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Former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin Trial Begins

Donald Williams is shown leaving the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on Monday. | Source: Bloomberg / Getty

Day 2 of Derek Chauvin‘s murder trial for killing George Floyd opened as it ended on Monday — with the testimony of an eyewitness who has emerged as a central figure in the case.

Donald Williams II, a mixed martial arts (MMA) fighter and former wrestler who is a witness for the prosecution, testified beginning Monday about his experience and knowledge surrounding the topic of chokeholds in relation to how Chauvin applied pressure to Floyd’s neck.

Williams offered the unparalleled combination of first-personal and professional perspectives that gave him an extra level of credibility despite his obvious scorn and disdain for Chauvin, both of which came across clearly to TV viewers. It was also apparent that Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, was trying to antagonize Williams, who kept his cool throughout the entire cross-examination.

He referred to the kneeling restraint used by Chauvin as a “blood choke” and said, “I believe I witnessed a murder,” when asked his thoughts as came upon the scene of the alleged crime in Minneapolis last Memorial Day. Williams explained that’s why he called the police on Chauvin.

“He just pretty much killed this guy that wasn’t resisting arrest,” Williams can be heard on audio of his 911 call that was played in court on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, Williams kept that some energy and then some as he was cross-examined by Nelson, who tried to use the former wrestler’s experience grappling against him to no avail. Williams was unflappable and at times seems to be growing exasperated of being asked questions that anybody who had seen the video of Floyd’s death — everybody in the courtroom — knew the answer to.

A key exchange came as Nelson appeared to be asking questions to get a rise out of Williams, who refused to take the bait and willingly admitted to his own words that were anything but incriminating.

Each time Nelson asked Williams if he called the former police officer names when he was on Floyd’s neck, Williams looked Chauvin dead in his eyes while answering in the affirmative.

Williams’ compelling testimony on Tuesday followed his description of Floyd dying after Chauvin kneeled on his neck.

“The knee was diagonal across the throat,” Williams testified. “The officer on top was shimmying to actually get the final choke in while he was on top, the kill choke.”

The overall strategy from Chauvin’s defense team seems to be to try to discredit witness accounts and to blame Floyd’s death on his drug use despite medical examiners determining the cause of death as a homicide.


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