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  • Updated: March 30, 2021

Derek Chauvin Trial: Highlights From Monday's Court Sitting

Derek Chauvin Trial: Highlights From Monday's Court Sitting

The trial of Derek Chauvin began on Monday, March 29, and among the highlights of the court sitting was an MMA fighter who said that the former cop's knee on George Floyd's neck was a 'blood choke'.

During the opening statements, the prosecutors took those present back to the tragic incident that occurred on May 25, 2020, when Chauvin kept his knee on the back of Floyd's neck (which led to his demise).

Prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell stated, "Mr. Derek Chauvin betrayed this badge when he used excessive and unreasonable force upon the body of Mr. George Floyd.

"That he put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him until the very breath -- no, ladies and gentlemen -- until the very life was squeezed out of him.

Derek Chauvin (right) and his lawyerDerek Chauvin (right) and his lawyer

45-year-old Chauvin had pleaded not guilty to second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter charges.

Three witnesses (a 911 dispatcher and two bystanders) took the prosecution stand on Monday, laying the groundwork for Floyd's last moments. The witness testimony stage of the trial is expected to last for about a month.

READ ALSO: George Floyd: Derek Chauvin's Trial Finally Moving Ahead

A video clip from a bystander who captured Floyd's final moments was also played for the jurors, with Blackwell emphasizing that Chauvin was on Floyd's neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds (an update on the initially reported 8 minutes and 46 seconds).


The late George FloydThe late George Floyd

Blackwell speaking further said, "This case is not about split decision-making". Responding, attorney Eric Nelson addressed the defense's opening statement on Floyd's use of fentanyl and methamphetamine, and his resisting the arresting officers.

Nelson also aimed to establish doubt as to the exact cause of Floyd's death, claiming that it was not Chauin's knee, but a combination of drug use and preexisting health issues.

He defended Chauvin's actions, saying that they were within proper training.


"You will learn that Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over the course of his 19-year career", Nelson stated. "The use of force is not attractive but it is a necessary component of policing."


Floyd's family members (alongside several attorneys) had on Monday morning knelt for 8 minutes and 46 seconds outside the courthouse to commemorate the time Chauvin was said to have kept his knee on Floyd's neck.

Floyd's family and others kneel outside the courthouseFloyd's family and others kneel outside the courthouse

 Floyd civil attorney Benjamin Crump remarked, "Today starts a landmark trial that will be a referendum on how far America has come in its quest for equality and justice for all."


After the opening statements, the first witness in the case who testified was Jena Scurry, a Minneapolis 911 dispatcher who directed cops to the Cup Foods store, the scene of Floyd's demise.

READ ALSO: Derek Chauvin: Wife of Killer Cop Files For Divorce

In the recorded call that she had made, she had said, "You can call me a snitch if you want to. I don't know if they had to use force or not. They got something out of the back of the squad and all of them sat on this man. So, I don't know if they needed to or not."

In her testimony, Scurry disclosed that she had made the call because she was alarmed by what she witnessed during Floyd's arrest.

Jena ScurryJena Scurry

"My instincts were telling me that something is wrong. Something was not right. I don't know what but something wasn't right. It was an extended period of time."

During the cross-examination, Scurry noted that at one point, a faster ambulance response was called, acknowledging that the video clip showed the squad car shaking back and forth as officers and Floyd struggled during the arrest.


The second prosecution witness who testified was Alisha Mariee Oyler, a worker at the Speedway gas station across the street from where Floyd died.

She said she observed that the police were "messing with someone" and recorded seven cell phone videos of Floyd's arrest from where she was at the time. The clips were all played in court.

Her words, "I always see the police, they are always messing with people and it's wrong, and it's not right."


Donald Wynn Williams II was the third witness of the day. He is a professional mixed martial arts fighter who happened to stumble on the scene of Floyd's arrest. He was also one of the most vocal bystanders.

Using his MMA experience, he testified that Chauvin was doing what was called the 'blood choke' on Floyd. It is a hold on the neck that can cut off circulation to the brain.

From the left: Chauvin's lawyer and ChauvinFrom the left: Chauvin's lawyer and Chauvin

Williams said that he and Chauvin made eye contact after he (Williams) mentioned the blood choke hold out loud.

"When I said it, he acknowledged it", Williams told the court.

His testimony will continue on Tuesday.

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