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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 in May 2020, former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin was confronted by a 61-year-old witness who took issue with Chauvin's kneeling on Floyd's neck. Video played in court during Chauvin's criminal trial includes the first publicly heard defense of Derek Chauvin's actions, in his own words.

Posted: Apr 1, 2021 9:32 AM
Updated: Apr 1, 2021 9:33 AM


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: 515504

Reported Deaths: 10296
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34999558
DeSoto33360432
Hinds32743643
Jackson24906392
Rankin22565405
Lee16455245
Madison14954283
Jones14158248
Forrest13834260
Lauderdale12311323
Lowndes11357193
Lamar10693140
Pearl River9748244
Lafayette8868143
Hancock7849132
Washington7559169
Oktibbeha7229138
Monroe7068179
Pontotoc7033110
Warren6885178
Panola6791135
Neshoba6744210
Marshall6707142
Bolivar6468151
Union643598
Pike5942157
Alcorn5921107
Lincoln5540136
George510680
Prentiss508285
Tippah495683
Itawamba4884107
Scott478999
Tate4777117
Adams4776125
Leflore4749144
Copiah458195
Yazoo458092
Simpson4566117
Wayne443472
Covington434895
Sunflower4319106
Marion4295112
Coahoma4244110
Leake414191
Newton396182
Tishomingo386894
Grenada3789109
Stone366166
Jasper341266
Attala340490
Chickasaw318367
Winston318392
Clay312978
Clarke301695
Calhoun286850
Holmes272889
Smith270552
Yalobusha244947
Tallahatchie232353
Greene225149
Walthall222166
Lawrence220242
Perry214556
Amite210357
Webster206548
Noxubee188843
Montgomery182157
Carroll175441
Jefferson Davis174343
Tunica163539
Benton153139
Kemper145441
Choctaw137027
Claiborne134839
Humphreys132239
Franklin126530
Quitman107828
Wilkinson106139
Jefferson97134
Sharkey65321
Issaquena1957
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 847659

Reported Deaths: 16172
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1163752005
Mobile743371381
Madison53434738
Shelby38413371
Baldwin38171589
Tuscaloosa36131643
Montgomery34571782
Lee25664264
Calhoun22622519
Morgan22527408
Etowah20059520
Marshall18821318
Houston17769426
St. Clair16946359
Limestone16192220
Cullman16140305
Elmore15948295
Lauderdale15055307
Talladega14244302
DeKalb13061271
Walker12138380
Blount10765193
Autauga10545157
Jackson10204195
Coffee9435192
Colbert9363210
Dale9038192
Tallapoosa7283202
Russell710165
Chilton7078170
Covington6967197
Escambia6962144
Franklin6364108
Chambers5795142
Marion5435130
Dallas5302210
Pike5128109
Clarke485686
Lawrence4845130
Winston4785110
Geneva4650136
Bibb435495
Barbour370180
Butler3444101
Marengo342793
Monroe338366
Randolph337767
Pickens334790
Fayette331485
Henry321066
Cherokee319964
Hale318889
Crenshaw261678
Washington256852
Cleburne255460
Lamar253555
Clay252069
Macon245767
Conecuh193562
Coosa185847
Wilcox178338
Lowndes178268
Bullock152745
Perry141840
Sumter139741
Greene130345
Choctaw94328
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