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

The Trail Smoke Eaters fell 6-1 to the Penticton Vees on Sunday, their third loss to the perennial BCHL powerhouse six games into the 20-game season. Photo: Stephen Piccolo
Penticton Vees dominant in win over Trail Smoke Eaters

Trail Smoke Eaters enjoy two day break until their fourth meeting with Penticton Vees on Wednesday

Kalesnikoff Lumber will be providing materials for a 21-storey apartment building in Vancouver. Rendering: Henriquez Partners Architects
Kalesnikoff supplying mass timber for several major projects

The West Kootenay lumber company will be making the products at South Slocan facility

This painting is a piece from Young Visions 2021, opening April 22 at the Kootenay Gallery. Photo: S. Painter
Showcase of artwork by Kootenay Columbia students opens April 22

Young Visions 2021 runs April 22 to May 29 in the Kootenay Gallery of Art, Castlegar

Selkirk College has received provincial funding to assist students. File photo
Selkirk College receives funding to assist students

Provincial funding is available to West Kootenay students

Burnaby MLA Raj Chouhan presides as Speaker of the B.C. legislature, which opened it spring session April 12 with a speech from the throne. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C. NDP promises more health care spending, business support in 2021 budget

John Horgan government to ‘carefully return to balanced budgets’

A lady wears a sticker given out after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine at a clinic in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS
B.C.’s COVID-19 case count slows after last week’s peak

3,219 new cases since Friday, 18 additional deaths

North Cowichan councillor Tek Manhas did not violate the municipality’s code of conduct by posting a sexist meme on Facebook, council concludes. (File photo)
B.C. municipality to take no action against councillor who posted sexist meme

Tek Manhas’s meme doesn’t violate North Cowichan council’s code of conduct, municipality concludes

—Image: contributed
Indoor wine tastings still allowed in B.C., not considered a ‘social gathering’

“Tasting is really just part of the retail experience. The analogy I use is you wouldn’t buy a pair of pants without trying them on.”

A sign on a shop window indicates the store is closed in Ottawa, Monday March 23, 2020. The Canadian Federation of Independent Business is raising its estimate for the number of businesses that are considering the possibility of closing permanently. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Small business struggling amid COVID-19 pandemic looks for aid in Liberals’ budget

President Dan Kelly said it is crucial to maintain programs to help businesses to the other side of the pandemic

The National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians says that includes attempts to steal Canadian research on COVID-19 and vaccines, and sow misinformation. (AP Photo/Esteban Felix)
Intelligence committee warns China, Russia targeting Canadian COVID-19 research

Committee also found that the terrorist threat to Canada has shifted since its last such assessment

Part of the massive mess left behind in a Spallumcheen rental home owned by Wes Burden, whose tenants bolted from the property in the middle of the night. Burden is now facing a hefty cleaning and repair bill as a result. (Photo submitted)
Tenants disappear in the night leaving Okanagan home trashed with junk, feces

Spallumcheen rental rooms filled with junk, human and animal feces; landlord scared to rent again

Parliament Hill is viewed below a Canada flag in Gatineau, Quebec, Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. A new poll suggests most Canadians are feeling more grateful for what they have in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 pandemic.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions increased slightly in 2019: report

2019 report shows Canada emitted about one million tonnes more of these gases than the previous year

Dr. E. Kwok administers a COVID-19 vaccine to a recipient at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to register people ages 40+ for COVID-19 vaccines in April

Appointments are currently being booked for people ages 66 and up

Most Read