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Defense calls first witnesses in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial

Defense attorneys called their first witnesses on Tuesday (April 13) in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin.

Derek Chauvin AP

The prosecution rested on Tuesday (April 13) in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin. Over the past 11 days of the trial, prosecutors have called 38 witnesses to the stand, and now testimonies will be heard by Chauvin’s defense attorneys.

Later on Tuesday morning, defense called their first witnesses, many of whom testified about George Floyd’s previous arrest in 2019. One witness to Floyd’s fatal interaction with Chauvin last May, Shawanda Hill, was also called to the stand. Hill is a friend of Floyd’s and ran into him at the Cup Foods store before his confrontation with Chauvin.

Floyd offered Hill a ride home from the store and she followed him to his car, she said. Hill said that he fell asleep while they were sitting in the car, but that she was able to wake him up. When he nodded off a second time, police were approaching the vehicle.

“So when I tried to wake him up, he woke up the second time... I said, ‘Floyd, the police is here. It’s about the $20 bill, it wasn’t real,’” Hill recalled.

“I kept saying, ‘Baby, get up. The police is outside.’ So he looked, and we look to the right, and the police tapped on the window with a flashlight. And I said, ‘Floyd,’ and he turned back again... and I said, ‘Baby, that’s the police, open the door, roll down the window, whatever he told you to do.’”

Hill testified that the officer who approached the car brandished a gun outside the window.

“So, he looked back and he seen the man. The man had a gun at the window at the time when we looked back to him,” she said. “So, [Floyd] instantly grabbed the wheel and he was like, ‘Please, please don’t kill me! Please, please don’t shoot! What did I do? Tell me what I did. Please don’t kill me!’”

Chauvin’s defense has not specified how many witnesses they will call to the stand, but they are expected to argue that Floyd died from underlying health issues and drug use and that the crowd distracted Chauvin from doing his job, CNN reports. In his opening statements, Chauvin’s lawyer also claimed that the former officer’s actions were warranted.

Chauvin is charged with second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty to all three charges.

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