The third day of testimony at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial revealed more details about the events that led up to George Floyd’s fatal encounter with the then-Minneapolis police officer.
The jury on Wednesday heard from witnesses who interacted with Floyd before he died under Chauvin’s knee on May 25, 2020, including testimony from a cashier at Cup Foods, the convenience store where Floyd purchased cigarettes before his arrest. Prosecutors also showed body camera footage that provided a closer look at the attempts by Chauvin and his fellow officers to restrain Floyd.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. His trial is expected to take several weeks. Here are the key takeaways from day three.
Cup Foods cashier recalls his transaction with Floyd
Christopher Martin, a 19-year-old former Cup Foods employee who sold Floyd cigarettes before police were called, told prosecutors Wednesday that Floyd used a counterfeit bill to purchase the item. But under questioning from Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, Martin said he believed that Floyd didn’t know the bill was fake.
“You made the decision after Floyd handed you this counterfeit $20 bill that you weren’t going to call him out on it?” Nelson asked. “Was that in part because you felt maybe he’s under the influence?”
“Partially,” Martin said. “I thought that George really didn’t know it was a fake, so I thought I’d be doing him a favor.”
Martin testified that Floyd appeared to be under the influence of something when he spoke to him as well, because he was speaking very slowly.
The ninth witness to testify at the trial, Martin was asked by prosecutors to provide a narrative description for footage taken by the store’s security camera that showed Floyd interacting with staff and other customers.
“He seemed very friendly, approachable. He was talkative, just having an average Memorial Day, living his life,” Martin said. “But he did seem high.”
Martin testified that the manager at Cup Foods called the police about the counterfeit bill, adding that he had offered to use his own money to cover the debt and felt guilt over the incident that followed after police arrived.
“If I would have just not [taken] the bill,” he said, “this could have been avoided.”
Another witness breaks down
During afternoon testimony, a witness who saw police officers attempt to take Floyd into custody broke down on the stand after prosecutors showed him bodycam footage of the encounter.
Charles McMillian started sobbing when prosecutors played footage of officers struggling to get Floyd into their police vehicle before pinning him to the ground. The footage shows Floyd appearing to resist the officers’ attempts to place him in a squad car, telling them he is claustrophobic. Floyd then calls out for his mother and starts saying he can’t breathe when police put him on the ground.
Asked by the prosecution how he felt watching the incident unfold, McMillian struggled to control his emotions.
“I feel helpless,” McMillian, 61, said through tears. “I don't have a mama either.”
Judge Peter A. Cahill then called for a brief recess.
McMillian, who lives near Cup Foods, stopped to observe the encounter when he was driving by the scene on May 25.
In a video shown by prosecutors, McMillian can be heard telling Floyd, “You can’t win,” while standing near the police vehicle and trying to convince Floyd to get into the car when police officers appear to be pushing Floyd into the back seat.
Multiple witnesses who have testified became emotional when they were asked questions about Floyd’s death.
Body camera footage gives a closer look at Floyd’s arrest
Prosecutors showed the jury body camera footage captured by J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, the other three law enforcement officers at the scene, each of whom is facing aiding and abetting charges in connection with the case.
The footage, particularly that from Lane’s camera, shows Floyd’s fearful and at times manic expression as officers attempt to place him in their vehicle. At one point he tells officers, “I’m scared as f***, man,” and repeatedly tells them he’s “not a bad guy.”
Thao’s footage gives a closer look at the officers’ interactions with a group of bystanders. In one segment, Thao engages in a back-and-forth with several witnesses who tell him Floyd can't breathe. “He’s talking, so he’s fine,” Thao responds.
Floyd’s death was declared a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, which concluded that the 46-year-old died from “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” The report also listed “other significant conditions,” including heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and “recent methamphetamine use.”
Thumbnail credit: Screengrab via Reuters Video
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