MINNEAPOLIS — The first week of testimony in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin came to a close Friday afternoon, and the lineup of witnesses offered new insights into what led up to the nearly 10 minutes that the former Minneapolis police officer knelt on George Floyd’s neck.
Many were forced to relive watching Floyd’s last moments, and some expressed guilt or regret for not doing more to save his life. Several shed light on police policies and training protocols, while others served to introduce new evidence or relevant video footage.
So, who testified in the first week of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial?
The names are listed in the order they appeared in court.
MONDAY, MARCH 29, 2021
Minneapolis 911 dispatcher Jena Lee Scurry
The prosecutor called its first witness to the stand Monday morning, Minneapolis 911 dispatcher Jena Lee Scurry.
She told the jury that she dispatched a call for officers to Cup Foods on May 25, 2020, the day George Floyd died. She described the initial call, saying that a male was suspected of using a counterfeit $20 bill.
Scurry said at one point during the incident, she realized that from her office she could see video from a street camera showing the scene. Scurry said she didn't see the entire arrest because she was still dealing with other calls.
She recalled seeing the officers trying to get Floyd into the squad car, and later seeing the officers on the ground with him.
"My instincts were telling me that something was wrong," she told Frank. "It was an extended period of time. ... And they hadn't told me if they needed any more resources. It's a multitude of different things that ran through my brain, but I became concerned that something might be wrong."
Scurry said she notified the officers’ supervisor of the use of force. Prosecutor Matthew Frank played the call in which Scurry called the sergeant.
"You can call me a snitch if you want to," Scurry said. "320 over at Cup Foods, I don't know if they have use force or not. All of them sat on this man, so I don't know if they needed to or not."
Read more about Scurry’s testimony here.
Alisha Oyler, shift lead at the Speedway on 38th and Chicago
The state called its second witness, Alish Oyler, Monday afternoon.
Oyler worked as a shift lead at the Speedway on 38th and Chicago, the intersection where Floyd died. Oyler said she was working the night of Floyd’s arrest and saw police “messing with someone.”
She said she saw Floyd in handcuffs, and saw officers putting him in the squad car. Oyler told the jury that she then began recording with her cell phone.
She provided police with seven recordings after the fact. Two were taken while inside the Speedway and the rest were outside, she said.
Oyler’s testimony allowed the state to show the cell phone videos as evidence to the jury, an expert attorney told KARE.
You can read more about her testimony here.
Donald Wynn Williams II, witness and professional fighter
The state's third witness in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin was Donald Wynn Williams II, a professional mixed martial arts fighter who witnessed the death of George Floyd.
Williams, who also has a background in security, can be heard on bystander video forcefully telling officers to check Floyd's pulse.
After seeing Floyd taken away via ambulance, he called 911 -- a call that made Williams visibly tear up when it was played in court. You can watch that part of testimony here.
Williams also told the court he recognized Chauvin's hold on Floyd as a "blood choke," which cuts off blood circulation rather than restricting the airway. "You could see that he was going through tremendous pain," he said.
His questioning carried into Tuesday.
Read more about Williams’ full testimony here.
TUESDAY, MARCH 30, 2021
A teenage bystander who took the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck that’s circulated around the world testified Tuesday.
KARE has decided to only identify the witness by her first name, Darnella. The young woman was 17 at the time of Floyd's arrest.
Darnella described walking with her 9-year-old cousin to Cup Foods, where a clerk called 911 to report Floyd for using a counterfeit $20 bill on May 25, 2020. Upon arriving, she recalled seeing "a man on the ground and... a cop kneeling down on him."
Darnella testified that she directed her young cousin to go into the store because she didn't want her to see "a man terrified, scared, begging for his life."
Read more about Darnella’s full testimony here.
Darnella’s 9-year-old cousin
After the teen bystander who filmed a video at the center of the case took the stand, so did her 9-year-old cousin.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell questioned the girl, who went to Cup Foods the night of May 25, 2020. The girl told Blackwell that she saw Floyd with a knee on his neck, and that the officer did not get up.
"I was sad and kind of mad," she said. "Because it felt like he was stopping his breathing and it was kind of like hurting him."
Read more about the 9-year-old’s testimony here.
Unnamed 18-year-old witness
The state called an 18-year-old witness who works at a retail pharmacy to the stand Tuesday.
She’s among four young witnesses that Judge Peter Cahill has agreed to mute the audio while they identify themselves, and to not broadcast video of their testimony. Only audio was provided.
The bystander said she went to Cup Foods to buy an aux cord on May 25, 2020, and witnessed Floyd on the ground with officers. She said she grew more concerned as time went on.
"It was difficult because I felt like there wasn't really anything that I could do as a bystander," she said. "I felt like I was failing him."
Read more about her testimony here.
Unnamed 17-year-old witness
The final of four young witnesses took the stand Tuesday afternoon.
The last teen witness, who is 17 years old, told a state prosecutor that she was there in court “for George Floyd.”
She arrived at the scene with her friend, who testified before her on Tuesday.
"We hear George Floyd's voice yelling out for his mom and saying he can't breathe," she said.
The witness told Eldridge that her friend told her to stay in the car, which she did at first. She said she could hear Floyd yelling from the car.
Read more about the 17-year-old’s testimony here.
Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hansen
Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter who called 911 after witnessing Floyd's arrest, testified on Tuesday.
Hansen can be seen and heard in bystander video calling for police to check Floyd's pulse and give him medical attention. She told the jury that she wanted to help, but officers wouldn’t let her.
"There was a man being killed," Hansen said. "I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities. And this human was denied that right."
Hansen’s questioning carried into early Wednesday.
Read the firefighter’s full testimony here.
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2021
Cup Foods employee Christopher Martin
After a brief cross-examination of Hansen Wednesday morning, the prosecution called 19-year-old Christopher Martin to the stand.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank asked Martin to review the surveillance video from May 25, 2020, the day of Floyd's death. It marked the first time the video has been presented to the public.
Martin told the jury about speaking to Floyd inside the store, and that he believed he used a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes. He testified about notifying his manager, who Martin said told him to confront Floyd outside by the vehicle he was in.
Martin said he attempted to cover the cost of the fake bill himself.
He also told the jury about his coworker’s eventual call to police, and witnessing Floyd’s arrest.
"If I had just not taken the bill, this could've been avoided," Martin said.
Read about Martin’s full testimony here.
Christopher Belfrey, bystander
The prosecution called another bystander to the stand Wednesday: 45-year-old Christopher Belfrey. He said he went to Cup Foods on May 25, 2020 to get some food.
Prosecutor Matthew Frank showed the jury a video Belfrey took from his car, showing officers trying to get Floyd into a squad.
Belfrey said he stopped recording after a while because he was "slightly scared" and "nervous."
Belfrey said he went home after officers began to put Floyd in the police car, assuming the incident was over.
Read more about Belfrey’s testimony here.
Charles McMillian, neighborhood resident
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge began interviewing the fourth witness of the day Wednesday, a man named Charles McMillian who lives near Cup Foods.
The 61-year-old said he was near the scene on May 25, 2020, and pulled over when he saw police.
McMillian can be heard on bystander video telling George Floyd, "You can't win."
He’s the only witness so far who saw almost the entire interaction between the officers and Floyd. McMillian also testified about a conversation he had with Chauvin right after Floyd’s death.
You can read more about McMillian’s full testimony here.
Minneapolis police Lt. James Jeffrey Rugel
The fifth witness to take the stand Wednesday was Lieutenant James Jeffrey Rugel with the Minneapolis police department.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher said Rugel was called as a "foundational witness" primarily to show certain videos to the jury. Rugel manages the technology systems that officers use on the job, including records management, surveillance video and body cameras.
You can read more about Rugel’s testimony here.
THURSDAY, APRIL 1, 2021
Courteney Ross, George Floyd’s girlfriend
The fourth day of testimony in Chauvin’s murder trial began with George Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, who gave insight into their relationship and their shared struggles with opioid addiction.
Ross told the jury about the first time she met Floyd, when he was working as a security guard at a Salvation Army. She testified about his character, his love of food and exercise, his grief after his mother’s death and his drug use.
“It’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids,” Ross said. “We both suffer from chronic pain. Me in my neck and he in his back.”
Ross said they tried many times to break their addictions, and went through periods of sobriety together.
"Addiction in my opinion is a lifelong struggle, so it's something we dealt with every day," Ross said. "It's not just something that comes and goes, it's something I'll deal with forever."
It’s a key element in the trial after Chauvin’s attorney claimed in opening statements that Floyd died because of heart problems complicated by a drug overdose – and not because of the officer’s knee on his neck.
Hennepin County paramedic Seth Zachary Bravinder
The second witness called by the prosecution Thursday was a Minneapolis paramedic, Seth Zachary Bravinder.
Bravinder responded to 38th and Chicago on May 25, 2020, and found “multiple officers on top of the patient” when he arrived.
"I assumed that there was potentially some struggle still because they were still on top of him,” he explained.
Bravinder said Floyd was in "asystole," a severe form of cardiac arrest where the heart is not pumping blood. He said that is "not a good sign" for resuscitation.
Prosecutor Erin Eldridge had Bravinder talk through the resuscitation efforts as the jury saw photos of Floyd laying unresponsive in the ambulance.
Hennepin County paramedic Derek Smith
The state called a second Hennepin County paramedic to the stand on Thursday. Derek Smith, like his colleague who testified earlier in the day, responded to 38th and Chicago on May 25, 2020.
Smith was the first paramedic to assess George Floyd when they arrived at the scene. Prosecutor Erin Eldridge asked him what he thought of Floyd's condition at that point.
"In lay terms, I thought he was dead," Smith said. He said he told his partner, "I think he's dead, and I want to move this out of here."
Smith told Eldridge he checked Floyd's carotid artery while officers were still on top of him.
"In a living person, there should be a pulse there," he said.
Smith said he called the fire department for backup and attempted multiple lifesaving measures.
Minneapolis firefighter Jeremy Norton
Minneapolis firefighter Jeremy Norton was the fourth witness called by the state on Thursday.
Norton was dispatched to the scene, and attempted lifesaving measures in the ambulance with George Floyd.
Norton told the prosecution that he reported the incident to his supervisors because it appeared someone had died in police custody.
You can read more about Norton’s testimony here.
Minneapolis police Sgt. David Pleoger
The jury heard details Thursday of the conversations Chauvin had with his supervisor after George Floyd's arrest.
The state called Sgt. David Pleoger to the stand Thursday afternoon. Pleoger recently retired from the Minneapolis Police Department after 27 years with the force. He was the sergeant on duty on May 25, 2020, the day Floyd was arrested and died.
For the first time during Pleoger’s testimony, the jury heard that Chauvin did not immediately give his supervisor details about what force he used on Floyd - or how long he used it.
Pleoger first found out about Floyd's arrest when 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry called him that night. Scurry testified earlier in the week about that same call.
Read more on Sgt. Pleoger’s full testimony here.
FRIDAY, APRIL 2, 2021
Minneapolis police Sgt. Jon Edwards
Sgt. Jon Edwards, who’s been a Minneapolis officer for 14 years, testified Friday about working the night of Floyd’s death.
Edwards said Sgt. David Pleoger, who testified previously, told him to head to the scene to potentially secure the area while he was at the hospital waiting to hear an update on Floyd’s condition.
Sgt. Edwards arrived at 38th and Chicago at about 9:35 p.m. on May 25, 2020, and said the first thing he did was tell the officers to turn their body cameras on. He then had them place crime scene tape around the area to "preserve any potential evidence that was there."
Edwards told prosecutor Steve Schleicher that he was preparing the scene as if it would become a critical incident, although he had little information at that point. He called in other officers to canvass the area, looking for potential witnesses.
Read more about Edwards’ testimony here.
Minneapolis police Lt. Richard Zimmerman
The head of the Minneapolis Police Department's homicide division testified Friday about his more than three decades of police training and experience, at one point condemning Chauvin’s use of force as “totally unnecessary.”
Lt. Richard Zimmerman, who responded to the scene after Floyd’s arrest and eventually handed off the investigation to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, was probed about police use of the “prone position.”
"Once you handcuff a person you need to get them out of the prone position as quickly as possible, because it restricts their breathing," Zimmerman said.
According to Zimmerman's account of his police training, officers are taught to turn the person put into the prone position on their side and get them off their chest. "If you're laying on your chest, that's constricting your breathing even more," he said.
Zimmerman, who’s worked for the force for decades, said he has never been trained to put his knee on someone's neck while they are in that position.
"That would be the top tier, the deadly force," he said. "Because if your knee is on someone's neck, that can kill them."
Zimmerman said he has watched bystander and police body camera video of George Floyd's arrest and restraint.
State prosecutor Matthew Frank asked him what he thought of the force used by Chauvin, and the length of time it was used.
"Totally unnecessary," he said. "First of all, pulling him down to the ground facedown and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time is just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that's what they felt. And that's what they would have to feel to use that type of force."
You can read about Zimmerman’s full testimony here.