Today we’re going to continue with the testimony from Derek Smith.
Derek stated in his opening testimony that he was a paramedic for four years. As with all prior witnesses, the prosecution had him state his job responsibilities and prior education. The prosecution then went into the events of May 25th, 2020. I have to note that the witness did not look like he really wanted to be there. The prosecution asked Smith to explain what cardiac arrest means and he stated very bluntly that it means the patient is dead.
I have an issue with this, and I will explain in a moment.
The prosecution asked Smith what he saw when he arrived at the scene, He went on to describe the scene and included he checked Floyd’s pulse and eyes. The prosecution asked Smith what he thought Floyd’s condition was after he checked his vitals, Smith answered that in lay terms he thought he was dead.
The prosecution continued by asking Smith what he did after that, to which he stated he told his partner he believed the patient was dead, and they had to get “it” out of there. It seems that the prosecution is attempting to get Smith to say the word “dead” as many times as possible throughout this entire testimony.
This is going to have a lasting imprint on the jurors’ minds.
I have an issue with how Smith is describing Floyd’s condition. It is very unprofessional for a paramedic to describe their patient as “dead.” Anyone with any EMS training, a nurse, a military medic, a doctor will understand that a patient is not “dead” until a doctor has coded them as such. Basically, a rule of thumb is a person is not “dead” until they are “stiff and cold”, and a doctor calls it for that patient.
The only other thing I’m going to say about this witness is that he did state the police officers did help him load Floyd onto the stretcher, and that he did not have to force them out of the way. I do also want to add that Smith pointed out in an image an abrasion on Floyd’s left shoulder that corroborates the previous medic’s testimony to the FBI that he was mostly on his left side.
Next witness called up was Jamie Norton, a captain firefighter with 21 years as a firefighter.
Again, the prosecution has Norton go through his education and job responsibilities.
When the prosecution finally started asking questions about May 25th, 2020 and she started off by asking questions about the codes that he received from the 911 dispatch. Norton stated that they received the code 2 with little info, just something about a mouth injury, and while in route it was upgraded to a code 3 with no info.
There’s something about this code 3 not having any information attached to it and I don’t know what it is yet. The prosecution continued her line of questioning of the events of that day by having Norton walk through what he did. Morton testified that, when he got there, the ambulance was not there, so he got off the rig and looked for the patient and noticed there were a lot of upset individuals, and he ran into an off-duty firefighter that was highly upset. Eventually, he got the call to where the ambulance had been moved too, so they left the scene to go to where the ambulance was to assist with resuscitation. He continued his testimony stating that he and a rookie went with the ambulance to the hospital, and he sent the rig back to check on the off-duty firefighter. He also stated that when the event was over, he reported the possible excessive ‘use of force’ up his chain of command and that one of his firefighters witnessed it who was off-duty at the time.
This Captain was getting all this information from a young two-year rookie who has a white savior complex and who is an ideologue. His actions of reporting it could possibly erode the relationship between the Police Department and the Fire Department.
When the defense came up, he asked questions regarding the response time for the fire Department. There’s a lot of discrepancy with this and I have to wonder if there are some issues with it. Everyone is so quick to blame the police officer, but nobody wants to point out the slow response time of the EMS and Fire Department.
The last witness called for this day was David Pleorger, recently retired Minneapolis police officer in the third precinct, Sergeant for the midwatch shift.
Pleorger was Chauvin’s Sergeant at the time. The purpose of the state calling Pleoger was to describe the process of the ‘use of force’ reporting, and his role after the event that took place on May 25th, 2020. Pleorger stated that he got the call from the 911 dispatcher and after the call, he called Chauvin and then proceeded to the scene. He continued to testify about going to the hospital, having officers stay on scene, and then when Floyd died how the ‘use of force’ reporting turned into a critical event.
There was some lawyers sas during his testimony and the judge dismissed the jury because there was some confusion about his role in the decision to elevate the situation to a critical event. The prosecution had been sneaky and had Pleoger only view bodycam footage prior to testifying.
Apparently, the moment the situation became a critical event the entire investigation was out of his hands and went to internal affairs. His scope of understanding of the investigation was limited to just the bodycam footage the prosecution had shown him. The defense was making the argument that any opinion from a witness regarding the ‘use of force’ that the officer used was limited due to him not having all the facts. They wanted the judge to restrict the prosecution’s ability to question the witness on his opinion of the ‘use of force’ due to the witness’s lack of not having all the facts in the case. The judge ruled the prosecution could ask one question about his opinion on the officer’s ‘use of force’. Sometimes it’s a give and take in court cases.
Day five was 1/2 day and we only had two witnesses that came to the stand.
The first witness called was John Edwards, police officer with the Minneapolis Police Department and a Sergeant.
He was a Sergeant of what is known as the dog watch or the third shift. How much is gained from his testimony is that he took over the scene after it became a critical event. He followed the standard procedures; he taped off the scene, had his officers look for witnesses to question, and sent the officers involved down to the courthouse to be questioned and made sure their bodycams were on. Because Edwards didn’t provide anything new of substance the defense didn’t have any redirect questions and he was dismissed.
The last witness for day 5 really got under my skin because the prosecution prepped him to hit every talking point they wanted him to say.
The final witness Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, a Minneapolis police officer, and head of homicide Department, he had been on the force since 1985.
I’m not going to through his entire testimony word by word or question by question because it was really long. I’m just going to hit the main talking points that the prosecution was aiming for.
While Zimmerman was describing his education and career the prosecution made sure to have him state that every year, he would get certified with combative training. It’s also important to note that he hasn’t been a police officer on the street since 1993.
With LT Zimmerman being the head of the homicide Department, he was also the responding officer to any critical incident. He testified that kneeling on a suspect’s neck is lethal force because that can kill them, and it would be something he would have to respond to as part of his duties. The prosecution also got him too state that the suspect’s welfare is the officer’s responsibility which is true.
However, when does a suspect’s welfare supersede the welfare of the officers, and when does the environment come into play?
The prosecution continued with leading questions to get his witness to state that the suspect when in handcuffs posed no threat. Now, I may not be a cop but I’m a realist, and I have seen plenty of videos and heard the stories from family members and friends who are cops; a person who is handcuffed can still be a deadly threat. Furthermore, a person who is on an unknown substance can pose a greater deadly threat even if they’re handcuffed. LT Zimmerman continued by stating that after Floyd was in handcuffs, he needed to be moved out of the prone position to prevent positional asphyxia.
However, we know from Bravender’s testimony to the FBI Floyd’s body position may have not been in the prone but on his left side. Further corroborated from Smith’s testimony of the abrasion on Floyd’s left shoulder. So, the question is: Was Floyd in the prone position or was he actually on his left side?
The prosecution continued with leading questions and had Zimmerman testify that Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck was a ‘use of force’, and that the level of force should have changed prior to EMS arriving.
Zimmerman continued to give the prosecution what they wanted by stating the ‘use of force’ was “totally unnecessary”, and that the officer should have stopped the ‘use of force’ when Floyd no longer resisted.
I’m not going to argue that they should have at least checked to see if he was breathing by placing their hands on his back and moved their body weight off of him, I do believe they kept their weight on him for too long.
The question boils down too: did the ‘use of force’ actually kill Floyd? Did they use this ‘use of force’ for too long, absolutely. Did they get punished for it, absolutely. All the officers involved have lost their jobs, lives are ruined, and their families have to stay in hiding. When I heard Zimmerman testify, I thought the defense was going to have a hard time with this one. However, the defense did a pretty good job, and I have some of my own issues with this particular witness that I’ll mention as well.
The first thing the defense brought up with Zimmerman was the fact that he has not been working the street since 1993 making active arrests. I believe the last time Zimmerman stated he had been in a physical fight was in 2018. I also want to add that because he hasn’t been working the streets since 1993, he’s only been getting PowerPoint briefings about the new type of narcotics that are hitting the streets. Zimmerman hasn’t had to physically deal with individuals reacting to these narcotics or are OD’ing from them. There’s a big difference between a book understanding and street understanding.
The defense also brings up the fact that he has only had combative training once a year. He hasn’t been in a life-or-death fight since the early 90s, especially not with someone on these new types of street drugs. One question the defense asked Zimmerman was if in his combative training he saw the evolution from hits and strikes to using body weight and pressure points, and Zimmerman answered no and seemed very confused. For a while now many police departments have been moving away from using hitting and striking to using things like jujitsu, pressure points, and body weight to inflict less damage on those they are arresting.
Police departments have also been using Tasers, pepper spray, and other non-lethal forms of force. How does Lieutenant Zimmerman not know about the newer forms of holding an individual to inflict less harming while making an arrest? What is also really concerning is this Lieutenant described an officer just being present as a type of ‘use of force’. Keep in mind all the rioting that has happened since May 25th 2020, so realistically is an officer being present a ‘use of force’ or intimidating to anyone who hates the cops?
The defense continued by bringing up the critical decision-making model in that an officer must take in everything that is happening around him when making split second decisions, which Zimmerman agreed is true. The defense pointed out, in question form, that legally the ‘use of force’ had to take in the totality of the situation, and Zimmerman agreed. The defense asked Zimmerman if it is an approved technique for a police officer to lay his knee across the back of the shoulder to the base of the neck when holding a suspect down. Zimmerman looked confused at this question but then stated that it is an approved holding technique. The defense continued and asked Zimmerman if he knew about the phrase “hold for EMS.” Zimmerman asked the defense to clarify the phrase, again he looked confused.
The defense explained that it meant holding a suspect until EMS arrived to better provide medical assistance. Zimmerman still looked confused and reworded the question almost exactly the same way the defense had asked it. He finally said yes, he did know what the phrase meant and had heard it before. The defense continued to press Zimmerman and asked if suspects can still be dangerous after being cuffed.
Zimmerman with this stupid perpetual confused look on his face had to answer yes. The defense also asked if he ever encountered suspects waking up from being unconscious becoming combative and violent, again with the confused look he still had to answer yes. The defense went into why a suspect would be cuffed and held. The defense asked Zimmerman if a suspect would be cuffed and held not only to protect others but to also prevent the suspect from hurting themselves. This seems like a rather straightforward question, so why did Zimmerman maintain that ridiculous confused look?
However, no matter how many snakes were growing out of the defense’s head Zimmerman still had to answer yes. As the defense continued his line of questioning, we then learned that the investigation was turned over to the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) early on. Which meant this witness did not have all the information in the case. Apparently, LT Zimmerman had only seen the bodycam footage of the event just like Sergeant Pleoger. I have to wonder Zimmerman’s ability to accurately interpret the event from just the bodycam footage and nothing else.
I also must question Zimmerman’s ability to run the head of the homicide Department in Minneapolis considering their clearance rate for 2020 is over 41% right now. Minneapolis’s homicide rate surged in 2020 following the event on May 25th, 2020. Zimmerman was supposed to be one of the prosecution’s golden boys. However, all I saw was a failure who’s allowing homicide cases in his city to pile up day by day.
To add to this already complex case and situation many have taken to social media to make their intentions known that if Chauvin is not convicted on all charges, they will violently riot. How can justice be properly given or even achieved when the threat of violence is so loudly made?
During jury selection some people had made it known that this was one of their fears. Have any of the jurors heard these threats of violence? Could this lead to some of the jurors being sequestered and could this lead to a mistrial? But the question remains, how does anybody get a fair trial when we have radical individuals on social media screaming that they’re going to commit acts of violence if they do not get the verdict they demand? In our justice system people are innocent until proven guilty and have the right to a fair trial. We do not live in a third world country where you are guilty until proven innocent and the mob decides the verdict. So why are we allowing this?
Edited by Anissa “Maddy” Walker