Day three of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin’s trial has come and gone, and one thing has been made abundantly clear: Virtually everyone who was on the scene when George Floyd died was horrified by what had happened—except the police officers.
I thought it was strange that on day one of the trial, Chauvin’s defense attorney Eric Nelson referenced the hostility of the crowd towards the police officers as contributing factors in Chauvin’s use of force. In a perfect world, that wouldn’t be the defense Nelson thinks it is—it would only further prove that what Chauvin was doing to Floyd was horrible and anyone with a heart and brain could see that.
On Wednesday, jurors were allowed to see body camera footage that showed Chauvin defending his actions to a witness, 61-year-old Charles McMillian, who confronted Chauvin telling him he didn’t “respect” how the officer had treated Floyd.
“That’s one person’s opinion,” Chauvin replied to McMillian. “We’ve got to control this guy because he’s a sizable guy. It looks like he’s probably on something.”
What does it say about cops who can’t find a way to calm someone without forcibly restraining them or a way to restrain them without choking them?
Don’t bother answering that—we already know.
McMillian testified on Wednesday—through tears, like other witnesses who have testified—that he had encouraged a clearly distraught and panicked Floyd to comply with police orders, repeatedly saying, “you can’t win.”
Along with the footage showing the confrontation between McMillian and Chauvin, jurors watched footage of Floyd’s arrest from the vantage point of one officer’s body camera. The footage showed officers coming at Floyd with their guns drawn as he sat in a car. “Please don’t shoot me,” Floyd can be heard saying while crying. Floyd can also be heard telling officers repeatedly that he was claustrophobic and afraid as they struggled to get him in the back of a police car.
Finally, Floyd can be heard repeating those now-infamous words, “I can’t breathe,” while he was pinned to the ground under Chauvin’s knee.
One officer can be heard saying, “I think he’s passed out,” and another can be heard telling Chauvin that he couldn’t find Floyd’s pulse, to which Chauvin appeared
to not really give a shit unmoved.
In fact, looking at the footage, the only thing that isn’t clear is how Floyd—the “sizable guy”—even remotely posed a threat to the officers.
Another witness who testified Wednesday was Christopher Martin, the 19-year-old Cup Foods employee who first confronted Floyd about the allegedly fake $20 bill that he used at the store, which prompted his arrest in the first place.
From the New York Times:
The testimony of Mr. Martin, the Cup Foods cashier, gave jurors, for the first time, a clearer understanding of what happened in the store before Mr. Floyd’s arrest. Video footage from the store showed Mr. Floyd walking around and chatting with other shoppers before buying cigarettes. Mr. Martin said he quickly recognized that Mr. Floyd’s $20 bill appeared to be fake. At the urging of his boss, Mr. Martin went outside and asked Mr. Floyd to pay or to come in and talk to the manager. Mr. Floyd refused, and eventually a manager asked another employee to call the police.
Mr. Martin told the court that he felt “disbelief and guilt” when he saw Mr. Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd. He had initially planned to replace the fake $20 bill with a real one of his own, but then changed his mind and told the manager what happened. Had he not taken the bill from Mr. Floyd in the first place, “this could have been avoided,” he said.
Like I said: Everyone on the scene—including the person who was made to call the police in the first place—appears to be on the same page in understanding that what happened to Floyd was violent, traumatizing and a crime.