Two paramedics took the witness stand Thursday afternoon in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and told jurors George Floyd appeared to be in medical distress or dead when they arrived at the scene.
Jurors listened to their testimony and watched body camera footage from an officer inside the ambulance. On Wednesday, they sat through hours of police body-camera videos.
When viewing video of Floyd’s final moments, bystander and witness Charles McMillian, 61, broke down sobbing on the witness stand as he recounted his memories of last Memorial Day. Videos shown to the jurors reveal McMillian confronted Chauvin as the ambulance carrying Floyd pulled away from the scene, sirens blaring. McMillian told Chauvin he didn’t respect what Chauvin had done.
“That’s one person’s opinion,” Chauvin said from inside his squad car to McMillian on the sidewalk, according to body-camera video. “We gotta control this guy ’cause he’s a sizable guy … and it looks like he’s probably on something.”
Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
‘They could have ended their restraint,’ says MPD cop who reviews officers’ use of force
David Pleoger, recently retired after serving as afternoon sergeant for Minneapolis’s third police precinct, took the stand Thursday afternoon. He was the supervising officer the day George Floyd died and the one who 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry, who testified Monday, alerted to a possible use of force incident after seeing officers on top of someone through city surveillance cameras.
As a sergeant, Ploeger would review officers’ uses of force, but he did not do a use of force review in the May 25, 2020 incident, as it involved a death in police custody and elavated to internal affairs, he said.
Prosecutor Steve Schleicher replayed Scurry’s call to Pleoger on Thursday — the second time jurors have heard it played in court. After receiving that call from Scurry, Pleoger said he rang Chauvin on his cell phone to inquire about what had happened. “We just had to hold a guy down. He was going crazy,” Chauvin can be heard telling Pleoger on body-camera recording.
The rest of the conversation was not recorded because Chauvin turned off his body camera, as allowed per policy. Pleoger tried to remember the rest of his conversation with Chauvin that day, saying he believed Chauvin told him officers had tried to put Floyd in the car and he became combative. “I think he mentioned either his nose or his mouth. A bloody lip I think,” he said.
Pleoger said Chauvin told him Floyd suffered a medical emergency and they had called an ambulance. Pleoger said Chauvin did not say anything about placing a knee on Floyd’s neck.
After the call with Chauvin, Pleoger said he went to the scene with the intention of doing a use of force review. When he arrived, he became the senior officer on the scene. He instructed Chauvin and another officer to come with him to Hennepin County Medical Center “to check on the party’s condition” and told the two officers to get witness information.