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Derek Chauvin gave onlookers 'cold stare' as they pleaded for George Floyd, court hears

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Derek Chauvin (R) with his defense attorney Eric Nelson (L) introduce themselves to potential jurors on March 23, 2021 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.
Derek Chauvin (R) with his defense attorney Eric Nelson (L) introduce themselves to potential jurors on March 23, 2021 at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.   -   Copyright  Court TV, via AP
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A teenager who captured the video of George Floyd's death during his arrest told a jury on Tuesday that the officer accused of his murder, Derek Chauvin, gave onlookers a "cold" and "heartless" stare even as they pleaded with him to take his knee off the man's neck.

Darnella Frazier, 18, said that Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd's neck even when a woman said she was a firefighter and begged repeatedly to check his pulse.

“They definitely put their hands on the Mace, and we all pulled back,” Frazier told the jury.

Frazier said of Chauvin: “He just stared at us, looked at us. He had like this cold look, heartless. He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying.”

Floyd, 46, died in May 2020 after Chauvin held him to the ground with a knee to the neck for nearly nine minutes despite him crying out that he couldn't breathe.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter.

Unintentional second-degree murder is punishable by up to 40 years in prison in Minnesota, with up to 25 years for third-degree murder, but sentencing guidelines suggest that Chauvin would face 12 and a half years in prison if convicted on either charge. Manslaughter has a maximum 10-year sentence.

'Until the very life was squeezed out of him'

On Monday, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told jurors in his opening statement that Chauvin "didn't let up, he didn't get up" even after Floyd said 27 times that he couldn't breathe and went motionless.

"He put his knees upon his neck and his back, grinding and crushing him, until the very breath -- no ladies and gentlemen -- until the very life, was squeezed out of him," Blackwell said.

He showed the jurors the footage of the incident during opening statements, after telling them that the number to remember was 9 minutes, 29 seconds — the amount of time Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the pavement.

He mentioned the Minneapolis Fire Department first responder who testified Tuesday and wanted to administer aid. He said Chauvin pointed Mace at her.

"She wanted to check on his pulse, check on Mr. Floyd's well-being," Blackwell said. "She did her best to intervene. When she approached Mr. Chauvin .. Mr. Chauvin reached for his Mace and pointed it in her direction. She couldn't help."

'A slam dunk'

Outside the courthouse ahead of opening statements on Monday, Floyd family attorney Ben Crump said the trial would be a test of “whether America is going to live up to the Declaration of Independence.” He blasted the idea that it would be a tough test for jurors.

Floyd's family and supporters also knelt before the trial's opening outside the courthouse for eight minutes and 46 seconds — the amount of time Chauvin held Floy to the ground until he went limp.

The trial is expected to last about four weeks at the courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, which has been fortified with concrete barriers, fencing, and barbed and razor wire. City and state leaders are determined to prevent a repeat of damaging riots that followed Floyd’s death, and National Guard troops have already been mobilized.

The key questions at trial will be whether Chauvin caused Floyd’s death and whether his actions were reasonable.