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A 911 dispatcher who was viewing the scene of George Floyd’s death last May through a nearby police camera did something she’d never done before: She called the cops on the cops.
“You’re going to learn that there was a 911 dispatcher. Her name is Jena Scurry,” special prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, who provided opening statements on behalf of the state, told jurors at trial of former officer Derek Chauvin in downtown Minneapolis on Monday. “There was a fixed police camera that was trained on this particular scene. She could see through the camera what was going on. You will learn that what she saw was so unusual and, for her, so disturbing that she did something that she had never done in her career.”
Fearing that Chauvin and the three other officers who stood by were taking things too far, Scurry called Minneapolis Sgt. David Pleoger, who oversaw the officers involved in the arrest in progress. Pleoger is expected to also take the stand in the weeks to come.
“My instincts were telling me something was wrong,” Scurry said as prosecutors played the police camera video of Floyd on the ground with officers on top of him during the trial at Hennepin County Courthouse Monday. “It was a gut instinct of the incident: Something is not going right. Whether it be they needed more assistance. Just something wasn’t right.”
Scurry couldn’t remember exactly when she made the call, but she said she became uncomfortable after an “extended period of time.”
For their part, the defense pointed out that it took awhile for Scurry to call Chauvin’s sergeant—almost 30 minutes from when she first received the 911 call about Floyd—and that she seemed concerned about the police vehicle “rocking bath and forth” when Floyd was inside.
Scurry, the prosecution’s first witness, was one of at least three people who called for police intervention as she watched Chauvin kneel on Floyd’s neck for 9 minutes and 29 seconds during his May 25 arrest outside a downtown convenience store, according to Blackwell.
The jury (and the people livestreaming the case from home) will also hear from Genevieve Hanson, a medical first responder present at the scene who also called the police. Donald Williams, another bystander who called the cops, will also be called to the stand. Williams is the man heard arguing with cops on a bystander video as Floyd lost consciousness. He has a background in both martial arts and security, according to the prosecution.
During the opening statements, prosecutors played bystander video of the incident and argued that Chauvin betrayed the oath of his badge and his post when he refused to let up the restraint as Floyd repeatedly says, “I can’t breathe” and asks for help.
“We plan to prove to you that he’s anything other than innocent,” Blackwell said Monday.
Chauvin is facing second- and third-degree murder charges, as well as second-degree manslaughter charges, and faces up to 65 years in prison. The trial is expected to last two to four weeks.
Christina Sterbenz contributed to this report.