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 District of Kitimat has announced to continue their free transit fares for all students in kindergarten to Grade 12. The pilot project will continue to run until August 2023, and will be reviewed in 2023 to see if it will be renewed. (Black Press photo)
Free student transit fare pilot project continues in Kitimat

The project was launched in September 2020 and allowed students to board buses for free

Kitimat Search and Rescue was tasked by RCMP on Friday, April 21 2021, requesting help in finding three lost hikers north of the Smith Street hiking trail. Hikers were found and brought back into town at 8 pm. (Kitimat Search and Rescue logo)
Kitimat SAR find three lost hikers

Kitimat SAR issued a warning to locals using the trails

Gates will open at 8:30 p.m. with the first film starting around 9:15 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. (AFFNO file photo)
AFFNO hosts french film in the Kitimat-Stikine and Northcoast Region

AFFNO had to create different approaches this year to set up events

(Clare Rayment photo)
Column: Whether weather correlates to your mood

Nearly nine per cent of people fall into a ‘rain haters’ category

Adrian Tryssenaar performing as Elvis at the Gyro Park Bandshell in Penticton, 2004. (Photo supplied)
In Our Valley: Adrian Tryssenaar

Kitimat’s king of rock

A bullet hole is seen in the windshield of an RCMP vehicle approximately 4 km from Vancouver International Airport after a one person was killed during a shooting outside the international departures terminal at the airport, in Richmond, B.C., Sunday, May 9, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
Homicide team IDs man in fatal YVR shooting as police grapple with spate of gang violence

Man, 20, charged in separate fatal shooting Burnaby over the weekend

Keith MacIntyre - BC Libertarian
Penticton’s Keith MacIntyre new leader of the B.C. Libertarian Party

The Penticton businessman was voted in by members of the party on May 8

RCMP are searching for Philip Toner, who is a 'person of interest' in the investigation of a suspicious death in Kootenay National Park last week. Photo courtesy BC RCMP.
Man sought in suspicious Kootenay death found in Lake Country

Philip Toner is a person of interest in the death of Brenda Ware

Vernon North Okanagan RCMP reported to 287 mental health calls between Jan. 1, 2021, and May 1. (Black Press files)
‘It’s not the police’s responsibility to deal with mental health calls’: Vernon RCMP

RCMP remind public to take care of mental health and well-being, while better solutions are sought

Thompson Rivers University campus is in Kamloops, B.C. (KTW file photo)
Thompson Rivers the 1st B.C. university to supply free menstrual products

The university will offer the products this September

Fraser Health is using ‘targeted’ vaccination clinics in high-risk areas of the Lower Mainland. (Fraser Health photo)
B.C.’s COVID-19 decrease continues, 515 new cases Tuesday

426 seriously ill people in hospital, up from 415 Monday

The site of Sunfest, Laketown Ranch, will be open for camping this summer. (Citizen file)
Sunfest country music bash won’t be shining on B.C. in 2021

Annual Vancouver Island Festival cancelled due to COVID-19, along with Laketown Shakedown

Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation elected chief councillor Moses Martin, who was also Chantel Moore’s grandfather, speaks to media in Port Alberni on Aug. 16, 2020, during a visit from NDP leader Jagmeet Singh following the police shooting of Chantel Moore. (Elena Rardon photo)
Mother of 2 shot by police in critical condition, says B.C. First Nation chief

Community ‘devastated’ by third member of 1,150-person Vancouver Island nation shot in less than a year

B.C. Agriculture Minister Lana Popham promotes the government’s BuyBC food program in 2019. (B.C. government)
Money running out for fresh fruit, vegetables, milk in B.C. schools

‘Looking at ways to support this type of program,’ minister says

Most Read