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Surveillance Video Of George Floyd Shown In The 3rd Day Of The Chauvin Trial


In Minneapolis, testimony continue today in the trial of Derek Chauvin. He's the former police officer who's accused of murdering George Floyd. Prosecutors played surveillance video from inside the convenience store where Floyd used a counterfeit bill. That incident had led store employees to call the police. Lawyers also played dramatic police bodycam footage of Floyd's arrest.

NPR's Adrian Florido is in Minneapolis covering the trial. Hey, Adrian.


CHANG: So tell us who was called to the witness stand today.

FLORIDO: A few witnesses. The first new witness today was a 19-year-old named Christopher Martin, and he was the cashier at the Cut Foods corner store who took the fake $20 bill that George Floyd used to buy cigarettes. And it was in the context of this young man's testimony that the prosecution played surveillance video from inside the store, a video we'd never seen before. And in this video, we see George Floyd walking around, buying a banana, seeming to joke with a couple of people, giving one of them a hug and eventually buying those cigarettes. It's not remarkable video, really, until you realize that you're seeing the last minutes of the life of this man who, within a couple of days, would become a global symbol.

CHANG: Yeah. I mean, what do you think the point was of playing this video for the jury?

FLORIDO: Well, the prosecution seemed to be trying to humanize George Floyd because they expected the defense to attack Floyd's character, in part by focusing on his drug use. This cashier, Christopher Martin, testified that Floyd did seem to be under the influence of drugs at the store, but that he was friendly, that he was easy to deal with and that they even talked about how Floyd had played football.

CHANG: Well, we know that the store employees had called the police in the first place because Floyd had used a fake $20 bill in the store. So I'm curious, what did this cashier, Christopher Martin, what did he say now about accepting that bill?

FLORIDO: Well, he said that when Floyd handed him that $20 bill, he knew instantly that it was fake. Cashiers at this store got their paychecks docked if they accepted fake bills. But the witness told defense attorney Eric Nelson that despite that, he decided to let Floyd pay with it, even though he had rejected a counterfeit bill from one of Floyd's friends earlier in the day.


ERIC NELSON: Was that in part because you felt maybe he was under the influence?

CHRISTOPHER MARTIN: Partially. Partially, the other person who had come in, it kind of seemed like he was trying to scheme, like he knew it was a fake bill, and he was trying to get over. I thought that George didn't really know that it was a fake bill, so I thought I'd be doing him a favor.

FLORIDO: He said that it was only after his store manager saw the bill and told him to go find Floyd in his car and ask him to come back into the store that he did that. And it was after Floyd twice refused to come back that one of his co-workers called the police.

CHANG: And how did he describe what unfolded after that?

FLORIDO: Well, Martin eventually ran outside to watch as Officer Chauvin held Floyd under his knee. And in surveillance video from outside of the store, we can see him sort of standing on the sidewalk distressed. And prosecutor Matthew Frank asked him about that.


MATTHEW FRANK: We saw you standing there with your hands on your head for a while, correct?

MARTIN: Correct.

FRANK: What was going through your mind during that time period?

MARTIN: Disbelief and guilt.

FRANK: Why guilt?

MARTIN: If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.

FLORIDO: In other words, he felt that the favor he'd tried to do for Floyd had backfired.

CHANG: Yeah. I mean, this cashier, this man, Christopher Martin - he seems to be joining a number of witnesses who are feeling tremendous guilt about what happened to George Floyd.

FLORIDO: Yeah, we've heard that from a lot of witnesses who've testified this week. Another witness today was Charles McMillian, a bystander who watched Derek Chauvin pinning George Floyd down, too, and who was urging Floyd to get up, get in the car, even though Floyd was pinned down. Today, one of the prosecutors played some of the video of Floyd's arrest for him. And this witness just broke down. Listen.


UNIDENTIFIED PROSECUTOR: I know that this is difficult. Can you just explain sort of what you're feeling in this moment?

CHARLES MCMILLIAN: (Crying) I can't but feel helpless. I don't have a mama either, but I understand him.

FLORIDO: That witness was not able to continue testifying, and the judge called for a short break in the trial.

CHANG: That is NPR's Adrian Florido.

Thank you, Adrian.

FLORIDO: Thanks, Ailsa. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Adrian Florido
Adrian Florido is a national correspondent for NPR covering race and identity in America.
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