Jerry Blackwell, a prosecutor in the case, said during his opening statement earlier that Chauvin, who kneeled on Floyd’s neck, did not “let up” or “get up” for about nine minutes and 30 seconds. That’s longer than the eight minutes and 46 seconds previously reported. Blackwell played video of the disturbing arrest in court. “You can believe your eyes, that it’s homicide—it’s murder,” he said.
The attorney told the jury Chauvin was told Floyd didn’t have a pulse, and the officer still didn’t get off of Floyd’s neck.
Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson, however, said there are more than 50,000 pieces of evidence indicating there was much more to that incident than Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, the Times reported. Nelson blamed Floyd’s death on an underlying heart condition, fentanyl use, and “the adrenaline flowing through his body.”
“This was not an easy struggle,” Nelson said during his opening statement. Alisha Oyler, a gas station worker who filmed the encounter on a cell phone, testified that she didn’t see Floyd resist when the officers carried him across the street to the squad car.
Witness Donald Williams, testified that on a break from preparing fish he caught earlier in the day, he wanted to stop at Cup Foods to get something to drink when he noticed two squad cars. He decided not to go inside the store because he said “the energy was off.” He heard voices from people he didn’t know saying “You should let him up, he’s not resisting arrest.”
Williams, who was being questioned as a mixed martial arts expert, said he sat outside the store observing. He heard someone say “quit resisting arrest” and George begging police to let him up, telling them he couldn’t breathe and to call his mom.
In the viral screenshot of Chauvin looking up and away from Floyd, Williams said the cop was looking at him. He had accused Chauvin of conducting a “blood choke.” “When I said it, he acknowledged it,” Williams said of Chauvin. He later went into great detail describing the type of chokehold used on Floyd. The expert detailed “shimmying to actually get the final choke in while he was on top, to get the kill choke,” and Judge Peter Cahill instructed the jury to disregard what he said because Williams wasn’t allowed to make claims that Chauvin’s actions were fatal, The New York Times reported.
Williams described former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao as “the dictator” on the scene who controlled the crowd, and at one point said, “This is what drugs do to you,” in reference to Floyd. Williams said he protested, saying, “No, this is not what drugs do to you.” He also testified that he and another person on the scene told officers “multiple times” to check Floyd’s pulse but no one did.
Civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton called Floyd’s death a “lynching by knee” at a press conference before the trial’s start on Monday. “We are here to see the case of a man that used his knee to lynch a man and then blame the man for the lynching,” Sharpton said. “First of all, what was George Floyd being even approached for by police that would warrant you using the force that you used?”
Sharpton joined the Floyd family in taking a knee for eight minutes and 46 seconds. “When I did the eulogy here in Minneapolis of George Floyd and we had people stand that long, people tweeted all over the world after three minutes they were tired,” Sharpton said. “What kind of venom? What kind of hatred do you have that would make you keep pressing down that long while a man is begging for his life, while a man is asking for his mother? At what point does your humanity kick in? At what point does the letter of the law kick in?”
Watch video of what Floyd’s family, attorneys, and witnesses had to say before the trial: