911 dispatcher, the 1st witness at Derek Chauvin trial, recounts watching George Floyd's death in real time

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A 911 dispatcher who watched live security camera footage of Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck quickly became concerned “something might be wrong” and placed a call to a police sergeant to report the situation.

“Sergeants are usually notified for use-of-force [incidents],” said Jena Scurry, the first witness called Monday by prosecutors in Chauvin’s trial.

On the call, Scurry told the sergeant she didn’t “want to be a snitch” before proceeding to describe the officers who had Floyd pinned down.

Scurry also testified that as she watched Floyd lie motionless on the ground, she thought the video footage had frozen.

The prosecution played the surveillance video for the first time in court. It showed four officers, including Chauvin, attempting to put Floyd in the backseat of a police car before restraining him on the street next to the vehicle.

Surveillance video
An image from surveillance video taken across the street from George Floyd's arrest. (Reuters TV)

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death.

During their opening statement, prosecutors showed the nine-minute and 29-second video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

That video, taken by a bystander, showed Chauvin restraining Floyd with his knees on Floyd’s neck and back. Floyd can be heard saying “I can’t breathe” 27 times as onlookers plead with Chauvin to stop applying pressure.

The footage touched off protests across the U.S. last summer. But jurors seated for the trial said during jury selection that they had not seen the video in its entirety.

Jena Scurry
911 dispatcher Jena Scurry. (Reuters video)

Floyd’s death was declared a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, which announced that the 46-year-old had died from “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” The report also listed “other significant conditions,” including heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and “recent methamphetamine use.”

The defense is expected to argue that those “other significant conditions” are what ultimately killed Floyd, and that Chauvin should not be held criminally responsible.


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