EMT Who Witnessed George Floyd's Killing Says Cops Waved Her Off When She Tried to Help Him
An off-duty firefighter and EMT on her day off was alarmed last May as she happened upon the scene where Minneapolis police had detained George Floyd, but the officers denied her the chance to help what she believed was a dying man, she said.
"I was desperate to help," Genevieve Hansen, 27, testified Tuesday in the trial of a former officer, Derek Chauvin, accused of Floyd's murder. "I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human was denied that right."
When she repeatedly urged the officers to let her attend to Floyd, she testified, they told her to stay back as Floyd, with his hands in cuffs, lay facedown on the pavement as Chauvin sat atop him with his knee pressed into Floyd's neck.
The situation made her feel helpless, Hansen told jurors, because she felt "there is a man being killed" as she watched.
She testified that she pleaded with officers to check for Floyd's pulse. "I had already assessed that he had an altered level of consciousness," she said. "What I needed to know is whether he had a pulse anymore."
Like other bystanders, Hansen began to film the scene, adding to the video record that chronicled the death of Floyd, a Black man, as the white police officer remained in place atop Floyd for nearly nine minutes, while Floyd repeatedly cried out "I can't breathe."
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Witnesses to Floyd's killing who spoke Tuesday on the emotional second day of testimony in Chauvin's trial also included Darnella Frazier, 18, whose video went viral and fueled the worldwide response that sent millions into the streets to protest police brutality and racial injustice in the wake of Floyd's death.
Age 17 at the time of the incident May 25, Frazier described the trauma that has since followed her, causing her at times to lie awake at night "apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life."
"I heard George Floyd say, 'I can't breathe, please get off of me. I can't breathe,'" Frazier testified. "He cried for his mom. He was in pain, and it was like he knew it was over for him."
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She told the court: "When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all Black. I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends. And I look at that, and I look at how that could have been one of them."
Floyd, 46, had been detained for allegedly spending a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store. Chauvin, 44, responded and treated Floyd using proper police methods, according to his defense attorney Eric Nelson, who suggested in his opening statement that Floyd's death resulted, in part, from Floyd's underlying health conditions and drug use rather than the pressure applied by Chauvin to Floyd's neck.
Both the Hennepin County medical examiner and a private pathologist hired by the Floyd family concluded that Floyd died by homicide.
Three other officers on the scene — J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao — all were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. They will be tried apart from Chauvin this summer. Each has pleaded not guilty.
All four officers were fired after the killing. In the midst of jury selection that began March 8, the City of Minneapolis announced a $27 million settlement with Floyd's family in a civil lawsuit brought against the city, Chauvin and the three other former officers.
Nelson challenged the EMT on the stand, asking whether she would have been able to effectively perform her job amid what Nelson portrayed as a growing crowd of bystanders shouting and yelling at officers. She answered that she would not have been distracted and "would be confident in doing her job."
Nelson asked Hansen why she directed profanity at the officers and whether other witnesses were angry.
"I don't know if you've seen anyone be killed," she replied, "but it's upsetting."
Testimony resumes Wednesday.