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Chauvin trial: Convenience store clerk recalls 'disbelief' and 'guilt' in witnessing Floyd's death

Christopher Martin Chauvin trial
Posted at 6:56 AM, Mar 31, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-31 17:14:43-04

UPDATE, 5 p.m. ET: During testimony from a Minneapolis Police lieutenant, prosecutors played body camera footage from other officers who were at the scene of Floyd's arrest.

The video clips showed different angles and more details about what happened as officers arrived at the Cup Foods store and how everyone reacted after Floyd was taken away in an ambulance.

UPDATE, 3:15 p.m. ET: Charles McMillian was an eyewitness on May 25, 2020 and became overwhelmed with emotion while watching video clips of George Floyd struggling with police officers. Prosecution was playing the clips to have McMillian identify where he was standing and what he saw.

If you or someone you know is looking for resources from mental health professionals and outreach groups, please visit these organizations: Community Healing Network and the Association of Black Psychologists, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, MN Healing Justice Network, and The African American Leadership Forum.

McMillian said he told Floyd to get up and get in the police car because he was trying to help him, told Floyd, "you can't win."

"I told him (Chauvin), at the end of the day, you go home to your family safe and let the other person go home to their family safe," McMillian recalled telling former officer Derek Chauvin.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson did not cross examine McMillian.

For more coverage of Wednesday afternoon's proceedings, head to CourtTV.com.

Court TV will be the only network with cameras in the courtroom and will provide live, gavel-to-gavel coverage.

The entire trial will be on live TV as well as available online at CourtTV.com, and the Court TV app for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android and Apple devices.

In addition to in-depth reporting and expert analysis from veteran legal journalists - most of whom are lawyers - Court TV’s extensive coverage will include new virtual recreations, and insights and discussions from attorneys, investigators and forensic experts.

UPDATE, 1:20 p.m.: After resuming from break, the prosecution continued its testimony of Cup Foods employee Christopher Martin.

In moving testimony, Martin described the “disbelief and guilt” he felt when watching police officers pin George Floyd to the ground. It was Martin’s decision to notify his manager of a counterfeit bill that Floyd had handed him that set into motion a chain of events that would end in Floyd’s death.

Martin testified that he was working the tobacco counter at Cup Foods on May 25, 2020, when Floyd came into the store. In a brief conversation, Martin described Floyd as “friendly and talkative,” but noted that he was likely high and under the influence of drugs.

Watch proceedings from Wednesday's morning session live below:

Floyd eventually purchased cigarettes from Martin, who quickly noticed that Floyd had paid with a counterfeit bill. Martin briefly considered “helping out” Floyd by paying for the cigarettes out his own store tab, but eventually, he told his manager.

Later, under the instructions of his boss, Martin twice left the store to confront Floyd and others with him about the fake bill and asked them to come into the store to discuss the matter further. After Floyd and those with him refused to do so twice, Martin’s coworker at Cup Foods called the police.

Martin later noticed a crowd forming outside the store. He joined the crowd, and witnessed officers pinning Floyd to the ground and Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

Martin teared up as he recalled watching Floyd struggle to breathe.

“If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have all been avoided," he said.

Martin later added that he stopped working at Cup Foods a short time later, because he “no longer felt safe.”

Following Martin’s testimony, prosecutors interviewed Christopher Belfrey, another man who shot bystander video of Floyd’s arrest. His video showed former officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng approach Floyd’s car and take him into custody.

Belfrey added that he stopped filming because he noticed officers looking at him, which made him feel “scared” and “nervous.”

UPDATE, 11:40 ET: The court is currently in the midst of a lengthy break prompted by a juror.

News partners at Court TV report that Juror No. 7 raised their hand during the questioning of Cup Foods employee Christopher Martin. Judge Peter Cahill then called a “five-minute stretch break,” a break that has extended for nearly a half-hour.

Prior to the break, prosecutors were showing surveillance footage inside Cup Foods — the convenience store George Floyd visited shortly before his death.

Martin was working the tobacco counter at Cup Foods on May 25, 2020, and spoke with Floyd briefly as he entered the store. Martin said Floyd appeared to be high.

Later, Martin sold Floyd a pack of cigarettes, which Floyd paid for with a counterfeit $20 bill. Martin told prosecutors he considered putting Floyd’s cigarettes “on his tab,” but then went and told his manager — beginning the sequence of events that would ultimately lead to Floyd’s death.

ORIGINAL STORY: The trial of Derek Chauvin will continue on Wednesday, a day after several eyewitnesses described the events that led up to the death of George Floyd at the hands of police on May 25, 2020.

Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, faces charges of second- and third-degree murder in connection with Floyd’s death. The trial has sparked the attention of the nation, given the wave of protests and discussions of racial inequity prompted by the events of May 25.

Six eyewitnesses testified on Tuesday, including the 17-year-old girl who filmed the widely viewed video of Floyd’s arrest. That video showed Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

That girl testified Tuesday that the only violence that she saw came from the police and that officers placed their hands on their cans of mace when bystanders offered to take Floyd’s pulse. Her testimony grew emotional when she said she blamed herself for not doing more to help Floyd at the time.

"When I look at George Floyd, I see my father, I see my brother, I see my cousins," she noted.

Jurors also heard from that girl’s 9-year-old cousin, who said the incident made her feel “sad and kind of mad," and noted that the police's actions “seemed it like it was stopping his breathing."

The state called two other juvenile witnesses to the stand who witnessed the arrest that proceeded Floyd’s death. Both of them described feeling helpless while watching officers pin Floyd to the ground, and one witness described officers on the scene being openly hostile to bystanders.

The final witnesses called by the state on Tuesday was Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis EMT who was off-duty when she walked upon the arrest scene on May 25, 2020. She testified that she identified herself to officers as an EMT, and was told not to get involved by officers on the scene.

She also testified that if she were permitted, she would have begun chest compressions in an attempt to re-start Floyd’s pulse.

Testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin is slated to resume Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. ET.

Court TV will be the only network with cameras in the courtroom and will provide live, gavel-to-gavel coverage.

The entire trial will be on live TV as well as available online at CourtTV.com, and the Court TV app for Roku, Apple TV, Amazon Fire TV, and Android and Apple devices.

In addition to in-depth reporting and expert analysis from veteran legal journalists - most of whom are lawyers - Court TV’s extensive coverage will include new virtual recreations, and insights and discussions from attorneys, investigators and forensic experts.