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End of day update

Retired Minneapolis Police Department Sgt. David Pleoger testified that it wasn't until the hospital that he learned from Chauvin that the officer had placed his knee on Floyd's neck. Even then, Pleoger did not learn how long the knee remained on Floyd's neck.

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Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, left, is seen in the hallway on May 25, 2020, at Hennepin County Medical Center.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, left, is seen in the hallway on May 25, 2020, at Hennepin County Medical Center.

Special Assistant Attorney General Steve Schleicher asked Pleoger if in his review of the incident "do you believe restraint should have ended at some point in the encounter?"

Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson objected and a sidebar was held between the attorneys and Judge Peter Cahill.

Schleicher then asked if he found that the use of force might be excessive, would he make a recommendation to internal affairs.

The jury was sent out of the courtroom after this question while Nelson asked questions of Pleoger, who did not complete a use of force review on this incident.

"Based on your review of the body worn camera footage, do you have an opinion as to when the restraint of Mr. Floyd should have ended in this encounter," Schleicher asked.

"Yes," Pleoger said. "When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint."

Testimony ended at around 4:45 p.m. Court will resume at around 9:15 a.m. Friday, Judge Cahill said. In addition, Cahill told jurors he expects Friday to be a shorter day in court, wrapping up around 12:30 p.m.

4 p.m. 'We just had to hold a guy down,' Chauvin says in captured call

Retired Minneapolis Police Department Sgt. David Pleoger was who dispatcher Jena Scurry called that May day when she expressed concern about things she was seeing on the pole camera across from Cup Foods.

Retired Minneapolis Police Department Sgt. David Pleoger testifies Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Hennepin County District Court.
Retired Minneapolis Police Department Sgt. David Pleoger testifies Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Hennepin County District Court.

As part of Pleoger's testimony Thursday, jurors learned of multiple Minneapolis Police Department policies including those on use-of-force reporting and post-incident requirements, and the use of maximum restraint technique, or hobble policy.

Pleoger testified that in use-of-force situations an officer typically would call him or he would be notified by radio that force was used on a suspect or arrested party. Once that was done, he would head to the scene to interview both the officer and the suspect.

Pleoger's testimony was also the first time jurors heard Chauvin's own words describing the May 25, 2020, incident with George Floyd through a brief body-worn camera clip that captured one side of a phone call between Chauvin and Pleoger.

“I was just going to call you and have you come out to our scene here," Chauvin said. “Not really, we just had to hold a guy down, he was going crazy … wouldn't go in the back of the squad."

The video ends as Chauvin shut off his body-worn camera, which was within the department's policy.

Recalling the rest of the conversation, Pleoger said he believed Chauvin said they tried to put Floyd in the back of the vehicle and Floyd had become combative.

"I think he (Chauvin) mentioned he’d (Floyd) injured either his nose or his mouth," Pleoger testified, adding that Chauvin then said Floyd suffered a medical emergency and an ambulance was called.

Pleoger also testified that putting a knee on someone's neck wasn't necessarily a "reportable" type of force and that it should be removed when a person is handcuffed and no longer resisting.

Minneapolis Fire Capt. Jeremy Norton took the witness stand earlier Thursday afternoon and recalled responding to Cup Foods and trying to find a patient. The ambulance carrying George Floyd's body had already left the scene by the time Engine 17, carrying Norton, arrived.

Minneapolis Fire Capt. Jeremy Norton testified Thursday afternoon, April 1, 2021, in Hennepin County District Court.
Minneapolis Fire Capt. Jeremy Norton testified Thursday afternoon, April 1, 2021, in Hennepin County District Court.

Norton and another firefighter went into Cup Foods in an effort to find the patient and a short time later saw witness and off-duty firefighter Genevieve Hansen inside the store.

"We came in with very little information and even when I spoke with her (Hansen) on the scene, I had no understanding of the cause of her distress," Norton said, adding that once he was in the ambulance and saw the gravity of the situation, he understood the reason for her duress.

Norton eventually reported the incident internally. He said the reasons were twofold: he was aware "that a man had been killed in police custody" and wanted that reported to the appropriate people above him and that an off-duty firefighter was a witness.

2:15 p.m. 'I was trying to give him a second chance at life,' paramedic testifies

"In lay terms, I thought he was dead," Hennepin County EMS paramedic Derek Smith said Thursday afternoon.

Smith was the paramedic who checked George Floyd's pulse and pupils while he laid underneath the officers on that May evening.

Hennepin County EMS paramedic Derek Smith testifies Thursday afternoon, April 1, 2021, in Hennepin County District Court as part of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Hennepin County EMS paramedic Derek Smith testifies Thursday afternoon, April 1, 2021, in Hennepin County District Court as part of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.


Smith said he told his partner, paramedic Seth Bravinder, that he thought Floyd was dead and he wanted to move Floyd out of the area to give care in the back of the ambulance.

“It didn't feel like a welcoming environment," Smith said of scene outside of Cup Foods, adding that there were multiple people with phones out and "elevated tones" were being used.

Speaking in more blunt terms, Smith repeatedly said Floyd was dead. At one point, when asked why Smith kept checking to see if he could administer a shock to Floyd's heart he said "as a human being, I was trying to give him a second chance at life."

During cross-examination by defense attorney Eric Nelson, Nelson asked Smith why he didn't just have the officer help him continue care so they could continue to the hospital.

"That is not what we do," Smith said.

"Is it because he is not an EMT," Nelson asked.

"Any lay person can do chest compressions," Smith said. "There is no reason Minneapolis couldn’t have started chest compressions."

12:30 p.m. Hennepin County paramedic takes the stand

A Hennepin County EMS paramedic, Seth Bravinder, was next to take the stand Thursday. Bravinder was the one who drove the ambulance to and from the scene on May 25, 2020.

Hennepin County EMS paramedic Seth Bravinder testifies Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Hennepin County District Court as part of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Hennepin County EMS paramedic Seth Bravinder testifies Thursday, April 1, 2021, in Hennepin County District Court as part of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

“We were dispatched our notes said we were going code 2 for someone with a mouth injury and PD (police department) was on scene,” Bravinder said, adding about a minute and half into their response the call was upgraded in severity and he then began driving with lights and sirens.

It was as part of Bravinder's testimony that jurors saw a series of of photos of George Floyd's lifeless body inside the ambulance.

Bravinder said that when he pulled up in the ambulance "I assumed that there was potentially some struggle still because they were still on top of him."

Bravinder's colleague was the one who checked Floyd's pulse and pupils but Bravinder said from his vantage point outside the back of the ambulance he didn't see any movement or breathing coming from Floyd.

As part of defense attorney Eric Nelson's cross-examination, Bravinder explained why ketamine may be used. The drug, which he said, has multiple purposes, is used when someone has profound agitation or is "really violent."

Ketamine is also used in excited delirium, which one of the officers was heard mentioning Wednesday in one of the body-worn camera videos shown.

Related: NEWSMD Special Report: The risks of police restraint

Bravinder was also asked about the status of Floyd's pupils. He said he did not know but stated that in a opioid overdose a person's pupils may be pinpoints and methamphetamine would cause dilated pupils.

Court went to recess following Bravinder's testimony. They are scheduled to resume around 1:30 p.m.

10:30 a.m.: Floyd's girlfriend testifies

The day Courteney Ross met George Floyd, he asked if he could pray with her.

Ross testified that she met Floyd in August 2017 while he was working as a security guard at The Salvation Army Harbor Light Center, a homeless shelter that provides addiction recovery.

"I thought, I was so tired and we’d been through so much, my sons and I and this kind person just to come up to me and say can I pray with you when I felt alone in this lobby," Ross said. "It was so sweet and at the time, I had had lost a lot of faith in God."

Courteney Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend, testified Thursday morning, April 1 , 2021, as part of the Hennepin County District Court trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (Forum News Service)
Courteney Ross, George Floyd's girlfriend, testified Thursday morning, April 1 , 2021, as part of the Hennepin County District Court trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. (Forum News Service)

The couple shared their first kiss in that lobby and dated from August 2017 until his death in May 2020.

Ross said this to describe how Floyd was after his mother's passing in 2018:

  • "Floyd is what I would call a mama’s boy. I could tell from the minute I met him and when he came form Houston, he seemed kind of like a shell of himself, like he was broken," she said. "He seemed so sad. He didn’t have the same kind of bounce that he had. He was devastated. He loved his mother so much and I knew that. He talked about her all the time. I knew how he felt. It’s so hard to lose a parent that you love like that."

Both Ross and Floyd struggled with addiction. On their struggles:

  • "Both Floyd and I, our story, it’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back. We both had prescriptions but after prescriptions that were filled, we got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction many times," she said. "Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle. It's something that we dealt with everyday. It's not something that just kind of comes and goes. It's something I’ll deal with forever."

  • Through Ross's testimony, jurors learned that Floyd was hospitalized in March 2020 for an overdose. Ross said that when she took him to the hospital, she noticed some "foam" building at the corner of his mouth.

  • Upon cross-examination by Chauvin's attorney Eric Nelson, jurors learned that the male passenger in the Mercedes SUV seen in the body-worn camera videos had sold drugs to Floyd in the past.

8 a.m.: Body-worn camera videos shown to jury

After an emotional day of witness testimony, the Derek Chauvin trial closed Wednesday, March 31, with the showing of three body-worn camera videos back-to-back. Through the testimony of Lt. Jeff Rugel, the manager of the Minneapolis Police Department's Police Business Technology Unit, Special Assistant Attorney General Steve Schleicher introduced the body-worn camera videos of the officers as well as still photos and surveillance video from a city-owned pole camera facing Cup Foods.

The testimony of three witnesses to the May 25, 2020, incident dominated the bulk of the day. Witness Charles McMillian, 61, was overcome with emotion as he heard George Floyd repeatedly calling "mama" on video shown in court. McMillian is heard in multiple bystander videos telling Floyd to comply with officers and that he can't win.

"It kind of startled me when I seen the officer raise his gun. I started recording," witness Christopher Belfrey, 45, told jurors. Belfrey was on of several bystanders who recorded the 2020 incident.

Witnesses who testified Wednesday, March 31, 2021, included Christopher Martin, left, Christopher Belfrey and Charles McMillian. (Forum News Service composite photo)
Witnesses who testified Wednesday, March 31, 2021, included Christopher Martin, left, Christopher Belfrey and Charles McMillian. (Forum News Service composite photo)

A 19-year-old store Cup Foods employee, Christopher Martin, lived above the store with his mom and sister and had been working at the store for about two months before the May 25, 2020, incident. Martin is the employee who took the $20 bill from Floyd. The interaction triggered the events that ultimately ended with Floyd's death.

"If I would have just not taken the bill this could have been avoided," Martin testified Wednesday, later saying he quit his job at the store because he did not feel safe. He would later describe Floyd "very friendly, approachable, he was talkative. He seemed to just be having an average memorial day, just living his life, but he did seem high."

Court is expected to resume around 9:15 a.m. today, Thursday, April 1.

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