Derek Chauvin claims Floyd was ‘going crazy’

Floyd's girlfriend testifies in court
Originally Published: 01 APR 21 11:04 ET
Updated: 01 APR 21 17:43 ET

(CNN) — Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin spoke to his supervisor in a phone call shortly after kneeling on George Floyd for over 9 minutes to explain what happened on scene.

“I was just going to call and have you come out to our scene here,” Chauvin told Sgt. David Ploeger in a phone call captured on body camera footage and played in court Thursday. “We just had to hold a guy down. He was going crazy. He wouldn’t … he wouldn’t go in the back of the squad — ”

The video then cuts out. In testimony about the phone call, Ploeger said he believed Chauvin did not mention that he used force and Chauvin did not mention using his knee to hold someone down.

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Ploeger then drove to the scene and advised the officers there to speak to witnesses. “We can try, but they’re all pretty hostile,” Chauvin responded.

Later that night at the Hennepin County Medical Center, Ploeger spoke with Chauvin and fellow officer Tou Thao. There, Chauvin said that he had knelt on Floyd’s neck, Ploeger testified.

Chauvin’s comments, which had not previously been released, are the second time in his criminal trial that the jury has heard his perspective in the minutes after Floyd’s limp body was taken away in an ambulance. On Wednesday, a clip from Chauvin’s body camera similarly showed him defending his actions to a critical bystander.

“That’s one person’s opinion,” Chauvin responded as he got into his squad car. “We had to control this guy because he’s a sizable guy. It looks like he’s probably on something.”

Chauvin’s attorney has not indicated whether he will testify in his own defense.

Ploeger also testified that the use of force should have ended earlier.

“When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint,” he said.

The testimony came on the fourth day of Chauvin’s criminal trial. Earlier in the day, Floyd’s girlfriend spoke about Floyd’s struggles with opioid addiction, and several first-responders testified about Floyd’s unresponsive condition when they arrived to the scene.

Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Wearing a suit and tie in court, he has appeared engaged with the proceedings and has taken notes on a large yellow legal pad.

Paramedics say Floyd appeared dead

Two Hennepin County paramedics who treated Floyd last May said he was unresponsive, not breathing and had no pulse when they arrived on the scene.

“In layman terms, I thought he was dead,” paramedic Derek Smith said.

Smith and his partner Seth Bravinder were first called to the scene as a non-emergency Code 2 for a mouth injury, but about a minute and half later, the call was upgraded to a Code 3 — meaning the ambulance uses lights and sirens.

When they arrived to the scene, Floyd did not appear to be breathing or moving, they testified. Smith checked Floyd’s pulse and pupils — with Chauvin still kneeling on him — and believed his heart had stopped. They then moved to get him onto a stretcher, and Bravinder bent down and motioned for Chauvin to lift his knee off Floyd.

They decided to put Floyd into the ambulance so they could treat him in a controlled environment. The equipment for treating patients with a stopped heart is located in the ambulance, and Bravinder said they were concerned about the crowd of bystanders.

One officer, Thomas Lane, also got into the ambulance with them and helped with chest compressions. Smith removed Floyd’s handcuffs with a set of handcuff keys, he testified. With Floyd inside, Bravinder drove the ambulance several blocks and then stopped to treat him further, he testified.

Inside the ambulance, Floyd was “asystole,” meaning he had flatlined and his heart showed no activity. Attempts were made to restart his heart with chest compressions, establishing an airway and electric shock, but he did not recover. They ultimately dropped him off at the hospital with no change in his status.

“I showed up, he was deceased, and I dropped him off at the hospital, and he was still in cardiac arrest,” Smith said.

Fire Department Capt. Jeremy Norton testified that he and his partner met up with the ambulance two blocks away to help render aid to Floyd on the way to the hospital. His condition was grim.

“He was an unresponsive body on a cot,” Norton said.

He testified no one ever found a pulse in Floyd’s body. He later reported the incident to superiors in the Fire Department because it involved the death of someone in police custody and an off-duty firefighter was a witness.

Floyd’s girlfriend says they had opioid addiction

Courteney Ross, 45, said she met Floyd in August 2017 when he worked as a security guard at the Salvation Army. In emotional testimony, she said they liked exploring the local sculpture garden and eating out on their dates together.

Floyd liked to work out every day, lifting weights, doing situps and pullups, and he never complained of shortness of breath, she said. He was a mama’s boy who was a “shell of himself” after his mother’s death in 2018, and she described the well-known photo of him as a “dad selfie.”

They also both were addicted to opioids. Like many Americans, they were prescribed opioid painkillers to treat chronic pain, which ultimately led to an addiction and their use of street drugs, she testified.

In March 2020, she found Floyd doubled over in pain and took him to the emergency room, she testified. He was in the hospital for several days due to an overdose, she said. She said she believed he had started using again in May 2020.

In opening statements, prosecutors acknowledged Floyd’s history of opioid addiction but said it was irrelevant to why he died last May. However, defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that Floyd’s true cause of death was drug use and several preexisting health issues.

CNN senior legal analyst Laura Coates explained that prosecutors sometimes decide to address “bad facts” head-on rather than allow the defense to do so.

“It’s because as the prosecutor, you want to present and address and resolve these bad facts. You don’t want to have the defense be able to say, ‘Hey, jury, why didn’t they tell you about this? Here are the things they don’t want you to know,'” Coates said.

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