George Floyd, right, is seen inside Cup Foods on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis. Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the death of Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

George Floyd, right, is seen inside Cup Foods on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis. Former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin is on trial for the death of Floyd at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis, Minn. (Court TV via AP, Pool)

Store cashier, 19, expresses ‘disbelief, guilt’ over George Floyd

The convenience store cashier was handed a counterfeit $20 bill by George Floyd, setting in motion the Black man’s ill-fated encounter with police

The convenience store cashier who was handed a counterfeit $20 bill by George Floyd — setting in motion the Black man’s ill-fated encounter with police — testified Wednesday that he watched Floyd’s arrest outside with “disbelief — and guilt.”

“If I would’ve just not taken the bill, this could’ve been avoided,” 19-year-old Christopher Martin lamented at Officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial, joining the burgeoning list of onlookers who expressed a sense of helplessness and lingering guilt over Floyd’s slow death last May.

Prosecutors used Martin and other witnesses to help lay out the rapidly escalating sequence of events that ended in tragedy. They also played store security video of Floyd inside Cup Foods and still more footage of him outside, adding to the mountain of video documenting what happened.

Together, the witness accounts and video began to show how events spun out of control, as a scene of people apparently joking around inside the neighbourhood market soon gave way to the sight of officers removing Floyd from his SUV at gunpoint, struggling to put him in a squad car, and finally putting him on the ground, where he was seen kicking as police forced him onto his stomach.

Martin said he immediately believed the $20 that Floyd gave him in exchange for a pack of cigarettes was fake. But he accepted it, despite a store policy that said the amount would be taken out of his paycheque, because he didn’t believe Floyd knew it was counterfeit and “I thought I’d be doing him a favour.”

Martin said he initially planned to just put the bill on his own “tab” but then second-guessed himself and told a manager, who sent Martin outside to ask Floyd to return to the store. But Floyd and a passenger in his SUV twice refused to go back into the store to resolve the issue, and the manager had a co-worker call police, Martin testified.

Floyd was later arrested outside, where Chauvin pinned his knee on the man’s neck for what prosecutors said was 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as a handcuffed Floyd lay face-down on the pavement. Floyd, 46, was later pronounced dead at a hospital.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter. The most serious charge against the now-fired white officer carries up to 40 years in prison.

Floyd’s death, along with the harrowing bystander video of him gasping for breath as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off him, triggered sometimes violent protests around the world and a reckoning over racism and police brutality across the U.S.

Martin said that inside the store, he asked Floyd if he played baseball, and Floyd said he played football, but it took Floyd some time to respond, so “it would appear that he was high.” But he described Floyd as friendly and talkative.

The defence has argued that Chauvin did what he was trained to do and that Floyd’s death was not caused by Chauvin’s knee on his neck, as prosecutors contend, but by a combination of illegal drug use, heart disease, high blood pressure and the adrenaline flowing through his body.

After police arrived that day, Martin went outside as people were gathering on the curb and yelling at officers, then called his mother, with whom he lived in an apartment upstairs, and told her to stay inside. He then took out his phone and began recording.

He said he saw Officer Tou Thao push one of his co-workers. Martin said he also held back another man who was trying to defend himself after being pushed by Thao.

Martin later deleted his recording, explaining that the ambulance didn’t take the fastest route to the hospital so he thought Floyd died.

“I just didn’t want to have to show it (the video) to anyone,” he said.

Another witness, who parked behind the SUV Floyd was driving, said he saw two officers approach Floyd’s vehicle as one drew a gun, opened the driver’s door and pointed the weapon at Floyd.

Christopher Belfrey, 45, said he was “startled,” so began taking video through his windshield. Prosecutors played some of that video, which showed officers taking Floyd out of the car, and video that Belfrey took later from across the street that showed Floyd seated against the wall of a restaurant across from Cup Foods.

Another witness wept openly after watching police body camera video of Floyd struggling with officers as they tried to get him into the squad car.

Charles McMillian, 61, said he was driving past the area and stopped when he saw police activity. He was heard on a body camera telling Floyd — who was becoming frantic and saying he was claustrophobic — to co-operate with officers trying to push him into the car.

“You can’t win,” McMillan told Floyd.

Eventually, Chauvin and Thao arrived on the scene, and Floyd thanked officers as they pulled him out of the car and put him on the ground.

McMillian, through tears, testified, “I feel helpless” as he explained why the video made him emotional. The court took a short break.

McMillian said he recognized Chauvin from the neighbourhood and talked to him five days earlier, telling him that at the end of the day, everyone wants to go home to their families safe.

On Tuesday, a parade of witnesses testified that they and other bystanders in a group of about 15 people on the sidewalk became upset as they repeatedly begged Chauvin to take his knee off Floyd’s neck. But Chauvin refused to ease up, and Thao kept back those who tried to intervene, including a Minneapolis firefighter with EMT training.

The testimony from the prosecution witnesses was apparently aimed at showing that Chauvin had multiple opportunities to think about what he was doing and change course.

But Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson also repeatedly sought to bring out evidence that the onlookers were becoming agitated, in an apparent attempt to show that the police were distracted by what they perceived as a growing and increasingly hostile crowd.

Wednesday morning’s testimony was briefly interrupted when a juror stood and raised her hand and gestured toward the door. She later told the judge that she had been feeling stress and having trouble sleeping, but told the judge she was OK to proceed.

___

Find AP’s full coverage of the death of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd

Steve Karnowski And Amy Forliti, The Associated Press

United States

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Alberta reports 2,271 new COVID-19 cases, Red Deer cases rise slightly

Across Alberta, there are 666 people in hospital with COVID-19, including 146 in the ICU

Alberta Health Services locked the Whistle Stop Cafe at Mirror on Wednesday morning after owner Christopher Scott refused to comply with health orders.
Photo by Paul Cowley/Advocate staff
AHS shuts down Whistle Stop Cafe for defying health orders

Health inspectors and RCMP locked doors early Wednesday

Premier Jason Kenney (File photo by THE CANADIAN PRESS)
A vial of Oxford-AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is seen at a facility in Milton, Ont., on Wednesday, March 3, 2021. An Alberta woman in her 50s has died from a rare blood clot disorder after receiving the AstraZeneca vaccine. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Carlos Osorio - POOL
Alberta confirms blood clot disorder death linked to AstraZeneca vaccine

Both AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson vaccines have been linked to VITT in a very small number of cases

Premier Jason Kenney says with COVID-19 numbers still rising, the province’s health-care system will be tested in the coming weeks. (photography by Winston Pon/Office of the Premier)
‘Please stay home’: Kenney imposes new COVID-19 restrictions

New measures will be in place for at least three weeks

FILE - In this March 3, 2021, file photo, a vial of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine is displayed at South Shore University Hospital in Bay Shore, N.Y. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan, File)
Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine can be given to adults 30+ who can’t wait for mRNA: NACI

Panel says single shot vaccine can be especially useful for populations unable to return for second shot

B.C.’s provincial health officer, Dr. Bonnie Henry. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Dip in COVID-19 cases with 572 newly announced in B.C.

No new deaths have been reported but hospitalized patients are up to 481, with 161 being treated in intensive care

A dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination is prepared at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine approved for kids 12 to 15 years old in Canada

The vaccine was previously authorized for anyone at least 16 years of age or older

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens to speakers appearing by video during a news conference in Ottawa on Tuesday May 4, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada will align policy on ‘vaccine passports’ with international allies: Trudeau

Trudeau says Canadians could begin travelling outside the country again by summer

Ranging from 11 to 20 in age and representing seven provinces and one territory, the plaintiffs are appealing a Supreme Court judge’s decision to dismiss their lawsuit last fall. (David Suzuki Foundation)
15 youths not backing down in their fight to sue Ottawa over climate change inaction

The group has filed an appeal after their lawsuit was struck down by a Federal Court judge last fall

A 2021 census questionnaire. (Black Press Media file photo)
2021 census responses due May 11

By law, every household must complete a census questionnaire

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi attends a senior’s home in Calgary on Tuesday, April 14, 2020, amid a worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. Nenshi says he’s frustrated to hear that tickets given to people for breaching COVID-19 public health orders are being thrown out in the courts.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
‘Incredibly frustrating:’ Calgary mayor wants courts to uphold COVID-19 measures

Large groups without masks have been gathering in Calgary public spaces in protest of health measures

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
NACI advice on ‘preferred vaccines’ for COVID-19 sparks confusion, anger

Panel said that people who can wait for an mRNA vaccine should do so

Michael Bonin, 20, from Alberta, was discovered deceased on Peers Creek Forest Service Road north of Hope on April 20, 2017. (Black Press Media)
1 of 3 accused in 2017 murder of Alberta man pleads guilty, sentenced to life in prison

Joshua Fleurant pleaded guilty in a Kelowna courtroom to the second-degree murder of Michael Bonin

Most Read