News Headlines 3/31/21

FIREFIGHTER PREVENTED FROM HELPING FLOYD TESTIFIES IN TRIAL OF EX-OFFICER CHARGED IN HIS DEATH: An off-duty firefighter who was prevented from using her EMT training to help George Floyd as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for more than nine minutes last May was among those who testified on the second day of former officer Derek Chauvin‘s murder and manslaughter trial Tuesday (March 30th). Genevieve Hansen cried as she spoke about not being able to help Floyd despite repeatedly pleading to be allowed to, saying, “There was a man being killed. I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities. And this human was denied that right.”

Hansen was among several witnesses who testified yesterday about how they kept pleading with Chauvin to remove his knee from Floyd’s neck. Among them was 18-year-old Darnella Frazier, who recorded the video that was seen around the world and sparked weeks of nationwide protests. She also was emotional on the stand, saying, “He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying.” She said at one point, “I stay up at night apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more . . . not saving his life.”

Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, sought to paint the witnesses as being angry and agitated, in an apparent effort to show the onlookers were a potential threat to Chauvin and the three officers with him, and might have distracted them. In further questioning of Donald Williams, a mixed martial artist who’d also testified the day before, Nelson said he’d seemed to get increasingly angry, calling Chauvin “tough guy,” bum” and expletives. Williams at first said he was getting angrier, but then said he was controlled and professional and was pleading for Floyd’s life. At one point, another officer, Tou Thao, put his hand on Williams’ chest, and Williams admitted he told Thao he’d beat the officers if Thao touched him again.

POLICE LOOKING FOR SUSPECT IN VICIOUS NYC ATTACK ON 65-YEAR-OLD ASIAN-AMERICAN WOMAN: New York City police are asking the public for their help in their search for the suspect in a vicious attack on a 65-year-old Asian-American woman Monday morning  (March 29th) as she was walking to church near Times Square. In the attack captured on surveillance video, the man kicked the woman in the stomach, knocked her to the ground, and stomped on her face as he shouted anti-Asian slurs and told her, “You don’t belong here.” The woman was released from the hospital Tuesday after being treated for serious injuries. Officials also called out bystanders for not intervening. The attack happed outside the entrance to an apartment building, and two workers who appeared to be security guards were seen on the video witnessing the attack, but not helping the woman, even after the attacker had left. One of them was seen closing the building’s door as the woman lay on the ground. The building’s management company said the two had been suspended pending an investigation, while the workers’ union said they’d immediately called for help.

REP. GAETZ DENIES SEXUAL RELATIONSHIP WITH 17-YEAR-OLD AFTER PROBE REPORT: Rep. Matt Gaetz denied yesterday (March 30th) that he’d had a sexual relationship with a 17-year-old  girl after the New York Times reported the Justice Department was investigating the Florida Republican’s possible sexual relationship with the girl and whether he paid for her to travel with him. Gaetz further claimed he was being extorted, saying to CNN that the claims are being pushed by people who are targets of a, quote, “ongoing extortion investigation.” Gaetz accused a former Justice Department official of being behind what he says is an attempt to extort $25 million from him and his family, and he repeated the claims in a Fox News interview last night in which he also strongly denied the accusations. The Justice Department declined to comment. The Times cited sources as saying the probe is part of a broader investigation, with CNN saying that larger probe is into trafficking allegations against another Florida politician, a former Central Florida county official named Joel Greenberg. He was arrested last year on charges that include sex trafficking of a minor and pled not guilty. The Gaetz probe was reportedly opened in the closing months of the Trump administration.

PUBLIC FUNERAL HELD FOR OFFICER KILLED IN BOULDER SUPERMARKET MASS SHOOTING: A public funeral was held in Lafayette, Colorado, yesterday (March 30th) for Officer Eric Talley, who was killed when he responded to the mass shooting last week at a Boulder supermarket in which a total of 10 people died. There was a procession and motorcade before the service for the father of seven, with people gathered along the route to pay their respects. A 21-gun salute took place outside the church.