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Prosecution witnesses say they feared for Floyd's life

Prosecutors at the federal trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights are trying to show that even bystanders knew the Black man needed help, while the officers failed to act as former Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck.

Footage shown to jurors at the trial of J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao showed Floyd struggling with officers as they try to put him in a police vehicle, officers holding the handcuffed man facedown on the ground and Floyd gasping for air as a growing group of onlookers warned that Chauvin was killing him.

Floyd, 46, died after Chauvin knelt on his neck for 9 1/2 minutes. Kueng knelt on Floyd’s back, Lane held his legs and Thao kept bystanders back, according to prosecutors. Prosecutors have argued in pretrial filings that even bystanders could see that Floyd was in serious need of medical attention, and that the officers, who had basic medical training, did not help.

FILE - This image from video shows Minneapolis police Officers Thomas Lane, left and J. Alexander Kueng, right, escorting George Floyd, center, to a police vehicle outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, on May 25, 2020. Three former Minneapolis officers headed to trial this week on federal civil rights charges in the death of George Floyd aren't as familiar to most people as Derek Chauvin, a fellow officer who was convicted of murder last spring. (Court TV via AP, Pool, File)

Witness Charles McMillian wept Tuesday as prosecutors played video in which McMillian pleads with officers to let Floyd breathe, prompting a warning from the judge that prosecutors were to avoid eliciting emotional responses.

“I knew something bad was going to happen to Mr. Floyd,” McMillian testified.

“What did you mean by that?” prosecutor Allen Slaughter asked.

In this courtroom sketch, from left, former Minneapolis police Officer Tou Thou, attorney Robert Paule, attorney Natalie Paule, attorney Tom Punkett, former Minneapolis police Officer J. Alexander Keung, Minneapolis police Officer Thomas Land and attorney Earl Grey appear for opening statements for their trial in the killing of George Floyd in federal court on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd died May 25, 2020, after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

“That he was gonna die,” McMillian responded.

When questioned by defense attorneys, McMillian acknowledged he did not see or hear several things, including Lane asking if Floyd should be rolled onto his side and later doing chest compressions, and Kueng saying that he couldn’t find a pulse.

“You could only see or hear things from your perspective, is that correct?” Tom Plunkett, Kueng’s attorney, asked.

CORRECTS ID OF PROSECUTOR TO SAMANTHA TREPEL INSTEAD OF SAMANTHA BATES - In this courtroom sketch, Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, gives opening statements during the trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

McMillian agreed.

Kueng, who is Black; Lane, who is white; and Thao, who is Hmong American, are charged with depriving Floyd of his constitutional rights: All three are charged for failing to provide Floyd with medical care, while Thao and Kueng face an additional count for failing to stop Chauvin, who is white. Both counts allege the officers’ actions resulted in Floyd’s death. Chauvin pleaded guilty in November to a federal civil rights violation.

Video shown to jurors was from police body cameras, street surveillance video and widely viewed bystander video that also was played extensively in the state criminal trial that eventually convicted Chauvin of murder last year.

CORRECTS ID OF PROSECUTOR TO SAMANTHA TREPEL INSTEAD OF SAMANTHA BATES - In this courtroom sketch, Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, gives opening statements during the trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

Police had responded to a 911 call that Floyd tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes at a corner store on May 25, 2020. His killing triggered worldwide protests and a reexamination of racism and policing.

Jenna Scurry, a Minneapolis 911 dispatcher, testified that after Lane and Kueng responded she called for backup for them. They then called for an ambulance without lights and sirens, for a mouth injury. More than a minute later, Chauvin and Thao upgraded that call to request the ambulance come with lights and sirens, but Scurry said she was not told that Floyd wasn't breathing, had no pulse and was unresponsive.

If she had known someone was having trouble breathing, Scurry testified, she would have also called the fire department, because “they can get there faster sometimes. ... They can be almost anywhere within four minutes.”

CORRECTS ID OF PROSECUTOR TO SAMANTHA TREPEL INSTEAD OF SAMANTHA BATES - In this courtroom sketch, Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, makes opening arguments during the trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

Earlier, a video from Thao’s body camera that was played during the testimony of the cashier who took the counterfeit bill showed him pushing an onlooker. Christopher Martin, 20, said he recorded about 30 seconds of video as bystanders were yelling at Thao to check Floyd's pulse, but stopped when Thao pushed the other man.

Martin said he didn’t have a good view of Kueng or Lane.

While cross-examining Martin, Thao's attorney, Robert Paule, noted that Thao put his hand up before pushing the man, and that the man didn’t listen to Thao’s direction to get back on the curb. Paule said that when Thao pushed the man, he swatted Thao’s hand away.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson has said the trial could last four weeks.

Lane's attorney has said his client will testify, but it’s not known if Thao or Kueng will. It's also not clear whether Chauvin will testify, though many experts who spoke to The Associated Press believe he won’t.

Lane, Kueng and Thao also face a separate state trial in June on charges they aided and abetted both murder and manslaughter.

Webber contributed from Fenton, Michigan.

Find AP’s full coverage of the killing of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd