Chauvin trial Day 2 takeaways: “I believe I witnessed a murder.”

By: - March 31, 2021 9:00 am

Genevieve Hansen, testifying in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, charged with murder and manslaughter in the May 25 death of George Floyd, continued Tuesday, with testimony from six witnesses. 

Here are six takeaways from the trial Tuesday: 

Vocal witness: “I wasn’t being heard” 

Donald Williams II, a mixed martial arts fighter and the most vocal bystander on the scene, said he wanted to intervene because he felt Floyd was in danger, but “I was totally scared for my safety and people around me.”

After Floyd’s lifeless body was taken away by ambulance, he called 911.

“I did call the police on the police,” he testified. “I believe I witnessed a murder.”

He admitted to calling Chauvin and the three other officers obscenities and “bums” at least 13 times.

Asked why he called them names, Williams said, “Because I wasn’t being heard.”

The girl whose video went viral

The jury also heard from Darnella Frazier, 18, who happened upon the scene while walking with her 9-year-old cousin to Cup Foods to get snacks.

One of the first to witness the incident, Frazier began recording with her cell phone almost immediately. That video would go viral, sparking protests worldwide.

“It wasn’t right,” she testified. “He was suffering. He was in pain.”

Frazier began to cry when she identified Chauvin — who must stand and take off his mask when witnesses identify him — in the courtroom.

“He had this cold look — heartless,” she said. “He didn’t care.”

She said she’s stayed up nights “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting – not saving his life.”

She also added, “It’s not what I should have done; it’s what he (Chauvin) should have done.”

9-year-old witness

Dressed in a blue jean jacket and pink hoodie with her hair in braids, Frazier’s 9-year-old cousin Judeah Reynolds testified.

Reynolds didn’t seem to realize Chauvin was in the courtroom until he stood up and took off his mask, which seemed to shock her.

“The ambulance had to push him off (Floyd),” she recalled. “They asked him nicely to get off him… He still stayed on.”

Reynolds said it made her feel “sad and kind of mad.”

“It felt like it was stopping his breathing and it was hurting him,” she said.

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, chose not to cross-examine her.

Reynolds is reportedly writing a children’s book about the experience.

Two teen friends testify 

Alyssa Funari, 18, testified about driving to Cup Foods to get snacks and arriving to find officers holding Floyd on the ground.

Funari recorded the incident with her friend’s cell phone, and yelled at the cops to get off Floyd, saying he hadn’t moved in a minute and “His eyes were closed and he was just laying there, no longer fighting or resisting.”

“At that point, I kinda knew that he was dead or not breathing,” she said.

The girl said she hasn’t been to Cup Foods since. “I don’t wanna be reminded,” she said. 

Her friend, Kaylynn Gilbert, 17, also testified about what she saw.

Off-duty firefighter spars with Chauvin’s attorney

The most bracing testimony so far came from Genevieve Hansen, a 27-year-old Minneapolis firefighter who chanced upon the scene while on a walk. 

She urged the police officers to check Floyd’s pulse and became increasingly upset when they did not appear to do so.

She said she was immediately concerned because it appeared the officers were putting their full weight on Floyd, who was handcuffed, wasn’t moving and had a puffy, swollen face and fluid coming from his body.

Officer Tou Thao — who kept onlookers at bay — didn’t seem to believe her at first when she told him she was a paramedic. She said he told her if she really was a Minneapolis firefighter, then she “should know better than to get involved.” 

When they wouldn’t let her help, she said she felt “totally distressed,” breaking down on the witness stand.

She questioned why firefighters weren’t dispatched, since there is a station a couple of blocks away. After Floyd was gone, firefighters showed up and went to Cup Foods looking for the victim. 

She said that was “totally abnormal” and called the situation “unique for there to be that much miscommunication.”

She admitted to calling officers “a bitch,” saying, “I got quite angry after Mr. Floyd was loaded into the ambulance and there was no point in trying to reason with them anymore because they had just killed somebody.”

Judge Peter Cahill warned her to stop elaborating beyond the questions being asked. When she persisted, Cahill had the jury leave the room and admonished her not to argue with him or the defense attorney and just answer the questions without volunteering additional information. 

He then excused her for the day. She returns to finish testifying Wednesday morning.

Don’t take photos on the 18th floor

At the end of the day, Judge Cahill called into the courtroom a woman from whom deputies had seized a phone because she was taking photos near the elevator outside the courtroom, which is against the judge’s rules.

The woman said her name was Rachel Jackson, but has been identified as publicist Kelley Jackson elsewhere. She said she was “keeping the press off of” Darnella Frazier and “not allowing her to do interviews” and merely snapped photos of Frazier talking to Attorney General Keith Ellison “just to memorialize for her” — not for public consumption. 

The judge made her delete the photos before giving her phone back and adjourning for the day.

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Deena Winter
Deena Winter

Deena Winter is a freelance journalist who has covered state and local government in four states over the past three decades.