Washington, Mar 31 (efe-epa).- Witnesses to the arrest and death in custody of George Floyd spoke of guilt and helplessness on Wednesday, the third day of the trial of former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin.
The first to give testimony was Christopher Martin, the 19-year-old cashier at the store who suspected Floyd had paid with a fake $20 bill.
“If I would have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided,” said Martin, who explained that store employees had to pay out of their own pockets to replace any counterfeit money they accepted.
After receiving the bill, he twice tried to ask Floyd outside the store to come back inside to talk, which Floyd refused, and Martin told his manager he would pay instead. However, he said the manager asked another employee to call police.
Martin said he felt “disbelief and guilt” at the incident.
After Martin’s testimony, 61-year-old Charles McMillian broke down and sobbed on the stand after watching a video of himself witnessing Floyd pinned to the ground saying he couldn’t breathe and calling out for his mother. The trial was postponed for 10 minutes.
McMillan, in the most emotional testimony yet, said that he felt “helpless.”
Later, once the ambulance had taken Floyd, McMillian told Chauvin he didn’t respect what he did, to which the ex-policeman replied: “All right, that’s one person’s opinion.”
Chauvin’s defense waived questioning McMillian once he finished answering the prosecution.
Floyd’s death in May last year shocked the United States and sparked a wave of racial justice protests across the country.
For nearly nine minutes, Chauvin pinned Floyd to the ground by pressing his knee into the back of Floyd’s neck while the victim repeatedly cried out that he couldn’t breathe.
An independent autopsy said Floyd died due to “asphyxiation from sustained pressure” while the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office said the cause of death was “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.”
The former police officer is charged with second-degree unintentional murder, punishable by up to 40 years in prison; third-degree murder, with a maximum sentence of 25 years, and second-degree manslaughter, which carries up to 10 years. EFE-EPA