New images show George Floyd in store before police approach
Floyd was choked to death by the police in 2020, sparking a wave of global protests against racism and police violence. This week, a court is hearing witnesses in the lawsuit against police officer Derek Chauvin, accused of manslaughter and wrongful death.
The video shows Officer Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, while Floyd begs not to be hurt. Floyd says, “I’m not a bad guy,” he says.
Chauvin, 45, was fired from the police and denies all charges.
Defense lawyers have indicated that they will argue that 46-year-old Floyd died of an overdose and ill health. They must also claim that the force used in the episode was reasonable.
Analysts believe prosecutors who defend the policeman may want to use the new images to try to prove that Floyd’s death had something to do with drug use.
What do the new images reveal?
The court saw images from the cameras on the bodies of officers Thomas Lane, J Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao. Chauvin’s camera fell to the ground as the prison unfolded and therefore did not take pictures of the incident.
Surveillance images show George Floyd in a food store shortly before his death – Photo: Reuters / Via BBC
In the filming of Lane’s camera, Floyd is seen being confronted by the police. He pleads: “Please don’t shoot me (…) I just lost my mom”.
Floyd is handcuffed and continues to plead with officers Lane and Kueng, saying he is not resisting them and “will do whatever they say”.
A fight occurs when the police try to get Floyd into a vehicle. He starts to cry and to resist while saying that he is claustrophobic and anxious.
Chauvin and his partner Thao arrive when the arrest is underway.
Witnesses: 1. Donald Williams. 2. Darnella. 3. Cousin of Darnella. 4. Alissa. 5. Kalen. 6. Genevieve Hansen – Photo: Playback / Court TV / Via BBC
As the cops drag him out of the car and pin him down, Floyd can be heard calling out to his mother and telling his family that he loves them.
People watching the scene start yelling at the police, asking them to check Floyd’s pulse and stop holding him.
What did the witnesses say on Wednesday?
The police were called after Floyd used a counterfeit bill at a convenience store.
Store clerk Christopher Martin, 19, told the court he briefly interacted with Floyd shortly before his arrest.
He said that Floyd “appeared to be high” because he struggled to answer simple questions, but he was lucid enough to carry on a conversation.
He described Floyd as “friendly and approachable”.
In the store’s surveillance video, Floyd can be seen laughing and talking to people.
Martin told the jury that he sold Floyd a pack of cigarettes and received a counterfeit bill as payment. Martin said he knew the note was fake for its color and texture, but added that Floyd “didn’t seem to know it was a fake note”.
He said he considered letting the store take his salary instead of confronting Floyd, but then decided to tell his manager. Another official called the police.
Martin, who witnessed the arrest, said he feels “disbelief and guilt” because “if I just hadn’t accepted the note, it could have been avoided”.
Witness Charles McMillian, 61, also spoke at the trial on Wednesday.
Based on the images from the security cameras, McMillian would have been the first to see Floyd being arrested. He told the court he was talking to Floyd, trying to convince him to get in the police car.
McMillian said he remembers feeling “helpless” when he saw the incident unfold. He can be heard in the video saying to Chauvin: “Your knee on his neck, this is wrong, man.”
While the court saw images of the prison, McMillian started to cry and sob, and the judge asked for a brief break.
What else has happened at the trial so far?
In his opening statements on Monday, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury that Chauvin “betrayed his badge” by kneeling by Floyd’s neck and using “excessive and irrational force” to stop him.
Meanwhile, Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, said the case was about the evidence, not a “political or social cause”. He said that Floyd had taken drugs immediately before his arrest “in an effort to hide them from the police”, and suggested that this contributed to his death.
Four witnesses testified on Tuesday. Darnella – the teenager who filmed the entire episode with her cell phone, and whose images sparked global protests – said she remains awake to this day “apologizing” to Floyd for “not having done more”.
She told the court that she started filming on her phone because she “saw a man terrified, begging for his life”.
“It wasn’t right – he was in pain,” she said.
One witness, Donald Williams, who has training in mixed martial arts, was questioned for more than an hour by the prosecution and defense on Monday and again on Tuesday.
He told the court that Chauvin used a dangerous technique called “blood suffocation” and was moving his knee back and forth to increase the pressure on Floyd’s back and neck.
He rejected suggestions from the defense that passersby were a threat to police officers.
Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter and emergency medical technician who was off duty at the time of the arrest, said she was “desperate to help” Floyd, but that the police would not allow it.
Chauvin was silent the entire time, taking notes on a yellow notepad while listening to the testimonies.
Why is this case so important?
The video of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, choking him to death, was watched around the world last year.
For many, Floyd’s death in police custody has become a symbol of police brutality – especially against non-whites – and has sparked mass demonstrations for racial justice.
But despite the global outcry, the legal solution to this case is still open. In the United States, police officers are rarely convicted of deaths that occur while on duty, and many are not even charged and put on trial.
The verdict in this case will be widely seen as an indication of how the US legal system handles deaths that occur during police custody.
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