Live updates: Police testify against Derek Chauvin

Follow along here for breaking updates from week one of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Minneapolis police Lt. Rich Zimmerman testifies Friday morning. (YouTube screenshot)
Friday, April 2

Follow along here for live updates from week two.

Court is in recess until 9:30 Monday morning.

Lt. Richard Zimmerman was asked about the Minneapolis Police Department’s use of force policies. He said kneeling on a person’s neck when they are handcuffed is “deadly force” because “that can kill them.” 

The state called two more Minneapolis police officers to the stand Friday morning, including Sgt. Jon Edwards and Lt. Richard Zimmerman. Edwards was the ranking officer on the scene of Floyd’s death until Zimmerman arrived. Edwards had his team canvass the area by collecting names of witnesses, searching for video, and securing the scene with crime tape. 

Jon Edwards, Minneapolis police sergeant, testifies Friday morning in the Derek Chauvin trial. (YouTube screenshot)

Edwards’s testimony was mostly procedural and defense counsel Eric Nelson declined to cross-examine the witness. Edwards left the stand and was followed by Zimmerman, a veteran officer who is well-known in the Minneapolis community.

Minneapolis police Lt. Rich Zimmerman testifies Friday morning in the Derek Chauvin trial. (YouTube screenshot)

Once Floyd’s death was confirmed, the case was deemed a “critical incident” and handed over to the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. Chief Medaria Arradondo will reportedly testify Monday for the state.

Thursday, April 1

Retired Sgt. David Pleoger testified on the Minneapolis Police Department’s use of force policies and said the “dangers of positional asphyxia” are generally known throughout the MPD.

Derek Smith, another paramedic who responded to the scene, was asked why they didn’t take George Floyd straight to the hospital.

The second witness called Thursday was Seth Bravinder, a paramedic with Hennepin EMS who drove the ambulance that picked up Floyd. Bravinder said he stopped the ambulance a few blocks from the scene so he could move to the back to help his partner with resuscitation. Former officer Thomas Lane was in the vehicle and images from his body-camera were displayed in court.

Seth Bravinder, pictured on the right, was Thursday’s second witness. (YouTube screenshot)

Courteney Batya Ross was the first witness called Thursday morning. She was in a relationship with George Floyd for three years and talked at length about Floyd’s addiction to opioids as well as her own struggles with addiction. 

Ross’s testimony revealed that Floyd was hospitalized from an overdose in March 2020, two months before his death. Ross said he was sober up until two weeks before his death, when she “noticed a change in his behavior.”

She said the opioids they took a week before Floyd’s death reminded her of the pills from the March incident and made her feel like she was “going to die.”

Wednesday, March 31

The body-camera videos of all four officers, including Chauvin, were played for the jury Wednesday afternoon. Lt. James Rugel of the Minneapolis Police Department manages the business technology unit and walked the jury through the videos, starting with former officer Thomas Lane.

Rugel said Chauvin’s body camera ended up under a squad car at one point during the incident. On the way to the scene, Chauvin said he was going to shut off his camera “until we get there.”

Charles McMillian, 61, lives near Cup Foods and was one of the first witnesses on the scene. McMillian can be heard in body-camera videos telling Floyd he “can’t win” and urging him to comply. He broke down in tears after the court played video of Floyd’s arrest.

Christopher Belfrey, a 45-year-old from south Minneapolis, was the second witness called to the stand Wednesday. He recorded two videos of officers Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane responding to the scene and removing George Floyd from his car.

Christopher Martin, 19, lived above Cup Foods and worked as a cashier there on May 25, 2020.  He said George Floyd seemed “high” but was able to carry on some conversation. The court played surveillance footage from inside the store.

The court played surveillance video from inside Cup Foods, showing George Floyd’s behavior prior to his arrest. (YouTube screenshot)

Martin said his manager told him to go out to Floyd’s vehicle a second time and ask him to come back inside the store to discuss the counterfeit bill. Martin said Floyd did not want to come inside.

Tuesday, March 30

Donald Williams, a mixed martial arts trainer who was at the scene during George Floyd’s death, was the first witness to testify Tuesday. The day ended with testimony from Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter and EMT in Minneapolis who was outside Cup Foods during the events leading up to Floyd’s death.

Monday, March 29

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin began in earnest Monday as attorneys presented their opening statements and the first witnesses were called to the stand.

Jerry Blackwell, a private attorney working for the prosecution, delivered the state’s opening argument, focusing extensively on bystander video of Floyd’s death and the Minneapolis Police Department’s internal use of force policies.

Defense counsel Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lone attorney, defended his client’s use of force and focused heavily on Floyd’s drug abuse.