Off-Duty Firefighter Said the Cops Wouldn’t Let Her Give George Floyd CPR

“I was desperate to help.”
March 30, 2021, 11:31pm
Witness and Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hansen testifies during former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial at the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, on Tuesday, March 30, 2021
Witness and Minneapolis firefighter Genevieve Hansen testifies during former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial at the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis, on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. (Screenshot via CourtTV)

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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 police 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.

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“There was a man being killed,” said 27-year-old Genevieve Hansen, wearing her firefighter’s uniform on the stand on Day Two of Chauvin’s trial in Minneapolis. “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 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 store 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 the officers held him down. 

“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.

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“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 to officers Thao and Chauvin as a trained medical professional, hoping they’d let her attend to Floyd.

“[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 for the prosecution 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 over 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.