A witness at the Minneapolis murder trial of Derek Chauvin compared the ex-cop’s hold on George Floyd to a martial arts “kill choke” move on Monday — and said he looked Chauvin “dead in the eye” during the fatal encounter.
Donald Williams, 33, said during haunting testimony on the first day of the trial that he has been a competitive mixed martial arts fighter since 2003 and recognized a “shimmy” move by Chauvin on several occasions while the former cop pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck.
“The knee was diagonal across the throat,” Williams, the third witness called by state prosecutors in the case, testified in Hennepin County District Court.
“The officer on top was shimmying to actually get the final choke in while he was on top, the kill choke,” Williams told Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank during direct examination.
“He looked at me right here,” he said of Chauvin. “The only time he looked up was when I said it was a blood choke. We looked at each other dead in the eye.”
Williams, who is seen on viral videos of Floyd’s police custody death repeatedly berating cops while Floyd was pinned down, said he had gone to the Cup Foods convenience store for a drink after a day of fishing with his son — and happened to come upon the scene.
He said he saw Floyd “fade away” like the bass he and his son caught earlier that day.
“When I first arrived on the scene Mr. Floyd was vocalizing his sorriness, his pain, the distress he was going through,” Williams testified. “The more that knee was on his neck … the more you see Floyd slowly fade away. Like the fish in that bag, you see his eyes slowly pale and roll to the back.”
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill at one point cautioned Williams about drawing conclusions from the evidence and to simply answer the questions.
Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, is due to cross-examine Williams when the trial resumes Tuesday morning.
Nelson said during opening statements Monday that Floyd died as a result of drug addiction and heart disease, not the knee Chauvin pressed to his throat.
Chauvin faces third-degree murder, second-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in the case, and faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge, according to court documents.
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