It was the rescuers’ turn to testify on Thursday during the trial of white policeman Derek Chauvin, accused of the murder of African-American George Floyd. Two paramedics explained that the victim was already dead when they arrived. The deceased’s girlfriend was also called to the stand and questioned about the couple’s drug use.
The first ambulance arrived to rescue African American George Floyd told Thursday 1 st April court in Minneapolis, having found dead with several police “on it.” “When I arrived he was dead, and when I dropped him off at the hospital he was still in cardiac arrest,” said Derek Smith on day four of the murder trial of white policeman Derek Chauvin.
On May 25, in this large city in the north of the United States, four agents wanted to arrest the black forty-something suspected of having passed a fake bill in a grocery store. To restrain him, they pinned him to the ground, handcuffed him, and leaned on him for over nine minutes.
The most experienced of them, Derek Chauvin, 45, including 19 in the Minneapolis Police Department, kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck even after he passed out, and until the arrival of an ambulance.
“The officers were still on him when I approached,” said rescuer Derek Smith, who immediately looked for the African American’s pulse in the carotid artery. “I couldn’t find any, I thought the patient was dead.”
Once in the ambulance, a machine confirmed that his heart rate was “flat,” added his colleague Zachary Bravinder. “It means that the heart was not pumping blood, it is not a good sign …” The two men tried to resuscitate him. “He was a human being, I tried to give him a second chance,” said Derek Smith. But their efforts were in vain.
Derek Chauvin, who faces 40 years in prison, pleads not guilty in this case which has sparked giant demonstrations against racism and police violence, from New York to Seattle, but also Tokyo, Paris and Sydney.
His lawyer, Eric Nelson, assures us that he did not cause the death of George Floyd and that the latter succumbed to an overdose. The official autopsy did find traces of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid, in the body of the African American but identified “compression of the neck” as the cause of death.
Medical experts will be summoned to discuss it, but as early as Thursday, the officer’s lawyer sought to substantiate his thesis during the hearing of Courteney Ross, a 45-year-old white woman who had an intimate relationship with George Floyd from 2017. when he died.
Very moved, this mother of two children portrayed a man “full of energy”, “gentle”, with whom life was “an adventure”, before modestly discussing their drug use. “It’s a classic story of people who become addicted to opiates because they suffer from chronic pain. Me, it was on the neck, him on the back …”, she explained simply.
M e Eric Nelson was then bombarded with questions about the nature of the drugs used, the effects of some pills and a hospital stay of George Floyd, early March for overdose.
He also pointed out that the couple sometimes bought drugs from the two people who were with George Floyd at the time of his death. One of them, Morries Hall, filed an appeal to avoid testifying at trial.
“The agents could have stopped maintaining him”
The strategy of M e Nelson has aroused the ire of the Floyd family, who denounced “an easy tactic when the facts are against you.” “Tens of thousands of Americans struggle with self-medication and opioid addiction and are treated with dignity, respect and support, not brutality,” their lawyers wrote in a statement, saying they were confident in the ability of jurors to “override”.
The defense lawyer was just as combative in the face of the last witness called to the stand Thursday: a police officer, just retired who, on May 25, launched the internal investigation into the death of George Floyd.
M e Nelson lifted many “objections” to prevent David Ploeger to answer, especially when the prosecution asked him if he thought that the agents should have been released earlier their pressure. The judge still allowed him to answer. And it was very clear: “When Mr. Floyd no longer offered any resistance, the agents could have stopped supporting him.”
Derek Chauvin’s trial is scheduled to last until the end of April and the verdict will be delivered immediately. His three ex-colleagues will be tried in August for “complicity in murder”.