Donald Williams, 33, the MMA practitioner who was present at the fatal arrest and called as an expert witness, faced questions over his training and conduct on the day, which was captured on a widely-seen video.
Williams’s testimony on the first day of Chauvin’s trial painted a picture of the former police officer showing indifference to Floyd’s suffering, a key component of the charge of third-degree murder known as “depraved mind” or a “depraved-heart murder”.
Michael Padden, a Minneapolis-based lawyer with 34 years’ experience trying cases, often involving the Minneapolis Police Department (MPD), described Williams as a “[g]ood, solid witness who may be the key … on the issue of depraved mind for third-degree murder”.
Williams was brought in by the prosecution to not just testify about what he saw, but what he knows as an accomplished MMA fighter regarding restraints and techniques similar to the one Officer Chauvin used as he restrained Floyd immediately before his death. As Williams testified, an outline of portions of the Black Lives Matter organization’s logo could be seen showing through his over shirt.
Our team was able to enhance the image using Photoshop and can more accurately display what seems to be the Black Lives Matter logo.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, started his cross-examination with questions about Williams’s experience with MMA, and asked about “flow” wrestling.
Williams said he began learning to “flow” wrestle at an early age, explaining that “less resistance” can be beneficial to a wrestler.
Nelson then asked him if sometimes “less resistance is better”, in what appeared to be a reference to Floyd resisting arrest.
Williams gave a guarded answer, discussing the specifics of certain wrestling holds, and how a “flow” approach would inform decisions during those holds.
Nelson then turned to Williams’s attitude towards the police on the day of Floyd’s alleged murder.
Then, in a tense exchange, Nelson questioned Williams about his comments during the video of Floyd’s death, which was played during opening statements on Monday.
“I really wanted to beat the sh*t out of the police officers”, Nelson quoted Williams as saying during the video. “You called them names … you called them a bum at least 13 times?”
Williams responded, “That’s what you counted in the video? Then that’s what you got, 13.”
So their start witness is an anti-cop BLM supporter, what more can we add?