Derek Chauvin Trial Live Updates: First Witnesses Testify About George Floyd’s Death

The murder trial of the former police officer began in Minneapolis, 10 months after Mr. Floyd’s death set off protests across the nation.,

LiveUpdated March 29, 2021, 7:47 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 7:47 p.m. ET

The murder trial of the former police officer began in Minneapolis, 10 months after Mr. Floyd’s death set off protests across the nation.

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Chauvin Trial: Day 1 Key Moments

The murder trial for Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd, began on Monday in Minneapolis. The prosecution and defense focused on the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death and Mr. Chauvin’s use of force.

“You will see that his respiration gets shallower and shallower, and finally stops when he speaks his last words, ‘I can’t breathe.'” “So how do we begin to analyze and organize this evidence? I suggest that you let common sense and reason guide you.” “We have two objectives in this trial, ladies and gentlemen — the first objective is to give Mr. Chauvin a fair trial. And a second objective, ladies and gentlemen, is to bring you the evidence.” “The first thing that Officer Chauvin sees is Officers Kueng and Lane struggling with Mr. Floyd.” “Mr. Chauvin’s conduct was not consistent with Minneapolis Police Department training. Was not consistent with Minneapolis Police Department policy, was not reflective of the Minneapolis Police Department. We are bringing this case, this prosecution against Mr. Chauvin for the excessive force he applied on the body of Mr. George Floyd, for engaging in behavior that was imminently dangerous, and the force that he applied without regard for its impact on the life of Mr. George Floyd. So we learn here that Mr. Floyd, at some point, is completely passed out. Mr. Chauvin continues on as he had, knee on the neck, knee on the back. You will see he does not let up. And he does not get up.” “The first call, officers called for paramedics to arrive, Code 2, because Mr. Floyd had a nose injury. He was bleeding from the nose — that occurred during the struggle. Mr. Floyd banged his face into the plexiglass partition of the squad car. The evidence will show that Mr. Floyd died of a cardiac arrhythmia that occurred as a result of hypertension, coronary disease, the ingestion of methamphetamine and fentanyl and the adrenaline flowing through his body.”

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The murder trial for Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd, began on Monday in Minneapolis. The prosecution and defense focused on the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death and Mr. Chauvin’s use of force.CreditCredit…Kerem Yucel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
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March 29, 2021, 7:41 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 7:41 p.m. ET

The New York Times

Ten months after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis set off nationwide protests, the first day of the murder trial against former police officer Derek Chauvin drew interest from across the country.

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March 29, 2021, 7:22 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 7:22 p.m. ET
Prosecutors have relied on the video of George Floyd's death as the center of their case against Derek Chauvin.
Prosecutors have relied on the video of George Floyd’s death as the center of their case against Derek Chauvin. Credit…Jane Rosenberg/Reuters

Prosecutors in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin have so far relied heavily on the video that captured George Floyd’s death to prove their case. The defense’s best tool to minimize the impact of that video, which spurred the largest protests in the United States since the Civil Rights era, may be calling on Mr. Chauvin to testify, according to some legal experts.

Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s attorney, has yet to say whether his client will testify. But any defense attorney should be debating it, and it may be the best opportunity to dampen the impact of the video, according to Craig Futterman, a clinical law professor at the University of Chicago’s law school whose work helped uncover the video of Chicago police involved in the fatal shooting of Laquan McDonald in 2014.

“Criminal defense attorneys ask themselves this every day,” Mr. Futterman said. Jurors want to hear from defendants “particularly in cases like this to acquit. They need to hear from Chauvin and begin to empathize with him. That will be something that will be much more difficult without speaking to the jury.”

Mr. Nelson brought up the issue during jury selection, quizzing jurors on whether they understood that Mr. Chauvin is not required to testify and if they would hold it against him if they didn’t hear from him.

It’s not unusual for police to testify in cases in which they are accused of misconduct. Defense attorneys for Jason Van Dyke, the Chicago police officer who shot Mr. McDonald, had him testify in his 2018 trial. He was eventually convicted on a lesser charge of second-degree murder.

The defense wants to show that the case is much more than the video, and the most effective way to do so may be to have Mr. Chauvin testify, said David Rudovsky a fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s law school with 50 years of experience in civil rights, including cases tied to police misconduct.

“It’s far too early to predict,” Mr. Rudovsky said. Ultimately, Mr. Chauvin’s defense will have to decide whether the best way show to this wasn’t his fault is by having him testify. “Some jurors might want to hear that side of the story.”

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March 29, 2021, 7:20 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 7:20 p.m. ET
Witness Donald Williams testified today during the trial of George Floyd.
Witness Donald Williams testified today during the trial of George Floyd.Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

How exactly did George Floyd die? The opening statements on Monday at the trial of Derek Chauvin did little to clarify the matter.

The Hennepin County medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed the autopsy on Mr. Floyd, determined last year that his death was a homicide and the cause was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.”

That means that his heart stopped because his body was deprived of oxygen following obstructed blood flow. When starved for oxygen for too long, the heart can develop abnormal rhythms and stop beating entirely, or its cells may die, noted Dr. Brahmajee Nallamothu, a cardiologist at the University of Michigan.

(That is not the same as having a heart attack, in which blood flow in a coronary artery is blocked by a clot, resulting in the death of heart muscle.)

Mr. Floyd was said by the coroner to have had heart disease and high blood pressure, conditions that on their own may contribute to cardiac arrest. On Monday, Eric Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s defense attorney, argued that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by his underlying heart disease, use of fentanyl and “the adrenaline flowing through his body.”

But independent pathologists hired by Mr. Floyd’s family have said the cause of death was asphyxia, a simple loss of oxygen — implying that there were no underlying conditions that may have contributed. The prosecution on Monday argued that it was asphyxiation alone, not other factors, that killed Mr. Floyd, and that Mr. Chauvin was solely responsible.

As medical experts are called into the courtroom, they are likely to be asked this: Was it asphyxiation or blocked blood flow that killed Mr. Floyd, or did something more complicated happen as Mr. Chauvin knelt on his neck? Though it may seem arcane, even irrelevant, much of the trial may hang on the answer.

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March 29, 2021, 6:07 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 6:07 p.m. ET
Prosecutor Jerry W. Blackwell emphasized the importance of the video during the trial Monday.
Prosecutor Jerry W. Blackwell emphasized the importance of the video during the trial Monday.Credit…Court TV still image via Reuters

One of the most closely watched court cases in decades got underway on Monday as the murder trial began for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is being charged with murder in the death of George Floyd.

A long day in court began with the prosecution’s opening remarks, focusing the jury’s attention on the bystander video of Mr. Floyd’s death — all nine minutes and 29 seconds of it — and ended with the testimony of a mixed martial arts fighter who was on the scene and said he believed Mr. Chauvin was killing Mr. Floyd. In between, the defense laid out its theory of the case, vowing to prove over the course of the trial that Mr. Floyd died of a drug overdose and heart condition.

Here’s what happened.

  • The trial began with opening statements from both sides, laying the groundwork for both teams as they make their case to the jury pool. Prosecuting attorney Jerry W. Blackwell aimed to focus the jurors’ attention on the famous video of Mr. Floyd’s arrest, which sparked a wave of protests across the country this summer. The video, taken by a bystander, showed Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck, where he remained for about 9 minutes and 30 seconds. “You can believe your eyes, that it’s homicide — it’s murder,” Mr. Blackwell said, adding that the trial was “about Derek Chauvin,” not the police in general.

  • Defense attorneys for Mr. Chauvin laid out their strategy as well — one that will ask jurors to consider heaps of evidence outside of the video itself. Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Mr. Chauvin, said there are more than 50,000 items in evidence and told jurors that the case “is clearly more than about 9 minutes and 29 seconds.”

  • The state also made clear another point: that Mr. Floyd’s exact cause of death will prove to be one of the most crucial points of this trial. In its opening statement, the defense said it would call seven medical experts, in addition to the Hennepin County medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, who performed the only autopsy on Mr. Floyd and classified it as a homicide.

  • Witnesses, including a cashier at a gas station across the street who filmed the encounter and a 911 dispatcher, also described their actions during the time that Mr. Floyd was arrested. “My instincts were telling me that something’s wrong,” said Jena Scurry, the 911 dispatcher, who alerted a supervising sergeant about what was happening. But she was circumspect about what exactly she thought was wrong; she said she thought officers may have needed reinforcements.

  • Outside the courthouse, the amount of public interest in the trial was laid bare, as protesters gathered and a helicopter whirled overhead. Temporary concrete and metal barricades encircled some of the government buildings downtown, while national guard members and state police officers stood by. Ben Crump, a lawyer for Mr. Floyd’s family, told supporters on Monday that “the whole world is watching.”

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March 29, 2021, 6:05 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 6:05 p.m. ET
Judge Peter A. Cahill adjourned today’s trial early, saying that there had been a “major technical glitch”.Credit…Court TV still image, via Reuters

The judge overseeing Derek Chauvin’s murder trial made history last year when he said he would allow television cameras to stream the trial live, a first in Minnesota history. But on Monday afternoon, the feed failed, bringing an abrupt end to the first day of one of the most anticipated criminal trials in recent memory.

The television feed is provided to news outlets by Court TV, which won approval from the judge to exclusively operate the cameras inside the courtroom by noting its history of doing so in other trials. For several weeks of jury selection, the broadcast largely went on without a problem, but at about 4:30 p.m. Central on Monday, the stream showed only multicolored bars and played a loud beeping sound.

Judge Peter A. Cahill adjourned the trial early, saying that there had been a “major technical glitch” and that it was important for the trial not to proceed until the cameras were working, in part because Covid precautions had forced there to be fewer people — including family members of George Floyd and Mr. Chauvin — in the courtroom itself.

Witness testimony will resume at 9:30 Central on Tuesday morning with Donald Williams II, the mixed martial arts fighter who witnessed George Floyd’s arrest and who was testifying when the feed cut out.

“Have a good night and don’t watch the news,” Judge Cahill told the jurors before he adjourned.

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March 29, 2021, 5:59 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:59 p.m. ET
In a still image from court video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis on Monday.
In a still image from court video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis on Monday.Credit…Still image via Court TV

As Derek Chauvin’s trial began, signs of the ongoing pandemic were evident in the courtroom: a bottle of hand sanitizer on the witness stand, masked lawyers and a severely limited in-person audience.

Among the people allowed in the courtroom, on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center, were the judge, jurors, witnesses, court staff, lawyers and Mr. Chauvin, and only a handful of spectators.

The judge, Peter A. Cahill, wrote in an order on March 1 that only one member of George Floyd’s family and one member of Mr. Chauvin’s family would be allowed in the room at any time. On Monday, the seat for Mr. Floyd’s family was occupied by Philonise Floyd, his brother. The seat for Mr. Chauvin’s family remained empty, as it did during jury selection.

Two seats reserved for reporters and various journalists, including from The New York Times, will rotate throughout the trial.

Lawyers, spectators, jurors and witnesses are required to wear masks when they are not speaking. Spectators are prohibited from having any visible images, logos, letters or numbers on their masks or clothing, according to Judge Cahill’s order. On Monday the jurors wore a variety of masks, including blue paper masks and an N95. Several wore solid black cloth masks and one juror used a pink one.

The prosecution and defense spoke from behind plexiglass barriers, removing their masks during opening arguments and when they questioned witnesses. The defendant followed the proceedings from behind a blue face covering. The witnesses from the first day, including Alisha Oyler, Jena Scurry and Donald Williams, did not wear masks while being questioned.

Sidebars between the judge and attorneys took place over remote headsets, to ensure social distance between the parties.

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March 29, 2021, 5:56 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:56 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

As he adjourned the first day of the trial, Judge Cahill told the jurors: “Have a good night, and don’t watch the news.”

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March 29, 2021, 5:42 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:42 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

The judge has adjourned the trial until tomorrow. “We had a major technical glitch here,” Judge Peter A. Cahill said.

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March 29, 2021, 5:44 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:44 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Witness testimony will resume tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. Central with Donald Williams, the mixed martial arts fighter who witnessed George Floyd’s arrest.

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March 29, 2021, 5:32 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:32 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Court TV is operating the only live feed from inside the courtroom, and it appears that it has gone dark. It’s unclear what is happening in the courtroom right now, but there are two reporters in the room who will likely fill us in. It’s possible the judge has paused the trial while the television crew fixes the feed.

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March 29, 2021, 5:20 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:20 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The judge just told the jury to disregard Mr. Williams’s statement that he felt Mr. Chauvin was “shimmying to actually get the final choke in while he was on top, to get the kill choke.” Mr. Williams is allowed to talk about fighting moves, including chokes and shimmies, but not to speculate as to whether they were fatal in this case.

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March 29, 2021, 5:16 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:16 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Donald Williams is the most opinionated of the three witnesses to testify so far. He just said on the stand that what the police did to George Floyd was “torture.” It will be interesting to see how Derek Chauvin’s lawyer approaches questioning him.

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March 29, 2021, 5:11 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:11 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

During opening arguments, the defense said that Mr. Chauvin used his knees to pin Mr. Floyd’s left shoulder blade, back and right arm. But the photo that the prosecutors are showing the witness seems to show the officer on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

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March 29, 2021, 5:07 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:07 p.m. ET

The New York Times

George Floyd’s family, his attorney and demonstrators from across the United States gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis Monday and called for justice as the trial of Derek Chauvin got underway. The former police officer is accused of killing Mr. Floyd.

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March 29, 2021, 5:06 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:06 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

They’re using a lot of technology in this trial — the witnesses have a touch screen, and they can draw with a digital pen to indicate where on a map or a photo they were standing.

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March 29, 2021, 5:07 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 5:07 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Mr. Williams, the current witness, is marking an image of the street to show where he was watching and where Mr. Floyd was lying.

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March 29, 2021, 4:49 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:49 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Mr. Williams is testifying about how many law enforcement officers train at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy, where he also trains. On the bystander video, he says repeatedly that he went to “the academy” with police officers and that they should know the dangers of what they are doing.

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March 29, 2021, 4:45 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:45 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

According to one fighting website, Mr. Williams’s pro record is six wins, six losses. And his nickname is “the Deathwish.”

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March 29, 2021, 4:45 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:45 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Donald Williams II, 33, is the third witness called by prosecutors. His testimony follows that of two other witnesses — a 911 dispatcher and a cashier who was working across the street — and indicates that the prosecutors are trying to put jurors at the scene, in a sense.

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March 29, 2021, 4:39 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:39 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The next witness, Donald Williams, is a mixed martial arts fighter who can be heard on eyewitness video berating the police while they pinned George Floyd, telling them Mr. Floyd was not breathing and calling them bums.

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March 29, 2021, 4:42 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:42 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The defense wanted to bar him from testifying about his fight training, saying it was prejudicial and irrelevant. But the judge ruled he could testify about why he thought the officers had Mr. Floyd in a “blood choke,” and why he thought that was dangerous.

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March 29, 2021, 4:37 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:37 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Derek Chauvin’s lawyer concluded his questioning of Alisha Oyler by asking about the growing crowd of bystanders that formed as Mr. Chauvin was kneeling on George Floyd. He seems to be setting up an argument that the angry crowd may have affected Mr. Chauvin’s actions in some way.

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March 29, 2021, 4:28 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:28 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

The trial has resumed after a short break, and Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Derek Chauvin, is questioning Alisha Oyler, 23, who was working at a gas station across the street on the day George Floyd was arrested and took a video of the scene — although not the one seen ’round the world.

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March 29, 2021, 4:22 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:22 p.m. ET
A sign marking the north entrance to George Floyd Square in Minneapolis.
A sign marking the north entrance to George Floyd Square in Minneapolis.Credit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

The trial of Derek Chauvin is taking place in a courtroom in the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis, less than five miles from the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, where George Floyd died.

The Hennepin County Government Center, a 24-story building made up of two interconnected towers, houses civil, criminal, housing, probate, mental health and traffic courts proceedings for the Fourth Judicial District in Minnesota. The district contains the largest trial court in the state and has 63 judges who handle about 40 percent of all cases filed in Minnesota.

Inside the courtroom, precautions have been taken because of the coronavirus pandemic. Visitors are required to wear face coverings and to maintain social distancing. Each day, two reporters are allowed to sit in on Mr. Chauvin’s trial, on a rotating basis. The lawyers remain behind plexiglass for the proceedings.

A few miles away, the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue has been renamed George Floyd Square. The area has seen an increase in violence over the past year. In the four surrounding neighborhoods — Powderhorn Park, Central, Bryant and Bancroft — violent crime shot up by 66 percent last year, according to statistics from the Minneapolis Police Department.

Signs around the area call it “the free state of George Floyd.”

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March 29, 2021, 4:13 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:13 p.m. ET
A protester outside the Hennepin County Government Center before the trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin began on Monday in Minneapolis.
A protester outside the Hennepin County Government Center before the trial of the former police officer Derek Chauvin began on Monday in Minneapolis.Credit…Kerem Yucel/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

As the trial of Derek Chauvin began on Monday, local news channels were airing gavel-to-gavel coverage, while groups of protesters gathered on the streets demanding justice.

At the intersection in South Minneapolis where George Floyd died that is now known as George Floyd Square, people sat around a bonfire, discussing what would be unfolding a few miles away in the courtroom where Mr. Chauvin, the former police officer charged with murder in Mr. Floyd’s death, is on trial.

One woman said the value of Black life was on trial.

“Whiteness is on trial,” another woman shot back. “I am tired of Black bodies being the fulcrum of change in this country.”

It was a subdued gathering, with people drinking coffee that had been offered. Some people watched the proceedings from the trial on their phones. Others were walking through the memorial, some taking photos and selfies.

Before the trial began, members of Mr. Floyd’s family joined the Rev. Al Sharpton and Ben Crump, a lawyer for their family, for a news conference and protest outside the courthouse, taking a knee for over nine minutes in recognition of the approximate amount of time that Mr. Chauvin knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck that day in May.

On Sunday night, the family had gathered for a prayer vigil at a church, placing the trial in the context of America’s long history of racism. Mr. Crump called the trial “a seminal moment in American history.”

“I believe in my heart of hearts,” he said, “that George Floyd will achieve something rare that most Black families never achieve in America and that is full justice.”

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March 29, 2021, 4:10 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:10 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

What we probably will not see in this trial is video of what happened after Mr. Floyd was put inside the ambulance. Thomas Lane, one of the rookie officers on the scene, got inside, and minutes went by before anyone tried to revive Mr. Floyd, as seen on Mr. Lane’s bodycam.

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March 29, 2021, 4:15 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:15 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

I’m guessing we won’t see it in this trial because Mr. Chauvin did not get inside the ambulance, and the other officers, including Lane, will stand trial separately.

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March 29, 2021, 4:09 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:09 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Prosecutors finished their questioning of Alisha Oyler, 23, who filmed the scene of George Floyd’s arrest from across the street. The court is taking a short break until 3:25 Central, after which Derek Chauvin’s lawyer will have a chance to question Ms. Oyler.

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March 29, 2021, 4:15 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:15 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

It’s very unclear what benefit the prosecutors got out of putting Alisha Oyler on the stand.

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March 29, 2021, 4:02 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 4:02 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Prosecutors are showing a video that Alisha Oyler, the current witness, recorded from across the street as an ambulance arrived to the scene where George Floyd was being arrested. They’re playing it alongside surveillance video.

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March 29, 2021, 3:37 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:37 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Are all Midwestern trials like this? I haven’t heard a single objection today. There was maybe one during jury selection. Everyone is incredibly civil.

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March 29, 2021, 3:38 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:38 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

This may be because the judge made it clear in advance what he will and won’t allow witnesses to bring up.

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March 29, 2021, 3:37 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:37 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Unlike the 911 operator who testified first, the current witness, Alisha Oyler, seems very nervous about testifying. She’s 23 years old and just happened to be working as a cashier across the street when George Floyd was arrested — now she’s the second witness in a trial being streamed around the world.

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March 29, 2021, 3:29 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:29 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Handling this next witness for the state is Steve Schleicher, another of the prosecution’s outside lawyers working pro-bono. Mr. Schleicher, a former prosecutor who worked on organized crime and racketeering cases, handled jury selection for the state, often smiling and talking in a friendly, conversational manner.

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March 29, 2021, 3:29 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:29 p.m. ET
Judge Peter A. Cahill ordered that the Derek Chauvin trial be televised, a first in Minnesota, because of limited public courtroom access during the pandemic.
Judge Peter A. Cahill ordered that the Derek Chauvin trial be televised, a first in Minnesota, because of limited public courtroom access during the pandemic.Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

Judge Peter A. Cahill is a 14-year veteran of the bench in Hennepin County. He has previously worked as a public defender, private defense lawyer and prosecutor, rising to become chief deputy under Amy Klobuchar, now a U.S. senator, when she served as the county attorney.

He has so far won praise in Derek Chauvin’s trial. He kept jury selection on schedule despite obstacles like the city’s announcement of a $27 million settlement with George Floyd’s estate, which raised fears that the jury would be swayed, and an appellate court’s ruling on the charges against Mr. Chauvin. Over the prosecution’s objections, Judge Cahill ordered that the trial be televised, a first in Minnesota, because public access to the courtroom was limited by the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a lengthy 2015 decision, Judge Cahill dismissed charges against the organizers of a large Black Lives Matter rally at the Mall of America, saying the demonstration had been peaceful. In 2019, he gave a prominent ice skating coach 24 years — near the maximum sentence — for child sexual abuse, saying the coach’s apologies “ring hollow” and criticizing him for portraying the abuse as an extramarital affair. In 2016, he sentenced a man who killed three people when he was 16 years old to 90 years in prison.

As a prosecutor, he argued against a State Supreme Court ruling that limited police officers’ ability to question and search motorists without a reasonable suspicion of criminal activity.

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March 29, 2021, 3:27 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:27 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Both sides have finished questioning a 911 operator, and the prosecutors just called the trial’s second witness: Alisha Oyler, 23, who worked at a gas station across the street from Cup Foods, where George Floyd was arrested.

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March 29, 2021, 3:16 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:16 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Derek Chauvin’s lawyer finished questioning Jena Scurry, the 911 dispatcher, by noting that she had said, in a call with a police supervisor at the time, that she did not know whether the police had used force or not. Now Matthew Frank, one of the prosecutors, is returning to the podium to ask her several questions on “redirect.”

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March 29, 2021, 3:12 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:12 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The defense lawyer is using this video to emphasize that the squad car was rocking back and forth, as evidence that a struggle was happening inside.

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March 29, 2021, 3:07 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:07 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Eric Nelson, the lawyer for Derek Chauvin, is hammering home the point that Jena Scurry, the 911 operator, does not have the same training as a police officer and may not be as qualified to judge whether their actions were in line with their training.

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March 29, 2021, 3:08 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 3:08 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

“You, not being a Minneapolis Police officer, are not familiar with the use-of-force requirements, correct?” Mr. Nelson asked. Ms. Scurry agreed.

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March 29, 2021, 2:57 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 2:57 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

Ms. Scurry said she heard a loud noise in the background over the radio and decided on her own to call in backup, which brought Mr. Chauvin and his partner to the scene. The first officers at Cup Foods, responding to the call that Mr. Floyd had passed a fake $20 bill, did not ask for backup themselves.

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March 29, 2021, 2:50 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 2:50 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Over the break we learned from the pool reporters in the courtroom that Philonise Floyd, George’s brother, is in the Floyd family seat in court. The seat reserved for a family member of Mr. Chauvin is unoccupied, as it was throughout jury selection.

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March 29, 2021, 2:48 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 2:48 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

Jena Scurry, the 911 operator who saw the police pin George Floyd via surveillance cameras, said she had only watched surveillance footage of police responding to a call a handful of times. Derek Chauvin’s lawyer could highlight that to try to make a case that she does not have expertise in determining whether or not the police acted appropriately.

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March 29, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 2:34 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

The trial has resumed after breaking for lunch. Eric Nelson, the lawyer for former officer Derek Chauvin, is now beginning to question Jena Scurry, a 911 operator, after the prosecution finished questioning her.

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March 29, 2021, 2:22 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 2:22 p.m. ET
From Minneapolis city surveillance video, Minneapolis police are seen attempting to take George Floyd into custody on May 25, 2020.
From Minneapolis city surveillance video, Minneapolis police are seen attempting to take George Floyd into custody on May 25, 2020.Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

A 911 dispatcher who watched the police pin George Floyd to the ground on a surveillance camera said in court on Monday that the restraint went on for so long that she asked someone if her “screens had frozen.”

The dispatcher, Jena Scurry, was the first witness called to testify in the trial of Derek Chauvin, who has been charged with murder in Mr. Floyd’s death in Minneapolis. A prosecutor questioned her for about an hour before jurors took a break for lunch. When they return at around 1:30 Central time, Ms. Scurry will be questioned by Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer.

Ms. Scurry said that as she watched a video feed of the police pinning Mr. Floyd to the ground outside the Cup Foods convenience store in May, she grew so concerned that she called her supervisor, a police sergeant, to let him know what she was seeing.

“My instincts were telling me that something’s wrong,” she testified in court. But Ms. Scurry was circumspect about what exactly she thought was wrong, saying that she thought the officers might need reinforcements at the scene.

Her call to the supervising sergeant was released by the City of Minneapolis in June, but the public had never heard directly from Ms. Scurry or known her identity. She began that call by saying, “You can call me a snitch if you want to,” a line she explained in court on Monday by saying that it had been “out of the scope” of her duties to call a sergeant on a use-of-force issue.

Prosecutors are most likely hoping that jurors will see her concern as a sign that Mr. Chauvin had done something unusual and inappropriate when he restrained Mr. Floyd by kneeling on his neck for about 9 minutes and 30 seconds. Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, is expected to argue that Mr. Chauvin had acted within the bounds of his training.

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March 29, 2021, 2:20 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 2:20 p.m. ET
O.J. Simpson and one of his defense lawyers, F. Lee Bailey, left, consulting with each other during Mr. Simpson's double-murder trial in Los Angeles in June 1995.
O.J. Simpson and one of his defense lawyers, F. Lee Bailey, left, consulting with each other during Mr. Simpson’s double-murder trial in Los Angeles in June 1995.Credit…Pool image by Reed Saxon

There are some echoes between O.J. Simpson’s celebrated murder trial, which seemed to bring America to a standstill in 1995, and the widely covered proceedings that are underway on Monday at a courthouse in Minneapolis.

Defendants who have become household names. Court TV and numerous other media outlets broadcasting the cases live into homes across America.

But few expect anywhere near as much attention surrounding the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer facing charges in the killing of a Black man, George Floyd.

The reason has little to do with the legal issues at stake. Rather, celebrity was widely seen as the catalyst for the national fascination with the legal drama involving Mr. Simpson, a former football player and actor who was accused — and ultimately found not guilty — of killing his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson and her friend Ron Goldman.

“This trial is an issue trial, a very important issue trial,” Laurie L. Levenson, a former federal prosecutor who teaches criminal law at Loyola Law School, said of Mr. Chauvin’s trial. “People went to the streets over this case. But there’s not a celebrity defendant. There are not celebrity lawyers.”

It is, of course, too early to know whether this trial will have any of the dramatic courtroom moments of the Simpson case, such as when a bloody glove introduced as evidence did not appear to fit on Mr. Simpson’s hand and Johnnie Cochran, one of his lawyers, declared, “If it doesn’t fit, you must acquit.”

In some ways, Ms. Levenson said, Mr. Chauvin’s trial is more similar to an earlier Los Angeles-area trial from the 1990s, that of the white officers who beat another Black motorist, Rodney King. But those proceedings were not televised. The verdict — not guilty for the officers — prompted residents of South Los Angeles to pour into the streets in anger in April 1992.

Ms. Levinson became a household name during the Simpson trial, sitting through months of testimony and providing analysis at night on CBS.

“I’ll be tuning in and out,” she said midway through the proceedings on Monday. “It was important for me to hear the opening statements, and nothing I heard surprised me. I don’t know that I’ll listen to every moment. I doubt I’ll be glued to my set.”

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March 29, 2021, 2:10 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 2:10 p.m. ET

By The New York Times

Crowds of protesters gathered outside the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on Monday as opening arguments began in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the killing of George Floyd in May. Ben Crump, a lawyer for Mr. Floyd’s family, addressed the news media outside the barricaded courthouse.

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March 29, 2021, 1:29 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:29 p.m. ET

Will Wright

Reporting from New York

The court is taking its lunch break. The trial will resume at 1:30 Central.

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March 29, 2021, 1:29 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:29 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

This call was released months ago, but this is the first time the public has heard directly from Ms. Scurry. She explained the “snitch” line on the stand just now by saying it had been “out of the scope of” her duties to call a sergeant on a use-of-force issue.

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March 29, 2021, 1:26 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:26 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

When Jena Scurry, the 911 dispatcher, called the police officers’ sergeant to alert them to the officers’ use of force, she began by saying, “You can call me a snitch if you want to.”

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March 29, 2021, 1:27 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:27 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

She is being quite circumspect on the stand, though, testifying that one possibility was simply that the officers on the scene needed reinforcements.

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March 29, 2021, 1:21 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:21 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The 911 dispatcher is testifying that the restraint of Mr. Floyd went on for so long that she asked if the video had frozen. “My instincts were telling me that something’s wrong,” she said.

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March 29, 2021, 1:23 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:23 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

She says it was that “gut instinct” that led her to call a police sergeant who was a supervisor for the officers at the scene.

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March 29, 2021, 1:19 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:19 p.m. ET

Will Wright

Reporting from New York

At the center of the video being shown to jurors is the sign for “Cup Foods,” the grocery store that became adorned with bouquets, banners and other memorials in the weeks after George Floyd’s death. A mural of Mr. Floyd’s face was painted on the walls outside.

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March 29, 2021, 1:15 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:15 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

The prosecution filed a motion today asking the court to allow four witnesses who were minors at the time of George Floyd’s death to give their testimony without it being broadcast to the public. Notably, one of the witnesses is Darnella Frazier, who took the famous bystander video. She was 17 at the time.

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March 29, 2021, 1:17 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:17 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

The judge has already indicated that he leans against granting requests like these, at least for the witnesses who are now adults, saying that video or at least audio feeds are the only practical way to make this trial public during a pandemic, when the number of people in the courtoom must be limited.

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March 29, 2021, 1:13 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:13 p.m. ET

Shaila Dewan

Reporting from Minneapolis

Now the 911 dispatcher is being asked to watch the surveillance camera video of the Floyd arrest and explain what she saw.

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March 29, 2021, 1:14 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:14 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

The prosecution hopes her narration of what she saw could resonate with the jurors. She is one of only a handful of people, including the other police officers and bystanders, who saw the arrest of George Floyd as it happened.

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March 29, 2021, 1:05 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 1:05 p.m. ET

Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs

Reporting from New York

After the burst of opening arguments from both sides, prosecutors are now walking through each line of the 911 call with a dispatcher.

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March 29, 2021, 12:56 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 12:56 p.m. ET
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The ‘World Is Watching’: Sharpton, Crump Speak Before Chauvin Trial

The civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, and Ben Crump, a lawyer for George Floyd’s family, held a news conference in Minneapolis on the first day of the trial for Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing Mr. Floyd.

“Chauvin is in the courtroom, but America is on trial. America is on trial to see if we have gotten to the place where we can hold police accountable if they break the law. The law is for everybody. Policemen are not above the law. Policemen are subject to the law. And that’s what’s going on in this courtroom. And that’s why we’re here.” “George Floyd galvanized cities all across America, and all across the world, when that video, that video of torture was viewed millions and millions of times. So, America, this is the moment. This is the moment to show the rest of the world that you are the standard bearer when it comes to liberty and justice for all — the whole world is watching.”

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The civil rights activist Rev. Al Sharpton, and Ben Crump, a lawyer for George Floyd’s family, held a news conference in Minneapolis on the first day of the trial for Derek Chauvin, the former police officer accused of killing Mr. Floyd.CreditCredit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

The Rev. Al Sharpton and Ben Crump, a lawyer for George Floyd’s family, told supporters on Monday, just as witnesses began to give testimony during the trial, that the world was focused on the case of the former police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of Mr. Floyd.

“America is on trial to see if we have gotten to the place where we can hold police accountable if they break the law,” the reverend, a longtime civil rights activist, said outside the Hennepin County Courthouse. “The law is for everybody. Policemen are not above the law. Policemen are subject to the law, and that’s what’s going on in this courtroom.”

Mr. Crump said the trial would be a moment for America to show the rest of the world that it remained the “standard-bearer when it comes to liberty and justice for all.”

“George Floyd galvanized cities all across America, and all across the world, when that video, that video of torture was viewed millions and millions of times,” Mr. Crump said. “The whole world is watching.”

Mr. Crump was among the lawyers who represented Mr. Floyd’s relatives in their lawsuit against the City of Minneapolis. This month, the city agreed to pay $27 million to the family, a settlement that is one of the largest of its kind.

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March 29, 2021, 12:51 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 12:51 p.m. ET

Timothy Arango

Reporting from Minneapolis

When the attorneys want to discuss something out of earshot of the jury, the court turns on white noise, and the lawyers put on headphones and talk about whatever issue has come up.

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March 29, 2021, 12:46 p.m. ETMarch 29, 2021, 12:46 p.m. ET
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911 Operator Recounts Watching Floyd Arrest Unfold

Jena Scurry, the first witness in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, recalled on Monday watching live surveillance footage of officers pinning George Floyd to the ground.

This is what you mean by them having him on the ground? Correct I was in and out of looking at this screen and then my work. And at some point then did you go back to this and did it how did it appear at that time when you went back to it? It had not changed. And what do you mean by that? They were still on the ground. The whole situation was still the same. What did you think about this when you looked back and saw that it hadn’t changed? I first asked if the screens had frozen. Why did you ask that? Because it hadn’t changed. And did you find that it had frozen? No, I was told that it was not frozen. Did you see the screen change yourself? Yes, I saw the persons was moving. So I wanted to start thinking at that point? Something might be wrong. Why? We don’t get these videos often or, you know, video at all unless it’s looking at the bridge or just looking at people walking. We very rarely get incidents where police are actively on a scene and they had changed. They had come from the back of the squad to the ground. And my instincts were telling me that something’s wrong, something was not right. I don’t know what, but something wasn’t right. In what ways was not. Were you thinking that something was not right? It was an extended period of time. Again, I can’t tell you the exact amount of time. And they hadn’t told me that they needed any more resources. It’s a multitude of different things that ran through my brain. But I became concerned that something might be wrong. And what did you decide to do? I took that instinct. And I called the Sergeant.

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Jena Scurry, the first witness in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, recalled on Monday watching live surveillance footage of officers pinning George Floyd to the ground.CreditCredit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

The first witness to take the stand in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin on Monday was Jena Scurry, a 911 dispatcher in Minneapolis who alerted a police supervisor in May after she watched officers pin George Floyd to the ground live on a surveillance camera.

Seemingly concerned by the officers’ actions, she had called the supervisor to say that officers “sat on this man” and asked whether they had notified the supervisor that they had used force.

“You can call me a snitch if you want to,” she said before relaying what she saw on the cameras by Cup Foods, the convenience store outside of which Mr. Floyd was arrested.

Prosecutors called Ms. Scurry to the stand, and they will most likely use her testimony to make a case that even Ms. Scurry, who works with law enforcement, was worried about how officers were treating Mr. Floyd. In his opening statement, Jerry W. Blackwell, one of the prosecutors, said Ms. Scurry had done something “she had never done in her career: She called the police on the police.”

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