Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hansen gave stirring testimony on Tuesday, the second day of the murder trial of Derek Chauvin in the killing of George Floyd last year.
In her testimony, Hansen said she was off duty and walking home from a community garden when she heard a woman screaming that someone was being killed.
As a firefighter, she is also a trained emergency medical technician, and when she arrived at the scene she immediately knew Floyd was in danger.
She said she approached now-fired officer Tou Thao, who was holding back the crowd, about performing CPR on Floyd to save his life.
"I had already assessed that [Floyd] was in an altered state of consciousness. What I needed to know was if he had a pulse. He wasn't moving, and he was cuffed. And three grown men putting all of their weight on somebody is too much. The first thing that concerned me was his face was smushed into the ground. Swollen. It appeared swollen to me," she said.
She approached Thao, who allegedly "said something along the lines of, 'If you really are a Minneapolis firefighter, you would know better than to get involved.' I got there and I could have given medical assistance. That's exactly what I should have done," she added.
The court played video where Hansen can be heard begging the officers to check Floyd's pulse. Lawyers asked her why her tone in the video changed as she asked to help him, and she began to cry as she explained that she could see he was dying.
She started cursing and yelling when she realized Floyd was urinating on himself as a result of being choked unconscious or even deceased.
"Because I was desperate to help… Because there was a man being killed and … had I had access to a call similar to that, I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities. And this human was denied that," she said.
Lawyers for the state later played the 911 call where Hansen described what happened.
"Hello. I'm on the block of 38th and Chicago, and I literally watched police officers not take a pulse and not do anything to save a man, and I am a first responder myself, and I literally have it on video. I just happened to be on a walk," she told the operator.
Like many others who testified on Tuesday, she said she now lives with the regret of not calling 911 sooner.
"I should have called 911 immediately but I didn't and when things calmed down I realized that I wanted them to know what was going on. I wanted to basically report it," she said.
Hansen noted that she stayed at the scene because she was worried about what the officers would do next, considering how they treated Floyd.
Still struck by this: Genevieve Hansen, the off-duty firefighter on the scene as George Floyd died, said she stayed on scene after Floyd was taken away bc she worried about the Black people and people of color –like Donald Williams — possibly being hurt by remaining police.
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 30, 2021
Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, ripped Hansen during his cross examination, questioning her experience as an EMT and criticizing her for alleged mistakes she made in describing the situation.
He also claimed that she was not able to tell whether the officers holding Floyd's legs were actually taking his pulse.
As he did with the other witnesses, Nelson questioned her about the anger of the crowd that had formed around Floyd and the officers, noting that it would be difficult for her to put out a fire if there was an angry crowd around her.
The two had a tense exchange where Nelson criticized her for being angry and yelling at the officers.
"I don't know if you've seen anybody been killed, but it's upsetting," she told Nelson.
Derek Chauvin’s defense: “A stressful situation can impact your memory, right?”
Genevieve Hansen, the off-duty firefighter who witnessed George Floyd’s death: “Absolutely, that’s why we’re lucky it was videotaped.” pic.twitter.com/uyxNb7vYBd
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) March 30, 2021
The two went back and forth, and the judge ended the day by also criticizing Hansen for arguing with Nelson during her testimony.