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Off-duty firefighter says George Floyd arrest 'didn't seem like a normal scene'

Off-duty firefighter says George Floyd arrest 'didn't seem like a normal scene'
An off-duty firefighter, a supervisor with the Minneapolis Fire Department and a paramedic for Hennepin Healthcare testified Wednesday in the trial of three officers charged with violating George Floyd's rights as he was killed during an arrest. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI | License Photo

Jan. 26 (UPI) -- An off-duty Minneapolis firefighter testified Wednesday that three officers charged with depriving George Floyd of his rights during his fatal arrest refused her pleas to offer him medical aid.

Genevieve Hansen told the court she was out for a walk on the evening of May 25, 2020, when she encountered Thomas Lane, Tou Thou and J. Alexander Kueng, the three officers facing trial Wednesday, as well as convicted former officer Derek Chauvin restraining Floyd. She said a woman in the area was "yelling that they were killing him."

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Hansen said she approached the scene from a gas station across the street due to the "amount of people that were on top of one person."

The three officers face federal civil rights charges for failing to assist Floyd as Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than 9 minutes, with Kueng and Thao both facing an additional charge for failing to stop Chauvin.

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Chauvin was found guilty of second- and third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter and pleaded guilty last month to two federal charges of violating Floyd's civil rights.

Hansen said she noticed Floyd wasn't moving and "was concerned that he needed help" as she also noticed there were no medics or fire personnel at the scene meaning there was "no medical attention available" to Floyd.

"It didn't seem like a normal scene whatsoever," she said.

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Hansen said she offered to help the officers and urged Thao to check his pulse but the officer told her to return to the sidewalk while saying "something like, if you're really a Minneapolis firefighter then you'd know better than to get involved."

She said she yelled and swore at the officers in an attempt to get them to allow her to help Floyd to no avail.

"I was recognizing this was a time-sensitive thing," Hansen said. "He needed help and he wasn't getting it, so I was just trying everything."

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Jeremy Norton, a supervisor with the Minneapolis Fire Department who responded to the scene on the day of Floyd's death, testified that he encountered Hansen who began "emotionally vomiting" words and said the officers wouldn't let Floyd up and pleaded with him to "please tell me he's alive."

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He added that Thao also told him that they "didn't need fire, just EMS."

On body camera footage, Norton can be heard telling Thao he was EMS and seen entering the Cup Foods convenience store where Floyd was arrested where Kueng told him the ambulance had moved a few blocks away.

Derek Smith, a paramedic for Hennepin Healthcare, took the stand as federal prosecutor Manda Sertich played a video showing him bending down to take Floyd's pulse while Chauvin's knee was still on his neck.

"I think he's dead, I'd like to provide patient care away from the scene," Smith was heard saying in the recording.

He testified that he could not locate a pulse and Floyd's pupils were large, saying he wanted to move Floyd from the scene because the large crowd had "elevated tones" and he wanted to respect the dignity of the patient. He said responding to a cardiac arrest sometimes requires techniques that can appear "grotesque" to the average observer.

Smith said Lane eventually joined him in the ambulance to help perform CPR and told him that Floyd was being detained for suspected forgery and was resisting arrest, adding that the officers "basically restrained him until you guys got here."

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Lane's defense attorney, Earl Gray, asked Smith if he recognized the former officer and asked if Lane appeared "indifferent" to the situation, prompting an objection from prosecutors.

Gray also played a video of Lane performing chest compressions and asked Smith if Lane was helpful to him.

"In my opinion he was helpful," Smith responded.

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Demonstrators hold a sign in Los Angeles on June 14 for Breonna Taylor, a black woman who was shot by police in her home while she was sleeping. Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

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Norton testified that he took over for Lane after arriving at the scene.

Defense attorneys asked both Norton and Smith about "excited delirium" a diagnosis that usually refers to a person experiencing dangerous levels of agitation.

Smith testified that he has dealt with patients he believed were experiencing excited delirium, describing them as "running around the streets naked, yelling, sweating, heart rate is through the roof."

He also said he did not believe a person in cardiac arrest experiencing excited delirium could be revived.

Norton also testified that he had experience working on someone experiencing excited delirium but said the American Medical Association no longer views the condition as a viable medical diagnosis.

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