Derek Chauvin trial: Firefighter who witnessed George Floyd’s arrest testifies

MINNEAPOLIS — An off-duty firefighter who witnessed George Floyd’s fatal arrest gave emotional testimony during Tuesday’s trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

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Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Clara Hansen, 27, wiped away tears as she recalled her exchanges with the four police officers who were restraining Floyd on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis.

Before Hansen testified during the second day of Chauvin’s trial, prosecutors played video footage that showed Hansen pleading with the officers that were detaining Floyd to check his pulse.

“I would have requested additional help, asked someone to call 911 for paramedics to come,” Hansen, a licensed emergency medical technician, told prosecutor Matthew Frank during her testimony. “I would have opened his airway, checked for a pulse.

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“I pleaded, I was desperate to help.”

Hansen testified that when she came upon the scene, police officers prevented her from helping Floyd. Hansen said she identified herself to the police officers on the scene, but said former Officer Tou Thao told her not to get involved at the scene.

“He said something along the lines of if you really are a Minneapolis firefighter, you would know better than to get involved,” Hansen testified.

Hansen added that attempting to help at the scene was “exactly what I should have done.”

“There was no medical assistance on scene and I got there and I could have given medical assistance,” Hansen said. “That’s exactly what I should have done.”

Hansen began to get emotional on the stand as she testified about not being able to help Floyd. Asked if the officers’ response that day frustrated her, with tears in her eyes, Hansen choked up as she responded “yes.”

Hansen testified that Floyd’s face looked “puffy and swollen.”

That “would happen if you are putting a grown man’s weight on someone’s neck.” Hansen said.

The prosecution also played a 911 call that Hansen placed that day.

“Hello. I’m on the block of 38th and Chicago, and I literally watched police officers not take a pulse and not do anything to save a man, and I am a first responder myself, and I literally have it on video. I just happened to be on a walk,” Hansen said during her call.

Hansen and defense attorney Eric Nelson became combative near the end of her cross-examination, prompting Judge Peter Cahill to admonish her to answer questions and not volunteer information.

Chauvin, 45, has denied charges of second- and third-degree murder, and manslaughter, over the death of Floyd, 46, a Black man who was detained on suspicion of trying to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill last May.

Authorities arrested Chauvin in May 2020 after a video surfaced on social media showing him pressing his knee to Floyd’s neck. The Hennepin County medical examiner ruled the death a homicide, determining that Floyd’s heart stopped as he was being restrained. A separate autopsy commissioned for Floyd’s family also called his death a homicide but concluded that he died of asphyxiation due to neck and back compression.