Derek Chauvin trial: George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross testifies

Below is a recap of all the witnesses who have testified for the prosecution at Derek Chauvin’s trial as of Wednesday evening, in order of appearance. 

911 dispatcher Jenna Scurry 

The prosecution’s first witness on Monday, March 29, was Jenna Scurry, a 911 dispatcher who watched live video of police kneeling on Floyd and testified that she called the officers’ supervisor with concerns about their use of force.  

It was Scurry who sent officers to the Cup Foods at 38th and Chicago Avenue on May 25, 2020, after receiving a call about a man using a counterfeit bill. 

Scurry told how she had seen surveillance footage of the incident from one of the city’s pole mounted cameras and been struck by a ‘gut instinct’ that ‘something wasn’t right’. 

The video, which had not previously been released publicly, showed Chauvin and fellow officers Lane and Keung perched atop Floyd next to a squad car while officer Thao looked on. 

Scurry noted that she wasn’t watching the stream the entire time because she was fielding other calls. But she said that as she glanced away and back again, she was struck that the officers hadn’t moved and asked a colleague if the screen had frozen. 

‘I first asked if the screens had frozen because it hadn’t changed. I thought something might be wrong,’ she said. 

‘It was an extended period of time. I can’t tell you the exact period and they hadn’t told me if they needed any more resources but I became concerned that something might be wrong.’ 

She said that she hadn’t wanted to be a ‘snitch’ but she recognized what appeared to be use of force and stated: ‘I took that instinct and I called the sergeant.’

Frank played audio from the call, in which Scurry said: ‘I don’t know if they had to use force or not. They got something out of the back of the squad and all of them sat on this man. So I don’t know if they needed to or not but they haven’t said anything to me yet.’ 

‘You can call me a snitch if you want to,’ she added.

She said she made the call to ‘voice my concerns’ and noted that she had never made one like it to a police sergeant before.    

Cross examining Scurry, Nelson was at pains to underscore gaps in what she saw and the facts that she had no police training, little knowledge of what the calls to which she sent officers actually looked like and pointed out that her attention was not trained on the screen at all times.

Bystander Alisha Oyler 

Jurors were shown yet more previously unseen video footage on Monday afternoon – this time in the form of a series of cell phone recordings made by Alisha Oyler, a cashier at the Speedway gas station opposite Cup Foods who was the state’s second witness. 

‘Trying not to cuss’ and frequently failing to recall events Oyler explained that she had first noticed police ‘messing with someone’ outside the Dragon Wok restaurant opposite Cup Foods. 

She said she had watched officers handcuff Floyd and take him across to the now infamous site of squad car 320 in front of the store’s entrance and continued to record events on her cell phone as she stepped out to have a cigarette.

She said she had done so because the police were ‘always messing with people and it’s not right’.

MMA fighter and bystander Donald Williams

Donald Winn Williams II, a mixed martial arts fighter and the prosecution’s third witness who had yelled at Chauvin to check for a pulse and accused him of placing Floyd in what he called a ‘kill choke’, testified first on Monday before continuing on Tuesday. 

Williams became emotional as he spoke about how he called 911 after Floyd was placed in an ambulance because:  ‘I believed I had just witnessed a murder. I felt the need to call the police on the police.’

He began to cry as jurors were played audio of the call, in which he named officer 987 and said: ‘He just pretty much killed this guy. He wasn’t resisting arrest. He had his knee on his neck. He wasn’t resisting arrest or nothing, he was handcuffed.’ 

Williams said he witnessed Chauvin ‘shimmying’, or adjusting his position on Floyd’s neck, in a recognized martial art maneuver designed to double-down on and tighten a choke hold.

He told how he watched Chauvin squeeze the life out of Floyd, who he said was in ‘tremendous pain’ and ‘faded away like a fish in a bag’ 

He said that when he called Chauvin out for using a blood choke the officer looked him straight in the eye and did not stop.  

Williams also told how Officer Tou Thao put his hands on his chest and pushed him back to the curb when he tried to intervene.  

According to Williams the crowd that had gathered was not threatening the officers and his calls to check for a pulse were echoed by an off duty fire fighter whose pleas to the officers also went unheard. 

At the end of his 911 call Williams was heard shouting at Thao: ‘Y’all murderers man, y’all murderers.’   

On cross-examination, Chauvin’s attorney Nelson attempted to undercut William’s presentation of himself as a controlled and professional observer of events who remained schooled by his training and experience in sports and security.

Nelson appeared to be trying to provoke Williams into a display of anger as he repeatedly tried to discredit his claims to having remained calm.

‘You started calling [Chauvin] names didn’t you?’ Nelson asked. ‘You called him, “a tough guy.” You called him “such a man,” “bogus.” You called him a “bum” 13 times. You called him a “bitch.”‘

But while Williams agreed to all of these assertions he would not be persuaded to agree to Nelson’s characterization of him as ‘angry’ or threatening.

Asked if he had told Officer Tou Thao that he hoped he would shoot himself he said: ‘No..I said you will shoot yourself in two years because of what you did.’ 

Bystander Darnella Frazier, 18 

Darnella Frazier, who was 17 years old when she recorded the most famous viral video of Floyd’s arrest last spring, took the stand on Tuesday and told how she felt helpless as she watched him lose consciousness. 

‘There’s been nights I’ve stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting, not saving his life,’ Darnella, now 18, said. 

‘But it’s not what I should have done –  it’s what he [Chauvin] should have done.’

Darnella – who was not shown on camera in court because of her age – asserted that Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck even harder as the growing crowd begged him to stop – and that he didn’t remove his knee even when paramedics were searching for a pulse. 

Under questioning by trial attorney Jerry Blackwell, Darnella said: ‘I heard George Floyd saying: “I can’t breathe, please get off of me.” He cried for his mom and he was in pain. 

‘It seemed like he knew it was over for him. He was terrified, he was suffering. This was a cry for help.’ 

When an ambulance finally arrived, Darnella claimed that paramedics treating Floyd had to tell Chauvin to remove his knee from the unconscious man’s neck.

‘The ambulance person had to actually tell him to lift up. He checked his pulse first while Chauvin’s knee still remained on Floyd’s neck,’ she said. ‘The paramedic did a “get up” motion, basically telling him to remove his knee.’  

Darnella said that she felt ‘threatened’ by both Chauvin and Thao who she said ‘were quick to put their hands on their mace’ when a woman who identified herself as a firefighter asked Chauvin to check for a pulse and she and Darnella made to move towards Floyd where he lay.

‘Officer Thao and Chauvin, he put his hand on his mace, they put their hands on their mace. I can’t remember if they actually pointed it at us,’ Darnella said.

Asked if, at any point, Chauvin had ‘got up or let up’ she said: ‘If anything he actually was kneeling harder. It looked like he was shoving his knee in his neck.’ 

At the close of her testimony Darnella broke down as she told jurors how witnessing and filming Floyd’s death affected her life.

‘When I look at George Floyd I look at my dad, I look my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all black,’ she said. ‘I have a black father, black brother, black friends and I look at that and I think how that could have been them.’ 

Bystander Judea, nine 

Nine-year-old witness Judea, took the witness stand on Tuesday and described how she and her cousin Darnella, who testified earlier, had gone to Cup Foods for snacks on May 25, 2020, when they found Floyd pinned to the ground by Chauvin and two other police officers. 

The girl, who was not shown on camera due to her age, gave gut-wrenching testimony about how Chauvin refused to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck even after paramedics arrived and ‘asked him nicely to get off of him’. 

‘He [Chauvin] still stayed on him [Floyd],’ Judea said. She said the medics eventually ‘just had to put him off, get him off of him.’

Gently questioned by trial attorney Jerry Blackwell about how she felt as she saw these events, Judea said: ‘I was sad and kind of mad. If felt like he was stopping his breathing and kind of hurting him.’ 

Judea is pictured second from the right in a green shirt in video from Floyd’s fatal confrontation with police that was shown in court

Bystander Alyssa, 18

The prosecution’s fourth witness on Tuesday was an 18-year-old named Alyssa, who told prosecutor Erin Eldridge how she had walked towards the incident and started recording on her friend’s cell phone because she too just knew that ‘something was wrong’. 

After describing what she saw of Floyd, Alyssa had to stop and recover her composure before she could continue with the clearly distressing testimony. ‘It’s difficult [to talk about] because I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do…and I felt like I was failing him, failing to do anything,’ she said through tears. 

As with Darnella and her little cousin who testified this morning, Alyssa said that Chauvin did not move his knee even on the arrival of paramedics and in fact she saw him put more weight on Floyd’s neck as the minutes ticked by.

‘He [Chauvin] didn’t really take his eyes off him [Floyd] for the most part. At one point I saw him put more and more weight onto him. I saw his back foot lift off the ground and his hands go in his pocket.’

Seeming to echo the movement that an earlier witness, Donald Williams, had described as a ‘shimmy’, she said: ‘I saw him move his knee down more, make little movements.’

The prosecution played the video recorded by Alyssa that day, showing yet again the horror of the event and the small group of onlookers yelling for Floyd’s pulse to be checked and painted by the defense as an angry mob.

Alyssa could be heard in clear distress shouting: ‘He’s not moving. Check his pulse. Tell me his pulse right now. It’s been over a minute [since he moved].’

Recalling that day she said simply: ‘I knew that time was running out. He was going to die.’

Finally she said, there came a point when ‘I kind of knew that he was dead and not breathing, no longer fighting, no longer resisting.’

In a brief cross examination Alyssa admitted that she had told investigating officers that she had seen the other officers (Lane or Keung) checking Floyd’s handcuffed wrist for a pulse ‘multiple times’. But she added: ‘Afterwards I told them it looked like they did not find one.’ 

Bystander Kaylynn, 17 

Alyssa’s friend, 17-year-old Kaylynn, was the last minor to testify on Tuesday. Her recollections aligned with those of earlier witnesses.

She said that it was the police officers who were ‘hostile’ not the crowd recalling how Chauvin was ‘digging his knee into George Floyd’s neck’ and ‘grabbed his mace and started shaking it at us’ when onlookers shouted at him to check for a pulse.

‘I was scared because I didn’t know what was going to happen,’ she said. Asked directly what she was scared of, she replied: ‘I was scared of Chauvin.’

Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson did not cross examine the final teen

Off-duty firefighter Genevieve Hansen

Off-duty Minneapolis firefighter and paramedic Genevieve Hansen, 27, caused a stir in the courtroom on Tuesday when she was admonished by Judge Cahill for repeatedly interrupting and talking back to Nelson during cross examination. 

Hansen had wiped away tears as she recalled how she had identified herself as a first responder and begged to help Floyd when she believed he was dying outside the Cup Foods store in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. 

But soon after her demeanor changed as she was questioned by Nelson, who asked if she would describe bystanders at the scene of Floyd’s arrest as upset or angry. 

Hansen replied: ‘I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting.’ 

At this point Judge Cahill stepped in and cautioned Hansen for being argumentative, telling her to ‘just answer his questions’. 

Minutes later Cahill sent the jury out for the day before turning to an increasingly combative Hansen and telling her in no uncertain terms: ‘You will not argue with the court, you will not argue with counsel.’    

Under questioning by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank on Tuesday, Hansen had explained how her desperate pleas to be allowed to provide Floyd with life-saving medical assistance were ignored by the officers who pinned him down and blocked by officer Thao.

‘I tried calm and reasoning, I pleaded and was desperate. I was desperate to help,’ Hansen said. 

Her calls fell on deaf ears as Chauvin remained unmoved and Officer Thao told her to remain on the curb, at one point saying: ‘If you really are a Minneapolis firefighter you would know better than to get involved.’ 

In court Hansen said: ‘That’s exactly what I should have done. There was no medical assistance on the scene and I could have given [it].’  

‘The officers were leaning over his body with what appeared to be the majority of their weight on him,’ she said. ‘He wasn’t moving, he was cuffed and three grown men putting all their weight on somebody – that’s too much. 

‘Chauvin seemed very comfortable with the majority of his weight balanced on top of Mr Floyd’s neck. In my memory he had his hand in his pocket. He wasn’t distributing the weight on the car, on the pavement.’

Hansen, who is a qualified EMT with state and national licenses, said that she had assessed that Floyd had a ‘altered level of consciousness,’ that concerned her greatly.

She said that his face was ‘smooshed’ into the pavement and said: ‘I was really concerned. I thought his face looked puffy and swollen which would happen if you were putting a grown man’s weight [on him].

‘I noticed some fluid coming from what looked like George Floyd’s body and a lot of time we see a patient release their bladder when they die – that’s where my mind went. He was restrained but he wasn’t moving.’

Hansen said she recognized that Floyd was unconscious because he was not responding to the ‘painful stimulae’ of Chauvin’s knee on his neck. 

‘What I needed to know was whether or not he had a pulse anymore,’ she said. But she said she was not permitted access to the scene and the officers ignored her offers to talk them through CPR.

She said she felt ‘helpless.’ ‘There’s a man being killed,’ she said, ‘and had I had access I would have [helped]. This human was denied that right.’

Before she took the stand jury saw video she had recorded on the scene and heard audio of the 911 call she placed immediately after.

Her voice trembling with shock and emotion she could be heard telling the operator: ‘I literally just watched police officers not take a pulse and not to do anything to save a man and I am a first responder myself and I literally have it on video.’ 

In an uncomfortable cross-examination, Hansen became visibly frustrated with Nelson’s line of questioning and refused to be drawn into an admission that she would be distracted from her job if a threatening crowd were gathered telling her she was ‘doing it wrong’.

Time after time Nelson attempted to get an admission out of her until she said: ‘I think a burning structure where there are buildings and homes and people living on either side is much more concerning than 20 people.

‘I’ll repeat myself, I know my job, I’m confident in doing my job and there’s nothing anybody can do to disturb me.’ 

As Nelson’s cross examination continued, Hansen became less and less tolerant of his questioning. When he asked if she had grown angry, she said she had been ‘desperate’ before admitting: ‘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.’ 

In stark contrast to the high emotion of Tuesday, questions were brief and subdued when Hansen returned to the stand on Wednesday morning.

Asked by Nelson if she had provided ID at the scene of George Floyd’s death, Hansen said no before confirming to Frank that her assessment had been that the dying man required, ‘immediate medical attention.’ 

Cup Foods employee Christopher Martin 

Cup Foods clerk Christopher Martin, who was working on May 25, 2020, took the stand on Wednesday to testify about how his coworker called the cops on Floyd because he believed he used a counterfeit $20 bill. 

Looking back, Martin said he wished he’d never raised alarm about the bill because he believes Floyd might still be alive if he hadn’t, telling the court: ‘This could have been avoided.’ 

During Martin’s testimony the prosecution played never-before-seen surveillance video of Floyd inside the store using the fake bill to purchase cigarettes.  

Martin told the court that he became suspicious of the bill because it had an unusual ‘blue pigment so I assumed it was fake’. 

‘The policy was if you took a counterfeit bill you had to pay for it out of your pay-check,’ Martin explained. ‘I took it anyways and was planning to just put it on my tab – until I second guessed myself and eventually told my manager.’ 

The manager then instructed Martin to go outside and bring Floyd back, he said. When Floyd refused, a co-worker called police. One of the responding officers was Chauvin. 

Questioned by Frank, Martin said that the two things he noticed about Floyd were his ‘size’ and he appeared to be ‘high’. 

However he said that he did not find Floyd’s demeanor to be threatening, saying: ‘He seemed very friendly, approachable, talkative, he seemed just to be having an average Memorial Day living his life. But he did seem high.’  

Martin then narrated a second video showing him speaking with Floyd and his acquaintances in a car parked outside Cup Foods. He said he took two trips out to the vehicle, bringing co-workers with him the second time. 

‘I notified them that they needed to come back into the store and the bill was fake and my boss wanted to talk to them,’ Martin said.

He recalled Floyd sitting in the driver seat ‘kind of shaking his head, putting his hands on his head. Like: “Why is this happening?” kind of thing.’

Floyd repeatedly refused to come back into the store, at which point Martin said his manager instructed a co-worker to call the police. 

He said officers arrived and spoke to the manager while Martin went back to manning the cash register.   

As the store emptied, Martin became aware of a commotion at the front of Cup Foods and went outside, where he saw Floyd pinned to the ground.  

‘I saw people yelling and screaming I saw Derek [Chauvin] with his knee on George’s neck on the ground,’ he said.

‘George was motionless, limp and Chauvin seemed very…he was in a resting state, meaning like he just rested his knee on his neck.’

Martin, who lived above the store, said: ‘I pulled my phone out first and called my mom and told her not to come downstairs. Then I started recording.

‘Later on that night I deleted it because when they picked George up off the ground the ambulance went straight down 38th and the quickest way to get to the hospital is straight down Chicago Avenue.’

Martin said he assumed from this that Floyd was already dead and deleted his recording as he didn’t want to have to show it to anybody or answer questions about it in the aftermath.

Asked how he had felt as he absorbed what he had just witnessed, Martin said ‘disbelief and guilt’.

Martin, who had earlier told jurors that he had almost not reported the fake bill and only done so after second-guessing himself, said: ‘If I would have just not taken the bill this could have been avoided.’

Asked if he still worked at Cup Foods, Martin’s voice cracked as he said: ‘No. I didn’t feel safe.’

Bystander Christopher Belfrey, 45 

Christopher Belfrey testified on Wednesday about video he recorded when he drove past Cup Foods and say officers Lane and Keung approaching Floyd in his car.   

Belfrey, 45, said that he started recording when parked directly behind Floyd’s SUV because he was ‘startled’ to see Lane draw his handgun.

He explained that he pulled to the other side of the street, not wanting to ‘get in the middle’ of whatever was occurring and continued recording.

The court watched the footage in which Floyd can be seen, apparently cuffed and compliant, seated against a wall having been removed from his vehicle.

According to Belfrey, Lane and Keung then walked Floyd across to their squad car and put him in it.

Belfrey said that he had simply gone home at that point because ‘I thought he was detained. I thought it was over.’

Bystander Charles McMillian, 61 

Charles McMillian, who was the first person to confront police about their treatment of Floyd on the day of his fatal arrest, broke down in tears as the prosecution played footage of cops wrestling with the handcuffed black man.  

McMillian, 61, said he was driving by the Cup Foods convenience store in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, when he noticed officers struggling with Floyd and pulled over simply because he was ‘being nosy’. 

Footage from Lane’s body camera, which was being released for the first time by the court but had already obtained by last year, McMillian was heard calling out as cops grappled with Floyd in their squad car. 

McMillian said he ‘tried to make the situation easy,’ by telling Floyd: ‘You can’t win.’  

Floyd could be heard telling McMillian: ‘I’m not trying to win. Don’t do me like that, I’m claustrophobic.’ 

As he described how Floyd began to cry out for his mother minutes later while pinned to the ground by the officers, McMillian wept as he revealed that he understood how Floyd felt after losing his own mom. 

‘I couldn’t help but feel helpless. I don’t have a mama either, but I understand him. My mom died June 25th,’ the witness said through tears.  

He revealed that he had experience of being handcuffed himself and as Floyd became more agitated, having been apparently calm as he was walked towards officers Lane and Keung’s squad car, McMillian said he tried to help.

The court played footage of the events as McMillian described them. One clip of McMillian on the sidewalk was spliced with body camera footage of Floyd in the squad car.  

‘I’m watching, you know, Mr Floyd,’ McMillian said. ‘He collapsed onto the back seat and I’m trying to get him to understand when you make a mistake, once they get you in cuffs you got to wait there.

‘Once they get you in cuffs you can’t win.’  

McMillian then described how he continued to try to help Floyd after officers Lane, Keung and Chauvin had pinned him to the ground.  

‘[Floyd] kept saying: “I can’t breathe. Mama they’re killing me, they’re killing me.’ He started saying: “My body’s shutting down.”‘

McMillian remembered hearing an officer talking about fetching a ‘hog-tie’ but did not recall ever seeing them use such a restraint.

As more of the video was played McMillian’s voice could be heard urging Floyd: ‘Get up and get into the car. Get up and get into the car man.’

Floyd responded: ‘I can’t.’

Later McMillian could be heard telling Chauvin: ‘Your knee on his neck, that’s wrong man.’

Of his own part in the scene, McMillian said: ‘I was trying to help him. He appeared to be in and out [of consciousness], with foam around his mouth. I said: “Man he said he can’t breathe,” and they said: “Well if he keeps talking he can breathe.”‘

As the state’s questioning came to a close, jurors heard Chauvin speak for the first time.

The officer’s voice was caught on officer Thao’s bodycam as he justified his actions in a brief exchange with McMillian.

When McMillian told Chauvin: ‘I don’t respect what you did,’ the officer replied: ‘Well that’s one person’s opinion. We got to control this guy because he’s a sizeable guy and looks like he’s probably on something.’

In a strange twist McMillian had also told the court how he had met and interacted with Chauvin just five days earlier. He said he had pulled alongside his squad car and said: ‘At the end of the day you go home to your family safe and the next person they go home to their family safe.’

Nelson did not cross-examine the witness. 

Minneapolis Police Lt Jeff Rugel 

The prosecution called Lt Jeff Rugel, who runs the Minneapolis Police Department’s Business Technology Unit, to the stand on Wednesday afternoon to authenticate officers’ body camera footage and other video evidence from the scene.  

Brief footage from Chauvin’s camera was played, revealing his perspective as he approached Floyd for the first time.

Chauvin was seen with his hands around Floyd’s neck as he and Officer Thomas Lane struggled with to get him into a squad car. 

After a chaotic, blurred portion of footage, Chauvin’s camera fell to the tarmac and there was no more footage from his perspective.

In footage recorded by Lane’s body camera, Chauvin’s camera could be seen lying beneath the squad car.  It’s unclear exactly how the camera came to be on the ground during the confrontation.  

Rugel told the jury how that Minneapolis police policy demands that officers wear their cameras at all times and to activate them during any activity or public interaction. 

The prosecution went onto show the distressing body-camera footage from both Keung and Officer Tou Thao’s body-worn cameras.

Asked if Chauvin also wore a body camera and if, based on his experience and expertise, that was ‘the box on the floor [beneath squad car 320]’, Rugel said: ‘Yes.’

The court then saw previously unseen footage from Chauvin’s body camera as he and Thao sped toward Cup Foods in their squad car.

The footage was paused as Chauvin’s hand reached toward the camera.

Judge Peter Cahill excused the jury for the day after each segment of body camera footage had been viewed and entered into evidence. 

Rugel remained on the stand to answer technical questions from Nelson regarding the length and editing of the footage, as well as Minneapolis police policy regarding their usage. 


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