Chauvin trial: store clerk describes drug suspicion before George Floyd's arrest

The cashier who served George Floyd immediately before his arrest last May has described him as appearing to be “high” on drugs in testimony on the third day of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial.

Christopher Martin, 19, said he noticed Floyd because “he was a big man” and that they had a long conversation about sport. He said that the 46 year-old Black man’s speech was laboured.

“It would appear that he was high," él dijo.

Martin worked at Cup Foods in south Minneapolis, where Floyd is alleged to have tried to buy cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill, which led to his detention by Chauvin, a Minneapolis police officer at the time.

Chauvin, 45, who is white, has denied charges of second – and third – degree murder, and manslaughter, after he pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes on 25 Mayo 2020, the Memorial Day holiday.

He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.

Floyd’s official autopsy showed that he had opioids and methamphetamine in his system when he died.

Chauvin’s defence contends that the officer’s use of force was reasonable because Floyd was under the influence of drugs at the time of his detention. Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s lawyer, has also told the trial that the drugs contributed to Floyd’s death.

The prosecution acknowledges the use of drugs but has said that it neither justified Chauvin continuing to press his knee into Floyd’s neck as the prone man repeatedly said he cannot breathe nor was a cause of his death.

The trial was shown video of Floyd in the shop. He can be seen wandering around for several minutes, appearing to stagger at times, before making his way to the tobacco counter where Martin was serving. Floyd buys cigarettes and pays with a $20 bill.

Martin said that he was immediately suspicious of the note because it had an unusual pigment but accepted it anyway and sold the cigarettes.

“The policy was that if you took a counterfeit bill you had to pay for it out of your paycheck," él dijo. “I took it anyways and thought I would just put it on my tab, until I second guessed myself.”

Martin showed the note to a manager who said to go after Floyd and bring him back in to the store.

Más temprano, the defence continued its cross examination of Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter who was prevented by the police from offering medical assistance to Floyd as he was dying, after coming across the scene while she was off duty and seeing Chauvin and two other police officers pinning Floyd to the street.

Toward the end of Tuesday’s hearing, the judge warned Hansen not to argue with Chauvin’s lawyer, Nelson, following testy exchanges as he attempted to characterise the firefighter as part of an angry mob who threatened the police and distracted them from helping Floyd.

El miércoles, Hansen acknowledged that she did not show identification proving the she was a firefighter with medical training as she pleaded with Chauvin and other police officers to let her treat Floyd because she thought his life was in danger.

Más temprano, Nelson put it to Hansen that she “got louder and more frustrated and upset” as Chauvin continued to press his knee into Floyd’s neck.

The firefighter responded that she did not become angry until Floyd was already dead “and there was no point in trying to reason with them any more because they had just killed somebody”.

When the defence pressed Hansen to agree that other people in the crowd were “upset or angry”, Hansen shot back: “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s quite upsetting”.

Tuesday’s testimony was harrowing, as witnesses cried and said they felt guilty for not having been able to save Floyd, as a fourth officer kept bystanders at bay – the officers being routinely armed and carrying mace spray.

The prosecution is building a picture of a group of police officers, led by Chauvin, who were indifferent to Floyd’s suffering and the danger he was in over an agonizing period of time and that his restraint was not a result of split-second decision-making.

A succession of prosecution witnesses has told the court that the alarm and anger of bystanders was not a threat to the police but a demand for action to help Floyd as he begged for his life and called out for his dead mother with waning pleas.

The jury were shown several videos recorded by people at the scene in which members of the public can be heard loudly remonstrating with Chauvin to get off Floyd’s neck. But the video did not show any threats made to the safety of officers.

Three other officers involved in Floyd’s death are scheduled to be tried together later this year on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.

The trial continues.

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