Witness at Chauvin trial: ‘I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do as a bystander’
The prosecution’s questioning of witnesses through the second day of the Derek Chauvin murder trial has sought to establish several themes.
One is that police officers did nothing to help George Floyd, despite his growing distress and struggle to breathe as Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Prosecutors also sought to head off defence claims that Chauvin’s actions were influenced by threats to his and other officers’ safety from an increasingly alarmed crowd of bystanders.
A succession of witnesses described attempts to intervene, and admonitions from the crowd directed at Chauvin and other officers, as intended to help Floyd, not threaten the police.
The fourth witness of the day, a young woman who was identified on the public feed of the trial only by her first name, Alissa, because she was 17 at the time of Floyd’s death, told the court she started to film the incident because she was aware the situation was deteriorating.
“A lot of people looked in distress on the sidewalk. And George [Floyd] looked in distress,” she said. “He looked like he was fighting to breathe.”
Alissa said she appealed to Chauvin to stop when she saw the officer pushing his knee deeper into Floyd’s neck.
“His eyes were starting to roll to the back of his head and he had saliva coming out of his mouth,” she said.
Alissa testified about the content of the phone video she recorded as it was played back to her in bursts. At times the distress in the voice of members of the public can be heard as some demand that the police check Floyd’s pulse.
At one point in her testimony, Alissa paused because she was crying, and said it was difficult to talk about because of the emotional toll of what she witnessed.
“I felt like there wasn’t anything I could do as a bystander. I felt like I was failing him,” she said.
Chauvin trial – morning report
A key prosecution witness this morning told the trial of the former police officer accused of killing George Floyd that he called the emergency services during the incident because “I believed I witnessed a murder”.
Donald Williams, a mixed martial arts fighter, said that as a bystander he pleaded with the then Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, to stop what he termed a dangerous “blood choke” as he knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
“You could see that he was going through tremendous pain,” Williams said of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man. “You could see his eyes go back in his head … You could see he was trying to gasp for air.”
Chauvin, 45, who is white, has denied charges of second- and third-degree murder, and manslaughter, over the death of Floyd last May. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charges.
The Florida congressman Matt Gaetz, a leading Trump ally in the fight against Republicans who turned, a persistent media troll and a prodigious owner of libs, is reported to be considering dropping out of Congress to go work for Newsmax.
According to Axios, “Gaetz has told some of his allies he’s interested in becoming a media personality, and floated taking a role at Newsmax. One [source] said Gaetz has had early conversations with the network about what a position could look like.”
Newsmax is the Trumpier-even-than-Fox-News network which surged among rightwing viewers around Trump’s election defeat. Unlike Fox News, it has not yet been sued by Dominion Voting Systems over Trump’s lies about electoral fraud, lies which Gaetz has backed, including voting against certifying Joe Biden’s electoral college win.
Gaetz is apparently considering a decision not to run for re-election himself next year. He has previously considered running for higher office. Axios reports that a move to Newsmax could be meant to boost his chances of so doing.
Here’s David Smith, meanwhile, on a Florida Republican who seems to be ahead of Young Matt in the queue – although, one supposes, should Ron DeSantis run for the presidential nomination in some Trump-free 2024 primary, maybe that will leave an opening for a Governor Gaetz…