Anastasia Katz, American Renaissance, April 1, 2021
[Editor’s Note: The first half of this article covers testimony from Day 2. What follows after the “* * *” is testimony from Day 3.]
Kaylynn Gilbert, a white 17-year-old, told the jury that she was in court “for George Floyd.” She and her friend Alyssa had parked near Cup Foods, and Miss Gilbert stayed in the car while Alyssa got out to film, until the voices got louder and prompted her to get out, too.
She saw Mr. Chauvin putting pressure on Floyd’s neck that she felt was not needed, after Floyd appeared unconscious. She asked the police why they were still on top of Floyd. Miss Gilbert described Officer Thao’s tone of voice as “really hostile,” and said she saw him push one of the bystanders onto the sidewalk. She did not see any bystanders get physically aggressive, and said, “They were just using their voice.”
She thought Mr. Chauvin’s body language looked “angry” as he was put his knee into Floyd’s neck, and she said that he grabbed his mace and shook it at her. She saw Mr. Chauvin release Floyd after a paramedic signaled for him to do so.
“I didn’t know for sure if George Floyd was dead,” she said, “But I had a gut feeling.”
Genevieve Hansen, a white 27-year-old, came to court wearing her Minneapolis Fire Department dress uniform. Miss Hansen, a former lifeguard, went through Emergency Medical Technician training, earning state and national licenses, before beginning her firefighter training. She has been a Minneapolis Firefighter for two years.
On the day of George Floyd’s death, Miss Hansen was off duty and on a walk when she saw the lights of an emergency vehicle. Wondering if her coworkers were there, she went over, then saw a woman on the street screaming, “They’re killing him!”
Miss Hansen said she remembered seeing four officers putting their full weight on Floyd’s body, but “we know now” that there were only three officers restraining Floyd. “Three grown men putting a lot of their weight on someone is too much.” She described Mr. Chauvin as “looking comfortable” as he held Floyd down with his knee, because he had a hand in his pocket and was not distributing his weight.
Miss Hansen said that Floyd’s face was “smushed to the ground,” and it “looked puffy and swollen.” She saw fluid on the ground and thought it was coming from George Floyd’s body. “In a lot of cases, we see a patient release their bladder when they die. I can’t tell you exactly where the fluid was coming from, but that’s where my mind went.”
Wanting to help Floyd, Miss Hansen said that she identified herself as a firefighter but did not show Minneapolis Fire Department identification; she had not brought it with her. Officer Thao told her, “If you really are a Minneapolis Firefighter, you would know better than to get involved.”
Miss Hansen disagreed with him. “That’s exactly what I should have done. There was no medical assistance on the scene . . . I could have given medical assistance.”
When asked what she would have done, Miss Hansen said that she would have called 911 for paramedics, checked Floyd’s airway, checked his pulse, and done chest compressions if there had been no pulse. Since Officer Thao wanted her to stay on the sidewalk, she shouted to the police, “If he has no pulse, you need to start compressions!”
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge asked Miss Hansen if she felt frustrated. She started crying and took a tissue, before saying, “Yes.”
In his opening statements, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell had told the jury that they would see examples of people “calling the police on the police.” Miss Hansen was an example of that. After the ambulance pulled away with Floyd inside, she called 911, asking to speak to a supervisor. She said that she did this because she was worried about black men who were still at the scene, but did not elaborate on why she was concerned about them. She ended her call when her coworkers from the nearest fire station arrived and went into Cup Foods, looking for a victim.
During cross examination, the defense showed that police had requested paramedics at 8:21, and Miss Hansen arrived at the scene at 8:26. Defense lawyer Eric Nelson asked Miss Hansen if she agreed that a paramedic had more training than an EMT, and she agreed. He asked if anyone had ever come up to her while she was fighting a fire to tell her she was doing it wrong, and she said, “No.” They discussed the fact that medical personnel do not go into a police scene until a Code 4 is called, indicating that it is safe.
There were times when Miss Hansen was defiant. Mr. Nelson asked if it would be reasonable to assume that if a patient were having a medical emergency and the police were present, that police had already called for Emergency Medical Services. Miss Hansen replied, “Your question is unclear because you don’t know my job. So, I can’t answer.” After a slight rephrase, she agreed that it was reasonable, but added a qualifier — she felt that the response time was not normal that day. When asked if she would agree that the other bystanders were angry, Miss Hansen said, in a mocking tone, “I don’t know if you’ve ever seen someone killed, but it’s upsetting.”
Mr. Nelson impeached Miss Hansen by providing documentation that she had told investigators last year that George Floyd was a “small, slim man.” Miss Hansen explained, “With three grown men on top of him, it appeared that he was small and frail.” Mr. Nelson responded with, “OK,” but she tried to keep speaking. “There was no question,” Mr. Nelson said. Miss Hansen said with an eye roll, “I was finishing my answer.”
Judge Cahill sent the jury out, then admonished Miss Hansen for interrupting:
Miss Hansen, I’m advising you. . . . You will not argue with the court. You will not argue with counsel. They have the right to ask questions. Your job is to answer them. I will determine when your answer is done. . . . Do not argue with the court. Do not argue with counsel. Do not volunteer information that is not requested. The attorneys for the state have redirect; they can ask you questions if they think that certain things were left out. It is counsel’s prerogative to ask you leading questions, and for you to answer those, and not volunteer additional information. Are we clear on this?
* * *
On Wednesday morning, witness #9 was called. Christopher Martin, a 19-year-old black man, lives above and worked at Cup Foods, the store where the incident took place. He testified that a man wearing red pants who was seated on the passenger side of Floyd’s car when Floyd was arrested had come into Cup Foods earlier in the day, and tried to pass a counterfeit bill, which Mr. Martin did not accept. The store had a policy that if an employee accepted a counterfeit bill, it would be deducted from his paycheck.
Later in the day, the man in red pants returned to the store with Floyd. Mr. Martin took notice of Floyd because of his large size. When Floyd came to the counter to make a purchase, Mr. Martin talked with him. Floyd spoke slowly, giving Mr. Martin the impression that he was under the influence. Floyd’s demeanor was friendly, but Mr. Martin suspected he was high.
Security footage from inside the store was shown for the first time, and Floyd could be seen moving in a way that was different from everyone else in the store. At one point, he seemed to be doing a strange dance. Mr. Martin said that Floyd used a $20 bill with blue pigment on it to pay for cigarettes. He suspected that the man in the red sweatpants knew he was using counterfeit money, but thought that Floyd might not realize the money was fake. Mr. Martin took the suspicious $20 and told his manager. Mr. Martin’s manager told him to go outside and ask Floyd to come back to the store. Mr. Martin did this twice, and both times, Floyd would not leave his car, so the manager called the police.
While Mr. Martin was still being questioned, Juror #7 raised her hand and left the courtroom, so the judge took a break. Court TV later reported that the juror left because she had an emotional reaction to the testimony, though it’s unclear which part upset her.
When court resumed, Mr. Martin talked about how Floyd reacted when he went to the car to ask him to come back to the store. He said that Floyd raised his hands and touched his head, in gestures that seemed to say, “Ugh, why is this happening?”
Mr. Martin was busy working when police came into the store, but when he heard the commotion outside and saw the store emptying, he followed the crowd to see what was going on. Like other bystanders, Mr. Martin took a video, but thinking that Floyd had died in front of him, he deleted his video.
After video taken from the outside of Cup Foods was shown to the court, showing Mr. Martin standing with his hands on his head. Matthew Frank — a prosecuting lawyer — asked Mr. Martin what he had been thinking. Mr. Martin said that he felt “disbelief and guilt” and that if he had accepted the counterfeit bill, this would not have happened.
The 10th witness was 61-year-old black man Charles McMillian. Mr. McMillian said he stopped his car when he saw police activity and got out to watch because he was “being nosey.” Mr. McMillian is the gentleman in the viral videos who encouraged Floyd to cooperate with police, telling Floyd that he couldn’t “win.”
The prosecution asked Mr. McMillian to review the video of himself witnessing the incident, and he broke down sobbing when Floyd started calling for his mother. He said that he had lost his own mother on June 25th, and he was so distraught that the lawyer asked for a break. The defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, did not cross examine Mr. McMillian.
The 11th witness was Lieutenant Jeff Rugel, a surveillance- and bodycam-video expert for the Minneapolis Police Department. During this portion of the trial, surveillance and bodycam footage from city-owned cameras on the street were entered into evidence, and jurors saw bodycam footage from the four arresting officers, including brief footage from Derek Chauvin’s own body camera, which fell off while he was struggling to get Floyd into the squad car.
Footage from all of the officers showed their struggle to get Floyd into the car. One officer, who was trying to get Floyd into the car from the door that opened toward the sidewalk, took care twice to keep Floyd’s head from bumping into the car as he tried to get Floyd to sit down. Floyd tried to get out of the car through the door facing the street, and kicked at Derek Chauvin and the other officer on that side. As Floyd tried to get out, he moved himself toward the ground, and an officer was heard saying, “Get him on the ground.” After Floyd was restrained on the ground, an officer is heard calling for an ambulance.
It was interesting to see footage of Officer James Alexander Kueng, a light-skinned black man, kneeling on Floyd right beside Chauvin, for the same length of time, not releasing Floyd until paramedics arrived. Later in the video, Mr. Chauvin looked concerned as he helped paramedics load Floyd into the ambulance.