In new body camera footage shown to jurors on Tuesday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, George Floyd was seen handcuffed and sitting on the street near a Chinese restaurant, giving his name and birth date to one of the first police officers who arrived at Cup Foods after a clerk called to report that Mr. Floyd had used a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes.
The footage was from the body camera of Peter Chang, a Minneapolis Park Police officer who arrived to back up the two rookie officers who first responded to the scene, before Mr. Chauvin and his partner arrived. Officer Chang’s testimony was the first in the trial from an officer who responded to the incident before Mr. Floyd had died.
The new footage was shown on the first day of testimony presented by Eric J. Nelson, the lawyer for Derek Chauvin, and provided a new glimpse of events that day, mostly from the perspective of two of Mr. Floyd’s companions: Morries Lester Hall and Shawanda Hill. As the officers struggled with Mr. Floyd across the street, Mr. Chang remained behind and watched Mr. Hall and Ms. Hill, who seemed to have no idea about the gravity of what was unfolding.
On the video, Mr. Chang is heard telling Mr. Floyd’s friends that if they don’t have warrants out for their arrest, they can go “when all this is settled.” At one point, apparently after Mr. Floyd was taken away in the ambulance, Mr. Hall and Ms. Hill were told that their friend had been taken to the hospital. “What happened to him?” Ms. Hill frantically asked.
During Mr. Chang’s testimony before the body camera video was shown, Mr. Nelson asked about one of the key points of his defense: that the group of vocal bystanders who gathered around the officers as they struggled on the ground with Mr. Floyd became increasingly angry and represented a threat to the officers. “They were very aggressive,” Mr. Chang agreed.
Yet on cross-examination by Matthew Frank, a prosecutor, Mr. Chang seemed to undercut the defense’s point about the angry crowd. Mr. Chang said that while he remained across the street to watch Mr. Floyd’s friends, he assumed the officers struggling with Mr. Floyd had things under control and said they did not ask for help.
He also said that when he first arrived on the scene, Mr. Floyd was peaceful and responding to officers, another point that the state made in its cross-examination, an attempt to highlight that officers had already subdued Mr. Floyd — and drive home their argument to the jury that no more force was necessary to arrest him.
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