Derek Chauvin Trial Live Updates: Day 3 Brings New Views of George Floyd’s Final Hours

We talk a lot about collective trauma and grief in cases like these, and it really is front and center here in the testimony we’ve seen the past two days. Christopher Martin, the first Cup Foods employee to confront George Floyd about the fake $20 bill he used to pay for cigarettes, described standing outside and watching in disbelief as Derek Chauvin restrained him.

“Disbelief and guilt,” Martin said, describing a moment in the video when he had his hands on his head as Floyd was pinned to the ground. “If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided.”

You can sense Christopher Martin, the 19-year-old Cup Foods employee on the stand, getting a little emotional as he recalls seeing George Floyd under Derek Chauvin’s knee on the pavement. “George was motionless, limp, and Chauvin seemed very — he was in a resting state, meaning like he just rested his knee on his neck.” Martin actually took a video, he said, but deleted it because he believed Floyd was dead and didn’t want to be questioned about it.

He also describes calling his mother, who lived next door to Cup Foods, and telling her not to come outside because he didn’t want her to walk into the scene of the arrest.

The Cup Foods clerk on the stand right now, Christopher Martin, is going into detail about approaching George Floyd outside the store to confront him about the fake $20 bill he used to pay for cigarettes. It’s interesting to see in the video that when the clerk goes to get some co-workers to come out with him, it was a young woman who led the charge. It raises questions about how the police would later approach Floyd, with guns drawn and seemingly worried.

Speaking before the jury entered the courtroom on Wednesday morning, Shareeduh Tate, a cousin of George Floyd who occupied the single seat allocated to a family member each day, said she was “pessimistically optimistic” so far.

On Tuesday, the court presented six bystander witnesses, who spoke of their attempts to intervene with the police officers arresting Mr. Floyd as they saw that he was in serious physical distress, and of the trauma of watching him become unresponsive.

Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric J. Nelson, tried several times on Tuesday to portray the crowd as interfering or threatening, but Ms. Tate said the defense was grasping. “I think they had to find something — when you can’t use the facts, you have to do something different,” she said.

Ms. Tate said she closely identified with the witnesses on Tuesday, saying that the 9-year-old girl who spoke off camera was particularly compelling. “I could almost feel like I was living in that moment with them,” she said. “Countless times, I myself have wished I had been able to intervene.”

Because of the pandemic, a limited audience has been allowed to watch the trial of Derek Chauvin from inside the courtroom. Among those allowed inside are the judge, the jurors, the witnesses, the court staff, the lawyers and Mr. Chauvin himself. One seat has been set aside for a member of George Floyd’s family and one for Mr. Chavin’s.

Two more seats in the courtroom have been reserved for reporters and various journalists, including from The New York Times, who take on the role of pool reporter. The journalists who fill these seats will rotate throughout the trial (Shaila Dewan of The Times is on duty Wednesday morning) and are expected to send dispatches to other members of the media around the country to ensure everyone has a look inside the courtroom.

The pool reports from Mr. Chauvin’s trial have included descriptions of masks the jurors are wearing, the demeanor of the jurors and the appearance of younger witnesses who are allowed to testify off-camera.

Pool reporting is commonly used in Washington media circles. When traveling, the president is usually accompanied by a few print and television journalists who represent the entirety of their disciplines and send out a series of short reports throughout the trip to those not on it.

When reporters from The New York Times use information from a pool report that they did not witness, the information is attributed to a pool reporter.

The court took an abrupt break after a juror stood up and waved her hands, seeming flushed and possibly ill.

As the court is on a brief break, I just want to reflect on how these images from surveillance video inside Cup Foods are really indicative of what you typically see in urban corner stores. People hanging out and chatting more than actual shopping. Everyone seems to know everyone. And an assortment of a little bit of everything you need — snacks, cellphone equipment, drinks. May 25, 2020, at Cup Foods is really coming to life now, beyond the video of George Floyd’s arrest that is all most people know.

In showing the footage of George Floyd allegedly buying cigarettes with a fake $20 bill, the prosecution is trying to show how casual, non-violent and minor the crime he’s accused of committing was. When police use force in the course of an arrest, it is supposed to be relative to the severity of the what the suspect is accused of doing.

New surveillance footage from inside Cup Foods showed George Floyd, right, laughing and chatting before the police were called over his use of a fake $20 bill.
Credit…Still image via Court TV

Prosecutors on Wednesday showed surveillance footage of George Floyd laughing and chatting in the Cup Foods convenience store moments before his death in May, providing a glimpse of his actions inside the store for the first time.

The footage was played as Christopher Martin, 19, a clerk at Cup Foods, testified about discovering the fake $20 bill that he said Mr. Floyd used to buy cigarettes inside the store. It was a clerk’s call to 911 over the bill that brought several police officers to the area, where they handcuffed Mr. Floyd and pinned him to the ground outside, and where Derek Chauvin, who is now on trial for murder in Mr. Floyd’s death, was recorded kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck.

In the surveillance footage, Mr. Floyd can be seen laughing with employees and shoppers as he moves around the store, at one point holding a banana and at another point pulling out what appears to be some cash. The video was taken about an hour before he was taken away on a stretcher and about two hours before he was pronounced dead at a hospital.

Mr. Martin testified on Wednesday that he had spoken briefly about sports with Mr. Floyd when he entered the store and that Mr. Floyd had appeared to be on a drug of some kind.

“It kind of took him a little long to get to what he was trying to say, so it would appear that he was high,” Mr. Martin said.

After selling Mr. Floyd some cigarettes, Mr. Martin said he realized that Mr. Floyd had given him a bill with some “blue pigment” on it that made him think it was counterfeit. At the time, Mr. Martin said, the store had a policy that clerks who accepted a fake bill had to pay to replace it themselves. He asked a manager what to do and a manager told him to go to Mr. Floyd, who was sitting outside in a car, and ask him to come inside, which Mr. Martin said he tried to do twice.

In the wake of Mr. Floyd’s death, Cup Foods’s owners temporarily closed the store and said they had changed their policies about when employees should call the police. They also received plenty of criticism.

“People were saying we were responsible for his death, that we had blood on our hands, that we’re the reason he died,” Mahmoud Abumayyaleh, an owner of the market, said last summer.

For more than 30 years, Cup Foods had been a neighborhood mainstay but also a source of complaints at the corner of Chicago Avenue and 38th Street. Customers could buy cigarettes, fresh produce and minutes for their cellphones, but some residents also complained about drug deals and violence nearby. Even as the neighborhood began to gentrify and barbershops and clothing stores closed as a cafe and art spaces moved in, Cup Foods — the name originally stood for “Chicago Unbeatable Prices” — did not budge.

In the footage currently being shown from surveillance video inside Cup Foods, we are seeing George Floyd about 45 minutes before he was taken away on a stretcher, and roughly one hour and 40 minutes before he was pronounced dead at the hospital.

This is the first time the public is seeing this surveillance footage of George Floyd casually walking into Cup Foods like he is buying cigarettes on any other day.

Obviously there is no audio on this footage, but Floyd does not look like the high, strung-out person that the defense is arguing he was. Other videos from outside may show otherwise. But so far, this appears pretty ordinary.

Christopher Martin, the Cup Foods employee testifying now, said George Floyd appeared to be under the influence when he came into the store and spoke with Martin on May 25. Because this witness was called by the prosecution, it suggests the state is attempting to deal directly with the issue of Floyd and his drug use, before the defense, later in the trial, argues that Floyd died of a drug overdose rather than his restraint by Derek Chauvin.

We’re now hearing from Christopher Martin, an employee at Cup Foods, the corner store that called the police on George Floyd.

After two days of testimony and video specifically focused on George Floyd’s struggle with officers on the street, today it appears the prosecution is shifting attention to the time period leading up to the encounter between Floyd and the police that led to his death.

We are back in session, with Genevieve Hansen, the off-duty firefighter and emergency medical technician who happened to stumble upon the arrest of George Floyd and pleaded in vain for the police to let her help him, back on the stand. Court ended Tuesday with a contentious exchange between Derek Chauvin’s lawyer and Hansen. The judge admonished her before recessing for the day: “Do not argue with the court. Do not argue with counsel.”

Genevieve Hansen, a firefighter and emergency medical technician who witnessed the arrest of George Floyd, testifying on Tuesday. She returned to the stand on Wednesday.
Credit…Still image via Court TV

Genevieve Hansen, a firefighter and emergency medical technician who happened to stumble upon the arrest of George Floyd and pleaded in vain for the police to let her help him, returned to the witness stand on Wednesday morning.

Ms. Hansen, 27, gave sometimes teary and sometimes heated testimony on Tuesday, but lawyers for Derek Chauvin and the prosecution had only a handful of questions for her on Wednesday morning. Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer asked her if she had shown any identification at the scene of Mr. Floyd’s arrest, to which she said she had not. She was off-duty and on a walk when she saw Mr. Floyd being arrested.

Ms. Hansen was the first of several witnesses expected to be called by prosecutors on Wednesday as they continue to try to build a case against Mr. Chauvin, who is facing charges including second-degree murder.

On Tuesday, Ms. Hansen had dabbed her eyes as she described being “desperate” to get Mr. Floyd medical attention, acknowledging that she had cursed at the officers while doing so.

“There was a man being killed,” Ms. Hansen said. “I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human was denied that right.”

In his cross-examination, Eric J. Nelson, Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer, tried to emphasize his argument that by yelling at the police officers, the group of bystanders had diverted the police’s attention from Mr. Floyd.

The exchange between Mr. Nelson and Ms. Hansen grew increasingly testy when he asked her if she would be distracted if people heckled her while she was fighting a fire, and when she admitted, in response to his questioning, that emergency medical workers typically do not approach scenes where the police are working until the officers tell them it is safe.

When Mr. Nelson asked if the bystanders at the scene of Mr. Floyd’s arrest were upset, Ms. Hansen shot back, “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting.”

The response earned her a warning from the judge — not her last.

Toward the end of Tuesday, when the lawyer asked her about statements she made describing Mr. Floyd as a “small, slim man,” she responded by saying that while he appeared small with police officers on top of him, she now knew that he was not small.

“I’m advising you, do not argue with counsel and specifically, do not argue with the court,” Judge Peter A. Cahill said. “They have the right to ask questions, your job is to answer them.”

Credit…Court TV still image, via Associated Press

After a day of emotional testimony from six witnesses who saw George Floyd being arrested, experts say they expect the trial against the former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin to turn toward issues of race and Mr. Floyd’s cause of death.

What kinds of witnesses will give testimony on Wednesday is not yet clear. But the lawyer defending Mr. Chauvin, who is accused of murdering Mr. Floyd after kneeling on him for more than nine minutes, is incentivized to move the conversation away from the widely shared bystander video.

The testimony on Tuesday sometimes brought the witnesses, four of whom are minors, to tears. Some said they felt a sense of guilt for not stopping Mr. Chauvin from continuing to pin Mr. Floyd, but they ultimately blamed the former officer for the death.

“It seemed like he knew it was over for him,” said Darnella Frazier, 18, who took a video of Mr. Floyd’s final moments. “He was terrified. He was suffering. This was a cry for help, definitely.”

Witnesses describing the emotional toll of the scene most likely benefited the prosecution, but the trial will eventually move to subjects where the defense will be able to make its most crucial arguments.

The defense has yet to address Mr. Floyd’s exact cause of death in earnest, but it is expected to try to blame a drug overdose and a heart condition. Prosecutors have said they would present seven medical experts to show that the cause of death was asphyxia.

Experts said they also expected the trial to turn toward race. While prosecutors have made clear that this trial is about Mr. Chauvin, not policing in general, Mr. Floyd’s death caused a national outcry, with demonstrations rocking cities from New York to Portland, Ore., last summer.

It is unclear how any discussion of race will affect jurors, though the pool is considered diverse for Minneapolis: three Black men, one Black woman, two women who identified themselves as multiracial, two white men and four white women.

The jurors heard several witnesses on Tuesday say they were disturbed by the apparent lack of care that Mr. Floyd received and by how long Mr. Chauvin kept him pinned to the ground last May. As the trials moves on, the defense will need to separate Mr. Chauvin’s knee from Mr. Floyd’s death, but the witnesses so far have mostly said they consider the two indistinguishable.

Hundreds gathered at a Minneapolis rally for George Floyd after the first day of the Derek Chauvin trial.
Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Derek Chauvin’s trial is taking place against a backdrop of continuing efforts to fundamentally change policing, both in Minneapolis and across the United States. But although some of those efforts have led to limited reforms since last summer, others have fizzled or stalled.

In June, a time of energetic activism and a broad surge of support for the Black Lives Matter movement, the Minneapolis City Council pledged to dismantle its Police Department. But that mission fell apart as months passed, and polls showed that national support for Black Lives Matter had ebbed by autumn, except among Black respondents.

In December, Minneapolis officials voted to divert nearly $8 million from the proposed policing budget to other city services. It was a shift of about 4.5 percent of the proposed $179 million police budget but fell short of the sweeping changes that many activists had demanded. The city has also moved to ban chokeholds and put in place new policies to promote de-escalation and restrict officers’ use of force.

At the national level, the House voted largely along party lines this month to pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a sweeping bill that would combat racial discrimination, restrict uses of force and make it easier to prosecute officers for wrongdoing.

Republicans have opposed the bill, and so have many activists who say it does not go far enough. The Movement for Black Lives, a national coalition of more than 150 Black-led organizations, has called the legislation “fundamentally flawed” and pushed for a bill called the Breathe Act, which would direct federal funds toward community-based safety measures and away from jails, prisons and the police.

But even the reforms outlined in the Justice in Policing Act seem unlikely to pass the Senate anytime soon.

Across Minneapolis on Tuesday there were signs of the murder trial and remembrances of George Floyd.

Black Lives Matter banners hanging outside the courthouse on Tuesday.
Credit…Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times

Emotional and sometimes combative witnesses dominated the second day of testimony Tuesday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd. Legal experts expect the conversation to shift in coming days as the trial continues.

Here is what they expect to hear more about:

The video of Mr. Floyd’s arrest touched off the biggest protests across the United States since the 1960s and focused the nation’s attention on issues of racial justice. But so far, there has been almost no mention of the topic during the trial, said Justin Hansford, a law professor at Howard University.

“How are they going to talk about the question of race?” he asked. “I know there is a feeling that by taking race out, it makes it more objective. It will be interesting to me how prosecutors discuss that because that is at the core of this. This is why the whole world is watching. I think we are trying to pretend like it’s not a factor.”

Jurors have been shown bystander videos of the arrest and nearby security footage at least three times during the trial. That’s one of the biggest hurdles Mr. Chauvin’s defense team, led by Eric Nelson, must overcome: drawing jurors’ attention away from the video.

“They want to focus the jury on more than the video,” said Mary Fan, a professor at University of Washington School of Law who was formerly a federal prosecutor. “You see that strategy because that video is so painful to watch and galvanizing for the audience. The defense wants to say, ‘Look beyond what’s captured in the video and consider the array of circumstances.’”

Mr. Chauvin’s team has employed what Ms. Fan called the “standard account” that attorneys give when justifying the use of force: that the officer was experienced and following his training in a volatile situation. They have attempted to convince the jury that “the use of force doesn’t look pretty when it’s recorded, but this is police procedure in these stressful uncertain moments,” she said.

If the defense is able to shift the conversation away from the video, its next step will be to argue that Mr. Floyd’s death was caused by a drug overdose and a heart condition, not by Mr. Chauvin’s actions.

While the defense has yet to present evidence to support its theory, it may not fully exculpate Mr. Chauvin, said Chris Slobogin, the director of the Criminal Justice Program at Vanderbilt University.

“Even if the drugs contributed to his death, Chauvin can still be found guilty of homicide if he also contributed to the death,” Mr. Slobogin said. “It’s only if the death was solely caused by the drugs that the defense would have legitimate argument.”

Derek Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had a testy exchange with mixed martial arts fighter Donald Williams II during the second day of the trial.
Credit…Still image from Court TV

The second day of the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer who is accused of killing George Floyd, was marked by emotional testimony from witnesses who recounted what they saw and how it left them feeling traumatized. Six people testified in all, including four witnesses who were younger than 18 on the day of Mr. Floyd’s arrest.

Prosecutors walked through the arrest minute by minute with the witnesses. The youngest of them testified off camera, though viewers could hear them in real time. At times, their voices wavered as they recalled the events of May 25, and attorneys gave them time between questions to collect themselves. Here are the highlights of the second day.

  • The testimony of the young witnesses included the grief and anger felt so profoundly by people across the country in the days and weeks after Mr. Floyd’s death. Their presence made another point as well: They have become victims themselves. The trauma of seeing a man lose consciousness while they could do nothing to stop it clearly left its mark, as made evident by their tears as they testified.

  • The young witnesses told consistent versions of what they saw, and all said they believed at the time that something was going horribly wrong. “I almost walked away at first because it was a lot to watch,” said one witness, a high school senior. “But I knew that it was wrong and I couldn’t just walk away, even though I couldn’t do anything about it.”

  • The most emotionally jarring testimony came from Darnella Frazier, who took a video of the arrest that helped ignite protests across the country. Ms. Frazier expressed regret for not physically confronting Mr. Chauvin but said she ultimately believed the former officer was at fault for Mr. Floyd’s death. “It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” Ms. Frazier said, adding that she has often reflected on the similarities of her Black family members and Mr. Floyd. She worries for their safety and her own. “I look at how that could have been one of them.”

  • Mr. Chauvin’s attorney, Eric Nelson, had a testy exchange with a mixed martial arts fighter who was at the scene of the arrest and testified on Monday and Tuesday. On Tuesday, Mr. Nelson argued that the witness, Donald Williams II, did not have enough medical or police training experience to analyze Mr. Floyd’s cause of death. Previously, Mr. Williams had testified that the placement of Mr. Chauvin’s knee could have caused Mr. Floyd to suffocate. The defense also highlighted the loud crowd that formed on the sidewalk and yelled at the police officers during the arrest. Mr. Williams pushed back on the attorney’s description, saying, “You can’t paint me out to be angry.”

  • Prosecutors continued to focus on how long Mr. Chauvin kept his knee on Mr. Floyd, pinning him to the street. While the defense may argue that use of force was necessary, prosecutors will want to convince the jury that the amount of time was unreasonable and unlawful. Even if the defense can effectively argue that force was necessary at first, prosecutors want to show that Mr. Chauvin kept Mr. Floyd pinned even after he lost consciousness.

  • Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter and emergency medical technician, also gave emotional testimony, wiping tears from her eyes as she recalled witnessing the arrest. Ms. Hansen, 27, had urged police officers to take Mr. Floyd’s pulse. She also called 911 at the time — making her the third witness who called the police on the police.

Protestors passed Minneapolis City Hall on Monday on the way to the Hennepin County Government Center, where the Derek Chauvin trial was beginning.
Credit…Aaron Nesheim for The New York Times

The 12-person jury in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin was selected from an original pool of more than 300 people from across Hennepin County. Over three weeks of jury selection, anonymous citizens sat one at a time on the witness stand and answered questions from the lawyers and judge about the political views and ability (or inability) to be impartial in the case.

Here are the jurors in the trial. After the two sides present their cases, 12 of the jurors will begin deliberations. Two others are alternates.

Juror No. 2 A white man in his 20s who works as a chemist and said he had not seen the bystander video and had strong views that the criminal justice system is biased against minorities.

Juror No. 9 A woman in her 20s who identifies as mixed race. She has an uncle who is a police officer and said she wanted to be on the jury.

Juror No. 19 A white man in his 30s who works as a financial auditor. He has a friend in the Minneapolis Police Department and said that George Floyd being under the influence of drugs shouldn’t be a factor in the case.

Juror No. 27 A Black man in his 30s, who immigrated to the United States 14 years ago and works in information technology. He disagreed with defunding the police and told his wife that Mr. Floyd “could have been me.”

Juror No. 44 A white woman in her 50s who is a health care executive. She said Mr. Floyd’s death awakened her to “white privilege.”

Juror No. 52 A Black man in his 30s who writes poems and coaches youth sports. He said he did not believe Mr. Chauvin intended to kill Mr. Floyd but wondered why the other three officers did not intervene.

Juror No. 55 A white woman in her 50s who took up motorcycle riding to honor her late husband. She said she had never watched the full bystander video because it disturbed her.

Juror No. 79 A Black man in his 40s who lives in the suburbs and said last year’s protests had no impact on his community.

Juror No. 85 A woman in her 40s who identifies as multiracial and works as a corporate consultant.

Juror No. 89 A white woman in her 50s who is a nurse and has worked with Covid-19 patients.

Juror No. 91 A Black woman in her 60s who is a grandmother. Asked about the Black Lives Matter movement, she said, “I am Black, and my life matters.”

Juror No. 92 A white woman in her 40s who works in the insurance industry. She said Mr. Floyd did not deserve to die and that the officers used excessive force.

Juror No. 96 A white woman in her 50s who volunteers at homeless shelters. She said she had a “neutral” opinion of Mr. Floyd.

Juror No. 118 A white woman in her 20s who is a social worker and recently married.

The Derek Chauvin trial plays on a television at a gym in Georgia on Monday.
Credit…Nicole Craine for The New York Times

The trial of Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd will be unusual for many reasons: It will be livestreamed from Minneapolis, attendance will be severely limited because of the coronavirus, and the public’s interest in the case may make this one of the highest-profile trials in recent memory.

The trial can be watched on, via a livestream provided by Court TV, which is also airing the trial in full. Witness testimony and lawyers’ presentation of evidence should last several weeks before the jury begins to deliberate over the verdict.

Among the people allowed in the courtroom, on the 18th floor of the Hennepin County Government Center, are the judge, jurors, witnesses, court staff, lawyers, Mr. Chauvin, and only a handful of spectators. The judge, Peter A. Cahill, wrote in an order on March 1 that only one member of Mr. Floyd’s family and one member of Mr. Chauvin’s family would be allowed in the room at any time. Two seats will be reserved for reporters, and various journalists, including from The New York Times, will rotate throughout the trial.

The lawyers, spectators, jurors and witnesses will be required to wear masks when they are not speaking. Spectators are prohibited from having any visible images, logos, letters or numbers on their masks or clothing, according to Judge Cahill’s order.

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