George Floyd ask for his mother as he died under the knee of a former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin who used a “blood choke” to kill him, court heard on Tuesday.
This came up as the murder trial of Derek entered Day Two with court hearing evidence from witnesses in a suspected murder case that has attracted global attention.
Derek Chauvin, 45, is accused of murdering George Floyd by kneeling on his neck for nearly nine minutes outside a grocery store in the city of Minnesota, US, last May.
Donald Williams, a professional mixed martial arts fighter who witnessed the brutal arrest that resulted into death of Floyd told court he believed Chauvin’s use of the knee on Floyd is a “blood choke” a wrestling move to knock an opponent unconscious.
“You could see that he was trying to gasp for air,” Williams, 33, said of Floyd.
Mr Williams who called 911 to save Floyd dabbed his eyes with a tissue as his distressed voice recording of Floyd filled the courtroom.
“I believe I witnessed a murder,” Williams told the jury. “So I felt I needed to call the police on the police.”
Another witness -a teenager Darnella Frazier shot the viral clip in which Floyd can he can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” that triggered a wave of protests around the world in response to the unarmed black man’s death.
George Floyd ‘begged for his life’ as Derek Chauvin kneeled on his neck, 18-year-old witness Darnella Frazier told the murder trial of the former Minneapolis police officer. Videos of Darnella’s testimony was not broadcast as she was 17 at the time she captured footage of Floyd being pinned down.
Audio of the tearful teen in court recounting the moment Floyd was pinned down by officers outside Cup Foods grocery story was recorded instead.
Her voice shook with emotion as she took to the stand to give witness testimony. She told the court of witnessing Mr Floyd struggling for breath under the tight grip of Derek’s knee.
Prosecutors played videos of the arrest to the jury taken from multiple angles, including the teenager’s video that shows Chauvin pressing his knee into the neck of a dying Floyd.
She wept and her voice grew shaky as she was shown an image from CCTV video at the trial.
The young woman’s voice audibly shook as she was shown the moment when Chauvin, his knee on Floyd’s neck, appears to look directly into her camera lens.
“Yes,” she said, crying and catching her breath, when asked if she recognised him. ”
This was the officer that was kneeling on George Floyd’s neck.”
The teen told jurors: “I heard George Floyd saying ‘I can’t breathe, please, get off of me, I can’t breathe’.”
“He cried for his mom. He was in pain. It seemed like he knew… it seemed like he knew it was over for him.
“He was terrified, he was suffering – this was a cry for help, definitely.”
In opening arguments on Monday, prosecutors said the clips showed excessive force.
The defense however told the jury use of force is a necessary part of policing and Chauvin was following his training, and is not guilty of the charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder or second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin’s lawyers also said that he was distracted from “the care” of Mr Floyd by the angry bystanders that joined Frazier on the sidewalk, who could be heard shouting in one of the clips shown to the court.
Monday’s trial, at Hennepin County Court in Minneapolis, is ongoing under tight security with the court house being guarded by 2,000 National Guard officers deployed across the Minnesota city. They are on high alert after Floyd’s murder sparked looting and rioting across Minneapolis and much of the United States last summer.
Chauvin triggered worldwide fury after he was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes, 46 seconds on May 25 2020 while Floyd gasped ‘I can’t breathe.’ He eventually passed out, and later died.
Chauvin and three colleagues apprehended Floyd after the security guard, a father of two, was accused of trying to pass a fake $20 bill at a convenience store. The clip of Floyd’s death sparked worldwide protests, and an ongoing discussion about police brutality faced by African Americans.
Defense lawyers for Chauvin are likely to claim Floyd’s death was an accident, with his health worsened by synthetic painkiller fentanyl and methamphetamine found in his system during a subsequent autopsy. The other three cops involved in Floyd’s death – J Alexander Kueung, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, have all been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder. They deny the charges they face, and will be tried at a later date. All four officers were fired following Floyd’s death
The 12 jurors who will try Chauvin are set to face a barrage of questions about their views on police and the criminal justice system before being impaneled. Prosecutors will open the trial in the coming days, with proceedings set to last several weeks.