Derek Chauvin's body camera video shows his reaction just after George Floyd left in an ambulance

Moments after George Floyd was taken away in an ambulance last May, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was confronted by a witness who took issu...

Posted: Mar 31, 2021 10:47 AM
Updated: Mar 31, 2021 9:45 PM

Moments after George Floyd was taken away in an ambulance last May, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was confronted by a witness who took issue with Chauvin's kneeling on Floyd's neck.

'That's one person's opinion,' Chauvin responded as he got into his squad car. 'We had to control this guy because he's a sizable guy. It looks like he's probably on something.'

The short clip from Chauvin's own body camera, played in his criminal trial Wednesday, represents the first time the public has heard the ex-officer's perspective in the 10 months since Floyd died under his knee, launching a worldwide protest movement.

Charles McMillian, the 61-year-old witness, testified that he observed Floyd's arrest on May 25, 2020, and that he encouraged Floyd to comply with police, repeatedly saying, 'you can't win.' As Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck and Floyd cried out for help, McMillian can be heard on video telling police to 'get your knee off his neck.'

After Floyd's limp body was taken away, McMillian had a short conversation with Chauvin because 'what I watched was wrong,' he said.

The third day of Chauvin's trial featured testimony from several bystanders who interacted with Floyd as well as graphic excerpts of police body camera footage showing his arrest and final moments. In the videos, Floyd gasps that he's claustrophobic, repeatedly says he can't breathe and calls for his mother.

Much of the searing body camera video has previously been released to the public, but its raw power for those in the court remained apparent. After a clip was played for McMillian, he broke down in tears on the stand, leading to a short break.

'I feel helpless,' he said. 'I don't have a mama either. I understand him.'

In the afternoon, with Minneapolis Police Lt. James Jeffrey Rugel on the stand, prosecutors played previously unseen footage from Chauvin's body camera. His body camera fell underneath the squad car as Floyd went to the ground during the arrest, so the video does not show Chauvin on Floyd's neck.

Chauvin, 45, has pleaded not guilty to charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Prosecutors have called several bystanders to describe their horror and fear at watching Floyd die last May. Their testimony furthers the prosecution's opening statement that asked jurors to focus on video of the 9 minutes and 29 seconds that Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck.

'You can believe your eyes that it's a homicide,' prosecuting attorney Jerry Blackwell said Monday. 'You can believe your eyes.'

Defense attorney Eric Nelson has argued that the case is more complicated than just the video. He said Chauvin was following his police use of force training and argued Floyd's cause of death was a combination of drug use and preexisting health issues.

Store employee says he feels guilt

A number of witnesses have expressed survivor's guilt about what they did and didn't do leading up to Floyd's death.

An employee at the Minneapolis corner store who suspected Floyd gave him a counterfeit $20 bill last May testified in court Wednesday that he felt 'disbelief and guilt' knowing that their interaction led to Floyd's death under Chauvin's knee.

'If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided,' Christopher Martin, a 19-year-old cashier at Cup Foods, testified in court Wednesday. He stopped working there soon after because he said he didn't feel safe.

Similarly, on Tuesday, a high schooler who recorded and shared video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd said she had lost sleep thinking of what else she could have done.

'It's been nights I've stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life,' she said. 'But it's not what I should have done, it's what he should have done.'

Martin testified that Floyd responded slowly and appeared to be high when he came into the store on May 25, 2020. Surveillance video played in court shows Floyd fiddling with items in his pockets and casually interacting with other customers and employees.

Floyd then bought a pack of cigarettes with a $20 bill that Martin believed to be fake because of its blue color and texture. After examining the bill closely, Martin told his manager, who twice told Martin and other employees to go out to Floyd's vehicle and bring him back into the store to resolve the issue.

When Floyd did not do so, the manager told an employee to call police -- a fateful call that ultimately ended with Chauvin kneeling on Floyd's neck.

Martin filmed Floyd under Chauvin's knee but deleted the video from his phone that night. 'I just didn't want to have to show it to anyone or be questioned about it,' he said.

Christopher Belfrey, who came to Cup Foods to pick up food, testified that he saw officers walk up to Floyd's vehicle and point a gun into the window. From inside his car, he filmed police handcuffing Floyd and later bringing him to a sidewalk.

'I didn't know exactly what was going on. I didn't want to be in the middle of so much commotion,' Belfrey testified. He said for that reason he moved his vehicle.

Off-duty firefighter said police blocked her from helping Floyd

Wednesday's testimony began with a short cross-examination of Genevieve Hansen, an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter. She testified a day earlier that she was out for a walk on her day off last May and came upon Floyd struggling to breathe and appearing unconscious under Chauvin's knee.

She tried to help Floyd and repeatedly asked police to check for a pulse, but they refused, leaving her feeling desperate and helpless.

'I tried calm reasoning, I tried to be assertive, I pled and was desperate,' she testified. 'I was desperate to give help.'

Hansen became combative with Nelson, the defense attorney, during Tuesday's cross-examination, repeatedly taking issue with his questioning and responding with snark. 'I don't know if you've ever seen someone die in front of you, but it's very upsetting,' she said at one point.

After dismissing the jury for the day, Judge Peter Cahill admonished Hansen, telling her to answer questions and stop arguing. Upon her return to the stand on Wednesday morning, Nelson asked just one question to confirm that she did not show the officers on the scene her ID.

Nelson argued in opening statements that the bystanders morphed into a threatening crowd, which distracted the officers from doing their job. In cross-examinations of Hansen and MMA fighter Donald Williams II on Tuesday, he tried to get them to admit that they and the crowd were angry as Floyd slowly died. They insisted they were increasingly desperate, helpless and concerned.

'I grew professional. I stayed in my body,' Williams said. 'You can't paint me out to be angry.'

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 512632

Reported Deaths: 10262
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34853555
DeSoto33162432
Hinds32556641
Jackson24830389
Rankin22442402
Lee16238242
Madison14874283
Jones14086247
Forrest13741259
Lauderdale12249324
Lowndes11286193
Lamar10644140
Pearl River9707244
Lafayette8827143
Hancock7835132
Washington7550169
Oktibbeha7204138
Monroe6989179
Pontotoc6970109
Warren6849178
Panola6746134
Neshoba6726210
Marshall6653141
Bolivar6440151
Union633897
Pike5924156
Alcorn5862107
Lincoln5525136
George510180
Prentiss500884
Tippah490282
Itawamba4829107
Scott477499
Adams4766125
Tate4748116
Leflore4723144
Copiah455895
Yazoo455591
Simpson4543117
Wayne442772
Covington432895
Sunflower4299106
Marion4265112
Coahoma4227109
Leake413790
Newton395581
Tishomingo381793
Grenada3775109
Stone365666
Jasper340166
Attala337790
Winston317792
Chickasaw313367
Clay311878
Clarke301195
Calhoun284449
Holmes271289
Smith268952
Yalobusha243747
Tallahatchie231453
Greene224749
Walthall221366
Lawrence217840
Perry213356
Amite209557
Webster205148
Noxubee188642
Montgomery181557
Carroll174441
Jefferson Davis173643
Tunica163239
Benton152639
Kemper144941
Choctaw136527
Claiborne134238
Humphreys131139
Franklin124929
Quitman107528
Wilkinson105939
Jefferson96834
Sharkey65121
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 844594

Reported Deaths: 16115
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1160612006
Mobile741651379
Madison53255732
Shelby38313368
Baldwin38061589
Tuscaloosa35996641
Montgomery34473781
Lee25541263
Calhoun22582518
Morgan22441406
Etowah20009517
Marshall18771316
Houston17723425
St. Clair16863358
Limestone16123218
Cullman16032303
Elmore15902294
Lauderdale14945306
Talladega14186299
DeKalb12957269
Walker12011380
Blount10700192
Autauga10512157
Jackson10151194
Coffee9412192
Colbert9325208
Dale9013191
Tallapoosa7248201
Russell707465
Chilton7015170
Escambia6951143
Covington6926195
Franklin6337108
Chambers5778142
Marion5400130
Dallas5283209
Pike5114109
Clarke484986
Lawrence4826129
Winston4777110
Geneva4640136
Bibb434094
Barbour369180
Butler3433100
Marengo342393
Monroe336666
Randolph334067
Pickens333188
Fayette329885
Henry320566
Hale317989
Cherokee316963
Crenshaw260477
Washington256952
Cleburne254360
Lamar251253
Clay250869
Macon244764
Conecuh192762
Coosa184647
Lowndes178168
Wilcox177438
Bullock152545
Perry141840
Sumter139041
Greene130245
Choctaw93228
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