Sign of the times, multiple cameras captured from all angles the last moments of George Floyd, which were played and replayed Wednesday at the trial of police officer Derek Chauvin, accused of having killed him, to the point of rekindling the trauma of witnesses . The jurors had been confronted at the opening of the debates, Monday, with the most famous video of the ordeal of the African-American. Filmed by a passerby, it sparked giant protests against racism in the United States and beyond. This time, they found themselves at the very heart of the drama, with the recordings of the pedestrian cameras carried by the four police officers who, on May 25 in Minneapolis, wanted to arrest George Floyd, suspected of having passed a fake twenty dollar bill. in a grocery store. In July, the courts had authorized the media to view these videos, without recording or publishing them. They had therefore remained fairly confidential.
On these films, the pleas of the black forty-something are more personal: “Please, don’t shoot me”, “I’m not bad”, “Don’t do this to me”, “You scare me” , he told officers, assuring them “to be claustrophobic” when they try to get him into their vehicle.
Faced with his resistance, these men in uniform pin him to the ground and the most experienced of them, Derek Chauvin, settles down, one knee on his neck. He will hold this position for more than nine minutes, which brings him to trial for murder. The 45-year-old white cop, 19 of them with the Minneapolis Police Department, kept up the pressure even when colleagues noted that George Floyd “had passed out” and had “no more pulse,” the videos confirmed. pedestrian cameras. The prosecution also relied Wednesday on surveillance cameras installed in the Cup Foods grocery store to tell the moments that preceded the intervention of the police.
On the witness stand, a young cashier, Christopher Martin, recounted selling a pack of cigarettes to George Floyd, who paid with a twenty dollar bill. “I saw a blue pigment (…), I found it weird and I thought it was wrong,” said the 19-year-old black man, visibly nervous.
In this store, if an employee collects a fake bill, the sum is withdrawn from his salary. Mr. Martin accepted it but, “on second thought”, spoke to his manager, who ordered him to ask Mr. Floyd to come back. The forty-something having remained in a vehicle parked in front of the convenience store, the young cashier and colleagues came out to talk to him. But they couldn’t convince him, and one of the store workers ended up calling the police. The sequel was told by Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old black man who, passing by in his car, stopped “out of curiosity”.
Two officers first pointed a gun at George Floyd to get him out of his car, put handcuffs on him and returned him to their vehicle, he said. Mr. McMillian then entered into a dialogue with Mr. Floyd, who refused to get into the police car. “I told him to obey, that he couldn’t win,” said the 60-year-old. The agents, now four, end up pinning the forty-year-old on the ground who is more and more pleading. “I can’t breathe, my stomach hurts”, “Mom, I love you”, we hear him say on a recording.
At the sight of this film, Mr. McMillan, who had hitherto kept his composure, burst into tears. “I felt so helpless …”, he breathed, before the judge interrupted the hearing to give him time to come to his senses. In another video, Christopher Martin is seen exiting the store to follow the scene. Startled, he has his hands on his head. Asked about his feelings at the time, he replied, his voice choked with emotion: “Disbelief and guilt.”
“If I hadn’t taken the ticket, all of this could have been avoided.” The trial of Derek Chauvin, who pleads not guilty, is due to last until the end of April and the verdict will be rendered immediately. His three ex-colleagues Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao, will be tried in August for “complicity in murder”.
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