'Don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting': Firefighter nails Chauvin defense

'Don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting': Firefighter nails Chauvin defense
Image via Screengrab.

It didn't take long for the defense for Derek Chauvin, the ex-Minneapolis cop accused of murdering George Floyd, to zero in on a Black mixed martial arts fighter and witness to the brutal arrest. The testimony of Donald Williams, who was being questioned as a mixed martial arts expert, started on Monday and continued on Tuesday. He laid out a sequence of events that with the testimony of a 911 dispatcher, a firefighter, and an 18-year-old girl who recorded the arrest as a teen helped shred the defense's assertion that what played out on recorded video shouldn't be a focal point.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's attorney, tried to paint a picture, distorted as it may be, of an angry, mob-like crowd hampering officers' efforts on May 25, 2020, near the Cup Foods store where Floyd was detained. The attorney asked Williams during his testimony on Tuesday: "Do you recall saying 'I dare you to touch me like that, I swear I'll slap the f—k out of both of you?'" Williams responded: "Yeah I did. I meant it." Nelson, who had previously asked Williams about his anger, followed up with another similar question. "So again sir, it's fair to say that you grew angrier and angrier?" Williams, not taking the bait, said: "No, I grew professional and professional. I stayed in my body. You can't paint me out to be angry."

Nelson, however, tried several times. He asked Williams if he called Chauvin a bum 13 times, and Williams admitted he did. The attorney asked if Williams' voice got louder and louder, and he said yes "so I could be heard." But when Nelson asked if Williams got angrier and angrier, he said no, he was "pleading for life." Williams witnessed Chauvin and other officers detaining Floyd from a nearby sidewalk where former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao, who was dispatched to the scene, kept the crowd confined. Williams admitted when asked that he yelled over and over again at Thao "because I wasn't being heard." "He tried to intimidate me so," the mixed martial arts expert said.

Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter who lived in the area of Cup Foods, gave a similar account that Thao didn't allow her to assist even though she informed him that she was a firefighter. His response, Hansen said was: "'If you really are a Minnesota firefighter you would know better than to get involved.'"

"That's not right," Hansen said in her testimony. "That's exactly what I should've done." She said had officers let her help, she would've called for additional help and sent someone to a gas station to find an automated external defibrillator. She said she would've checked Floyd's airways for blockages and checked his pulse. She said, if she couldn't find a pulse, she would've done chest compressions until help arrived. When the prosecution asked Hansen if she felt frustrated, she started crying. "Yes," she replied, grabbing a tissue.

The firefighter had said earlier in her testimony that Chauvin seemed "comfortable" holding all of his weight on Floyd's neck while two other officers also put their weight on him, but she knew Floyd was in trouble. She described his face as "smushed into the ground" and "puffy and swollen." She noticed fluid coming from him and she couldn't tell where it originated, but she explained that when a patient is dying he'll often release his bladder. Hansen said when responding to emergency situations, she'll often press hard against a patient's fingernail to test if he is responsive to pain. She said she could tell Floyd had an "altered level of consciousness to the point where he wasn't responding to painful stimuli," that stimuli being Chauvin on the Black father's neck. "What I needed to know is whether or not he had a pulse anymore," Hansen said. She later learned he had died.

Nelson asked her if she was frustrated or angry. Hansen said she was "more desperate." The defense attorney then asked if she called officers a "b---h."

"Mm hmm, yeah, I got quite angry after Mr. Floyd was loaded into the ambulance and there was no point in trying to reason with them anymore because they had just killed somebody."

She also said when asked if she would describe other witnesses' demeanors as upset or angry: "I don't know if you've seen anybody be killed, but it's upsetting."

Day two of testimony in the Chauvin trial proved to be another emotional day, with multiple witnesses driven to tears when they had to relive what they saw last May. Alyssa Funari, 18, described a feeling of helplessness. "I was upset because there was nothing that we could do as bystanders but watch him take this man's life in front of our eyes," she said.

Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she witnessed Floyd's death along with Hansen, said during her testimony: "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."

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