A new video with footage captured by a police camera was released on Wednesday (31) in a court in Minneapolis, United States, showing George Floyd begging police while in custody.
The black man was suffocated to death by police in 2020, sparking a wave of global protests against racism and police violence. This week, a court is hearing witnesses in the trial against former agent Derek Chauvin, charged with manslaughter and wrongful death.
The video shows the former officer with his knee on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes, while the former security guard pleads not to be injured. Floyd says, “I’m not a bad guy.”
Chauvin, 45, has been fired from the police and denies all charges. Defense attorneys have indicated they will argue Floyd, 46, died of an overdose and poor health. They also have to claim that the force used in the episode was reasonable.
Analysts believe prosecutors defending the former cop may want to use the new footage to try to prove Floyd’s death has something to do with drug use.
What do the new images reveal?
The court saw camera footage taken by former agents Thomas Lane, J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao. Chauvin’s camera fell to the ground during the course of the prison and therefore did not take pictures of the incident. In the filming of Lane’s gear, Floyd is seen confronting the police.
He pleads: “Please don’t shoot me (…) I just lost my mother”. Floyd is handcuffed and continues to plead with Lane and Kueng, saying he doesn’t resist and “will do whatever they say”.
A fight ensues when the police attempt to get Floyd into a vehicle. He starts to cry and to resist, saying he’s claustrophobic and anxious. Chauvin and Thao arrive while the arrest is in progress. As the cops drag him out of the car and block him, Floyd can be heard calling his mother and telling his family that he loves them. People watching the scene start yelling at the police, asking them to check Floyd’s pulse and to stop holding him.
What did the witnesses say on Wednesday?
Police were called after Floyd used a counterfeit ticket at a convenience store. Store clerk Christopher Martin, 19, told court he briefly interacted with Floyd shortly before his arrest. He said Floyd “looked like he was stoned” because he had trouble answering simple questions, but was lucid enough to conduct a conversation. He described Floyd as “friendly and approachable”. In the store’s surveillance video, Floyd can be seen laughing and talking to people.
Martin told the jury that he sold Floyd a pack of cigarettes and received a counterfeit as payment. He also said he knew the note was wrong for its color and texture, but added that Floyd “didn’t seem to know it was a wrong note.” Martin said he was considering letting the store take his paycheck instead of confronting Floyd, but then decided to tell his manager.
Another official called the police. Martin, who witnessed the arrest, said he felt “incredulous and guilty” because “if I had simply not accepted the note it could have been avoided”.
Witness Charles McMillian, 61, also spoke at the trial on Wednesday. Based on the footage from the security cameras, McMillian was said to have been the first to see Floyd be arrested. He told the court he was talking to the former security guard, trying to convince him to get into the police car.
McMillian said he remembered feeling “helpless” when he saw the incident unfold. We can hear him on the video saying to Chauvin: “Your knee on his neck is wrong, man”. As the court viewed footage of the jail, McMillian began to cry and sob, and the judge called for a brief break.
What else has happened in the trial so far?
In his opening speech Monday, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury that Chauvin “betrayed his badge” by kneeling near Floyd’s neck and using “excessive and irrational force” to stop him.
Meanwhile, Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson said the case was about evidence and not about a “political or social cause.” He said Floyd had taken drugs just before his arrest “in an effort to keep them from the police” and suggested it contributed to his death.
Four witnesses testified on Tuesday. Darnella – the teenager who filmed the entire episode on her cell phone and whose footage sparked global protests – said she remained awake to this day “apologizing” to Floyd for “not doing more. “.
She told the court she started filming on her phone because she “saw a terrified man begging for his life.” “It wasn’t right – he was in pain,” she said.
Another witness, Donald Williams, who has a mixed martial arts background, was questioned for more than an hour by the prosecution and defense on Monday and again on Tuesday. He told the court that Chauvin used a dangerous technique called “blood suffocation” and moved his knee back and forth to increase pressure on Floyd’s back and neck.
He rejected the defense’s suggestions that passers-by posed a threat to the police.
Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter and emergency medical technician who was off duty at the time of the arrest, said she was “desperate to help” Floyd, but police would not allow it. Chauvin was silent the entire time, taking notes on a yellow notepad while listening to the testimonies.
Why is this case so important?
The video of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck, suffocating him to death, was seen around the world last year. For many, Floyd’s death in police custody has become a symbol of police brutality – especially against non-whites – and sparked mass protests for racial justice.
But despite the global outcry, the legal solution to this case is still open. Police officers in the United States are rarely convicted of deaths in the line of duty, and many are not even charged and brought to justice. The verdict in this case will be widely seen as an indication of how the US legal system deals with deaths that occur in police custody.