Court examines CCTV of Geroge Floyd before arrest
A court has been examining CCTV footage of George Floyd taken
shortly before his death, as the murder trial of former police
officer Derek Chauvin enters its third day.
Christopher Martin, an employee at a grocery store where
Mr Floyd is alleged to have used a counterfeit $20 bill,
is the latest witness to take the stand.
It sparked global protests. Mr Chauvin, 45, denies charges
of murder and manslaughter. Defense lawyers have indicated
they will argue that 46 year old Mr Floyd died of an overdose.
Christopher Martin was on shift at Cup Foods at the date and time
Mr Floyd went there. He told the court he briefly interacted with him
as a customer and said he “appeared to be high” because he struggled
to respond to a simple question, but he was ultimately able to
hold the conversation. The court was shown surveillance video,
showing Mr Floyd laughing, talking to people, and walking around.
What else has happened in the trial so far?
In opening statements on Monday, Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the
jury that Mr Chauvin had “betrayed his badge” by kneeling on
Mr Floyd’s neck, and using “excessive and unreasonable force” to detain him.
Meanwhile, Mr Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson said the case was about
the evidence, not about a “political or social cause”. He said Mr Floyd
had ingested drugs at the time of his arrest “in an effort to conceal
them from the police”, and suggested this contributed to his death.
Four young witnesses took to the stand on Tuesday. Darnella
the teenager whose film of Mr Floyd’s death sparked global protests
said she “stays up apologizing” to him for “not doing more”.
She told the court she started filming on her phone because she
“saw a man terrified, begging for his life”. “It wasn’t right – he was in pain,” she said.
One witness, Donald Williams II, who is trained in mixed martial arts,
was questioned for more than an hour by the prosecution and defense
on Monday and again on Tuesday. He told the court Mr Chauvin had used
a dangerous technique called a “blood choke” and was moving his knee
back and forth to increase the pressure on Mr Floyd’s back and neck.
He rejected defense suggestions that he and other bystanders’
interactions with police had been threatening to the officers there.
Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter and emergency medical
technician who was off duty at the time of the arrest, said she was
“desperate to help” Mr Floyd but officers would not let her.
Mr Chauvin has been silent but remained engaged during the
proceedings, taking almost constant notes on a yellow legal
pad while listening to the evidence.
Why is this case so important?
The video footage of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s
neck last May was watched around the world.
To many, Mr Floyd’s death in police custody became a symbol of
police brutality particularly against people of colour and it
sparked mass demonstrations for racial justice.
But despite the global outcry this is not an open and shut case.
In the US, police are rarely convicted for deaths that occur while
they are on duty, if they are charged at all.
The verdict in this case will be widely seen as an indication of how
the US legal system treats deaths that occur while in police custody.