CHAUVIN TRIAL DAY 3: Emotions Pour Out as Witness Relates to George Floyd Calling for His Mother Before Death

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Image of Derek Chauvin with his knee to George Floyd’s neck

By Koda Slingluff and William McCurry

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – On Day 3 of the explosive murder trial of ex-police officer Derek Chauvin Wednesday, a clerk from Cup Foods, bystanders, and a police lieutenant testified to watching Chauvin press his knee into George Floyd for more than nine minutes, squeezing the life out of him.

One witness, Charles McMillian, became very emotional as he related to Floyd not having his mother.

The first witness today was 19-year-old Christopher Martin. Martin, at the time Floyd was murdered, was a cashier at Cup Foods and was working from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. that night.

Martin testified that, among tobacco products in the store, there is also a deli and a T-Mobile in the store where you could get your phone fixed and other services. When Floyd entered the store, Martin claimed he saw Floyd because he was a “big guy.”

When Floyd entered the store and Martin saw him, Martin testified that he had never seen Floyd before. While Floyd was in the store he had a conversation with him: “I asked him if he played baseball, he said no, I play football.”

Martin explained to the jurors “so when I asked him if he played baseball it took him a little long to get to what he was trying to say, so it would appear that he was high.” Martin had the impression he was under the influence of something when he entered the store.

Later in the store when Floyd approached the counter to buy cigarettes, Martin testified that he was able to understand him completely.

After Floyd purchased the cigarettes, Martin noticed he paid with a counterfeit bill because it had a “blue pigment to it, kinda like a $100 bill would have, so I assumed it was fake.” The store has a policy where if cashiers accept a counterfeit bill for payment, it comes out of the employee’s paycheck.

After he took the counterfeit bill from Floyd, Martin informed his manager about it. Martin’s manager told him to “go out to the vehicle and ask him to come inside and discuss what just happened.”

Martin approached Floyd’s SUV twice. The first time he approached his vehicle, he went with a coworker. He approached the passenger side of the vehicle and did most of the talking to Floyd’s friend in the front passenger seat.

“I notified them that they needed to come back inside because the bill was fake and my boss wanted to talk to them,” Martin said. Martin testified that after he told them to come back inside, Floyd “seemed like he didn’t want this to happen, he seemed like ah, why is this happening.”

They did not agree to come back into the store and Martin made his way back inside. When he got back inside, he informed his manager Floyd didn’t want to come in and he was told to go back out and try again.

They still did not want to come back into the store. After Martin returned the second time, his manager told them to call the police.

When the police arrived, they had to witness the scary sight everyone has been outraged about: Chauvin taking Floyd’s life. Martin explained that he didn’t work at Cup Foods for as long as he could have because he “did not feel safe working there.”

The next witness to testify was 45-year-old Christopher Belfrey. On May 25, 2020, he was going to Cup Foods and parked right behind Floyd’s Mercedes-Benz and saw the officers approach his vehicle.

Belfrey started recording when the officers approached Floyd’s vehicle and saw the officer pull out his firearm. When the officer pulled the firearm out, it startled him and he stopped recording because he “didn’t want to be in the middle of the commotion.”

After he stopped recording, he drove closer to where the officers walked Floyd. He thought it was over because Floyd was detained and so he kept driving past the incident.

As the court moved forward with more witnesses, Charles McMillian was very emotional as he was shown the video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.

McMillian was driving past Cup Foods when he saw the officers walking the man across the street, where then he parked and got out because he was being “nosey and wanted to know what was going on.”

While testifying in court, he was shown the viral video that everyone has seen of the incident and had to relive this nightmare over again. In the video, you can hear Floyd cry out for his mother.

As McMillian heard this, he broke out into tears because he could relate to Floyd not having his mother. “I lost my mother in June,” cried McMillian. McMillian was sobbing and the court had to take a short break.

McMillian returned to the stand after a 10-minute break. Prosecutor Erin Elridge continued to show him video footage from the arrest, taken by a camera across the street, to ask McMillian about his perspective on what happened scene by scene.

In the midst of the officers’ struggle to force Floyd into the car, McMillian exchanged some words with him. He told Floyd to “get up and get in the car” before saying “you can’t win, man.”

His statements were an attempt to help the man, he said, adding, “Basically what I’m saying is he can’t win because once, like I said, once the police get the cops on you, you can’t win. So I’m trying to tell him just cooperate with them, just get up get in the car, go with them, you can’t win.”

Floyd cried out, “I can’t” in response.

McMillian then began speaking toward the officers, saying, among many other things “he’s a tough guy but he’s not even resisting arrest.”

He testified that he knew that the man was in trouble. He saw foaming at his mouth and heard him gasping that he could not breathe. The officer kept Floyd restrained as he stopped moving and fell silent, and by the time the ambulance arrived, McMillian said he already knew that Floyd was lifeless.

The paramedics drove away. As Chauvin went back to the squad car, McMillian spoke to him. A portion of the interaction is available as video evidence, captured both through the street camera and Chauvin’s body camera. The two sources were composited into one video for the court.

In the video, McMillian can be heard saying, “I don’t respect what you did.” Some of the audio is unclear, but McMillian explained to the court what he said in full.

“I think I said to him, ‘five days ago I told you the other day go home to your family, for the next guy’s family safe, but the dead guy is looking at you as a maggot.’”

The final witness of the day was James Jeffrey Rugel, a Minneapolis PD Lieutenant with extensive experience with technology systems programs for the department.

Rugel was examined by prosecutor Steven Schleicher, who noted that his personal involvement in the George Floyd case was “somewhat limited” and he was brought to court as a “foundational witness.”

Rugel was key in the establishment and operation of the police department’s Strategic Information Center, which can do everything from sending information to cops in real time to accessing and operating any of the city surveillance cameras.

Rugel explained that he created the center “from the ground up,” working as its first manager and writing the standard operating procedures.

Rugel went on to talk about the department’s body camera policies. He explained that officers must always wear a camera, always have it on a ‘stand by’ mode, and must have it on actively when responding to anything with the public or “anytime something we might want to review later” happens.

The body cam has a button to activate it, which will kick on the sound recording function. It then captures the previous 30 seconds of footage as part of the file. Because of this, the body camera exhibits submitted to the court have 30 seconds of silence at the beginning.

He explained, “When the cameras are on but not activated, they’re actually recording much like a DVR on your TV. When you press the button to activate it, that kicks on the sound and it saves the previous 30 seconds without sound. So the thought is whatever caused you to turn on your camera would be captured.”

Schleicher then played three clips of body camera footage, from the three officers other than the defendant. The clips showed the moments before, during, and after Floyd’s death.

Footage from Officer Thomas Lane showed Lane approaching Floyd’s car, gun drawn. Within seconds Lane begins to curse and wave his gun, saying “put your hands right f**king there” and gesturing to the wheel.

Floyd starts crying after the cop tells him to put his hands on his head. He appears compliant, but visibly shaken as he says “last time I got shot, I was doing the same thing, man.”

As Lane attempts to pull him out of the car by the arm, Floyd says, “Please don’t shoot me man. Please, man. I just lost my mom.”

He was soon pulled onto the sidewalk and asked his name. Visibly panicking, he is pushed toward the squad car, saying “you gotta believe me, I’m not that type of guy, I’m gonna die, man. I’m claustrophobic, I’ve got anxiety. I’m gonna die, man. I’m not a bad guy.”

The rest of the footage included familiar moments of restraint and violence as the officers gave up trying to get him in the car and forced him face-first onto the road. The next moments shown are already intimately detailed in notorious video and media around the world.

The final body cam clip was several seconds from Chauvin himself. The clip was a struggle and a shove toward the ground, before the camera clatters under the vehicle. A moment of darkness, and the video ceases.

With that, the jurors were dismissed for the day.


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About The Author

The Vanguard Court Watch operates in Yolo, Sacramento and Sacramento Counties with a mission to monitor and report on court cases. Anyone interested in interning at the Courthouse or volunteering to monitor cases should contact the Vanguard at info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org - please email info(at)davisvanguard(dot)org if you find inaccuracies in this report.

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13 thoughts on “CHAUVIN TRIAL DAY 3: Emotions Pour Out as Witness Relates to George Floyd Calling for His Mother Before Death”

  1. Dudley Sharp

    Koda and William:

    Did the witnesses testify that “Chauvin squeezed the life out of Floyd”.? or did they testify it “appeared” that way?

    I ask this because the defense appears to be that such cannot be proven, given the “alleged” lethal amount of drugs within George’s system and his heart problems, which, also, appear to be what the defense is claiming killed Floyd.

     

    1. Keith Olsen

      That’s what I’ve been saying.  There’s much wiggle room on this case and I wouldn’t be surprised if Chauvin is found not guilty.  But Dudley, that possibility doesn’t play well on this blog.

      1. Ron Oertel

        If he is found not guilty of the most serious alleged crime (2nd degree murder?), I wouldn’t be surprised if there are riots.

        Actually, there might be riots regardless.  But, not originating from any of his “defenders”.

        And the news media ends up contributing to this environment.

        On a different note, I’ve often wondered why there are essentially “happy riots” when a sports team wins.

      2. Carlos Garcia

        “Jurors also watched the arrest from the perspective of the police officers’ body cameras. The footage showed officers confronting Mr. Floyd with their weapons drawn as he sat in a car. “Please don’t shoot me,” Mr. Floyd said, crying. Later, officers struggled to put a distressed Mr. Floyd in the back of a police vehicle. Mr. Floyd told them repeatedly that he was claustrophobic and scared, and officers continued to try to force him into the cruiser. Though Mr. Floyd was clearly distraught, he never appeared to pose a threat to the officers. As they pinned him to the ground next to the vehicle, the body cameras captured the words that reverberated around the world last summer: “I can’t breathe.” After a few minutes, Mr. Floyd went silent. “I think he’s passed out,” one officer said. When another officer told Mr. Chauvin that he couldn’t find Mr. Floyd’s pulse, Mr. Chauvin appeared unmoved.”

         

        The problem with the defense is going to be 8:46 on his neck.  The problem with what you are claiming is the cause of death is that without the neck hold would he have died?

        1. Ron Oertel

          Your first paragraph is largely a subjective (and perhaps “selective”) account.

          Your second paragraph is more factual.  Then again, suspects sometimes die as a result of actions taken during detainment/restraint, especially if there are other factors involved (e.g., impacts of drugs, etc.).

          I would think that the question would be whether or not the actions taken were “reasonable”, and led to death.  (And in my opinion, it fails the “reasonable” test.)

          Then again, I don’t believe in trials conducted on blogs or in any other media.

        2. Ron Oertel

          And in this case, “reasonable” would have the same definition as “legal” (or not).

          A civil case might have a different definition/criteria.

          But that’s just my non-professional, armchair/blog conclusion. Ultimately, just a lot of hot air – as are most opinions put forth on blogs regarding legal proceedings.

        3. Bill Marshall

          But that’s just my non-professional, armchair/blog conclusion. Ultimately, just a lot of hot air –

          You nailed that one… in ways you may not have intended to…

          The body cam footage shows Mr Floyd shackled, pulled into the squad car for transport, then pulled back out, for what ensued next… damning ‘evidence’… and, yes have been watching portions of the proceedings on the news…

          All over ‘passing’ (known or unknown to Mr Floyd) a $20 bill…

          Really?

        4. Ron Oertel

          You nailed that one… in ways you may not have intended to…

          Nope – I intended to.

          As is your opinion, and all the others regarding opinions put forth regarding legal proceedings on blogs/social media.  There’s a reason that trials are conducted in courts, rather than on blogs or social media.

          But I’ll put forth another opinion, as well:

          All over ‘passing’ (known or unknown to Mr Floyd) a $20 bill…
          Really?

          Yes – really, but (as usual, regarding most comments) irrelevant.

      3. Bill Marshall

        You are probably correct as to ‘wiggle room’… I was struck with the original last words of Mr Floyd, which included, “Mama, Mama, Mama…”.

        His mother died two years before (May 2018)… perhaps he knew he would not be allowed to live…

        But, there will always be Chauvin-istas…

        1. Ron Oertel

          I’ll also put forth another opinion:

          Had anyone associated with that trial caught wind of some of your comments, you wouldn’t have even been selected for that jury.

          Probably none of us would, for that matter. For various reasons, not all of which are obvious to us (and which sometimes don’t reflect how “objective” we would actually be).

          But in your case, you’ve already “tipped your hat” (or whatever the saying is).

          (My fifth and final comment.)

        2. Bill Marshall

          Had anyone associated with that trial caught wind of some of your comments, you wouldn’t have even been selected for that jury.

          Cute (not, seems more like ‘trolling’)… particularly as I don’t live in that state…

          When have you been in a jury pool?  I have several times… chosen twice…

          Usually, when the attorneys find out that I am an engineer (able to think for myself), and worked in the public sector for over 35 years, automatic pre-emptory challenge… not even ‘for cause’…

          Even if the attorneys didn’t ask the ‘right’ questions, I’d tell the court that I had already formed an opinion… so there would be no reason why they would need to “catch wind of my comments”… I’d self-disclose during voir dire… out of honesty and fairness… to either side.

          Can you say the same of yourself?

  2. Carlos Garcia

    From today:

    Officers had no reason to use force on Floyd after he stopped resisting while handcuffed, former Minneapolis police sergeant David Pleoger testified.

    Based on your review of the body-worn-camera footage, do you have an opinion as to when the restraint of Mr. Floyd should have ended in this encounter?prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked.

    “Yes. … When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint,” Pleoger said.

    Pleoger affirmed that kneeling is a use of force, that the restraint “should stop” once a subject “is handcuffed and no longer resisting.”

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