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Chauvin Trial Day 2 Wrap-Up: State Focused on Feelings, Judge Scolds Firefighter

Chauvin Trial Day 2 Wrap-Up: State Focused on Feelings, Judge Scolds Firefighter

Testimony from MMA “Expert,” Bystander Witnesses with Limited Knowledge, & Grumpy Firefighter

Welcome to our ongoing coverage of the Minnesota murder trial of Derek Chauvin, over the in-custody death of George Floyd.  I am Attorney Andrew Branca for Law of Self Defense, providing guest commentary and analysis of this trial for Legal Insurrection.

Today saw the Chauvin court wrap up the testimony of martial arts and security “expert” Douglas Williams, a bystander witness to Floyd’s in-custody death.  It also saw the state proceed through four women I’ll refer to as the “minor witnesses,” because they were bystander witnesses who under 18 years of age at the time of the incident.  Finally, the state brought the firefighter bystander witness to the stand, with court recessing partway through the defense cross-examination of her.

The most interesting event of the day was certainly during the testimony of the firefighter, when Judge Cahill cleared the jury from the room and scolded her for being argumentative with the defense during cross, before sending her to bed with no dinner and telling her to come back to the courtroom for further cross at 9:30am tomorrow (kidding about the bed and dinner part).

Before I dive into today’s testimony, there were a couple of procedural questions that folks brought up today, and it’s probably best to address them up front.

Witness Notes

One of these is the issue of a witness referring to notes while testifying.  This occurred with witness Williams, the MMA/Security/“Bro!” witness for the state.  Early in today’s cross-examination of Williams by the defense, Attorney Nelson noticed that Williams was holding some papers in his hand and kept looking at them, and asked Williams if they were notes. Curiously enough, Williams denied they were “notes,” but said he used them when he couldn’t remember things. Sounds like notes to me, but whatever.

Legally speaking, the problem with a witness holding notes is first of all that the witness is supposed to be testifying from memory.  Notes can be used by a witness to refresh their recollection, but then must be put down and the testimony again given from that (now refreshed) memory.

Even then, notes intended for such purposes must have been disclosed beforehand to the parties as part of the normal discovery possible, before the witness can make use of them on the stand—the parties are entitled to know what the notes actually say.  These notes of Williams were obviously not shared with the defense beforehand, and I rather doubt even the prosecution knew Williams was bringing them.

One fundamental concern about notes, of course, is that they could be written by anybody and handed to a witness with no actual personal knowledge of the events in question who simply reads off them to the jury.  There’s no way to cross-examine or impeach a piece of paper, after all.

So, the way Williams was using his notes was inconsistent with proper court procedure, and its procedure that matters.

Apparently, defense counsel didn’t think it enough of a problem to make a big stink over it, other than to ask Williams to limit himself to using the notes only to refresh his recollection.

Those of you who enjoyed my coverage of the Zimmerman trial might remember that one of the state’s medical examiners who testified at trial brought a whole bunch of notes with him, none of which had been disclosed to the defense.

When defense counsel Don West asked to see them—as was his right—the doctor adamantly refused to share them, grabbing them close to his person and screeching that they were his notes, his personal property, that he prepared in his own spare time.  It was reminiscent of Gollum and his precious ring.

Absent the notes, it turned out the doctor had no real recollection of any of the medical examination of Trayvon Martin, and so proved another among a great many of the prosecution’s witnesses who had zero, or even negative, value for the state’s case against George Zimmerman.

So, that’s the deal with Williams’ notes.

Direct, Cross, Re-Direct, Re-Cross, etc.

The second procedural question had to do with the sequence of questioning of the witnesses.  Currently the state is presenting its case in chief, so these are state witnesses.

The state questions its witnesses first, in what is called direct questioning.  Then the defense gets to question the witness, in what is called cross-examination—unless the defense has no questions, in which case that witness is done.

After the defense has subject the witness to cross-examination, however, the prosecution may want to ask the witness additional questions in what is referred to as re-direct question. Then the defense also can ask the witness more questions in what is called re-cross examination.

After that we may be re-re-direct, re-re-cross, etc., all the way down.

Importantly, however, each round of questioning is limited to the scope of the round of questioning that occurred immediately prior.

That is, if the state’s initial direct examination asked about issues A, B, and C, on cross-examination the defense can ask about A, B, or C, but they cannot ask about issue D—if they attempt to do so, they are exceeding the scope of direct, and that questioning outside of scope is not permitted.

Let’s imagine that on cross-examination the defense permissibly asks about issue A and B, but not about C.  Then if the state wants to engage in re-direct, the state can only ask about what the defense just covered—issues A and B.  Issue C is no longer on the table for re-direct, because it wasn’t covered on cross.

The natural result is that each round of questioning tends to get narrower and narrower as the prior round focuses on an increasingly smaller subset of the issues originally covered on direct.

Hopefully that makes sense—it would be much easier to draw as a figure than it is to describe using words, but there we are.

Leading Questions

Also, I had a question about asking leading questions, which the prosecution tended to do a great deal with a number of today’s witnesses.  A leading question is one which suggests the answer to the witness, and these are not permitted on direct questioning (meaning, questioning of your own witness), but are permitted on cross-examination.

If a prosecutor, say, wants to get their witness to share their personal knowledge of an event, and is particularly hoping to have the witness testify that a green car came driving down the road, the prosecutor might properly ask, “And after you exited the store, did you observe anything noteworthy on the road outside?”  If instead the prosecutor asks, “And after you exited the store, did you see a green car come driving down the road?” that would be a prohibited leading question, because the question suggests the answer.

Here the state seemed to ask a great many leading questions of its own witnesses, and I was asked why the judge permitted this to occur.

It’s important to understand that it’s not for the judge to call out such things as prohibited leading questions, it’s up to opposing counsel to do that.  If opposing counsel objects to a leading question, then they literally object—“Objection, leading.”—and if the question was genuinely an improper leading question the judge will uphold the objection and the question and any answer will be struck.

If opposing counsel does not object, however, then there’s nothing for the court to sustain, and the leading question is allowed to pass.  The judge isn’t going to stop it on his own.

Why might opposing counsel allow this? Well, leading questions do allow questioning to proceed much more quickly, and it can make the entire court day very cumbersome to jump on every leading question. If the question and answer are unlikely to damage opposing counsel’s arguments or would inevitably come in anyway after a long series of arduous but permissible non-leading questions, it’s just more efficient—and more likely to stay within the trial judge’s favor—to let the leading question go.

The result is that we sometimes see a great many leading questions even though they are technically not permissible—or perhaps more accurately, even though they are technically objectionable.

Jury Instructions: Coming Soon

Finally, someone has asked about me writing about the jury instructions for the relevant criminal charges in this case. I’ve got those but will probably hold off writing about them until sometime this weekend, when court is not in session.

OK, so let’s jump into today’s testimony.

State’s Witness: Douglas Williams, MMA/Security/“Bro” Bystander

Court adjourned yesterday while state witness Donald Williams II was undergoing direct examination, so naturally things continued today with the state picking up where they left off.

You’ll recall that Douglas Williams is the MMA/Security “expert” who was the bystander witness of Floyd’s arrest who rather aggressively challenged the police on scene.

As was the case with most of the state’s witnesses today, the purpose of Williams testimony seemed to be largely to share emotive observations of Floyd’s in-custody death—albeit at least in Williams’ case there may have been a secondary motive to attempt to leverage his purported martial arts and security “expertise.”

Much of Williams direct testimony focused on Floyd’s demeanor as he died:  “He was in pain, his mouth was wide open, with drool and slob, and dryness, and eyes rolling back, and trying to gasp for air and trying to be able to breath, and trying to move his face from side to side.”

Williams also made several comparisons between Floyd’s demeanor and the death of the fish he’d captured earlier in the day and kept in a plastic bag as they died, a story he’d first recounted yesterday.

Another interesting theme among the state’s witnesses today made it seem as if they’d all ben carefully coached to make sure they denied that the crowd of angry bystanders had in any way acted in a manner that could be perceived as threatening by the officers.  Yet, throughout their testimony they also couldn’t help but recount actions of themselves or others that could easily be perceived as threatening.

For example, Williams denied engaging in any threatening behavior, but then in an effort to make Officer Thau look bad he recounted how Thau had put a hand on his chest to push Williams back to the sidewalk—which action was only required because Williams had stepped off the sidewalk and aggressively approached to within a foot or so of Thao.

In a further effort to, I suppose, make himself look good, and authoritative, Williams described how he was obliged to restrain other members of the bystander crowd to keep them from aggressively approaching the officers—which, of course, would suggest that the officers had good reason to believe the bystander crowd was inclined to close aggressively on them.

Yet another common theme among the day’s witnesses is that they were intent on engaging in mind reading of Floyd, Chauvin, and others.  With respect to Floyd, for example, Williams was prone to describe fear and pain as if he knew for a fact what Floyd was suffering, instead of limiting himself to his actual observations.  It’s fine to say that Floyd appeared to be suffering fear and pain, and articulate why, but not to definitely define Floyd’s mental state.

Similarly, Williams was prone to engage in mind-reading of Chauvin, at one point describing Chauvin as definitely having no feeling, no remorse, no humanity. Naturally the defense objected, and Cahill instructed the jury to disregard.

And, sorry, but yet another common theme among the witnesses today was that even after the paramedics arrived and checked Floyd for a carotid pulse, Chauvin had still not removed his knee until Floyd was lifted up onto the gurney. As mentioned by a commenter in today’s LIVE coverage, this raises an interesting question.  That is, if the paramedic was able to touch Floyd’s carotid pulse without Chauvin having to move his knee, then clearly Chauvin’s knee was not placed on Floyd’s carotid artery and could not have been occluding carotid blood flow.

I hadn’t considered this issue, and it seems that perhaps Nelson had not either, or I would have expected to him to drill down more on this point.

Before he closed out direct examination of Williams, Prosecutor Frank made sure to dive into how Williams felt about the whole experience—that feeling was of course, negative, as was the case with all the state’s witnesses. How Williams or the other witnesses felt, however, has little to do with whether Chauvin violated any of the criminal statutes under which he has been charged.

It’s also notable that Williams would describe making his 911 call after the ambulance left with Floyd as “calling the police on the police”—a catch phrase used repeatedly by Prosecutor Blackwell during opening statement.  The message, of course, is that Chauvin’s conduct as a police officer was purportedly so egregious that it was necessary to take the extraordinary step of calling the police on the police.

Here’s this morning’s direct examination of Williams (following, of course, on the direct that had begun yesterday afternoon),

Williams: Direct

After Frank was done with direct, defense counsel Nelson took up cross-examination of Williams for the first time. It was here that Nelson took notice of Williams’ notes, and the exchange described above took place.

Nelson did a good job exploring relevant use-of-force issues such as the disparity in weight between Floyd—some 230 pounds—and the police officers—the largest of whom, Chauvin, reportedly weighed 140 pounds.  He did this by exploring the use of weight classes in wrestling and martial arts, which obviously divides competitors by weight differences of as little as 10 or 20 pounds, much less the nearly 100-pound difference between Floyd and Chauvin.

Nelson also explored some of the more technical aspects of various choke holds, including distinguishing “air chokes” and “blood chokes,” as well as attempting to get Williams to concede that an effective carotid (blood) choke requires constriction of the carotid arteries on both side of the neck.  Here it should be recalled that Chauvin was applying pressure to only one side of Floyd’s neck, not both.

Williams’ responses here were largely incoherent and confusing and often self-contradictory, and he insisted a carotid choke required constricting only one side of the neck.  Obviously, questioning counsel cannot himself testify and contradict a factual claim by a witness of this sort, absent immediately available impeachment evidence, but the defense has its own use-of-force expert witness it intends to call, and presumably he’ll be more articulate and better informed on these matters than is Mr. Williams.

Williams did agree that a carotid choke results in loss of consciousness in a matter of seconds, which is obviously a vastly shorter time period than the 9 minutes or so in which Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck. Clearly Chauvin could not have been applying a carotid choke for that 9-minute period, during nearly all of which Floyd was demonstrably conscious and moving.

Nelson also was able to undercut much of Williams’ testimony claiming that he’d merely been “professional and professional” while a bystander witness, by referring both to video footage of Williams at the scene as well as to the transcript of an interview Williams had with police investigators.

Nelson noted that Williams had called the officers “such a man,” and “bogus,” and “such a tough man,” and “a f’ing p*ssy,” and a “f’ing bum.’ Indeed, Nelson pointed out that Williams had call the officers “a bum” no less than 13 times. When asked if this was true, Williams became thoroughly hostile as a witness, repeatedly responding “if that’s what the video shows,” until Judge Cahill finally had to order him to answer the questions.

Here’s the defense cross-examination of Williams.

Williams: Cross

On re-direct by prosecutor Frank, Williams described the police at the scene as being a “human sh*t show,” to which Cahill naturally sustained a defense objection.  Frank attempted to undercut some of Nelson’s cross about weight classes and such by asking Williams whether in MMA fights or wrestling one’s opponent was handcuffed.  Naturally the answer is no—unless, I suppose the opponent had just attempted to pass a bad $20 bill and then fought off lawful arrest.

Here’s the state’s re-direct of Williams.

Williams: Re-direct

Finally, the defense decided to re-cross briefly, by asking Williams if any time he had ever been choked out in martial arts he’d been able to hold a conversation while that was happening.  The prosecution made a silly objection based on hearsay, which Judge Cahill overruled.  Williams simply answered that he hadn’t previously been engaged in conversation when he was being subject to a carotid choke.

Here’s the defense re-cross of Williams.

Williams: Re-cross

But we’re still not done with Mr. Williams, because the state decided to do a re-re-direct.  Here, the state asked Williams about whether in martial arts one was obliged to stop their choke hold if an opponent tapped out, and Williams laughingly said yes.  It’s not clear to me what the corollary to police use of force is here—are the police supposed to release a restrained suspect if he taps out?—but in any case we were finally finished with Williams as a witness.

Here’s the state re-re-direct of Williams.

Williams: Re-re-direct

State’s Witnesses: The Four “Minor” Witnesses

Next up came a series of four witnesses I’ll refer to as the four “minor” witnesses because all four were female minors (under 18 years of age) at the time they were bystander witnesses to Floyd’s in-custody death.  Although two of the four have since achieved adulthood, Judge Cahill nevertheless allowed all four some special treatment, such as not having to give their names while on public broadcast.  Accordingly, I simply refer to them as Minor 1, Minor 2, Minor 3, and Minor 4, respectively. (Their names are, however, public knowledge, if anyone cares enough to look them up in public media reports.)

Frankly, I felt these witnesses added very little of substance to the trial, although they did through plenty of coal onto the emotive steam engine, each being emotionally distraught, sobbing, even crying on the witness stand. After all, the common theme went, they’d stood there and watched as the police killed George Floyd.

Indeed, two of these witnesses were not even subject to any cross examination by the defense at all.  In the case of one, Minor 2, this was almost certainly a prudent strategic decision by the defense, as she was only 9 years old as of this day of testimony. She had little to add that the other bystander witnesses wouldn’t separately testify to, and one wonders what level of cruelty it required of the state prosecutors to have her subject to such traumatic recollection for not very good purpose.

Another of the four “minor” witnesses, Minor 4, was also not subject to cross, likely because it would have served no substantive purpose for the defense.

Minor 1

Minor 1, however, was subject to direct, cross, and re-direct, and videos of all three are below.  This witnesses’ actual first name appears to have been Darnelle, and she was the older (at the time 17, now 18, year old) cousin of the very young Minor 2.

Minor 1 and Minor 2 had travelled together to the Cup Foods convenience store for snacks, and like the other bystanders largely saw the same things occur.

As noted, there was lots of emoting, lots of mind reading, lots of conclusory statements of fact—“We all knew what was happening was wrong.” “Objection.” “Sustained, jury will disregard.”—but little of genuine substance that the video didn’t reveal on its face.  Floyd was restrained by three officers, including Chauvin’s knee, complained about breathing and being in pain, called for his momma, worsened physiologically, and apparently died on the street, and Chauvin never “let up to get up.”

Like every other bystander witness, none of the “Minor” witnesses had a full understanding of what was occurring even during the limited period they were watching Floyd’s arrest, and none had any idea whatever of all of Floyd’s conduct that led up to him being restrained on the street as he was by the police.

Here’s the direct examination of witness Minor 1 (Darnelle) by state prosecutor Blackwell:

On cross-examination I felt Nelson did a good job getting out of Minor 1 what he could. Indeed, I felt that outside the purely emotive Minor 1 provided more substantive value to the defense than she did to the state.

As with Williams, Nelson was able to wheedle out of Minor 1 testimony consistent with the bystander crowd being an arguably threatening mob to the police.  She denied they were threatening, but then conceded conduct, such as repeatedly stepping off the sidewalk towards the police, and becoming increasing loud and angry, that could readily be perceived as threatening.

Indeed, at one point Chauvin and Thau each reached for their OC spray, conduct that Minor 1 and other of the day’s witnesses professed was utterly unnecessary, but which was certainly circumstantial evidence that the officers felt they might imminently need to defend themselves from physical assault.

Here’s the cross-examination of Minor 1:

This conflict in testimony was highlighted again when Prosecutor Blackwell asked on re-direct if Minor 1 had seen a single thing that would indicate that Chauvin was frightened by the crowd. She said she had not, but her own testimony only moments earlier about Chauvin reaching for his OC spray belies that claim.

Here’s the re-direct of Minor 1:

Minor 2

As already mentioned, there wasn’t much to Minor 2’s testimony, as one would expect from a 9 year old, so I won’t spend much time on it here.  Again, Minor 2 was not even subject to cross-examination, so we have only the direct questioning by the state, again by Prosecutor Blackwell.

Minor 3

Minor 3 was another female, now 18 years old, and in high school. She was subject to direct questioning by a female prosecutor we haven’t seen in an active role yet this trial, prosecutor Eldridge.

Minor 3 was one of a pair of girls who drove to the Cup Food to buy an “aux cable.”  The other of the two girls would testify immediately afterwards as Minor 4. Neither Minor 3 nor 4 added much of substantive value to the trial, though there was of course a great deal more emoting.

Interestingly, when the various videos are played during Minor 3’s testimony, we can clearly hear MMA witness Williams telling Officer Thau, “I will kick the f*ck out of you. I will kick the f*ck out of you. You’re a b*tch, bro.”  We can also clearly hear the firefighter Hansen, who will be the last witness of the day, also calling Officer Thau a b*tch.

Here’s the direct questioning of Minor 3:

On cross examination Nelson scored some real points.  Referring to a transcript of a phone interview Minor 3 had with investigators shortly after the event, Nelson pointed out that she told those investigators that she had seen the police restraining Floyd check his pulse multiple times before the ambulance got there.  She also repeated this narrative of the police checking Floyd’s pulse in discussion with the prosecution only days prior to her testimony today, to which the defense apparently had discovery access.

Minor 3 claimed she had no clear recollection of saying the officers checked Floyd’s pulse “multiple times,” but had to concede the point when Nelson handed her the transcript of her interview.

She also conceded that the bystander crowd around the officers was genuinely angry, which will be an important circumstantial factor in the officer’s reasonable perceptions of their practical options in that context.  Indeed, it’s worth noting again that not even the paramedics stayed on scene to treat Floyd, but rather immediately loaded Floyd into the ambulance and drove a safe distance away from the angry crowd before doing so.

Here’s the cross-examination of Minor 3:

Prosecutor Eldridge did a very short re-direct of Minor 3, hardly worth mentioning, so I won’t.  Here’s the re-direct of Minor 3:

Minor 4

State’s witness Minor 4 was essentially an emotional wreck throughout direct questioning by Prosecutor Eldridge, with sobbing and weeping on the witness stand. The state got nothing out of her they hadn’t already gotten from the other Minor witnesses, and the defense did not even both cross-examining her.

Here’s the direct questioning of Minor 4:

State’s Witness: Fire Fighter Genevieve Hansen

State’s witness fire fighter Genevieve Hansen appeared on the witness stand in her full dress uniform, presenting quite a different sight than she had as a bystander witness clad in sweatpants on the sidewalk.

Before even direct questioning of Hansen began, the prosecution submitted to the court some video evidence of the scene and audio evidence of a 911 call by Hansen, and that was “published” before Hansen took the stand. Here is that evidence as published in court.

Hansen Video and 911 Audio

Once direct began, this time led by Prosecutor Frank, much time was spent polishing Hansen’s training and experience, albeit as of today she’d only been a firefighter for two years, and so for barely one year at the time of Floyd’s arrest.

Most of Hansen’s testimony was little different than that of the Minor witnesses: a lot of emoting and mind-reading, but little of substantive value. Like them, she had only a limited view of what was happening and had no knowledge of what had led to Floyd being restrained on the street.

When asked what she would have done had she been permitted to “treat” Floyd, most of what she recited was action actually taken by the officers, like calling 911 and checking Floyd’s pulse.  Other proposed actions would have been effective only if Floyd’s cause of death was actually Chauvin’s knee, which of course is a key issue in dispute and appears to be an unlikely cause of death on the available evidence.

Other possible actions suggested by Hansen were of a sort that neither the officers on scene, nor Hansen in sweatpants, was in a position to provide, like use of a breath bag or of Narcan for drug overdose.  In short, if Floyd required such care, he’d need to wait for the paramedics already called for by the officers.

It is notable that at no time did Hansen make any reference to Floyd’s ingestion of a three-fold fatal dose of methamphetamine/fentanyl speedball, to prevent discovery of the illicit drugs by police—a far more likely cause of death than Chauvin’s knee.

Like Williams, Hansen had also called 911—called the police on the police—to report her conclusion that she had just seen police kill a man, but then had hung up before completing her report to a police sergeant. She had no good reason for hanging up, other than getting distracted by events with other bystanders and late-arriving fire department personal at the scene.

It seemed that Hansen did an OK job as a state witness on direct, which you can view her.

Hansen: Direct

Things went less well for Hansen on cross examination by Nelson, however, largely because she proved rather outrageously hostile and uncooperative—to the point where a very irate Judge Cahill would eventually clear the jury from the court room and chastise her directly before sending her home for the day and adjourning court.  More on that in a moment.

On cross Nelson touched on the substantial training required to be a fire fighter and rhetorically placed Hansen into a hypothetical situation similar to that of the officers. Would it be difficult for her to follow her training and do her job putting out a fire if she was being shouted at by a threatening mob?  Hansen insisted it would not negatively impact her ability to do her job at all, but the protestations came across as entirely insincere.

He also explored whether she had ever before sought to interfere with police securing a scene for called medical personnel, and Hansen had to concede she had not.

An interesting exchange occurred when Hansen insisted to Nelson that a main reason for her concern was that she believed fire fighter EMTs could have been on scene prior to Floyd’s death, and that the delay in medical personnel suggested something had gone wrong.  Nelson pointed out that the police merely call for medical, period, and it’s the dispatcher who determines whether paramedics or fire fighter EMTs gets sent.

This whole exchange opened an entirely new narrative for the defense, in that the fault of providing timely care to Floyd might have been that not of the officers, who called for care promptly, but of other components of the city’s response system.

Hansen gradually became increasingly hostile and uncooperative. When asked if she remembered making particular statements to investigators, she denied knowledge. When offered a transcript to refresh her recollection, she refused to look at it. When compelled to look at it, she conceded that she’d made the statement, but then attempted to provide a lengthy, complex, and legally irrelevant explanation for why she made the statement she’d initially denied remembering having made.

As noted eventually Judge Cahill had enough of Hansen, cleared the jury, and chastised Hanssen directly. Even while he was chastising here, she continued to be argumentative, this time directly with Judge Cahill.

As you might expect, that went poorly for her.

That chastisement closed out the court for the day, so we’ll use it to close out today’s wrap-up post.

Here’s the cross-examination of Hansen, which will continue tomorrow morning.

Hansen: Cross (Part 1)

And if you only want to see Hansen being chastised, here’s the short video clip of that portion of the day’s proceedings.

Hansen: Scolded by Judge Cahill

OK, folks, that’s all I have for today. I’ll be back tomorrow morning with live coverage of the Chauvin trial once again.

Until then, stay safe!

–Andrew

Attorney Andrew F. Branca
Law of Self Defense LLC

Attorney Andrew F. Branca’s legal practice has specialized exclusively in use-of-force law for thirty years.  Andrew provides use-of-force legal consultancy services to attorneys across the country, as well as near-daily use-of-force law insight, expertise, and education to lawyers and non-lawyers alike in the form of blog posts, video, and podcasts, through the Law of Self Defense Membership service.  If this kind of content is of interest to you, try out our two-week Membership trial for a mere 99 cents, with a 200% no-question- asked money-back guarantee, here:  Law of Self Defense Membership Trial.

[Featured image is a screen capture from video of today’s court proceedings in MN v. Chauvin.]

 

 

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Comments

So far I am pretty impressed with Judge Cahill.
He had me worried during voir dire, but he seems very fair and even-keeled so far in the trial. Much better than Nelson was in the Zimmerman trial!

One would have thought that an EMT who took the time to put on her dress uniform would be more aware of how she comes across, and the importance of acting in a professional and respectful manner on the stand.

It’s not even as though she was dealing with a snake of a defense attorney, twisting her words. Nelson was polite and asking very straightforward, fair things.

Even so she was eye-rolling, sighing, and acting like a child. Undermines the importance of her reaction to Floyd on scene. Demonstrates she’s emotionally volatile and unprofessional, at al ltimes.

    BillyHW in reply to Laser Beam. | March 31, 2021 at 12:14 am

    So how do you feel about the 19th Amendment now after watching that?

    Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Laser Beam. | March 31, 2021 at 12:48 am

    She also appears overweight and out of standards for physical fitness and readiness. This lowered her professional appearance. You wear a uniform only if it supports the aura of competence you wish to impart upon the jury. Prosecutor was clearly attempting to use the uniform to add credibility to the witness. However, and overweight private does not come across, per se, as especially credible. The body language reinforces this.

    I initially only only listened to the cross examination, and then watched the video with sound. Witness came across better without video.

    Overall, Hansen did not really help the state as she made no real determination that defendant killed Floyd. She rather shows she is rather undisciplined which comes across both by actions that day of the incident, and her approach to her profession.

    In the end, she testifies that police were restraining a person after calling for medical help which took way too long to arrive. The reason defendant kept the deceased restrained for so long was because medical responders took and inordinate and highly unusual time to respond, not because defendant was attempting to cause harm to the deceased. Her testimony did not support the murder charges. Manslaughter is still open, but again, there was not strong substantiation of even that. States witnesses did not provide evidence of intent to cause harm. A weak opening for the prosecution, indeed.

    Prosecution’s strategy is clearly to override reason with emotion. If prosecution resorts to this, they have no case. This is a sham, but it still may work.

      Speaking of weight, it never would have occurred to me that Chauvin was that small. His height wasn’t mentioned but he only weighs 140 pounds vs Floyd’s 230 pounds. I’m 5’8″ and weigh a skinny 160 pounds myself and can’t imagine having to wrestle with an intensely angry 230 pound man jacked up on drugs even if not surrounded by a hostile crowd. Even if I were at my lifetime peak physically. Talk about a tough situation. Now imagine if Chauvin were a woman or tranny… but I digress.

      How big a factor might that be? If I were a jurist and the defense didn’t bring that up, I would probably send a note to the judge.

      That was my very first thought seeing her — doesn’t the fire department have fitness and weight requirements???

      I don’t care what a person weighs — except when it impacts their ability to do their job. Especially a job which involves protecting other people.

Williams yelling at Officer Thau, “I will kick the f*ck out of you. I will kick the f*ck out of you. You’re a b*tch, bro.”

Then Williams testified he was never angry while on-scene!
I would hate to see this guy when he IS angry! ?

    When Nelson asked Williams whether he was getting angrier and angrier, Williams responded, no, I was getting professional and professional.

    Can’t make this stuff up.

      Laser Beam in reply to Andrew Branca. | March 30, 2021 at 11:30 pm

      There was a commentator on ABC who said “the defense was trying to portray him as an angry black man. He wasn’t angry. He was angry that he was watching a man be killed.”

      thad_the_man in reply to Andrew Branca. | March 31, 2021 at 2:27 am

      I actually wondered if Williams.was suffering from CTE.

      The most ridiculous part was when Williams claimed to be one of the best, and Nelson pointing out that his record was 5-6.

      The most telling part was when Nelson asked if Williams knew that they had called EMT 3 minutes before Williams showed up and called again a minute later. I’ve said a lot depends on when they called the ambulance and it seems that they called them about the time that Floyd was laid on the ground.

        healthguyfsu in reply to thad_the_man. | March 31, 2021 at 3:59 am

        The guy had clear anger issues. It looked like he had to fight every urge in his body not to jump out of the witness stand and attack the defense attorney as soon as he got up for questioning. Watch his body language again…looks like a series of facial expressions and tics you’d expect from a territorial primate. I’m not saying that as some sort of implied racism…it’s a well know fact that apes show their teeth when they want to put on a dominant display.

        DaveGinOly in reply to thad_the_man. | March 31, 2021 at 3:33 pm

        Maybe he went to the Charlie Zelenoff School of Martial Arts.
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ux_kUo9OLsc

The persecution was despicable for putting that little girl on the stand for no good reason. At least the defence had the decency to pass on questioning her.

Please God let the jury have more intelligence than these sad witnesses.

I am not sure I would have allow her(Hansen) to keep say he was killed. That is opinion and she has no medical background to make that judgement.

Probably ok to leave that alone and use an expert to say she was misjudged her assessment.

Midfiaudiophile | March 31, 2021 at 1:07 am

Thank you for the answer on the leading questions. I’m still curious as to why prosecution thinks that Williams, to some degree, and Hansen, to greater degree, help their case against Officer Chauvin, personally.

Much of her ire seems directed at Officer Thau, who was the one that most directly prevented her from going up and “helping” Mr. Floyd. Doesn’t that just muddy the waters when attempting to prove that Chauvin was the cause of death?

Odd that Hansen is wearing uniform as her presence was not in an official capacity. An adult at the station should have said no to that.

Second- Hansen is not going to last long as a firefighter. Stuff gets around and the boys in blue be fast or slow to stop a combative patient from beating the hell out of you. While there’s friendly kidding between the two professions, I’ve not seen one behave this way towards the other like she has.

She’s every WORST stereotype of the female firefighter.

    TheOldZombie in reply to Andy. | March 31, 2021 at 1:19 am

    Ahhhh but the adults at the station aren’t in charge. No doubt in my mind that the orders for her to wear that uniform came from the mayors office with the blessing of the prosecutor. They want her to look like a professional to the jury. She however blew it.

    healthguyfsu in reply to Andy. | March 31, 2021 at 4:01 am

    There aren’t any adults left, and any that were, probably got fired because shut up you racist!

      lurker9876 in reply to healthguyfsu. | March 31, 2021 at 8:11 am

      Minneapolis probably is experiencing staffing issues with their defund the police efforts. Even if they regret the defund the police efforts, it’s too late for immediate restoration. But keeping the likes of Hansen around can bring more harm to the city and its civilians. Obviously, she has not dealt with a combative criminal. Two years in a job is not long enough.

    GWB in reply to Andy. | March 31, 2021 at 1:48 pm

    She’s every WORST stereotype of the female firefighter.
    QFT.

    cazinger in reply to Andy. | March 31, 2021 at 2:35 pm

    Something tells me that she was hired as part of an official effort to try to “encourage” more women to join the fire department. Something else tells me that she didn’t have to go through the same level of rigorous physical testing that her male colleagues had to go through in order to be hired.

      She testified she went through some special program for the job, something at a slower than normal pace, specifically designed to “encourage residents” to become firefighters.

      lgbmiel in reply to cazinger. | March 31, 2021 at 3:57 pm

      I trained to become a paramedic — not a firefighter, that was a separate program. My program was a two-year degree — Emergency Medical Management. It started with becoming an EMT-Basic. In my area there were three levels of EMT — basic, intermediate, medic. In my area, the city would only hire a paramedic if they were also a firefighter.

      I KNEW I did not have the qualifications to be a firefighter. I’m a small person, I could not pass the physical testing. I didn’t want to be a firefighter, only a medic. I planned on using my degree outside my state.

      When I was 3 months from finishing, I realized the responsibility of a person’s life was too much for me. I left the program. It was a good decision. I really enjoy helping people and I have found my ‘niche’ so to speak as a pharmacy technician.

      Not all women can do the job of a firefighter. It’s just something that people have to accept. It’s not discrimination — it’s science and biology.

      Men and women are NOT the same physically. There are some jobs that men will always be able to do better because of the physical differences between the sexes.

      It’s science.

TheOldZombie | March 31, 2021 at 1:16 am

I’m shocked that Chauvin reportedly weighed 140 pounds and is 5’9″

Goes to show you how video can distort things because he looks much bigger in the video.

I think it was a good day for the defense. I believe that the firefighter witness hurt her own credibility with her behavior. Especially when she denied she said something and than refused to look at a transcript before have to admit that yes she said that something. Juries aren’t blind and the behavior of a witness on the stand can factor in to whether or not one believes what the witness is saying.

I bet her supervisors aren’t happy with her behavior either. Quite unprofessional she was.

    Midfiaudiophile in reply to TheOldZombie. | March 31, 2021 at 1:47 am

    The focus on the emotions of bystanders fails to move me (Is the trial for murder or for public indecency?), but Andrew McCarthy at NR (A former federal prosecutor) seems to feel that the trial is going well from a prosecutor’s perspective, specifically on the emotional front: https://www.nationalreview.com/corner/never-ask-a-question-you-dont-need-to-ask-chauvin-lawyer-gets-clobbered-by-witnesss-gripping-testimony/

    I suspect we won’t really know how this will turn out until the defense trots out the unexpurgated 30 minute video in which Mr. Floyd complains of trouble breathing while not actually being restrained (and which, along with the presence of the early call for medical assistance, nullifies a lot of today’s testimony).

      McCarthy would be much more productive reading if he was half as insightful and unbiased as he thinks he is. In fact, McCarthy has a long history on jumping on the “racist cop murder” bandwagon with both feet, regardless of actual facts and law. I’ve observed this phenomena in many otherwise intelligent people in his social class. It’s an opportunity to look SUPER ANTI-RACIST by throwing a cop to the wolves, without having to make any sacrifice themselves. They mistakenly imagine doing this will leave the wolves less hungry.

        Brave Sir Robbin in reply to Andrew Branca. | March 31, 2021 at 10:07 am

        But what of the jury? The question is what this emotionalism and pounding on the podium at anything but the law will have on the jury?

        Again, I will state when the prosecution does not address the law, but attempts to play upon the emotions of the jury, it is because they have no case. But juries, especially juries with preconceived bias against a defendant, will fall for or go along with this.

        Prosecution is basically saying, the law does not matter. How do you feel about the images you saw? Emotions are stronger than logic or facts.

        Burn_the_Witch in reply to Andrew Branca. | March 31, 2021 at 10:25 am

        This is a perfect summation of McCarthy.

      kimd09876 in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | March 31, 2021 at 10:46 am

      Likely it’s the equipment that makes him look heavier. But agree 140 lbs is overmatched by Floyd’s 230.

      DaveGinOly in reply to Midfiaudiophile. | March 31, 2021 at 11:37 am

      People like McCarthy just want to set up the expectation of a conviction, so that when it doesn’t happen more people will be outraged than if he had reported the prosecution wasn’t proving its case. He’s just ginning up the non-dedicated portion of the outrage mob (the dedicated portion of which will be outraged no matter what happens in the trial – Chauvin could be convicted starting a holocaust against POCs and sentenced to death and they would not be satisfied).

    NavyMustang in reply to TheOldZombie. | March 31, 2021 at 11:08 am

    My dojo partner in the Honolulu police academy was…wait for it…4’11”.

    Just for fun, I used to grab her and swing her around in circles. Light as a feather.

    If I was REALLY in the sh*t, I would have cried if she showed up to back me up. People like her
    have to go to lethal force almost immediately.

    But my real point is that there are a fair number of cops like Chauvin. That’s why we don’t do “mano a mano” like a lot of folks think we do or should do. Just like the military, we use overwhelming force (that is, LOTS of cops) to gain control of a suspect. One time I arrested a felon who was maybe 5’7″. I’m 5’11”, but it took four of us to finally get the cuffs on him.

    Criminals love to taunt us that they could kick our butts one on one and that may be true, but we don’t operate that way.

Also on the choke thing. You can be talking right up to the point you pass out. As I said in the live thread, in one of my times down the tunnel, my speech was the last things to go…

but it’s situational.

There is a technique in gi where you simply push someones lapel across them as though to stop them from charging at you and if they continue pushing forward with that on one side of their neck, they fall down- they have no idea it’s happening; you’ll see this in competitions.

Accurately – Floyd was not getting a blood choke and a knee is not piano wire.

TheOldZombie | March 31, 2021 at 1:25 am

Mr. Branca,

Even though the jury was sent out of the court do you think they recognize that they were sent out because the witness was about to get scolded?

thad_the_man | March 31, 2021 at 2:34 am

The scolgong by the judge reminded me of this video:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4TRD1cEnAgM

Holy shit.

I watched the last video.

‘Best and the brightest’ of the entitled diversity hires.

You can’t possibly tell me that she meets the standards of a firefighter.

    The Friendly Grizzly in reply to Olinser. | March 31, 2021 at 7:05 am

    She does on the basis of filling a quota.

    cazinger in reply to Olinser. | March 31, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Yeah, me too. That last little sarcastic, entitled snide attitude towards the judge – I see that sometime from my 12 year old son. He gets punished for it as well. Hoping he will learn from the punishments and grow out of the attitude. She obviously didn’t

I was kind of surprised by the hostility of all the witnesses called so far.

    healthguyfsu in reply to BillyHW. | March 31, 2021 at 4:04 am

    Really?

    1. They are state’s witnesses for a reason and look to have been coached heavily.
    2. This thing is being broadcast all over the internet. Anyone on the camera that shows anything less than contempt for the defense counsel and their client will be subject to doxxing, threats, branding with ‘ism’ titles, and possible loss of employment.

Thanks, Andrew.

George_Kaplan | March 31, 2021 at 6:15 am

Looks like the prosecution is trying to win a guilty vote by emotive witnesses rather than facts. I hope they have some actual evidence to support the charges else the defence might not even need to argue their case.

Can a defendant win via the judge ruling the prosecution has failed to make a case?

    The Packetman in reply to George_Kaplan. | March 31, 2021 at 8:00 am

    A defendant can win that way, but Cahill’s gonna let this one play out no matter how weak the prosecutions case is.

      REDACTED in reply to The Packetman. | March 31, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Judging by the black men impaneled, this jury is predestined to be hung

      DaveGinOly in reply to The Packetman. | March 31, 2021 at 12:23 pm

      Let it play out, then ask for the directed verdict. I’m surprised that defenses don’t more often ask for the directed verdict. It’s one more swing at a “not guilty” and you get to do it before taking a chance that the jury isn’t a bunch of soft touches.

      Do defense attorneys fear that a failure to secure a directed verdict (when requested) gives the appearance to the jurors that the prosecution has proved its case?

        steve_gosney in reply to DaveGinOly. | March 31, 2021 at 1:12 pm

        No – directed verdicts are rare because most judges are former prosecutors + they will often just let things go to the jury for them to determine guilt. The jury is the fact finder and the judge is the law giver, so getting them to cross that line is very hard indeed. Motions for judgment of acquittal are so common as to be almost routine – it is rare for a defense attorney NOT to ask for one at the close of all the State’s evidence. Further, a motion for judgment of acquittal at the end of the State’s case (at least in Florida) will be denied if there is any evidence that if taken in the light most favorable to the State and if believed, a jury could convict from. The motions are made outside the presence of the jury, so that is not a consideration.

    artichoke in reply to George_Kaplan. | March 31, 2021 at 10:22 am

    And coordinated witness testimony. I’ve seen that before. It should be enough for the jury to acquit, on its own, on all charges.

      steve_gosney in reply to artichoke. | March 31, 2021 at 1:13 pm

      No – directed verdicts are rare because most judges are former prosecutors + they will often just let things go to the jury for them to determine guilt. The jury is the fact finder and the judge is the law giver, so getting them to cross that line is very hard indeed. Motions for judgment of acquittal are so common as to be almost routine – it is rare for a defense attorney NOT to ask for one at the close of all the State’s evidence. Further, a motion for judgment of acquittal at the end of the State’s case (at least in Florida) will be denied if there is any evidence that if taken in the light most favorable to the State and if believed, a jury could convict from. The motions are made outside the presence of the jury, so that is not a consideration.

      steve_gosney in reply to artichoke. | March 31, 2021 at 1:16 pm

      Happens all the time. In my experience, prosecutors regularly “coach” their witnesses — never gets called out – only by defense attorneys who will argue that it impacts witness credibility. Judges don’t care and many prosecutors will do anything to ‘win’, sadly.

    NavyMustang in reply to George_Kaplan. | March 31, 2021 at 10:48 am

    The Rule of Law: 1. If the facts are against you, argue the law.
    2. If the law is against you, argue the facts. 3. If the facts
    and the law are against you, yell like hell.

steve_gosney | March 31, 2021 at 8:19 am

Great coverage Andrew! Your analysis is spot on! Loved your explanation of why a defense attorney would allow leading questions – absolutely correct. Two questions from Florida: 1) Why would the defense allow the MMA fighter to testify as an expert without Daubert objection? Was the MMA guy disclosed as an expert? The only reason to allow the State to use him as an expert without qualification or disclosure is either he is helpful (not the case here) or the defense is so happy with the jury that they do not want to blow up the trial. This is a very good appellate issue IF PRESERVED and letting it go seems a mistake. 2) Everyone is focused on Floyd’s death by cutoff of the arteries in the neck, but my understanding is that death can occur by weight and compression on the back by the knee in that position – asphyxiation by compression. Has the State committed to the neck artery thing? Is there any mention or accommodation for a method of death by the State other than neck compression? Keep up the good work!

    artichoke in reply to steve_gosney. | March 31, 2021 at 10:18 am

    Branca also writes as if Floyd died at the scene.

    *Much of Williams direct testimony focused on Floyd’s demeanor as he died: “He was in pain, his mouth was wide open, with drool and slob, and dryness, and eyes rolling back, and trying to gasp for air and trying to be able to breath, and trying to move his face from side to side.”*

    I thought he died later. And from what I saw on the video, he went limp with three or four minutes of knee time remaining, so presumably he was passed out but not dead.

      I don’t know exactly when Floyd died. I’ll wait for evidence at trial on that issue. For purposes of analysis I’m presuming that Floyd died on the street, as that’s the worst-case scenario for the defense.

      steve_gosney in reply to artichoke. | March 31, 2021 at 11:51 am

      Educated guess: He was probably dead at the scene, but was “declared dead” at the hospital … This is often the case when someone comes in dead but lifesaving measures are taken. Also, I think there is a level of responsibility as to who can “declare” someone dead — but we shall see what the evidence at trial presents.

    DaveGinOly in reply to steve_gosney. | March 31, 2021 at 12:31 pm

    I think he was portrayed as an “expert” martial artist (because of his MMA experience) and not as a subject-matter (i.e. “expert”) witness. The prosecution wanted to portray him as an “expert” to lend gravitas to his testimony without having to purport he was a subject-matter expert witness. An expert witness is not usually an actual witness to the alleged crime, but someone who comments about the facts and evidence. That is, he’s “witnessing” the presentation of technical matters in court and gives his interpretation and evaluation, as a subject-matter expert, on same.

      steve_gosney in reply to DaveGinOly. | March 31, 2021 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks for the thoughtful reply! An eyewitness can be both – cops often testify to areas as experts when they are involved in a case. Giving an interpretation and evaluation of what is being witnessed is the providence of a disclosed and vetted expert — a lay witness cannot usually provide opinion testimony on technical matters without the Daubert criteria being met. The defense should have reigned that in, IMHO — but I am not watching live, only reading the summary here and over at Powerlineblog. God bless!

    Hey Steve, just saw your questions now, apologies for the delay.

    First, I do not believe that Williams was recognized by the court as an expert, in the technical legal sense, so my belief is he was used as an “expert” without qualification. Not sure why the defense went along with this, except for the obvious reasons both you and I would recognize (essentially that doing so would actually be more beneficial for the defense than the state, which I think largely proved to be the case).

    Second, as so often happens in these politically-motivated prosecutions with little substantive foundation, the state is being deliberately ambiguous about cause of death, and routinely conflates entirely distinct mechanical and physiological causes as if they were the same or even related (e.g., death by asphyxiation by compression by “blood choke”). I presume they are doing this because they can’t actually prove any specific cause of death that would be consistent with Chauvin’s guilt, so they are putting together a “cause of death stew” to confuse the jury.

    Up to defense to straighten that out when they present their case in chief, I guess.

no matter what the outcome of this trial, inner city policing will be severely curtailed.

so the cities will have even more white flight and the remaining folk will pay the price of the lack of policing.

Is that a bug or a feature ?

Just to add info, online, there are 5 or 6 booking sheets from the HPD

Floyd is listed at 6’6″ on all of them

Fat_Freddys_Cat | March 31, 2021 at 10:55 am

I’m not a trained firefighter myself, but I was struck by Hansen’s replies to the judge’s scolding. She said things like “yeah, okay”. I would expect any adult, much less a professional in uniform, to respond “yes, your honor”. Or have I just seen too many movies?

amatuerwrangler | March 31, 2021 at 12:22 pm

A couple of comments since Andrew seems to be hanging out here….
1. The direct feed from Andrew, when court is in session, causes the comments on the LI page to become a moving target, constantly jumping as new info arrives. I see that a great deal of comments appear after the day’s work is done in MN. Coincidence?
2. Re “tapping out”…. MMA and other combat sports do provide for that. However, having no set of rules — at least for one side of the activity — and no referee, the street is not so well managed. The “tap out” is accomplished there by the person being apprehended ceasing resistance and placing both hands in the small of the back to receive handcuffs.
3. Do not expect professional court testimony out of firefighters. It is not a part of their job and they are not trained for it. Police officers are schooled in it, not what to say but how to say it, as it is part of their job.

Isn’t it possible to get the facts correct, but the conclusion wrong? I’m thinking of the story about the boy that ran to his dad (from Lincoln’s day), “pa, pa, the hired hand has his pants down and sis has her skirt up and they are fixing to pee on the hay” and the dad says, “Son, you got your facts right, but conclusion wrong”. Why not just take a national vote and forget the process. We seem to be drifting to mob rule. Most people in polite society, in public, agree that the cop put a knee on Floyd’s neck and that caused his death and in private know a conviction is hoped to avoid more riots. Try defending an unpopular person, and you end up like Sharon Osborn without the payout.

BTW, I really appreciate the wrap-ups. I don’t have time to follow the live-blogging, but the wrap-ups give me more information that the MSM ever could.

Thank you.

Emotion versus facts SHOULD determine the verdict. This judge SEEMS to be fair and impartial, so we’ll see what happens. Fact 1 is that St. Floyd had enough Fentanyl and other narcotics in his system to kill several men. Fact 2 is that he was complaining about not being able to breathe the entire time he was being arrested and before he was restrained on the ground by the officers knee. This is on the UNEDITED videotape from the officers chest cams.

It remains to be seen if the jury will be scared by the mob into voting “Guilty” and ignoring the facts. If I was on that jury, I’d have already arranged to leave town after the verdict. Too dangerous to hang around as the mob rules that place.

mespo727272 | April 7, 2021 at 9:51 pm

Quite the rogues gallery for the prosecution. One guy who couldn’t understand the simplest of questions and well … I have this nagging feeling that Firefighter Hansen’s first name must be Karen.

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