AN MMA EXPERT said he saw Derek Chauvin use a “blood choke” on George Floyd as the two wrestled to the ground – but said he was ignored as Floyd struggled to breathe.
Donald Williams, the third witness at the trial for Chauvin said the officer, who was seen on tape kneeling on Floyd’s neck as he gasped for air, had put him in a “blood choke” that was all but certain to cut off Floyd’s circulation.
You can read a live blog of the trial here.
Donald Williams said he asked Officer Thao what was going on, who responded Floyd was “resisting arrest”Credit: AP
The jury were shown the footage of Chauvin continuing to lie on Floyd’s neck even as paramedic arrivedCredit: CBSN
Derek Chauvin is pictured on the first day of his trial on Monday
“I watched the position one, of where the position of the knee was on the neck, two, what body movements was going on while the knee was on the neck,” Williams said. “And three, what was the condition of George Floyd as he was going through this torture.”
“I felt the officer on top was shimmying to actually get the final choke in while he was on top,” said Williams, referring to his training as a mixed martial arts fighter to call such a hold a “blood chokehold.”
Williams recalled what Floyd told Chauvin: “My stomach hurts, I can’t breathe, my head hurts, I want my mom.”
The 33-year-old Williams then added that Floyd was pleading for his life with Chauvin, saying “He said he wanted to get in the car, he said he’s sorry for what he did.”
Williams, who was training in MMA, said he noted Chauvin’s knee was diagonally across Floyd’s neck so it cut off circulationCredit: AP
Chauvin faces unintentional second-degree murder charge and a third-degree murder charge over the death of George Floyd in May 2020Credit: Rex
A court sketch shows Derek Chauvin during the first day of his trial on MondayCredit: Reuters
In an analogy for the books, Williams said he went fishing with his son earlier that May 2020 day before he went to the store and witnessed Floyd’s death. He said Floyd’s death was like a fish his son had caught.
“You see Floyd fade away like the fish in the bag,” Williams said. “He vocalized that he can’t breathe and ‘I’m sorry.’ His eyes rolled back in his head.”
As he watched the video of Chauvin on Floyd’s neck, the MMA fighter said Chauvin was shifting his weight purposely in a “shimmy” to tighten pressure on Floyd’s neck. He added Floyd was trying to fight “through the torture.”
Before witnessing Floyd’s death, Williams walked over to Officer Thao and asked what happened, only to be told by the officer that Floyd was resisting arrest.
The jury were shown the scene as viewed by 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry on May 25
Prosecutors called the first witness, City of Minneapolis 911 dispatcher Jena ScurryCredit: CBSN
The trial’s second witness was 23-year-old Alisha Oyler who was working in a gas station across the street from the store where Floyd was arrestedCredit: CBSN
When Williams retorted that Floyd was not resisting arrest but rather, he couldn’t breathe given Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck, an officer responded “this is what drugs do to you.”
“I replied this is now what drugs do to you,” Williams said. “That pissed me off more because that wasn’t the case.”
He said Chauvin’s “knee [was] diagonal across the throat,” which Williams said “cuts circulation.”
Williams referenced his MMA training, saying he knows the look of a chokehold when he sees one, and he has had professional experience in security, meaning he observed the scene before intervening.
“He was speaking in a distressed way,” Williams recalled of Floyd. “He was vocalizing it to the officer, my head hurts, I can’t breathe, I want my mom.”
“He said he’s sorry for what I did, he pleaded with him,” Williams recollected.
Floyd was “vocalizing his sorriness and his pain,” Williams continued. “The more you seen Floyd slowly fade away like the fish in a bag his eyes paled out and slowly rolled through.”
Attorney Ben Crump (L) and Rev. Al Sharpton, the founder and President of National Action Network,(C) and George Floyd’s nephew kneel outside the Hennepin County Government Center on the opening day of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek ChauvinCredit: AFP
The jury were presented with the first video of Floyd’s deathCredit: CBSN
“He was going through distress because of the knee,” he said of Floyd. “You saw the blood coming out of his nose.”
“From there on he was lifeless, he didn’t move, he didn’t speak, he didn’t have any life in him no more, no body movements.”
Williams recalled his training, saying “just like in MMA, I can tell when someone gets tired, their breathing gets heavier.”
Williams was the third witness to take the stage during the first day of Chauvin’s murder trial into the death of George Floyd.
New footage was presented showing cops pinning down Floyd as 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry revealed she feared being viewed as a “snitch” for reporting their actions.
Scurry, the first witness in the trial, said she had a “gut instinct” regarding the live feed of the arrest.
In the video, Floyd is heard calling for helpCredit: CBSN
Attorney Jerry Blackwell made the opening statement for the prosecutionCredit: AP
“You can call me a snitch if you want to,” she told Sgt. David Pleoger, who oversaw the officers involved, in the call played for the jury.
“I don’t know if there’s a use of force or not,” she added in the call the Pleogar.
“My instincts were telling me something was wrong,” Scurry, who has worked as a dispatcher for seven years, told the court.
“It was a gut instinct of the incident: Something is not going right. Whether it be they needed more assistance. Just something wasn’t right.”
The trial’s second witness was 23-year-old Alisha Oyler who was working in a gas station across the street from the store where Floyd was arrested.
A court sketch shows prosecution attorney Jerry Blackwell showing the video of Floyd’s death as defense attorney Eric Nelson and Derek Chauvin watch onCredit: Reuters
She told the court that police are “always messing with people and it’s wrong and it’s not right.”
The high-profile trial began on Monday after Floyd’s family knelt outside of the courthouse for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the length of time Chauvin was filmed kneeling on the 46-year-old’s neck before he died.
The trial began with Judge Peter Cahill reminding the jury that they should not seek out further information about the trial and warning that it would contain graphic footage.
The prosecution led the opening statements with attorney Jerry Blackwell playing a video from one of the bystanders to the jury, showing what Floyd’s family has branded as “torture.”
In response, defense attorney Eric Nelson argued that the “angered” bystanders intervening in Floyd’s arrest had diverted officers’ attention from his medical needs.
He contested that that “threat” the bystanders posed was the reason Floyd did not receive faster medical attention.
In his opening statement, Blackwell said that Chauvin “betrayed the badge” when using the “excessive force” seen in the video while arresting Floyd on May 25 last year.