MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It was an emotional first week of testimony in the Derek Chauvin trial, with at least 14 witnesses saying they knew George Floyd was dying on Memorial Day last summer.
Everyone seemed to know, except for the four officers, including Chauvin.READ MORE: Reporter’s Notebook: Jason DeRusha On Week 1 Of Derek Chauvin’s Trial
In opening statements, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury to believe what they see in the videos of what happened at East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020.
“Nine-two-nine. The three most important numbers in the case. Nine minutes and 29 seconds is how long [Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck],” Blackwell said. “You will see that he does not let up, and he does not get up.”
But defense attorney Eric Nelson sees the central question as cause of death.
“The use of force is not attractive, but it is a necessary component of policing,” Nelson said.
The first witness was Jena Scurry, the 911 dispatcher who watched through a city surveillance camera and alerted her supervisor.
“Something wasn’t right. I don’t know how to explain it. It was a gut instinct to tell me that now we can be concerned,” Scurry said.
Many of the first week’s witnesses said they felt guilt for not intervening, including Darnella Frazier, the young woman who recorded the video seen around the world.
“I’ve stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more,” Frazier said.
Witness after witness, including semi-professional mixed martial arts fighter Donald Williams, said it was clear what happened.
“I did call the police on the police,” Williams said. “Because I believe I witnessed a murder.”
The defense pressed each, trying to paint the crowd as agitated and angry.READ MORE: Derek Chauvin Trial: A Look At The Crucial Work Of The Court Reporter
“You called [Chauvin] a bum at last 13 times,” Nelson said.
“Is that what you count in the video?” Williams said.
“That’s what I counted,” Nelson said.
“Then that’s what you got, 13,” Williams said.
For the first time, we saw Floyd inside the Cup Foods, about the hour before he died. Nineteen-year-old cashier Christopher Martin said Floyd looked high when he gave him a $20 bill he thought was fake.
“If I would’ve just not taken the bill this could have been avoided,” Martin said.
And for the first time, we heard Chauvin’s voice, giving an explanation for what he did a witness.
“Got to control this guy because he’s a sizeable guy and it looks like he’s probably on something,” Chauvin said.
Floyd’s girlfriend at the time testified to the fact they used drugs together. Courteney Ross said she took him to the hospital in March for an overdose.
“It’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. We both suffered from chronic pain,” Ross said.
The most critical testimony came at the end of the week. Two fellow officers testified they thought Chauvin went too far, including homicide unit head Lt. Richard Zimmerman, the department’s most-senior officer.
“Totally unnecessary,” Zimmerman said. “Pulling him down to the ground face down and putting your knee on a neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for.”MORE NEWS: Derek Chauvin’s Trial Leaves Many Black Viewers Emotionally Taxed
The appropriate use of force is only part of the story. More law enforcement witnesses are expected to testify next week, as well as medical experts.