George Floyd police trial: Minneapolis paramedic testifies he wasn’t told Floyd wasn’t breathing
One of the paramedics who treated George Floyd Immediately after his arrest was not told Floyd was missing a pulse and not breathing when authorities updated the urgency of the ambulance call, he testified Wednesday at the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers .
Derek Smith said that after arriving at the scene in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020, he could not find a pulse in Floyd’s neck and the black man‘s pupils were large, indicating that “the patient was probably deceased”.
Former officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are widely accused of stripping Floyd of his marital status rights while acting under government authority in a killing that sparked global protests and a re-examination of racism and policing.
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Prosecutors say the three officers – Kueng, who is black; Lane, who is white; and Thao, who is Hmong American – failed to act to save Floyd’s life as his colleague Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 minutes while Floyd was handcuffed, face down and at breathless. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs and Thao held back bystanders, prosecutors say.
“Essentially Holding It Back”
In body camera footage of Lane played for jurors, Smith asks Lane what happened. Lane recounts the officers’ response to a 911 call that Floyd attempted to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store and a struggle as Floyd forced his way out of a police cruiser. He says the officers were “basically holding him down until you got here”. Lane says nothing about Floyd’s medical condition.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda Sertich sought to show jurors that paramedics were not given material information, noting that Smith was not told Floyd had been detained for more than 9 minutes. She also convinced Smith that CPR should have been started as soon as possible – something the officers were trained to do.
Smith said paramedics put Floyd in the ambulance and took him to another location for treatment for many reasons, including passers-by using “high tones”. In the ambulance, Lane performed chest compressions and Smith used a heart monitor which showed there was no electrical impulse in Floyd’s heart. Paramedics also treated him by creating an airway, inserting an IV and trying to provide other lifesaving measures.
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The defense responds
Defense attorneys pushed back. Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, asked Smith if Lane had been helpful in trying to revive Floyd, including squeezing an airbag to try to ventilate Floyd’s lungs.
“In my opinion it was helpful, yes. Thank you,” Smith said.
Robert Paule, an attorney for Thao, had Smith told that he wouldn’t have taken Floyd to another location to work on him if it hadn’t been for the bystanders.
Cross-examined by Paule, Smith also acknowledged that he feared Floyd was in a state of “excited delirium” – an agitated state in which someone is described as having extraordinary strength.
Later, Minneapolis Fire Department Captain Jeremy Norton – who arrived after paramedics moved Floyd – said his department would have started CPR at the scene and providing care as soon as possible would have been the best chance of saving Floyd. A 911 dispatcher testified Tuesday that she would have sent firefighters instead of an ambulance if she had known Floyd was not breathing because they could have arrived faster.
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Chauvin was convicted of state murder and manslaughter last year and also pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights charge.
Lane, Kueng and Thao will also face a separate trial in June for aiding and abetting both murder and manslaughter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.