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For some, ‘an extra layer of trauma’ surrounds Derek Chauvin’s trial

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last year—wrapped up its first week of testimony yesterday. The prosecution opened its case with testimony and video from eyewitnesses, emergency responders and police officers. Minnesota Public Radio's Brandt Williams is covering the trial and joined Hari Sreenivasan from Minneapolis.

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  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—charged with murder and manslaughter in the death of George Floyd last year—wrapped up its first week of testimony yesterday. The prosecution opened its case with testimony and video from eyewitnesses, emergency responders and police officers. Minnesota Public Radio's Brandt Williams is covering the trial and joined us from Minneapolis today.So, Brandt, let me ask on behalf of the people who know the importance of the trial but haven't been paying attention all week. What did we learn from how these two sides are going to be making their cases this week?

  • Brandt Williams:

    So the prosecution started off with laying out three or four kind of areas that they're going to focus on with medical testimony to show that Chauvin was primarily responsible for George Floyd's death. They're going to rely on use of force experts to show that the force that Chauvin used was not approved by the Minneapolis police department and was actually dangerous force. And they're also relying on the video and eyewitness testimony. Now, the defense also laid out a plan. They're going to try to show that it was actually drugs and prior heart conditions of George Floyd's that was partly responsible for his death and also that Chauvin was also following what police officers are supposed to do.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And how is the city reacting, responding to the events that are happening on a daily basis, considering that it is the sort of epicenter that has had to deal with the ramifications from this event for so long?

  • Brandt Williams:

    Well, it appears there's an extra layer of trauma involved here. Obviously, the young people and people who were at the scene expressed their feelings of trauma and how it impacted them. But we're also seeing that outside of that sphere, there are people around the city who are expressing their own feelings of re-traumatization, of not only just that initial event in May, the 25th of 2020, but just seeing the video play it again over and over throughout the courtroom.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    And what do we know about what happens this coming week?

  • Brandt Williams:

    So this week we're expecting to see more testimony from law enforcement, particularly the chief of police. Medaria Arradondo is expected to testify early this week. And we're also likely to start seeing some medical testimony and perhaps even from doctors who treated George Floyd when he was taken to the hospital.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Do we know what's happening inside and outside the courtroom? I mean, are the jurors paying attention or how much attention are they paying? And what's the scene like outside on an average day?

  • Brandt Williams:

    So this past week, we heard from pool reporters that jurors particularly took note of a couple different bits of testimony. One was some of the store video from Cup Foods of George Floyd in the store about 40 minutes before he would be basically declared or basically found to be unresponsive in cardiac arrest. And apparently the jurors took notice of, just, appeared to be remarkable to them, just seeing George Floyd alive and walking around and interacting with people in the store. There was also testimony from Lieutenant Zimmerman yesterday, Richard Zimmerman, the longest serving member of the Minneapolis police force, who basically said the force used by Chauvin was totally unnecessary and it seemed the jurors were particularly taking notice of that.

  • Hari Sreenivasan:

    Brandt Williams from MPR News. Thanks so much for joining us.

  • Brandt Williams:

    You're welcome.

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