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Minneapolis firefighter questioned in tense exchange during second day of Chauvin trial

Multiple witnesses who were on the scene when George Floyd died in police custody were questioned Tuesday.
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Multiple witnesses who were on the scene when George Floyd died in police custody were questioned on the second day of the trial of former Minneapolis Police Department officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, who knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes on May 25, is charged with third and second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Among the witnesses questioned Tuesday was Minneapolis firefighter and trained EMT Genevieve Hansen. Hansen testified that she arrived on the scene when Floyd was in custody while on a walk near 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis. Hansen also took a video of the incident.

Hansen stated that she identified herself to officers on the scene but was told by former MPD officer Tou Thao to stay out of the situation.

“He said something along the lines of, ‘If you were really a Minneapolis firefighter you would know not to get involved,’” Hansen said during questioning by the prosecution.

Thao, along with two other former MPD officers who were present, has been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.

Hansen said she wanted to provide Floyd medical assistance, stating she would have requested additional help and checked Floyd’s airway and pulse. But the officers would not allow her access to the scene or take direction from her, Hansen said during an emotional testimony.

“It didn’t take me long to realize he had an altered level of consciousness, and in our training that is the first sign that someone needs medical attention,” Hansen said. “My attention moved from Mr. Floyd to, ‘How can I gain access to this patient and give him medical attention or direct the officers?’”

Chauvin’s defense attorney, Eric Nelson, questioned Hansen on whether she’d be able to perform her duties as a firefighter if bystanders were filming or threatening her, having previously claimed earlier in the trial that Chauvin was distracted by the witnesses. Hansen said she would remain confident in her ability.

Nelson also questioned Hansen about the use of profanity by bystanders.

“I don't know if you've seen anybody be killed, but it's upsetting,” Hansen told Nelson.

After questioning between Hansen and Nelson became tense, Judge Peter Cahill excused the jury and pressed Hansen not to argue with Nelson or the court and ended her for the day. Hansen will continue to testify Wednesday.

Donald Wynn Williams II, who was also present at the scene, continued his testimony from Monday into Tuesday morning. 

Williams, who trains in mixed martial arts, described the position Chauvin had Floyd in as a “blood choke.”

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Nelson questioned Williams’ language and demeanor on the scene that was captured on video. Nelson pointed out language used by Williams including calling Chauvin “bogus” and a “bum.”

Williams pushed back, denying he was angry but rather that his language was “pleading for life.”

Witnesses questioned Tuesday also included multiple people who are or were juveniles at the time of the incident. That includes an 18-year-old woman identified as Darnella Frazier. Frazier took the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck that became widespread in the media worldwide.

Frazier said the video “changed” her life and told the prosecution that she spent the days following the incident “apologizing” to Floyd for not being able to help.

“When I look at George Floyd I look at my dad. I look at my cousins, my uncles. Because they are all Black,” Frazier said. “I look at how that could have been one of them.” 

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