Witness Donald Williams answers questions on the second day of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Picture: Pool via Reuters
Witness Donald Williams answers questions on the second day of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin for second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of George Floyd. Picture: Pool via Reuters

Witness in Chauvin trial says he watched George Floyd 'going through tremendous pain'

By The Washington Post Time of article published Mar 30, 2021

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Holly Bailey, Timothy Bella, Kim Bellware and Lateshia Beachum

Minneapolis - The second day of witness testimony in former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial began with more recollections from Donald Williams, who can be heard on a video encouraging the officer to get off George Floyd. Williams testified that he could see Floyd "going through tremendous pain."

Tuesday's testimony followed an emotional first day that included blunt witness recollections and video footage from Floyd's arrest last year, laying the groundwork for court proceedings that will focus on what happened that day.

Witness Donald Williams, 33, who saw former officer Derek Chauvin place his knee on George Floyd's neck, testified that he could see Floyd was "going through tremendous pain" moments before his death.

"You could see his eyes slowly, you know, rolling back up and in his head, and him having his mouth open, um, wide open," Williams said of the fatal encounter. "You can see that he's trying to, you know, gasp for air, you know, and trying to be able to breathe as he's down there and trying to move his face, you know, side to side so he can, you know, I'm believing, I'm assuming, gasp for more air there."

Williams said that Floyd's life was very much in danger before he died and that he was scared for his own safety.

Williams testified that after Floyd died in police custody, he called 911 to report Derek Chauvin and the officers because they did not engage in a "human" interaction after the death of a man in the street.

"We didn't have no connection," Williams said. "I spoke to them, but not on a connection of a human being relationship."

Williams said he did not know what else to do after he saw Floyd die, which is why he made the 911 call. In the May 25 call, which was played in the courtroom Tuesday, Williams described the officers at the time as "murderers."

Williams wiped tears from his eyes upon hearing the 911 call Tuesday.

Chauvin's defence team referred to the video in which Williams was infuriated with police to the point that he wanted to fight the officers detaining Floyd, a Black man.

Williams said he had to stay in control and show "professionalism" during the scene on May 25, but defense attorney Eric Nelson presented evidence in which Williams allegedly said he wanted to assault the officers for what was unfolding in Minneapolis.

On the video, Nelson said Williams repeatedly called the officers "tough guy," using expletives toward police. In response, Williams said he was frustrated by the "nonresponsive" effort from police.

"I was in a position where I had to be controlled," Williams said in cross-examination.

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