Emotional testimony in trial over Floyd's death evokes memories of U.S. trauma

(Xinhua) 08:37, April 01, 2021

Video: The murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin charged with killing African American George Floyd in late May last year officially got underway in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 29, 2021. The trial is expected to last several weeks. (Xinhua)

"You can believe your eyes, that it's homicide -- it's murder," says prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell.

WASHINGTON, March 31 (Xinhua) -- More witnesses have taken the stand as the murder trial for former police officer Derek Chauvin charged with killing George Floyd ended on Tuesday, giving emotional testimony reflecting the country's trauma over the death of the African American in Minneapolis, Minnesota, about ten months ago.

"He (Chauvin) just pretty much killed this guy that wasn't resisting arrest," prosecution witness Donald Williams was heard as saying in a 911 call played in court on Tuesday.

Williams told the court that he made the call because he believed he had "witnessed a murder" since Chauvin had Floyd in a "blood choke," a chokehold that cuts off the blood supply from the brain by placing pressure on either or both sides of a person's neck where the carotid arteries are located.

Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, argued on Tuesday that Williams, who is a 33-year-old mixed martial arts fighter, did not have enough medical or police training experience to analyze Floyd's cause of death.

The full video of Floyd's arrest was played by prosecutors in opening statements on Monday, showing that Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck for about 9 minutes and 30 seconds, instead of the widely reported 8 minutes and 46 seconds. Floyd could be heard pleading with Chauvin multiple times, saying that he couldn't breathe.

"You can believe your eyes, that it's homicide -- it's murder," said prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell, noting Chauvin's knee remained on the neck even after Floyd lost consciousness. Floyd, 46, was pronounced dead later on the day.

U.S. civil rights activist Al Sharpton (C, front) speaks at a press conference outside the courthouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the United States, March 29, 2021. (Photo by Ben Brewer/Xinhua)

Genevieve Hansen, a 27-year-old city firefighter and emergency medical technician, wiped tears from her eyes as she recalled witnessing Floyd's arrest. She said she had urged police officers to take Floyd's pulse and also called 911 at the time.

"I was concerned to see a handcuffed man who was not moving with officers with their whole body weight on his back and a crowd that was stressed out," Hansen said.

Among people who had testified as of Tuesday, four were younger than 18 on May 25, 2020, the day of Floyd's arrest and death, said a New York Times report.

Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded the infamous video igniting nationwide outcry for racial justice, said she ultimately believed the former city police officer was at fault for Floyd's death.

"It's been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life," said Frazier, noting the incident had changed her life by making her filled with grief and anger.

Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The duration Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd and the concrete causes of the black man's death were widely thought to be among the major cruxes of the trial.

National Guard soldiers are seen near the courthouse in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the United States, March 29, 2021. (Photo by Ben Brewer/Xinhua)

While the defense may argue that use of force was necessary, prosecutors will try to convince the jury that the amount of time was unreasonable and unlawful, according to local media reports. At least three bystanders called 911 on the scene.

Outside the courthouse, high school English teacher Kaia Hirt, 48, sat wrapped in blankets and heavy chains locked to the security fence surrounding the building, quietly calling for racial justice. She told USA Today on Tuesday afternoon that she has been locked to the fence in protest for almost 24 hours, with a few breaks.

Currently, a record number of Americans are worried about race relations, according to a Gallup poll released on Friday.

As many as 48 percent of respondents said they worried a great deal about U.S. race relations, up 17 points from that of last year, the poll found, attributing the hike to last year's protests and riots in the wake of Floyd's death in police custody.

Twenty-five percent of Americans said they worried a "fair amount about race relations," while 16 percent said they worried only a little. Only 11 percent said they didn't worry at all, according to the poll.

The ongoing trial "will be a referendum on how far America has come on its quest for equality and justice for all," civil rights attorney Ben Crump said on Monday.

The landmark trial, which is attracting nationwide and international attention, was expected to last up to a month.

(Web editor: Guo Wenrui, Liang Jun)


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