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Attorney Benjamin Crump, Head Of The Floyd Family Legal Team, Speaks On Chauvin Trial

AILSA CHANG, HOST:

The testimony turned emotional today in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. The prosecution called up witnesses who had seen George Floyd struggle to breathe under the force of Chauvin's knee. This was the second day of a trial expected to last weeks. Attorney Benjamin Crump represents the family of George Floyd. He joins us now from Minneapolis.

Welcome.

BENJAMIN CRUMP: Thank you.

CHANG: So can you just tell us, how is the family handling the trial so far? I mean, how have they been taking in these first two days?

CRUMP: Well, it's very emotional for them. Ailsa, for us and many people, it's a cause. It's a case. But for them, that is their blood. That is the person who - many of them grew up in that two-bedroom house sleeping in the same bed together, sharing as they talked about sandwiches, whether it's mayonnaise sandwich, cheese sandwich because they grew up poor. But what they always had was each other, and that was rich in defining their character. And so watching this video and watch them try to assassinate his character, it's very emotional for them.

CHANG: Was there any particular piece of testimony that was especially emotional that you want to talk about?

CRUMP: Well, certainly the most emotional thing where many of the family members had to leave the courtroom as we were there in the overflow courtroom here in Minneapolis was when they broke down the video second by second with him calling out for his momma, which was their mother also. That was really emotional for them, and then certainly when they heard Donald Williams testify yesterday about how the humanity in him had him troubled watching a fish suffocate and die from lack of oxygen and then, a few hours later, he would witness George Floyd die from deprivation of oxygen and how humanity that's in your soul won't allow you to witness that and not be troubled by it. But not Derek Chauvin - he had no problem at all being inhumane to George Floyd.

And I believe that the family, like many of us, feel the state is doing a compelling job of showing that this was intentional and that he should be held criminally liable for the death and torture of George Perry Floyd Jr.

CHANG: Let's talk a little bit about the defense's case. Chauvin's defense attorney Eric Nelson mentioned in his opening argument that the growing crowd size when George Floyd was dying and the anger of that crowd - that that may have been perceived by police as a threat. What do you make of that argument by the defense?

CRUMP: You know, I just think it's asinine that they would try to say anybody is the cause for this death other than Derek Chauvin, who kept his knee on his neck for nine minutes and 29 seconds. I mean, they tried to say it was trace amount of drugs. They tried to say it was a health condition. And now they are trying to say because bystanders, the public, the citizens had humanity enough where they tried to stop him from torturing a man to death, now they're going to say it's their fault, too. This is Derek Chauvin's fault. This is the Minneapolis Police Department's fault because they seem to have deliberate indifference when it comes to valuing the life of Black people.

CHANG: Benjamin Crump is the lawyer for the family of George Floyd.

Thank you so much for joining our show today.

CRUMP: Thank you so much, Miss Chang, for having me. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.