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Stress from scuffle with police ‘more than Mr. Floyd could take’, medical officer testifies

George Floyd’s scuffle with police, along with Derek Chauvin’s knee pressed into his neck, was too much for his underlying heart condition and caused the death of the 46-year-old Black man, the local county’s chief medical officer told a Minneapolis court on Friday.

“[The adrenaline is] going to ask your body for more oxygen so that you can get through that altercation,” said Dr. Andrew Baker, the Hennepin County medical examiner who conducted the autopsy on Floyd and ruled his death to be a homicide.

Baker’s testimony marked the 10th day of the murder trail of Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer who is facing trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter in connection with the death of Floyd.

“And in my opinion, the law enforcement subdual restraint and the neck compression was just more than Mr. Floyd could take by virtue of those heart conditions,” Baker said.

Baker’s testimony veered somewhat from what the court had previously heard from other medical witnesses called by the prosecution.

Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of his neck for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down.

Witness reaffirmed autopsy report

The outcome of the high profile trial is being closely watched after video of the arrest of Floyd captured by a bystander prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests over race and police brutality across the U.S. and around the world.


Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell questions Baker at the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (Court TV/Associated Press)

The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while detaining him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store, caused his death. But the defence argues Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

The court has so far heard from prosecution medical experts, including a leading lung specialist, who have testified that Floyd died from asphyxia — or insufficient oxygen — because of the actions of police. Baker has not ruled asphyxiation to be a cause of Floyd’s death.

Previous witnesses had significantly downplayed Floyd’s pre-existing medical conditions and drugs found in his system as playing a role in his death. 

However, Baker reaffirmed the findings of his autopsy report. He said those elements were contributing factors, though not the primary cause of death.

Adrenaline impacts

Under questioning by prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, Baker explained that Floyd had narrowed coronary arteries — about 75 per cent blockage in his left anterior descending artery and 90 per cent blockage in his right coronary artery. Floyd also had hypertensive heart disease, meaning his heart weighed slightly more than it should.


Chauvin’s defence attorney Eric Nelson cross-examines Baker. (Court TV/Associated Press)

Floyd’s confrontation with police, which included being pinned facedown on the pavement while Chauvin pressed his knees into his neck, produced adrenaline that made Floyd’s heart beat faster.

Baker testified that Floyd died of “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” 

Asked to explain cardiopulmonary arrest, Baker said that was “fancy medical lingo for the heart and the lungs stopped.”

He also explained the definition of “homicide” in an autopsy report, that it was a medical and not a legal term, which is applied when the actions of other people were involved in an individual’s death.

Cross-examination 

During cross-examination, Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson seized on the potential role played by Floyd’s heart condition and drugs found in his system.

“In your opinion, both the heart disease as well as the history of hypertension and the drugs that were in his system played a role in Mr. Floyd’s death?” Nelson asked Baker.

“In my opinion, yes,” Baker said. 


Chauvin takes notes at his trial in the death of George Floyd. (Court TV/Associated Press)

Baker also agreed that he had certified overdose as the cause of death in other autopsies where that individual had much lower levels of fentanyl in their system than was found in Floyd.

Nelson asked Baker if he recalled having conversations last year with prosecutors in which he described the level of fentanyl found in Floyd’s system was a “fatal level.”

“I recall describing it in other circumstances, it would be a fatal level,” Baker said.

But Baker also agreed that he had described Floyd’s s death as a “multifactorial process.”

He said drugs and hypertension were not “direct causes” but they were “contributing causes.”

The trial continues. 

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George Floyd died of oxygen loss, not pre-existing conditions or overdose, prosecution experts say

George Floyd’s pre-existing medical conditions and drugs in his system had nothing to do with his death, two medical experts for the prosecution testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial Thursday. Rather, a combination of actions during his arrest that deprived him of oxygen caused his death, they said.

“Floyd died from a low level of oxygen, and this caused damage to his brain that we see, and it also caused a PEA (pulseless electrical activity) arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop,” Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Chicago, told Hennepin County District Court.

Tobin said handcuffing Floyd and pinning him face down to the pavement — along with the knees of Chauvin pressed into his neck and back, all combined to reduce his ability to breathe and, ultimately, killed him.

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,” Tobin said.

‘Pressure on his chest and back’

Dr. Bill Smock, a Louisville, Ky., physician and expert on deaths from asphyxia, agreed that Floyd died “because he had no oxygen left in his body,” as a result of “pressure on his chest and back.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of his neck and back for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video of the arrest captured by a bystander prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests over race and police brutality across the U.S. and around the world.

Chauvin, 45, a former Minneapolis police officer, is facing trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter. Thursday marked the ninth day of the trial.

The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while detaining him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store, caused his death. But the defence argues Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

Floyd suffered from heart disease and high blood pressure, while toxicology results revealed fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system.

WATCH | Expert explains why fentanyl overdose is unlikely to have caused Floyd’s death:

Dr. Bill Smock, an expert on deaths from asphyxia, said that based on the actions of George Floyd, there was no evidence he overdosed on fentanyl. 0:22

However, Tobin dismissed any suggestion that fentanyl in Floyd’s system led to his death, saying that based on his calculations, Floyd’s respiratory rate before he lost consciousness would have been much lower if this was the case.

“Do any of those conditions have anything to do with the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, in your professional opinion, whatsoever,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked Tobin.

“None whatsoever,” he replied.

Instead, Tobin went through a detailed examination of Floyd’s death, based on medical records, videos and interviews. Tobin said four things contributed to Floyd’s lack of oxygen: That he was handcuffed; put in the prone position face down on the ground; that Chauvin’s knees were pressed into Floyd’s neck and back; and that his chest was pinned against the pavement, unable to fully expand.

All of these four forces are ultimately going to result in the low tidal volume, which gives you the shallow breaths,” he said. 


In this image from video, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell poses questions in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murdering George Floyd. Two medical experts for the prosecution testified Thursday that Floyd died because of a lack of oxygen caused by the way he was restrained by Chauvin and other officers during his May 2020 arrest. (COURT TV/Associated Press)

Tobin said the way the police were pushing down on Floyd’s handcuffs, combined with Floyd being pressed against the hard pavement, had the effect of putting his left side in a vise “that totally interfere(s) with central features of how we breathe.”

“There was virtually very little opportunity for him to be able to get any air to move into the left side of his chest,” he said.

“He’s jammed down against the street. And so the street is playing a major role in preventing him from expanding his chest.”

Prevented from expanding chest

Based on videos of the arrest, Tobin said, he calculated that half of Chauvin’s weight , 91.5 pounds, came down directly on Floyd’s neck. 

Tobin explained to jurors what happens as the space in the airway narrows. Breathing then becomes “enormously more difficult,” he said, comparing it to “breathing through a drinking straw,” although he later clarified it would be much harder than that.

Tobin also explained that Chavin’s knee on Floyd’s neck “is extremely important because it’s going to occlude (stop) the air getting in through the passageway.”

“Officer Chauvin’s left knee is virtually on the neck for the vast majority of the time,” he said.

Under cross examination, Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, argued that Tobin was making certain assumptions when doing his calculations.

Tobin disagreed, saying he made “very few assumptions.”

But Tobin agreed that, for example, he never actually weighed Chauvin on May 25, 2020, or weighed his equipment.


Defence attorney Eric Nelson questions witness Martin Tobin in Hennepin County District Court Thursday. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

‘That is not a fentanyl overdose’

Meanwhile, Smock, under questioning by Blackwell, stressed that in his opinion, Floyd wasn’t exhibiting the signs of someone who had suffered a fentanyl overdose.

“When you watch those videos and we go through them, what is his respiration? He’s breathing. He’s talking, he’s not snoring. He is saying, ‘Please, please get off of me. I want to breathe. I can’t breathe.’ That is not a fentanyl overdose. That is somebody begging to breathe.”

Smock also testified that the level of methamphetamine in Floyd’s system was “really a nothing level.”

Under cross-examination, Smock was asked whether a “methamphetamine and fentanyl” death is a much different type of a death than an exclusive fentanyl death.

“Depending upon the level, yes,” he said.


A screen capture from an officer’s body-worn camera shows Floyd in his car as police attempt to arrest him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis. (Minneapolis Police body camera video)

Smock was also asked if he has experience with deaths in people who have ingested methamphetamine and fentanyl and also have cardiac disease.

“Not just necessarily from those, but maybe from something else,” Smock said.

“But sometimes, it could just be from those,” Nelson said.

“It would depend upon the case,” Smock sad.

Smock was also asked if one of the side effects of prescribed amphetamine is a sudden heart arrhythmia. 

“Depending upon the level, it’s a rare side effect, but it’s certainly possible,” Smock said.

And Smock agreed that people have suffered cardiac arrhythmias during struggles with police before.

But under redirect from Blackwell, Smock agreed there was no evidence that Floyd had a heart attack or a “sudden death that looked like an arrhythmia.”

“Did you see any evidence that he died of an overdose?” Blackwell asked.

“No, sir, he did not,” Smock said.

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Chauvin trial witness backtracks on whether body cam captured George Floyd saying he ‘ate too many drugs’

The lead Minnesota state investigator on the George Floyd case changed his testimony at the trial of Derek Chauvin on Wednesday, telling the court that he now believed Floyd said, “I ain’t do no drugs,” not “I ate too many drugs,” during his May 2020 arrest.

Senior Special Agent James Reyerson of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension initially agreed with Floyd’s defence attorney that it sounded like Floyd said the latter in police body-camera video played in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis Wednesday.

But after listening to a longer version of the recording, Reyerson said, he believed Floyd was, in fact, saying: “I ain’t do no drugs.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of Floyd’s neck and his back for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video of the arrest captured by a bystander prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests across the U.S. and around the world.

Chauvin, 45, is facing trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter. Wednesday marked the eighth day of the trial.

Drug use a key question in trial

The issue of Floyd’s drug use is significant to Chauvin’s defence. The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck caused his death. But the defence argues Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

Floyd had been detained outside a convenience store after being suspected of paying with a counterfeit bill. All four officers were later fired. 

Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had earlier in the day introduced this evidence during his cross-examination of prosecution witness Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and use-of-force expert.

Nelson played a snippet of video from the body-worn camera of J. Alexander Kueng, one of four officers involved in the arrest and later fired, and asked Stiger if he could hear Floyd say, “I ate too many drug” as he was handcuffed and prone on the pavement, pinned by the officers.

Stiger replied that he could not make out those words in the footage.

Later, Nelson attempted to get confirmation of the comment while cross-examining Reyerson. Nelson played the clip again, and asked whether it sounded like Floyd said, “I ate too many drugs.”

“Yes, it did,” Reyerson said.

After a short break, Reyerson was questioned by prosecutor Matthew Frank and told the court that during the break, he was able to watch a longer version of the clip that included discussion by officers about Floyd’s potential drug use.

“Having heard it in context, were you able to tell what Mr. Floyd was saying there?” Frank asked Reyerson after the clip was played again in court.

“Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd is saying, ‘I ain’t doing no drugs,'” Reyerson said.

Chauvin had responsibility to re-evaluate use of force: expert witness

Earlier in the day, court heard from Stiger, appearing as a paid prosecution witness providing expert testimony on use of force, say that Chauvin had a responsibility to re-evaluate pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck during their encounter as the health of the 46-year old Black man was clearly “deteriorating.”


Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant, serving as a paid prosecution witness providing expert testimony on use of force, appeared for his second day of testimony Wednesday, the eighth day of trial. (COURT TV/The Associated Press)

Stiger had testified the day before that the pressure being exerted on Floyd was excessive and could cause positional asphyxia and lead to death. On Wednesday he reaffirmed that the force Chauvin used on Floyd was “not objectively reasonable.”

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked Stiger whether Chauvin had an obligation to take into account the distress Floyd was displaying when considering whether to continue the type of force he was applying.

“Absolutely. As the time went on … his health was deteriorating,” Stiger said. “His breath was getting lower. His tone of voice was getting lower. His movements were starting to cease.

“So at that point, as on officer on scene, you have a responsibility to realize, ‘OK, something is not right. Something has changed drastically from what was occurring earlier.’ So therefore, you have responsibility to take some type of action.”

During cross-examination, Chauvin’s lawyer asked a question he has posed to other witnesses — whether there are times when a suspect can fake the need for medical attention. Stiger agreed there were.

Obligated to believe

But when asked by the prosecutor whether an officer can “opt not to believe” the detained individual, Stiger said an officer is still obligated to believe them. 

“That’s part of our duty,” he said. 

Stiger also testified that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck or neck area from the time officers put Floyd on the ground until paramedics arrived.

“That particular force did not change during the entire restraint period?” Schleicher asked as he showed the jury a composite image of five photos taken from various bystander and body-cam videos of the arrest.


Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in Floyd’s death. (COURT TV/The Associated Press)

“Correct,” Stiger replied.

But Nelson was able to get Stiger to agree with a number of statements. Stiger agreed with Nelson, for example, that an officer’s actions must be viewed from the point of view of a reasonable officer on the scene, not in hindsight.

He also agreed that a not-risky situation can suddenly escalate and that a person in handcuffs can still pose a threat to an officer.

Stiger also agreed that when Chauvin arrived at the scene and saw officers struggling to get him in the back seat of the squad car, it would have been within police policy guidelines for Chauvin to have stunned Floyd with a Taser. 

And he agreed with Nelson that sometimes the use of force “looks really bad” but is still lawful.

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Former cashier felt ‘disbelief and guilt’ as police confronted George Floyd

A former Minneapolis convenience store cashier who claimed George Floyd gave him a counterfeit $ 20 bill testified on Wednesday he felt “disbelief and guilt” as he later watched the 46-year-old Black man being pinned to the ground by police.

“If I would’ve just not [taken] the bill, this could’ve been avoided,” said Christopher Martin, 19, who had been an employee at the Cup Foods store.

Martin was testifying on the third day of the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in the death of Floyd. Floyd died after Chauvin pressed a knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video captured by a bystander showed the handcuffed Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. 

Chauvin, who was fired from the police force after Floyd’s death, is also charged with the lesser offence of second-degree manslaughter.

Along with Martin’s testimony, the Hennepin County District Court also saw about 10 minutes of video footage of Floyd inside the Cup Foods convenience store, where he had gone to buy some cigarettes.

In the video, Floyd can be seen walking through the store, waiting in line, laughing, and doing what appears to be a brief dance.

Martin testified that Floyd was very friendly, approachable and talkative and that he had asked Floyd if he played baseball.

‘Appeared he was high’

Floyd responded that he played football but it took him a little long to “get to what he wanted to say” and that it “appeared he was high,” Martin told the court.

Martin said he sold Floyd a pack fo cigarettes, at which time Floyd handed him a $ 20 bill. When Floyd left the store, Martin said he examined the bill and determined, because it had a “blue pigment” to it, that it was counterfeit.

Martin also noted that the store’s policy is that counterfeit bills that are accepted by the cashiers will come out of their salary.

He said he initially planned to just put the bill on his “tab” and that he thought Floyd “didn’t really know that it was a fake bill.”

However, Martin notified the store manager, who told Martin to go outside and ask Floyd to come back into the store.


Former convenience store cashier Christopher Martin testified that Floyd gave him a counterfeit $ 20 bill. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

Refused to come back

Martin said he attempted that twice, once with one co-worker, and a second time with two different co-workers. Both times, Martin said, Floyd refused to come back into the store.

It was after the second refusal that the manager told another co-worker to call the police.

After police arrived, Martin said he went outside as people were gathering on the curb and yelling at the officers who were confronting Floyd. He then called his mother, with whom he lived in an apartment upstairs, and told her to stay inside. He then took out his phone and began recording.

Martin testified he saw one of the officers, Tou Thao, push one of his co-workers. Martin said he also held back another man who was trying to defend himself after being pushed by Thao.

Under cross examination by Chauvin’s defence counsel Eric Nelson, Martin told court that Floyd had been in the store earlier with another man. That man, said Martin, had been caught trying to pass off a counterfeit $ 20 bill, one that looked similar to the bill Floyd had paid with, Martin said. 

The prosecution claims Chauvin crushed his knee into Floyd’s neck, an application of unreasonable force that it says led to his death later in hospital. But Chauvin’s defence argues the 19-year veteran police officer did exactly as he had been trained to do and that Floyd’s death was the result of a combination of underlying medical conditions and drugs in his system.

Three other officers at the scene were fired. Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, and will go on trial in August.

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Off-duty firefighter ‘was desperate’ for police to let her aid George Floyd, court hears

A Minneapolis firefighter who saw George Floyd being pinned to the ground by police officers while she was off duty testified at the Derek Chauvin murder trial Tuesday that she felt “totally distressed” that she was prevented from providing the 46-year-old Black man medical aid.

Genevieve Hansen was one of a series of bystanders who testified in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis on the second day of the trial about what they witnessed on May 25, 2020, as police pinned Floyd to the ground after they detained him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store.

That included the emotional testimony of Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she took the viral video of Floyd’s arrest that sparked protests over police brutality and racial injustice around the world. 

Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in the death of Floyd. Chauvin, who was fired from the police force after Floyd’s death, is also charged with the lesser offence of second-degree manslaughter.

The prosecution claims Chauvin crushed his knee into Floyd’s neck, an application of unreasonable force that it says led to his death later in hospital. But Chauvin’s defence argues the 19-year veteran police officer did exactly as he had been trained to do and that Floyd’s death was the result of a combination of underlying medical conditions and drugs in his system. 

Hansen, who testified in her dress uniform and said she had emergency medical technician training, had been out for a walk when she came across the officers and Floyd.

She said she observed that Floyd needed medical attention and was in an “altered level of consciousness.”


This image from a police body camera shows people gathering as Chauvin presses his knee on Floyd’s neck outside the Cup Foods convenience story in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Floyd later died in hospital. (Minneapolis Police Department/The Associated Press)

Would have checked for pulse

She told the court had she been allowed to assist, she would have requested additional help and had someone fetch a defibrillator from the nearby gas station.

She said she would have checked Floyd’s airway for any obstructions, checked for a pulse, and, if no pulse was found, would have started compressions.

But she said, the officers didn’t allow her to assist.

She was asked by prosecutor Matthew Frank how that made her feel.

“Totally distressed,” she said. 

“Were you frustrated?” Frank asked.

“Yes,” she said, as she broke into tears.

Frank later asked her to explain why she felt helpless.

“Because there was a man being killed, and had I had access to a call similar to that, I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human was denied that right,” she told the court.

She said she pleaded with police and “was desperate” for them to let her help. 

WATCH | Judge Peter Cahill rebukes witness over testimony:

Judge Peter Cahill admonished witness Genevieve Hansen for her responses to defence counsel. 0:50

When ambulance arrived and took Floyd, she called 911. The recording of that call was played in court Tuesday. In it, Hansen tells the dispatcher that she had just watched police officers not take a pulse or do anything to save a man.

But during cross-examination, she grew testy with Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson. When asked about the bystanders expressing their anger at police, she told Nelson: “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting.”

“I’m going to just ask you to answer my questions as I ask them to you,” Nelson said.

Judge rebukes witness

Her responses to Nelson earned her a stern rebuke from Judge Peter Cahill, who, after the jury had been cleared for the day, warned her that she should not argue with the court or counsel and that they have the right to ask questions.

“I was finishing my answer,” Hansen said.

“I will determine when your answer is done,” Cahill said.

Earlier in the day, court also heard from Frazier, the teenager who shot the viral video, who testified that she had stayed up at night apologizing for not doing more to help him.

Frazier, acknowledging that that video has changed her life, was tearful at times and testified that any of her Black friends or family members could have been in Floyd’s position that day.

She said she has stayed up at night “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting, not saving his life.”

Then she added: “But it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he should have done,” in what appeared to be a reference to Chauvin.

Frazier told the court she had been walking to a corner store with her younger cousin on May 25, 2020, when she encountered police pinning Floyd to the ground.

“It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain,” she said.

WATCH | Teen who shot video of Floyd says she wishes she could have saved him

Darnella Frazier, the teenagers who shot the viral video of George Floyd, says she stays up at night apologizing for not doing more to help him. 1:07

She said she sent her cousin into the store because she didn’t want her to see “a man terrified, scared, begging for his life.”

Frazier said she took out her phone and began recording. She later posted the video on social media, where it went viral around the globe.

As Frazier recorded, she said she heard Floyd say that he “can’t breathe,” for the officer to “please get off of me,” and that he cried for his mom.

“He was in pain. It seemed like he knew it was over for him. He was terrified. He was suffering. This was a cry for help,” she said. 

As the crowd of bystanders became more hostile toward police, Frazier said that Chauvin applied more pressure with his knee to Floyd. 

She said Chauvin’s response to the crowd was a “cold look, heartless.

“He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying.”


Witness Donald Williams says he called 911 after watching Chauvin shove his knee into Floyd’s neck because he believed he had witnessed a murder. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

‘I believe I witnessed a murder’

Court also heard from Donald Williams, another bystander and witness who continued his testimony from the first day of the trial.

Court heard a 911 recording of Williams, who testified he made the call because at the time, “I believe I witnessed a murder.”

“I felt the need to call the police on the police,” he said.

Williams can be heard on the call with a dispatcher, saying that Chauvin “just pretty much killed this guy who wasn’t resisting arrest.”


Defence attorney Eric Nelson, left, and Chauvin are seen in court on the second day of the murder trial into Floyd’s death. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

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George Floyd murder trial tests how much — if anything — will change in U.S.

Bishop Richard Howell Jr. thundered from his North Minneapolis pulpit Sunday that the city “is under great stress right now” as the George Floyd murder trial tests how much, if anything, will change in the U.S. almost 10 months after the killing sparked global outrage.

Jury selection for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, whose knee pressing on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes was captured on graphic video last May, is expected to get underway Monday.

“This officer coldly refused to respond to his plea and kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, snuffing the very life out of him,” preached Howell as his congregants shouted out their acknowledgement.

“A senseless, cold, hideous act of hate, bigotry and brutality,” said Howell, who is opening his church to those who may struggle watching the live-streamed trial.

WATCH | Security high in advance of trial in George Floyd’s killing:

Emotions are high and security is heavy as the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is slated to begin. The killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, touched off numerous protests and an ongoing racial reckoning. 3:37

Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer, told CBC News that the upcoming case is “one of the most important civil rights cases in the last 100 years. It is the Emmett Till of today.”

Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager, was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly flirting with a white woman in a grocery store. His killers were swiftly acquitted.

“Mississippi or Minnesota, I don’t see much difference,” Deborah Watts, one of Till’s cousins, said at a Minneapolis news conference on Friday surrounded by dozens of families whose relatives have been shot or killed by police. “Emmett Till was murdered in August 1955, and we are still fighting for justice.

“Something is wrong with that … we have not made much progress.”

Last summer, millions of people protested across the U.S. against Floyd’s killing in scenes not witnessed since the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Protests against racial injustice and police brutality spread to Canada and many cities internationally.

WATCH | Lawyer for George Floyd’s family discusses upcoming trial:

Benjamin Crump tells CBC’s Susan Ormiston that if the officer’s involved in George Floyd’s killing aren’t convicted, it would be ‘one of the worst miscarriages of justice’ in U.S. history. 1:59

Crump said the video of Floyd — handcuffed, face down on the pavement, gasping for breath — is “ocular proof” of a man being “tortured to death by the very people who are supposed to protect and defend.”

“The world had gotten used to seeing reality TV, but we were still shocked,” he told CBC News from his office in Tallahassee, Fla.

The criminal trial against Chauvin will be prosecuted by the state of Minnesota. While Crump is not directly involved in this case, its outcome will inevitably impact the family’s civil case against the city of Minneapolis and the four police officers involved in Floyd’s death.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, with the potential addition of a third-degree murder charge. Three other officers involved in Floyd’s death go on trial in August.

Increased security around courthouse

Cameras in the courtroom will capture the trial and live stream it for broadcast on some TV channels — a first for Minnesota. The trial is being compared to that of the Los Angeles police officers who were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King 30 years ago, as well as the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which commanded large TV audiences.

“The killing of George Floyd by Officer Chauvin is akin for many Americans to some type of public lynching, the likes of which we haven’t seen for decades,” said Kami Chavis, a law professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

“I don’t want people to underestimate the power and the importance of this case and what might happen,” she said. “It’s a huge signal, I think, to law enforcement about what they can and can’t do.”


The Hennepin County courthouse and many federal buildings in Minneapolis are barricaded and surrounded by concertina wire ahead of the trial. (Sylvia Thomson/CBC)

The Hennepin County courthouse in Minneapolis is now surrounded by three rings of cement barriers, three-metre high fencing and concertina wire. The state has allocated $ 36 million US to security and has activated the Minnesota National Guard. Staff in the building, which includes the county government office, have been told to stay home.

The courtroom has been modified to accommodate physical distancing due to COVID-19, restricting the number of people allowed inside. One person per family, four each for the defence and prosecution teams and two media members are allowed in at a time. Masks are mandatory, but cannot have anything written on them. 

Challenges in selecting a jury

Three weeks have been allotted to jury selection as lawyers try to screen potential jurors for bias, a complicated task in such a highly publicized case.

Activists in Minneapolis say Chauvin is the fourth police officer to be prosecuted in the death of a citizen in Minnesota. Two were acquitted, while one other was convicted in the death of a white woman.

“For the most part, officers are pretty sympathetic figures in a lot of these cases. And juries give a great deal of deference to what police officers do. So that will be a challenge as well,” Chavis said.


The courtroom for Chauvin’s trial has been modified to allow for physical distancing due to COVID-19. (Hennepin County)

One of those acquittals involved the death of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by police in July 2016 in a St. Paul suburb while stopped at a traffic light with his girlfriend and a four-year-old in the car. The officer, who was charged with second-degree manslaughter, was acquitted — but fired from the force.

Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, sent a message to legislators during Friday’s emotional news conference.

“We’re gonna have to be brutally honest about what’s going on in this country”, she said. “To the State of Minnesota: we are not going to shut up, we are not going to sit down, we are going to stand in unity and we’re going to bring it to you”.

‘Many other people were murdered before George Floyd’

The death of Floyd, who was originally from Texas, has propelled the fight against anti-Black racism and police brutality back into the forefront.. Artwork of the 46-year-old’s face has popped up on billboards, buildings and in museums, and his death has become a lightning rod for thousands of Black families whose relatives have been stopped, shot or killed by police in their communities.

“What happened after George Floyd’s death — the riots, the uproar — did not happen as a result of one man’s life. It happened because many other people were murdered before George Floyd. And nothing happened. Nothing changed”, Toshira Garraway, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, told CBC News.

Garraway’s fiancé, Justin Teigen, died following a run-in with police 12 years ago. According to St. Paul police, Teigen was fleeing police and did not die in their custody.

A mural showing his face along with dozens of others, including Floyd’s, covers the side of a building in North Minneapolis. It serves as a visual reminder of the more than 400 people who’ve been killed in altercations with police in Minnesota in the last 20 years, according to the Communities United Against Police Brutality advocacy group.

“If George Floyd did something wrong, if all the rest of our loved ones did something wrong, [police] were to arrest them. Not take their lives, not destroy our lives,” Garraway said.


Toshira Garraway, who founded Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, stands in front of a mural of Minnesotans who have died after police encounters. (Sylvia Thomson/CBC)

Crump said the Floyd family is “very, very anxious” and wants “a conviction to the fullest extent of the law.” He said anything less has the potential to unleash more unrest.

Violence and riots last summer in the days after Floyd’s killing burned blocks of the city, with damage estimated at $ 350 million US. Minneapolis is bracing against heightened tensions when the case goes to the jury, which is expected to happen late April or May.

“Historically in America, the police have not been held accountable for killing African Americans,” said Crump, who has taken on dozens of cases where Black men and women have been shot or injured by police.

“The George Floyd case will be a referendum on how far America has come in this quest for equal justice under the law.”

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George Floyd told ‘it takes … a lot of oxygen to talk’ during arrest, transcript reveals

As George Floyd told Minneapolis police officers that he couldn’t breathe more than 20 times in the moments before he died, the officer who pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck dismissed his pleas, saying “it takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk,” according to transcripts of body camera video recordings made public Wednesday.

The transcripts for the body camera videos of officers Thomas Lane and J. Kueng provide the most detailed account yet of what happened as police were taking Floyd into custody on May 25, and reveal more of what was said after Floyd, a Black man who was handcuffed, was put on the ground.

“You’re going to kill me, man,” Floyd said, according to a transcript of Lane’s body camera video.

“Then stop talking, stop yelling. It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk,” said Derek Chauvin, the white officer who held his knee to Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes, even after Floyd stopped moving.

“They’ll kill me. They’ll kill me. I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe,” Floyd said.

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, had no immediate comment Wednesday.

Former officer seeks dismissal

The transcripts were made public Wednesday as part of Lane’s request to have the case against him dismissed. Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, said in a memorandum that there isn’t probable cause to charge his client, based on all of the evidence and the law.

Gray painted an image of a rookie officer who trusted Chauvin, a senior officer, after Floyd had been acting erratically, struggling and hurting himself during an arrest. Gray said that once Floyd was on the ground, Lane had asked twice if officers should roll Floyd on his side, and Chauvin said no.

Gray also submitted the body camera footage itself, but that was not immediately made public. The transcripts show Floyd appearing co-operative at times but becoming agitated as he begged not to be put in a squad car, saying repeatedly he was claustrophobic.

“Oh man, God don’t leave me man, please man, please man,” he begged, later adding: “I’ll do anything y’all tell me to, man … I’m just claustrophobic, that’s it.”

Gray wrote that Floyd started to thrash back and forth and was “hitting his face on the glass in the squad and began to bleed from his mouth.” Officers brought Floyd to the ground and, “the plan was to restrain him so he couldn’t move and hurt himself anymore,” Gray wrote.

Helped with CPR

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Lane, Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. Lane was holding Floyd’s legs at the time, Kueng was at Floyd’s midsection and Thao was watching nearby bystanders. All four officers were fired.

A message left with an attorney for Floyd’s family wasn’t immediately returned. A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said prosecutors plan to oppose the motion to dismiss.


Former officers, from left, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao and Lane are charged in Floyd’s death. ( Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office/The Associated Press)

As part of his court filing, Gray also submitted a transcript of Lane’s interview with state investigators and police department training materials on restraint holds. Gray wrote that all of the evidence exonerates his client and that it is not “fair or reasonable” for Lane to stand trial.

Gray said in a memorandum that his client’s body camera video shows the encounter with Floyd from the time Lane got on the scene to the point where Floyd was put into an ambulance; Lane went in the ambulance and helped with CPR, according to the transcript.

Lane repeatedly told Floyd to show his hands, and he told investigators he drew his gun at first because Floyd was reaching for something, but holstered it once Floyd showed his hands. Body camera video transcripts show Floyd initially said he had been shot before, and begged police not to shoot him.

Gray said Floyd was acting erratically and had foam at his mouth. According to the body camera video transcripts, when asked about the foam and whether he was on something, Floyd said he was scared and had been playing basketball.

As officers struggled to get Floyd into the squad car, Floyd said: “I can’t breathe” and “I want to lay on the ground,” the transcripts say.

Once Floyd was on the ground, Lane told the other officers “he’s got to be on something.” and he asked twice whether officers should roll Floyd onto his side — Chauvin said no.

“Lane had no basis to believe Chauvin was wrong in making that decision,” Gray wrote.

Bystanders told officers repeatedly to check Floyd’s pulse, and after Kueng did he said, “I can’t find one.”

“Huh?” Chauvin said, according to the transcript of Keung’s body camera video.

‘Reasonably justified’

Lane told state investigators that Chauvin was not Lane’s field training officer, but that he had trained Kueng and was someone Lane had previously gone to for guidance. According to a transcript of that interview, one investigator said it seemed like Lane’s gut was telling him something wasn’t right with the way Floyd was being restrained.

“Yeah. I would say felt like it maybe could have been handled differently or we should be reassessing what we’re doing, I think is what I was kind of coming to,” Lane said.


A Detroit protester holds a photo of Floyd on May 29. The case launched nationwide protests. (Sylvia Jarrus/Reuters)

Gray argued in his memorandum that in order to charge Lane with aiding and abetting, prosecutors must show Lane played a knowing role in committing a crime. He said there’s no evidence Lane played an intentional role or knew Chauvin was committing a crime, namely assault.

“The decision to restrain Floyd was reasonably justified,” Gray wrote, adding: “Based on Floyd’s actions up to this point, the officers had no idea what he would do next — hurt himself, hurt the officers, flee, or anything else, but he was not co-operating.”

Gray wrote that Lane’s trust in Chauvin was “reasonable and not criminal.”

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George Floyd remembered in passionate, political tributes at funeral

George Floyd was lovingly remembered Tuesday as Big Floyd — a “gentle giant,” a father and brother, athlete and mentor, and now a force for change — at a funeral for the Black man whose death has sparked a global reckoning over police brutality and racial prejudice.

“George Floyd was not expendable. This is why we’re here,” Democratic Rep. Al Green of Texas told the crowd at the Fountain of Praise Church in Houston. “His crime was that he was born Black. That was his only crime. George Floyd deserved the dignity and respect that we accord all people just because they are children of a common God.”

Floyd’s brother, Philonise, told mourners: “Third Ward, Cuney Homes, that’s where he was born at … But everybody is going to remember him around the world. He is going to change the world.”

Floyd, 46, cried out for his mother and pleaded he couldn’t breathe as a white Minneapolis police officer pressed a knee on his neck May 25. Video of the encounter ignited protests and scattered violence in cities across the U.S. and around the world.

While the service was private, at least 50 people gathered outside the church to pay their respects.

“There’s a real big change going on and everybody, especially Black, right now should be a part of that,” said Kersey Biagase, who travelled more than three hours from Port Barre, La., with his girlfriend, Brandi Pickney.


The casket of George Floyd is put into the hearse as the Rev. Al Sharpton looks on following the funeral service in Houston. (David J. Phillip, Pool/The Associated Press)

Family members speak

Dozens of Floyd’s family members, most dressed in white, were led into the sanctuary by the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights activist.

They gave tearful tributes and made impassioned demands for justice at his funeral. They gathered around the church podium and stepped up one at a time to talk about about their lost loved one.

His aunt, Kathleen McGee, laughed as she remembered the child her family knew as Perry Jr., calling him a “pesky little rascal, but we loved him.”

His sister, LaTonya Floyd, was almost too overwhelmed to talk, wiping away tears and lowering her face mask to say “I’m going to miss my brother a whole lot and I love you. And I thank God for giving me my own personal Superman.”

Brooke Williams, a niece, called for change to what she called “a corrupt and broken system.”

WATCH | Floyd’s niece delivers passionate, political tribute:

George Floyd’s niece, Brooke Williams, says the death of her uncle is not just murder but a hate crime. 3:30

One of several pastors who spoke said Floyd, a man from humble beginnings, has changed the world. “Out of his death has come a movement, a worldwide movement,” said Rev. Bill Lawson, who once marched with the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. “But that movement is not going to stop after two weeks, three weeks, a month. That movement is going to change the world.”

In a video eulogy played at the service, former vice-president Joe Biden, the Democratic presidential candidate, said: “No child should have to ask questions that too many Black children have had to ask for generations: Why?” He continued, “Now is the time for racial justice. That is the answer we must give to our children when they ask why.”


The Rev. Al Sharpton, left, speaks with Quincy Mason Floyd, son of George Floyd, before the funeral Tuesday at Fountain of Praise church in Houston. (Godofredo A. Vásquez/Houston Chronicle via AP)

Biden made no mention of politics. But other speakers took swipes at President Donald Trump, who has ignored demands to address racial bias and has called on authorities crack down hard on lawlessness.

“The president talks about bringing in the military, but he did not say one word about eight minutes and 46 seconds of police murder of George Floyd,” Sharpton said. “He challenged China on human rights. But what about the human right of George Floyd?”

Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner brought the crowd to its feet when he announced he will sign an executive order banning police chokeholds in the city. 

WATCH | Houston mayor brings mourners to their feet:

People all over the world are doing things they might not have done because of George Floyd, says Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner. 3:07

Following the funeral, Floyd’s body was to be taken by horse-drawn carriage to a cemetery in suburban Pearland, Texas, where he was to be laid to rest next to his mother.

With the service still underway, hundreds of people lined the route to the cemetery. Many said they had arrived hours ahead to secure a spot.

“We’re out here for a purpose. That purpose is because first of all he’s our brother. Second, we want to see change,” said Marcus Brooks, 47, who set up a tent along the route with other graduates of Jack Yates High School, Floyd’s alma mater. “I don’t want to see any Black man, any man, but most definitely not a Black man sitting on the ground in the hands of bad police.”

‘So much for social distancing’

Mourners in the church included rapper Trae tha Truth, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee from the Houston area, and the city’s police chief, Art Acevedo. Nearly all the pews were full, with relatively little space between people.

“So much for social distancing today,” the Rev. Remus Wright told mourners, gently but firmly instructing those attending to don face masks because of the pandemic.

Many people fanned themselves with paper fans bearing an image of Floyd.

Floyd “often spoke about being world famous one day, and he has managed to make that happen in his death,” the funeral program said.

The hours-long service came one day after about 6,000 people attended a public memorial Monday in Houston, waiting for hours under baking sun to pay their respects to Floyd, whose body lay in an open gold-coloured casket.

Over the past six days, memorials for Floyd were also held in Minneapolis, where he lived in recent years, and Raeford, North Carolina, near where he was born.


Democratic presidential candidate, former vice-president Joe Biden speaks via video link at the funeral. (David J. Phillip, Pool/The Associated Press)

Four Minneapolis officers were charged in connection with Floyd’s death, which was captured on video by bystanders.

Floyd’s death sparked international protests and drew new attention to the treatment of African Americans in the U.S. by police and the criminal justice system. In the past two weeks, sweeping and previously unthinkable things have taken place: Confederate statues have been toppled, police departments around America have rethought the way they patrol minority neighbourhoods, legislatures have debated use-of-force policies, and white, black and brown people have had uncomfortable, sometimes heated, discussions about race in a nation that is supposed to ensure equal opportunity for all.

‘We will get justice’

Calls for police reform have cropped up in many communities, and people around the world have taken to the streets in solidarity, saying that reforms and dialogue must not stop with Floyd’s funeral.


Members of the Texas Southern University police department pause during the funeral service for Floyd in Houston. (David J. Phillip/The Associated Press)

The memorials have drawn the families of black victims in other high-profile killings whose names have become seared into America’s conversations on race — among them Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Ahmaud Arbery and Trayvon Martin.

“It just hurts,” said Philonise Floyd, George Floyd’s brother, sobbing as he ticked off some of their names outside The Fountain of Praise church. “We will get justice. We will get it. We will not let this door close.”

On the weekend, a majority of the Minneapolis city council declared their intention to disband the city’s police force. The move comes in response to the killing of George Floyd by Derek Chauvin — a member of that force — and to other local instances of police brutality. Today on Front Burner, we talk about the growing “defund police” movement that says scaling down police budgets and spending the money on social services could be a way to protect civilian lives. 28:33

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U.S. jobs report represents ‘a great day’ for George Floyd, Trump says

President Donald Trump took a victory lap Friday morning after the government reported surprising job gains for last month, invoking George Floyd’s name to assert that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and its economic disruption was over

With the country in upheaval over the May 25 police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Trump said that an economic rebound was his answer to racial inequality, saying it “is the greatest thing that can happen for race relations.”

Trump spoke from the Rose Garden hours after the Labour Department said that U.S. employers added 2.5 million workers to their payrolls last month. Economists had been expecting them instead to slash another 8 million jobs amid the ongoing fallout from the response to the pandemic.

“This shows that what we’ve been doing is right,” Trump said of the jobs numbers. “This is outstanding, what’s happened today.”

Trump spoke nearly an hour and only briefly mentioned Floyd, the black man who died after a police officer pinned his neck down last week in Minneapolis. The president otherwise touted an economic recovery from the COVID-19 crisis that has disproportionately affected black Americans.

“Hopefully George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country,” Trump said. “This is a great day for him. It’s a great day for everybody.”

WATCH: Trump invokes Floyd’s name to talk jobs:

In the midst of an upbeat jobs report, in which he touted the benefits for black Americans, Donald Trump said it’s a ‘great, great day in terms of equality.’ 0:48

Florida Rep.Donna Shalala, the former health secretary in the Bill Clinton administration, said she was “appalled” at the reference. Democratic senators Kamala Harris and Sherrod Brown also panned the reference to Floyd.

The unemployment rate dropped to a better-than-expected 13.3 per cent — nearly two percentage points lower than some estimates — but it’s a figure still on par with what the nation witnessed during the Great Depression.

Also, it’s unclear how many jobs lost as a result of the pandemic are permanently lost, whether the reopenings in states will create a second surge of COVID-19 deaths, the respiratory illness that sometimes occurs in those who have the novel coronavirus.

Trump grew angered when reporter Yamiche Alcindor, who he has clashed with before, asked why it was a “great day” when unemployment tracking for African Americans and Asian Americans actually saw a slight increase.

“You are something,” said Trump in response.


Before that, Trump’s mood was largely ebullient even though the number of Americans who have died coronavirus-related deaths approaches 110,000, according to a tally from Johns Hopkins University.

He defended his handling of the pandemic, saying that had he not acted to recommend closings more than 1 million Americans would have died, though most models have only suggested those type of estimates if few or no mitigation efforts were put in place.

Now, though, Trump said states and cities should be lifting remaining restrictions. “I don’t know why they continue to lock down,” he said of some jurisdictions that have maintained closings.

“You do social distancing and you wear masks if you want,” Trump said, but added that states need to reopen.

Mural, street name honour black lives

The May job gain suggests that businesses have quickly been recalling workers as states have reopened their economies, but it may take months for all those who lost work in April and March to find jobs. Some economists forecast the rate could remain in the double-digits through the November elections and into next year.

Trump also a signed an extension of the Paycheck Protection Program, the federal subsidy program that is helping keep millions on the job. The bipartisan law gives companies more flexibility in using funds from the forgivable federal loans to pay their workers and cover other qualified expenses.


Protester paint a giant Black Lives Matter sign on 16th street near the White House in Washington, D.C., on Friday. (Daniel Slim/AFP/Getty Images)

Not far from where Trump spoke, city workers and activists painted the words Black Lives Matter in enormous bright yellow letters on the the street leading to the White House, a highly visible sign of the District of Columbia’s embrace of a protest movement that has put it at odds with President Donald Trump.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser tweeted aerial video of the mural shortly after it was completed Friday. The letters and an image of the city’s flag stretch across 16th Street for two blocks, ending just before the church where Trump staged a photo-op after federal officers forcibly cleared a peaceful demonstration to make way for the president and his entourage.

“The section of 16th street in front of the White House is now officially ‘Black Lives Matter Plaza,”‘ Bowser tweeted. A black and white sign was put up to mark the change.

Bowser’s endorsement of the project follows her verbal clashes with the Trump administration over the response to local protests of Floyd’s killing. Bowser has complained about the heavy-handed federal response and called for the removal of out-of-state National Guard troops. She says their differences highlight the need for D.C. to be a state and have more control over its internal affairs.


On Thursday, as the protests turned peaceful, she ended a curfew imposed after people damaged buildings and broke into businesses over the weekend and Monday.

The mayor also tweeted out a letter from House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who wrote the president to express alarm that peaceful protesters were being confronted by heavily armed federal agents and officers, many of them with their identities and agencies obscured.

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Protests more subdued after new charges in George Floyd case

Demonstrations in cities across the U.S. to condemn racism and police abuses remained large but turned notably more subdued on the eve of a Thursday memorial service for George Floyd, which kicks off a series of events to mourn the man whose death empowered a national movement.

The calmer protests came on the same day that prosecutors charged three more police officers and filed a new, tougher charge against the officer at the centre of the case.

The most serious new charge Wednesday was an accusation of second-degree murder against Derek Chauvin, who was caught on video pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck. The three other officers at the scene were charged for the first time with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to four decades in prison.

The move by prosecutors punctuated an unprecedented week in modern American history, in which largely peaceful protests took place in communities of all sizes but were rocked by bouts of violence, including deadly attacks on officers, rampant thefts and arson in some places.

Across the U.S., more than 10,000 people have been arrested in connection with unrest, a tally by The Associated Press shows. More than a dozen deaths have been reported, though the circumstances in many cases are still being sorted out.

Protests still large

Protests were still big but largely peaceful in California, where NBA stars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson marched with protesters in Oakland.

Some demonstrators lay down to represent the amount of time the white police officer pressed a knee into Floyd’s neck while he pleaded for air. But police kept a mainly hands-off policy during the day even after curfews took effect.

Watch | Upgraded, additional charges for police officers in George Floyd’s death:

Derek Chauvin now faces a second-degree murder charge in George Floyd’s death and three other officers are charged with aiding and abetting a murder as protests continue. 1:57

The first of three memorial gatherings for the man whose name has been chanted by hundreds of thousands of people was planned Thursday afternoon in Minneapolis at a service where the Rev. Al Sharpton, the civil rights leader, and family attorney Ben Crump will speak.

Floyd’s body will then travel to Raeford, N.C., where he was born 46 years ago, for a public viewing and private family service Saturday.

There will be a large service Monday in Houston, where Floyd spent most of his life, and will include addresses from Sharpton, Crump, and the Rev. Remus E. Wright, the family pastor. Former vice-president Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, may attend. A private burial will follow.

Crump, the family attorney, called the additional charges against the officers “a bittersweet moment” and “a significant step forward on the road to justice.”

3 officers injured in Brooklyn

After the new charges were announced, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said the state and nation need to “seize the moment” and use the wrenching events of the past week to confront the effects of racism, including unequal educational and economic opportunities.

“I think this is probably our last shot, as a state and as a nation, to fix this systemic issue,” he said.


Demonstrators use their phone lights Wednesday in downtown Los Angeles during a protest over Floyd’s death. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press)

Hundreds of protesters were in New York City’s Washington Square Park when the new charges were announced.

“It’s not enough,” protester Jonathan Roldan said, insisting all four officers should have been charged from the start. “Right now, we’re still marching because it’s not enough that they got arrested. There needs to be systematic change.”

But later in the day a police officer on an anti-looting patrol in Brooklyn was ambushed by a man who walked up behind him and stabbed him in the neck. That set off a struggle in which two other officers suffered gunshot injuries to their hands.

Chauvin was initially charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter, counts that still stand.

The new second-degree murder charge alleges that Chauvin caused Floyd’s death without intent while committing another felony, namely third-degree assault. It carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison, compared with a maximum of 25 years for third-degree murder.

The other officers — Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao — face the same maximum penalties for aiding and abetting. All three men were in custody by Wednesday evening.

The multiple charges against each officer would offer a jury more options to find them guilty.

Also Wednesday, the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office released the full autopsy report on Floyd, which noted he had previously tested positive for COVID-19, but was apparently asymptomatic. The report was released with the family’s permission after summary findings Monday that said he had a heart attack while being restrained by officers.

‘We are not going anywhere!’

U.S. President Donald Trump has pushed the nation’s governors to take a hard line against the violence. He again tweeted Wednesday: “LAW & ORDER!”

An overpowering security force — including officers from the FBI Hostage Rescue Team, the Secret Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Bureau of Prisons and, according to a senior defence official, at least 2,200 National Guard soldiers — was out in force Wednesday as thousands of peaceful protesters demonstrated in the nation’s capital.

Watch | Protesters vow to continue fight for justice after George Floyd’s death:

After nine days of demonstrations, protesters say they’re continuing to fight for justice and not only for George Floyd. 3:11

Military vehicles were parked on streets near the White House, and an array of agencies kept watch from the air. An FBI plane, an Army surveillance plane and a Park Police helicopter circled overhead.

At one point near the White House, protesters began singing Amazing Grace as they knelt in view of law enforcement officers in riot gear. “We are not going anywhere!” they chanted. There were no signs of confrontations.

Protester Jade Jones, 30, said the demonstrations would continue despite the new charges.

“That’s the least they could do,” said Jones, who had been attending Washington protests for days. “It’s not going to wipe away 400 years of pain.”

Trump found himself embroiled in conflict on other fronts. His former defence secretary Jim Mattis ripped the president’s heavy-handed use of military force to quell protests near the White House.

In New York City, where high-end stores were looted in earlier days, some retailers fortified their property. At the luxury department store Saks Fifth Avenue, windows were boarded up, then covered in chain-link fencing and razor wire. The front of the store was guarded by a line of tattooed men with dogs.

The protests have also taken root overseas, including in Athens, London, Helsinki, Rotterdam and Bogota, among other cities.

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