed bump, a mixture of an opioid and a stimulant. You will learn that these pills were manufactured to have the appearance of Percocet.

While standing next to the Mercedes Benz, Officer King and Officer Lane both asked Mr. Floyd what he was on. And he says he is on nothing. Officer King and Lane escorted Mr. Floyd to the third location, Minneapolis Squad 320.

The evidence will show that as Officers King and Lane escorted Mr. Floyd to their squad car, a citizen by the name of Charles McMillan walked alongside them, kind of joined them. And he was encouraging Mr. Floyd to cooperate with the officers, get in the car. You can't win.

The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd and the officers began to struggle as they attempted to get him in the squad car. And you will learn that Officers Derek Chauvin and his partner, Tou Thao, arrived to assist Officers King and Lane at 8:16:48, almost 8:17.

Upon their arrival, the first thing that Officer Chauvin sees is Officers King and Lane struggling with Mr. Floyd. Mr. Chauvin asked the officers, is he under arrest? Yes. And then Officer Chauvin began to assist them in their efforts to get him into the squad car.

You will see that three Minneapolis Police officers could not overcome the strength Mr. Floyd. Mr. Chauvin is 5'9," 140 pounds. Mr. Floyd is 6'3," weighs 223 pounds. You will learn that because of this intersection at 38th and Chicago is considered a high crime area, the city installs what's called the Milestone Video System. It's a camera that sits atop a pole and can surveil the entire intersection.

When you see these videos pulled back from afar, you will be able to see the Minneapolis Police squad car rocking back and forth, rocking back and forth during this struggle, so much so that it catches the attention of the 911 Dispatcher Jenna Scurry. This was not an easy struggle.

As the struggle continues, you will see and hear both what Mr. Floyd was saying to the officers and the officers' responses to him. Mr. Floyd does end up on the street and appeared to continue to struggle to these officers, so much so that they considered applying what's called the maximal restraint technique. It used to be called the hobble or the hogtie.

Mr. Chauvin used his knee to pin Mr. Floyd's left shoulder blade and back to the ground and his right knee to pin Mr. Floyd's left arm to the ground. Officer King was placed below Mr. Floyd's buttocks and Officer Lane was at the feet. And you will see and hear them continue to struggle with Mr. Floyd as he is attempting to kick.

You will see and hear that a crowd begins to develop watching and recording officers, initially, fairly passive. As the situation with went on, the crowd began to grow angry. But here is what you will also see and hear. You will also see and hear the conversation between the officers behind the squad car, the crowd is not aware of what they are seeing and doing.

You will learn that several bystanders, including Donald Williams and Genevieve Hanson (ph), they grew more and more and more upset with these officers. You've seen it this morning. But you will also see it from the perspective of the police officers.


As they crowd grew in size seemingly, so too did their anger. You will remember there is more to the scene than just the officers -- what the officers see in front of them. There are people behind them. There are people across the street. There are cars stopping, people yelling. There is a growing crowd and what officers perceive to be a threat.

They're called names. You heard them this morning, a fucking bum. They're screaming at him, causing the officers to divert their attention from the care of Mr. Floyd to the threat that was growing in front of them.

At this location, questions emerge about the reasonableness of the use of force. And this will ultimately become one of the decisions that you have to make, to answer these questions the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, the evidence will show that the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigated the Minneapolis Police Department's training and policies.

You will learn about things such as the authorized use of force, proportionality of force, excited delirium, defensive tactics, including prone handcuffing, neck restraints, maximum restraint technique, the swarm technique. You will learn about rapidly evolving situations and the Minneapolis Police Department's decision-making model. You will learn about crowd control, medical intervention, de- escalation, procedural justice, crisis intervention and the human factors of force. That is what happens to a police officer or any person when they are involved in a high stress use of force situation. And you will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career.

The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing. The evidence will again demonstrate that the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension conducted two searches of Squad 320. You will learn that in the second search of Squad 320, agents recovered several pieces of partially dissolved pills. You will learn that these pills were again analyzed, were again shown to be consistent or similar to the pills found in the Mercedes Benz in that they contained methamphetamine and traces of fentanyl.

Moreover, these pills contained the DNA and saliva of George Floyd, which leads us to our final -- our final location, Hennepin County Medical Center. The evidence will show that officers made two calls for emergency help. Those calls were within one minute and 30 seconds of each other. The first call, officers called for paramedics to arrive Code 2 because Mr. Floyd had a nose injury. He was bleeding from the nose. That occurred during the struggle. Mr. Floyd banged his face into the plexiglass partition of the squad car. You will see the blood evidence in the squad car.

Hat first call came at eight minutes -- excuse me, 8:20:11. The second call was what's called a stepped up call, or a Code 3 call, meaning, get here as fast as you possibly can. That call was made and placed at 8:21:35. You will learn that paramedics arrived on scene at 8:27:18, just 19 minutes after King and -- Officers King and Lane arrived, within six minutes of it being called a Code 3, and they did what they referred to as a load and go because of the crowd.

They came, they picked up Mr. -- rather than attempting to resuscitate him or treat him on the scene, they loaded him into the ambulance and they drove to a location several blocks away to begin their resuscitative efforts, and you will hear and learn that Officer Thomas Lane accompanied them for part of that time.

You will learn ultimately that Mr. Floyd was transported to the emergency department at Hennepin County efforts -- where efforts to save Mr. Floyd were made at the direction of Dr. Bradford Longenfield (ph). Again, he took important tests. He ran blood samples and blood gas samples. He took certain very important -- obtained very important pieces of information.


And you will learn that later that evening, Mr. Floyd was pronounced dead.

The evidence will show then that Dr. Andrew Baker of the Hennepin County Medical Examiner's Office conducted the only autopsy of Mr. Floyd, and you will hear of several interviews that Dr. Baker had with law enforcement where he discusses the cause and manner of death and what that actually means according to what he saw present in Mr. Floyd's body.

And some of this evidence is extremely important to the final determination of Mr. Floyd's cause of death. The medical findings include things such as the blood gas test that was taken at HCMC that revealed Mr. Floyd had an exceptionally high level of carbon dioxide. Dr. Baker found none of what I refer to as the telltale signs of asphyxiation. There were no bruises to Mr. Floyd's neck, either on his skin or after peeling his skin back to the muscles beneath. There was no petechial hemorrhaging. There was no evidence that Mr. Floyd's air flow was restricted and he did not determine to be a positional or mechanical asphyxial death.

At the time Mr. Floyd was in the hospital, a femoral blood draw was taken. That blood draw was analyzed by a lab. The results of Mr. Floyd's toxicology screen revealed the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamine among other things. And it will be important to know the difference between fentanyl and methamphetamine.

The autopsy revealed many other issues, including coronary disease, an enlarged heart, what's called a paraganglioma, which is a tumor that secretes adrenaline, swelling or edema of the lungs. And the state was not satisfied with Dr. Baker's work. And so they have contracted with numerous physicians to contradict Dr. Baker's findings.

And this will ultimately be another significant battle in this trial, what was Mr. Floyd's actual cause of death? The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, his coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl and the adrenaline flowing through his body, all of which acted to further compromise an already compromised heart.

At the conclusion of this evidence, you will be instructed as to the law, the elements of the offense, and the court will give you detailed instructions on what you must find to convict Mr. Chauvin of these charges. But when you review the actual evidence and when you hear the law and apply reason and common sense, there will only be one just merit, and that is to find Mr. Chauvin not guilty.

CAHILL: Members of the jury, we're going to take our morning recess at this time until about 11:15. I want you to keep in mind that these breaks we try and keep as much as we can to time, but if bathroom needs and other needs are important, we can expand it a little bit. So I don't want you to be nervous about making sure all of your personal business is done within the 20 minutes. But keep in mind the 20 minutes is what we'll try and stick to for morning and afternoon breaks.

And so now, the deputy will take you back to the other courtroom. We're in recess until 11:15.

JOHN KING, CNN INSIDE POLITICS: Hello to our viewers in the United States and around the world, welcome to Inside Politics. I'm John King in Washington. Thanks for sharing this very important, very somber day with us. You just saw right there the judge signaling a 20-minute break right now in day one of Derek Chauvin's trial, that after a detailed and emotional morning in the courtroom in Minneapolis, the prosecution and defense making opening statements today, and perhaps the most consequential police brutality case to come before a judge in 30 years, the killing of George Floyd.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Man, I can't breathe. My face is (INAUDIBLE).

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you want?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I can't breathe. Please, I can't breathe.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car, man.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Get up and get in the car.




KING: The prosecution today playing in full, that video right there showing Mr. Floyd's final words and his final moments.


That is one key piece of evidence. The prosecution plans to call the Minneapolis Police Chief as a witness against the fired former officer.