The mixed martial arts fighter who saw ex-Minneapolis cop Derek Chauvin apprehend George Floyd in May 2020 told a jury on Tuesday that he called 911 after seeing the events unfold because he thought he “witnessed a murder.”
The trial of Chauvin, a 45-year-old retired officer who was seen on camera holding his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes during the May 25 detention, entered its second day on Tuesday. He’s accused of second- and third-degree murder, as well as manslaughter.
On Monday, Donald Williams, a wrestler who claimed to have received training in MMA combat, including chokeholds, began his testimony.
He continued his explanation on Tuesday, describing Floyd’s eyes “slowly rolling back.”
“You could tell he was in a lot of pain,” Williams said. “He was gasping for air and struggling to breathe while he was down there, as you could see. Attempting to switch his mask from side to side in order to… I’m guessing you’re gasping for air.”
Floyd, he thought, was “very much [in] danger,” he said.
Even when the ambulance and paramedics arrived, he stayed on the scene, and Chauvin said he kept his knee on Floyd’s neck the entire time. When someone is knocked out during an MMA match, he says, the match is stopped “immediately” and medical personnel are summoned “immediately.”
“I think I witnessed a murder,” Williams said later, adding that he called the cops.
“Officer 987,” whom he named at trial as Chauvin, “pretty much just killed this guy who wasn’t resisting arrest,” Williams told the dispatcher while on the phone.
During the call, Williams said, “He had his knee on this dude’s neck the whole time.” “It wasn’t like he was resisting arrests or something.”
“Y’all is murderers,” Williams said during the call, before adding, “They just killed the man in front of the shop.”
On Tuesday, during cross-examination, Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson asked Williams if he had ever left someone unconscious only for them to reawaken and fight again.
“No, not in my opinion. Is it something I’ve seen? Yes, indeed “He retorted.
“I’ve seen it many times in the UFC where someone gets choked out and then comes back to try to fight,” he said. “I was knocked out and had to regain consciousness, and the first thing I wanted to do was fight again.”
Nelson also wanted to demonstrate that Chauvin and his colleagues were in an increasingly stressful and distracting situation, with the crowd becoming upset about Floyd’s treatment.
Williams appeared to become increasingly enraged at officers on the scene, cursing at and taunting Chauvin with epithets such as “tough man,” “bum,” and other derogatory words, according to Nelson, before calling Chauvin expletives, which the defence attorney repeated in court.
Williams acknowledged he was becoming more enraged, but later backtracked and said he was calm and professional, and that he was begging for Floyd’s life but wasn’t being heard.
Officer Tou Thao, who was in charge of the crowd, put his hand on Williams’ chest as he was stepping on and off the curb, according to Williams. Under investigation, Williams confessed to telling Thao that if Thao hit him again, he would beat the police.
Williams was one of the first trial witnesses, having received his training at the Minnesota Martial Arts Academy. On May 25, he was heading to the nearby Cup Foods store when he “noticed there were two police squad cars there” and heard Floyd screaming, “My stomach hurts, I can’t breathe, my head hurts, I can’t breathe… he pleaded with them,” he said Monday.
He believed Chauvin was using a shimmying motion to apply more pressure to Floyd. He also remembered shouting at Chauvin, “I’m cutting off Floyd’s blood supply!”
Floyd’s health deteriorated “as he was going through this torment,” Williams said Monday, with his voice growing thicker and his breathing becoming more laboured.
“He was lifeless after that,” Williams said. “He didn’t move, he didn’t talk, he didn’t have any life in him any longer on his body movements,” says the narrator.
Prosecutors called Darnella Frazier, an 18-year-old who filmed a now-viral video of the arrest because “it wasn’t right, he was suffering, he was in pain” after Williams’ testimony on Tuesday.
Frazier said she was walking to a grocery store with her younger cousin when she saw the officers and sent her into the store so she wouldn’t see “a man frightened, afraid, begging for his life.”