Genevieve Hansen was on a walk through her south Minneapolis neighborhood on May 25, 2020, when she heard a woman shout: "They're killing him!"
The off-duty Minneapolis firefighter rushed toward the red-and-blue flashing lights, beyond the Speedway station, and saw three police officers pinning a handcuffed and unconscious man face down.
"I was concerned that he needed help," Hansen told a federal courtroom Wednesday in the civil rights trial of three former Minneapolis officers. "All those things were red flags for me, and I could see how much pressure [Derek] Chauvin was putting on his neck."
On day three of the federal trial, Hansen testified for the prosecution in a case that hinges on proving Thomas Lane, Tou Thao and J. Alexander Kueng could clearly see Floyd needed help and ignored their duty to provide aid.
Hansen recalled seeing Floyd's face "swollen" and smashed into the pavement. There were no paramedics anywhere, and she didn't see the officers checking Floyd's pulse, she said under questioning by Assistant U.S. Attorney Manda Sertich. "It didn't seem like a normal scene whatsoever."
Hansen said she offered to render medical aid, but the fourth officer on the scene, Thao, rebuffed her.
"If you're really a Minneapolis firefighter, then you'd know better than to get involved," he told her, according to Hansen's testimony.
Hansen said she mostly focused on Thao, because he "was in the way of Mr. Floyd's medical attention."
Hansen acknowledged she yelled and swore at the officers as they ignored her.
"I was recognizing this was a time-sensitive thing," she said. "He needed help and he wasn't getting it, so I was just trying everything."
Then she said she started filming with her cellphone "so there was proof."
"If that was the police, then someone needed to know what happened," Hansen said. "I didn't trust those officers."
Additional firefighters, including Capt. Jeremy Norton, arrived to the scene in response to a 911 call. Norton testified that he walked into Cup Foods expecting to find a patient. He said he spoke to Thao, who "did not seem at all concerned."
Hansen followed Norton into the store and told him what she'd just witnessed. Norton recalled her being red-faced and upset, asking about Floyd, "Is he OK? Is he OK?" Norton said Hansen told him, "I think they killed him."
Hansen and Norton were two of three witnesses to take the stand Wednesday in a pattern that so far repeats testimony in last year's state trial for Derek Chauvin. Hansen testified about seeing Chauvin "leaning in" on Floyd's neck. Chauvin was convicted of murder in April.
In the state trial, Hansen wore her white firefighter uniform, but U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson barred her from wearing the uniform because she was off duty when she witnessed Floyd's murder. She wore dress pants and a black knit top.
Under cross examination by Lane's defense attorney, Earl Gray, Hansen said Lane asked if she was "really" a firefighter.
"Was he a gentleman about it?" Gray asked.
"I thought it was condescending," she said.
Gray asked to replay the video of the exchange.
Magnuson said, "No."
Defense attorneys are working to portray the crime scene as chaotic and dangerous. Thao's attorney, Robert Paule, asked Hansen if the scene was unsafe.
"Yeah, it was not safe for George Floyd," she replied.
Paule asked whether she threatened Thao by saying, "You can find me in the streets."
Hansen said it wasn't a threat, and she was referring to seeing him in the field, working.
Lane 'was helpful,' says medic
Earlier in the day, the paramedic who first rendered aid to Floyd testified that he showed up to find Floyd already dead in the officers' restraint.
Derek Smith, a paramedic for Hennepin Healthcare, described how he and his partner arrived to the scene after they were dispatched on a "Code 2," meaning a call that didn't require emergency lights and sirens. Soon afterward, the call was upgraded to a more urgent Code 3.
Under questioning by Sertich, Smith explained how upon arrival he saw that Floyd's pupils were large, there was no pulse and his chest wasn't rising and falling.
"I think he's dead," Smith testified that he said to his partner. "I'd like to provide patient care away from the scene."
Smith said he wanted to move because the crowd appeared "hostile" and he "wanted to respect the dignity of this patient."
Jurors watched body camera footage of Lane in the back of the ambulance with Smith. Lane performed chest compressions, while Smith set up equipment to attempt to restart Floyd's heart.
Gray played the body camera video again, walking Smith through Lane's actions.
"What's Mr. Lane doing now with his hands, sir?" asks Gray, in an apparent attempt to establish that his client did not willfully ignore signs of distress, as the prosecution has alleged.
"He appears to be checking a pulse," said Smith.
"Was he helpful to you while trying to resuscitate Floyd?" Gray asked.
"In my opinion he was helpful, yes," Smith said.
Paule asked Smith and Norton about "excited delirium," a controversial diagnosis that usually refers to a person experiencing dangerous levels of agitation. Paule asked whether Floyd was sweating or appeared to be foaming at the mouth, which the attorney said are both signs of excited delirium.
Norton said firefighters are trained on excited delirium, but he appeared to have a hard time answering questions about it. Nodding to the fraught diagnosis — which critics say is used to clear officers of wrongdoing in in-custody deaths — Norton told the court the American Medical Association has concluded that scientific evidence doesn't support excited delirium as a legitimate diagnosis.
In a sign of trial tension, Thomas Plunkett, Kueng's attorney, asked for a mistrial, the third time he has done so in as many days. He accused prosecutors of prejudicing the jury with leading and prohibited questions, forcing the defense to repeatedly object.
Magnuson again quickly denied the mistrial motion and ended the day by telling both sides to "be careful" in the future. "Have a good night everybody— you need it," he said.