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

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is helping Saanich police locate a suspect who allegedly stole an iPhone from a building in the 3100-block of Foul Bay Road on April 7. (Image via the Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers)
Saanich police seek suspect in cell phone theft

White iPhone XR reported stolen from building on Foul Bay Road April 7

This map shows the pharmacies in Greater Victoria offering the AstraZeneca vaccine for people born in 1981 and earlier. As the map shows, no pharmacies on the Saanich Peninsula are offering the vaccine. (B.C. Government map)
No pharmacies on Saanich Peninsula offering AstraZeneca vaccine

People born in 1981 and earlier eligible for AstraZeneca vaccines

Victoria police are looking for a 38-year-old man after he allegedly assaulted and choked a missing 15-year-old victim in Beacon Hill Park Tuesday night. (Black Press Media file photo)
15-year-old choked in Beacon Hill tent, Victoria police assaulted while intervening

Police searching for 38-year-old suspect, two officers injured in altercation with park residents

West Shore RCMP responded to 164 calls for service the last weekend, including numerous violent assaults. (Black Press Media file photo)
West Shore RCMP responds to 164 calls for service over weekend

Calls included numerous bear spray assaults and domestic violence incidents

A total of 10 flight exposures have affected the Victoria International Airport in April so far, making it the highest monthly total since the start of the pandemic. (Black Press Media file photo)
Victoria hits record-breaking number of monthly COVID-19 flight exposures

As of April 21, 10 flight exposures reported for the month

A large crowd protested against COVID-19 measures at Sunset Beach in Vancouver on Tuesday, April 20, 2021. (Snapchat)
VIDEO: Large, police-patrolled crowds gather at Vancouver beach for COVID protests

Vancouver police said they patrolled the area and monitored all gatherings

(Black Press Media file photo)
POLL: Have rising prices caused you to give up hope of buying a home?

Do you have a spare 50 grand or so kicking around (have… Continue reading

Anyone with information on any of these individuals is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or visit the website victoriacrimestoppers.ca for more information.
Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of April 20

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

FILE – The Instagram app is shown on an iPhone in Toronto on Monday, March 19, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
Judge acquits B.C. teen boy ‘set up’ on sex assault charge based on Instagram messages

The girl and her friends did not have ‘good intentions’ towards the accused, judge says

Kai Palkeinen recently helped a car stuck on the riverbed near the Big Eddy Bridge. While the car could not be saved, some of the driver’s belongings were. It’s common for vehicles to get stuck in the area due to significantly changing river levels from Revelstoke Dam. (Photo by Kai Palkeinen)
“I just sank a car’: Revelstoke resident tries to save vehicle from the Columbia River

Although it’s not permitted, the riverbed near the city is popular for off roading

Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei, walks down the street with an acquaintance after leaving B.C. Supreme Court during a lunch break at her extradition hearing, in Vancouver, B.C., Thursday, April 1, 2021. A judge is scheduled to release her decision today on a request to delay the final leg of hearings in Meng Wanzhou’s extradition case. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Rich Lam
B.C. judge grants Meng Wanzhou’s request to delay extradition hearings

Lawyers for Canada’s attorney general had argued there is no justification to delay proceedings in the case

B.C. Premier John Horgan announces travel restrictions between the province’s regional health authorities at the legislature, April 19, 2021. (B.C. government photo)
B.C. sees 862 more COVID-19 cases Wednesday, seven deaths

Recreational travel restrictions set to begin Friday

B.C. Finance Minister Selina Robinson is photographed following her budget speech in the legislative assembly at the provincial legislature in Victoria, Tuesday, April 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. budget lacks innovative drive, vision during uncertain times, say experts

Finance Minister Selina Robinson’s budget sets out to spend $8.7 billion over three years on infrastructure

Using panels kept cold by water circulating within them, B.C. researchers compared thermal comfort in 60 of the world’s most populous cities, including Toronto. (Lea Ruefenacht)
B.C. researchers use air conditioning to combat spread of COVID particles

Dr. Adam Rysanek and his team have proven a new worthwhile system – a mixture of cooling panels and natural ventilation

Most Read