“I was just going to call for you to come to our scene here,” Chauvin told Sergeant David Ploeger in a body-camera captured phone call that was replayed in court Thursday. We had to hold a guy. He was freaking out. I didn’t want … I didn’t want to get into the back of the patrol … “he added.
Then the video cuts out. In testimony about the phone call, Ploeger said he believed Chauvin made no mention of using force and that Chauvin made no mention of using his knee to hold someone down.
Ploeger then drove to the scene and advised officers to speak to witnesses. “We can try, but they are all quite hostile,” replied Chauvin.
Later that night, at the Hennepin County Medical Center, Ploeger spoke with Chauvin and his colleague Tou Thao. There, Chauvin said he knelt on Floyd’s neck, Ploeger testified.
These previously unreleased comments from Chauvin are the second time at trial that the jury has heard his perspective on the minutes after Floyd’s lifeless body was removed in an ambulance. On Wednesday, a video from Chauvin’s body camera showed how he defended his actions to a passerby who criticized him.
“That’s one person’s opinion,” Chauvin replied as he climbed into his police cruiser. “We had to control this guy because he is a big man. Looks like he’s probably onto something, ”he added.
His attorney has not indicated whether Chauvin will testify in his own defense.
Ploeger also testified that the use of force should have ended earlier.
“When Mr. Floyd no longer offered any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restriction,” he said.
This testimony took place on the fourth day of Chauvin’s criminal trial. Earlier, Floyd’s girlfriend spoke about her partner’s struggles with opioid addiction, and several first responders testified about Floyd’s unresponsive condition when they arrived on the scene.
Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to charges of willful manslaughter, second degree manslaughter and aggravated manslaughter in an act eminently dangerous to others. In a suit and tie in court, he has appeared to be committed to the process and has made notes on a yellow pad.
Paramedics testify that Floyd appeared to be dead
Two Hennepin County paramedics who treated George Floyd last May said Floyd was unresponsive, not breathing and had no pulse when they arrived at the scene.
“In simple terms, I thought he was dead,” said paramedic Derek Smith.
Smith and his partner, Seth Bravinder, testified at the trial of former Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin on Thursday. They both described their unsuccessful efforts to save Floyd’s life on May 25, 2020.
Inside the ambulance, Floyd was in “asystole,” which means he had a flat line and his heart was not working. They tried to reactivate his heart with chest compressions, establishing an airway and with electric shocks, but he did not recover. They finally left him in the hospital with no changes in his condition.
“I showed up, he was dead, and I left him in the hospital, and he was still in cardiac arrest,” Smith said.
Fire Department Captain Jeremy Norton testified that he and his partner met the ambulance two blocks away to help assist Floyd on the way to the hospital. His condition was serious.
“It was an unresponsive body on a stretcher,” Norton said.
The paramedics were called in principle by a Code 2, which is not an emergency, for a mouth injury. However, about a minute and a half later the call was updated to Code 3, which means turning on the ambulance lights and sirens.
When they arrived at the scene, Floyd did not appear to be breathing or moving, they testified. Smith checked Floyd’s pulse and pupils — while Chauvin was still kneeling over him — and believed his heart had stopped. They then moved to carry him to a stretcher, and Bravinder leaned down and motioned for Chauvin to lift Floyd’s knee.
They decided to put Floyd in the ambulance so they could treat him in a controlled environment. Equipment to treat cardiac arrest patients is inside the ambulance, and Bravinder said they were concerned about the crowds of passersby.
An officer, Thomas Lane, got into the ambulance with them and helped with chest compressions. Smith removed Floyd’s handcuffs with a set of handcuff keys, he testified. Bravinder testified that he drove the ambulance several blocks and then stopped to continue treating him.
Norton, the fire department captain, testified that no one found the pulse on Floyd’s body. He later reported the incident to superiors in the Fire Department because it involved the death of someone in police custody and an off-duty firefighter had witnessed it.
George Floyd’s girlfriend says they were addicted to opioids
Courteney Batya Ross, 45, said he met Floyd when he was working as a security guard in the Salvation Army. In an emotional testimony, she recounted that they liked to explore the local sculpture garden and go out to eat together on dates.
Floyd liked to exercise every day, lift tables, do sit-ups and pull-ups, and he never complained about being short of breath, he said. He was a mother’s boy who had become a “shadow of himself” after his mother’s death in 2018, he said, describing the well-known photo of him as a “selfie of potato”.
They were both addicted to opioids. Like many americans, were prescribed opioid painkillers to treat chronic pain, which ultimately led to addiction and illegal drug use, his girlfriend testified.
In March 2020, he found Floyd doubled over in pain and led him to an emergency, he declared. Floyd spent several days in the hospital for an overdose, he said. He thinks he was using again in May 2020.
Floyd’s personal descriptions took place during the fourth day of testimony at the Chauvin criminal trial. His girlfriend’s account was a stark departure from the heartbreaking body-camera footage of the four former Minneapolis cops who arrested Floyd in May and played at trial Wednesday.
In opening statements, prosecutors acknowledged Floyd’s history of opioid addiction, but said it was irrelevant to the cause of his death in the older past. However, defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that Floyd’s true cause of death was drug use and various pre-existing health problems.
CNN Senior Legal Analyst Laura Coates explained that prosecutors sometimes decide tackling “negative facts” head-on rather than allowing the defense to do so.
«As a prosecutor you want to present, address and resolve these negative facts. You don’t want the defense to be able to say, ‘Hey, jury, why didn’t you tell him about this? These are the things they don’t want you to know, ‘”Coates said.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism