Floyd death; Witness called to report a 'murder'

Local activist and teacher Kaia Hart is chained to the security fence outside the Hennepin County Government Center in protest following the opening debates in the murder case of former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin in Minneapolis, Minnesota on March 30, 2021. (Photo: AFP)
MINNEAPOLIS, US — A witness at the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer charged with killing George Floyd said Tuesday that he made an emergency 911 call right after the incident to report a "murder".اضافة اعلان

Donald Williams, 33, also recounted how he pleaded with officers on the scene to render assistance to the handcuffed Floyd, who died while being arrested for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill.

Ex-police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, is charged with murder and manslaughter for his role in Floyd's May 25, 2020 death.

Chauvin, who is white, was seen in a video that went viral kneeling on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, for more than nine minutes.

The harrowing video of Floyd's death touched off protests against racism and police brutality across the United States and around the world.

The woman who took the video also testified on Tuesday and described Floyd as "scared" and "terrified" and "begging for his life."

"It wasn't right. He was suffering. He was in pain," said 18-year-old Darnella Frazier. "I knew it was wrong. We all knew it was wrong."

Williams, a mixed martial arts instructor, said Floyd was already in "danger" when he arrived on the scene.

"You could see that he was trying to gasp for air, trying to breathe," he said. "You could see his eyes slowly rolling back in his head."

Williams said Floyd was being held by Chauvin in a "blood choke" used in wrestling or martial arts and he saw him lose consciousness.

After an unconscious Floyd was taken away in an ambulance, Williams said he made the 911 call.

"I believed I witnessed a murder," Williams told the court. "I didn't know what else to do."

'Went and killed this guy'

Portions of his 911 call were played in the courtroom.

"He just went and killed this guy," Williams said in the call. "Murderers, bro… they just killed that man in front of the store."

Asked who he was referring to, Williams said "the officer sitting over there" and pointed to Chauvin in the courtroom.

"Did you see Mr. Floyd fighting back?" prosecutor Matthew Frank asked Williams.

"No," Williams said.

Under questioning from Chauvin's defense attorney, Eric Nelson, Williams acknowledged that he called Chauvin and the officers names at the scene. 

"You called him a tough guy," Nelson said. "You called him a 'bum' 13 times."

"They were not listening to anything I was telling them," Williams said. "I had to speak out for Floyd."

The video of Floyd's death was played for the jury on Monday and is expected to take center stage at Chauvin's trial.

Prosecutors are seeking to demonstrate that Chauvin had no justification for using a dangerous hold on Floyd that resulted in his death.

Chauvin's attorney countered on Monday that Floyd was on drugs and his death was caused by the drugs and a medical condition rather than asphyxiation.

"You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do," Nelson said.

Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the police force, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge — second-degree murder.

The trial is drawing worldwide attention and the White House said Monday that President Joe Biden was paying attention.

"He certainly will be watching closely, as Americans across the country will be watching," White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said. 

"At the time of George Floyd's death, he talked about this as being an event that really opened up a wound in the American public."

Ben Crump, a civil rights lawyer and attorney for the Floyd family, called it a "landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all."

The trial is expected to last about a month.

Three other former police officers involved in the arrest — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng — are to be tried separately later this year.