George Floyd Trial: Emergency Workers Give Testimony
Following the conclusion of questioning for George Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney Ross, the court summoned several emergency workers who were present at the scene on 25th May 2020.
The prosecution first called Seth Bravender to the stand. Bravender, a paramedic, was the driver of the ambulance which responded to the scene of George Floyd’s arrest.
Direct questioning was conducted by attorney Erin Eldridge. Early on in questioning, Bravender noted that the amount of time between receiving the non-emergency medical call and emergency medical call from the officers was only a minute and a half. On arrival at the scene, Bravender testified that Floyd had a bloody nose sustained during his resistance to arrest, and noted that the crowd prompted him and his partner to do a “load and scoot,” removing Floyd to a more secure location, rather than treating him on site.
On cross-examination of Bravender by defence attorney Eric Nelson, Bravender elaborated on the differing roles of the police and emergency medical services (EMS). He noted that the police are required to deal with imminent danger while at the scene while EMS are instructed to stay away until receiving an “all safe” call from police. On questioning, Bravender also recounted various events at which he’d seen police struggling physically with a patient, and noted that some patients had become violent upon resuscitation.
Bravender affirmed that upon arrival at the scene, Floyd was placed on his left side in a recovery position.
The court then called Derek Smith to the stand. Smith, who was Bravender’s paramedic partner in the ambulance noted that he saw “three officers on top of George Floyd” on his arrival at the scene. Smith asserted that he had to “assess all corners” in the imminent area to “gauge what was going on” before assessing George Floyd himself. Smith noted:
“[Floyd] wasn’t moving and I did see any chest rise or fall. I checked for a pulse and checked Mr Floyd’s pupils. His pupils were large and dilated . . I did not detect a pulse. I thought he was dead.”
Smith confirmed that he, Bravender and officer Chauvin decided to remove Floyd from the scene due to the crowd. On Chauvin’s direction, one of the four officers travelled in the ambulance with Smith, providing chest compressions to Floyd as the ambulance moved three blocks away. Smith noted that “the officers were very helpful in moving the patient onto the canvas” of the stretcher, asserting that he “wanted to get [Floyd] to my rig as soon as possible so I could begin resuscitation efforts.”
On cross-examination of Smith by defence attorney Eric Nelson, Smith elaborated on the details of the scene, confirming “there was a lot going on” and the ambulance had to move to another location to get away from the crowd, meeting with the fire department who helped provide care for Mr Floyd. Notably, Smith confirmed that he was “able to feel where Mr Floyd’s carotid artery was while Mr Chauvin’s knee was [on Floyd’s neck].”
The court then summoned the last witness of the day, former Minneapolis Police Department sergeant David Pleoger. Pleoger was responsible for the precinct zone where George Floyd was arrested and was the supervisor for the four officers on the day of the arrest.
On questioning by the prosecution, Pleoger elaborated on the use of force by police officers and the procedures that officers and supervisors are required to follow when force is used. Pleoger confirmed that, in certain circumstances such as a suspect sustaining an injury, “an officer would call me or notify me by radio that they’d used force on a suspect or arrested party.” The prosecution then exhibited an audio recording where dispatcher Jenna Scurry can be heard telling officer Pleoger that officers were “sat on this man,” with Pleoger responding “well, they haven’t said anything so if it’s just a takedown it doesn’t count, but I’ll find out.” When questioned by the prosecution, Pleoger affirmed that “tak[ing] somebody to the ground wasn’t something that would trigger me to head out for use of force” but told Scurry he would “make a call to find out.”
The prosecution then exhibited bodycam footage following George Floyd’s departure in the ambulance. The audio exhibits Derek Chauvin speaking to Sergeant Pleoger, Chauvin stating:
“I just thought I’d call you and have you come out to our scene here. We had to hold a guy down - he was going crazy and wouldn’t go in the back of the squad car.”
Pleoger confirmed that during the call Chauvin had told him “they’d tried to put Mr Floyd in the car and he’d become combative and injured either his nose or his mouth and had a bloody lip.” He also noted that Chauvin had stated that Floyd had “suffered a medical emergency and an ambulance was called,” affirming that Chauvin had not mentioned placing his knee on Mr Floyd’s neck or back. Subsequently, Pleoger asserted that the “placement of a knee on the subject’s neck was a use of force,” but did not always constitute a “reportable use of force.” He noted that the duration of the use of the knee would constitute “whatever was reasonable to get control of the party,” but stated that the restraint should stop after the party was handcuffed and controlled.
A series of direct examinations and cross-examinations then followed, with the prosecution seemingly trying to force a conclusion from Pleoger implicating the officer’s actions as an authoritative use-of-force. The court was then adjourned for the remainder of the day.