ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO/AP) — Day three of testimony is underway in the federal trial of the three former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death.
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng are accused by federal prosecutors of ignoring Floyd’s pleas for help and failing to stop ex-officer Derek Chauvin’s use of excessive force on May 25, 2020.
First up on the witness stand Wednesday was Derek Smith, a Hennepin Healthcare paramedic who responded to the scene outside of Cup Foods. He also testified in Chauvin’s state trial.
Smith checked George Floyd’s pulse and found none. Smith observed Floyd’s pupils and saw they were “large,” indicating the “patient was probably deceased,” he said. Floyd’s chest was also not rising or falling.
After making those observations, Smith believed Floyd was dead, and wanted to move him from the scene due to the large crowd that had “elevated tones,” and he wanted to respect the “dignity of the patient” because life-saving attempts would require taking Floyd’s clothes off.
Robert Paule, an attorney for Thao, got Smith to say that he would have not taken Floyd to another location to work on him if it weren’t for the bystanders.
Under cross-examination by Paule, Smith also acknowledged that he was concerned that Floyd might have been in a state of “excited delirium” — an agitated condition in which someone is described as having extraordinary strength.
Derek Smith says he has treated individuals with ketamine who he suspected were experiencing excited delirium. Can’t remember how many times.
— WCCO – CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) January 26, 2022
Some medical examiners in recent decades have attributed in-custody deaths to excited delirium, often in cases where the person had become extremely agitated after taking drugs, having a mental health episode or other health problem. But there is no universally accepted definition of it and researchers have said it’s not well understood. One 2020 study concluded it is mostly cited as a cause only when the person who died had been restrained.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda Sertich sought to show jurors that paramedics were not given important information, noting that Smith wasn’t told that Floyd had been held for more than 9 minutes, and getting him to say that CPR should have been started as soon as possible — something the officers were trained to do.
Defense attorneys pushed back. Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, asked Smith whether Lane was helpful in attempting to revive Floyd, including squeezing an air bag to try to ventilate Floyd’s lungs. “In my opinion, he was helpful, yes. Thank you,” Smith said.
A couple times during testimony, Smith said he’s been “jerked around” by being asked questions by multiple authorities at multiple times; he doesn’t recall everything said during interviews. He said he sought treatment to get over the events of that day.
By late morning, Smith was excused from the stand. Next up was Jeremy Norton, a captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department. Prosecutors are expected to look at more video evidence with Norton, who responded to the scene that day.
Three videos were presented Tuesday: body-cam videos from Kueng and Thao, and the famous bystander video from the teen Darnella Frazier.
Kueng, who is Black; Lane, who is white; and Thao, who is Hmong American, all are charged for failing to provide Floyd with medical care, while Thao and Kueng face an additional count for failing to stop Chauvin, who is white. Both counts allege the officers’ actions resulted in Floyd’s death.
Lane’s attorney has said his client will testify, but it’s not known if Thao or Kueng will. It’s also not clear whether Chauvin will testify.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson has said the trial could last four weeks. Lane, Kueng and Thao also face a separate state trial in June on charges they aided and abetted both murder and manslaughter.
(© Copyright 2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)