Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
A medical first responder who witnessed Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck testified that she offered to give the dying Black man medical attention. But Chauvin and his fellow officers wouldn’t let her.
Standing just feet away from the unresponsive Floyd, she begged officers to help him and explained how to do it.
“There was a man being killed,” said Genevieve Hansen, 27, Minneapolis firefighter who was wearing her uniform on the stand. “And I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human [Floyd] was denied that right.”
Hansen said that she offered to provide chest compressions. She even offered instructions to officer Chauvin and officer Tou Thao in hopes that they’d provide the medical assistance themselves. But none of that happened.
“Had they let me into the scene, I already had decided what his level of consciousness was so I would have requested additional help,” she said. “I would have checked his airway, I would have been worried about a spinal cord injury because he had so much weight on his neck.”
Hansen was walking toward the Cup Foods on the south side of Minneapolis on her day off last May when she noticed emergency lights in the distance. She approached the lights thinking she’d seen some of her colleagues but instead stumbled upon the final moments of the 46-year-old Black man’s life.
“As I got closer, there was a woman across the street screaming that they were killing him,” Hansen told the jury in the Hennepin County Courthouse on Tuesday. “That’s when I was alerted [that] the situation wasn’t a basic medical call.”
Hansen testified as to what she witnessed that day, including describing Floyd’s face as swollen and “smooshed” against the pavement.
“I noticed the officers were leaning over his body with what appeared to be the majority of their weight on Mr. Floyd,” she said. “He wasn’t moving and he was cuffed. Three grown men putting their weight on somebody is too much.”
“It didn’t take me long to realize that he had an altered level of consciousness and in our training that is the first sign someone needs medical attention,” she continued. “I noticed some fluid coming from what looked like George Floyd’s body and in a lot of cases we see a patient release their bladder when they die.”
Hansen then turned her attention to Chauvin during her testimony, adding that the officer appeared to be comfortable with the majority of his weight balanced on top of Floyd’s neck, even as he struggled beneath him.
Hansen joined the crowd of bystanders, a few of whom testified earlier Tuesday. Hansen identified herself as a trained medical professional to officers Thao and Chauvin, hoping that they’d let her provide Floyd with medical attention.
“[Thao] said something along the lines of ‘if you really are a Minneapolis firefighter, you would know better than to get involved,’” she said. She then tried to reason with Chauvin and Thao, suggesting what they’d need to do in order to resuscitate an unresponsive Floyd, but they did not respond.
“Totally distressed,” she said through tears when asked what she felt as Chauvin continued to ignore her pleas. “I was desperate to help.”
Hansen was one of four witnesses to shed tears while on the stand Tuesday. Others admitted to feeling guilt over their inability to help Floyd, whose death set off months of protests against police brutality against Black Americans.
Chauvin is facing second- and third-degree murder charges, as well as second-degree manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death. He faces up to 65 years in prison. The trial is expected to last another two to four weeks.