March 31, 2021
Law & Justice, Policing, Social Justice
(BALTIMORE, Maryland) — New video footage screened during the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer charged with the 2020 murder of George Floyd, showed Floyd being confronted by store employees about the use of a $20 counterfeit bill moments before his death.
Christopher Martin, a cashier at Cup Foods, took the stand Wednesday morning during the third day of the trial as prosecutors walked through never-before-seen footage of Floyd inside the corner store on Chicago Avenue in Minneapolis. Surveillance video captured Martin, 19, and two other employees approaching Floyd and two others seated in a vehicle across the street from Cup Foods before making the call to police about the counterfeit money.
“The person in the passenger seat was doing most of the talking. We were talking, ‘Just come inside, we just want to talk to George,’” Martin said.
Martin told the court that Floyd had handed him a $20 bill, which Martin immediately identified as fake after a man accompanying Floyd attempted to use counterfeit money earlier that day. Martin said he did not reject Floyd’s bill but mentioned the incident to his manager once Floyd left.
“I thought that George didn’t really know it was a fake bill, so I thought I’d be doing him a favor,” Martin said.
When asked twice to come back into the store to see the manager, Floyd seemed frustrated and declined to do so, according to Martin’s testimony.
“He just seemed like he didn’t want this to happen. He just kind of like, ‘Ah, why is this happening?’ sort of thing,” Martin said. The manager then instructed an employee to call the police.
Martin’s testimony comes as six bystanders, including four underage witnesses, took the stand yesterday to detail the events that happened once police arrived.
One of the minors, Darnella Frazier, then 17 years old, was the first eyewitness on the scene whose viral video of Floyd’s death sparked international uproar. She told prosecutors she watched as Floyd pleaded for help while officers pinned him to the ground.
“I heard George Floyd say ‘I can’t breathe.’ He cried for his mom. He was in pain,” Frazier told the court.
Other bystander testimony came from Frazier’s 9-year-old cousin, Judeah Reynolds, and Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty firefighter at the scene who became “totally distressed” when police prevented her from caring for Floyd, according to court testimony.
Floyd died last May after the defendant, then-officer Derek Chauvin, knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes until paramedics arrived.
Three other officers involved (J. Alexander Kueng, Tou Thao, and Thomas Lane) are due in court this summer on charges related to aiding and abetting murder.
In an amended complaint filed by the state of Minnesota, Chauvin is facing charges for two counts of murder and one count of manslaughter.
The defense is arguing that Chauvin had no intent to harm, and caused no bruising to Floyd’s neck. Instead, they suggest that the cause of death was the presence of fentanyl and methamphetamine in Floyd’s system. Martin testified that Floyd was “high.”
The trial is expected to continue for about a month.