Witnesses testified in court with many breaking down in tears, revealing the trauma they have endured since the incident.
Trigger warning: This story contains themes of police brutality and race-motivated violence that some readers may find distressing.
Darnella Frazier, the teenager who filmed George Floyd's death, said she's still haunted by not being able to save his life. Frazier was one among six bystanders who testified on the second day of Derek Chauvin's criminal trial. A series of testimonies from the bystanders revealed the trauma and guilt experienced by them since Floyd's death on May 25, 2020. Floyd died after a White Minneapolis cop Chauvin kneeled on his neck for more than eight minutes, reportedly causing his death. During her testimony, Frazier said she saw her own Black father, brothers, cousins, and friends in Floyd. "I look at that and I look at how that could have been one of them," broke down Fraziers, reported CNN. Floyd's girlfriend Courteney Ross also testified in the trial.
"I was scared of Chauvin"
The teenager, whose clip was shared the world over, said she's been having sleepless nights since. "It's been nights I've stayed up apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it's not what I should have done, it's what he should have done." Among the six witnesses who testified were a 9-year-old girl, three high school students, including Frazier, a mixed martial arts fighter, and a Minneapolis firefighter. Another high-school student recalled Chauvin digging his knee into Floyd's neck. She told the court that Chauvin has got out his mace out and threateningly shook it at bystanders who pleaded with him to ease the pressure on Floyd's neck. "I was scared of Chauvin," she said.
It’s striking, how much guilt many of the witnesses in the trial of ex-cop Chauvin feel over George Floyd’s death. Chauvin has exhibited no remorse.— Joyce Alene (@JoyceWhiteVance) March 31, 2021
An off-duty Minneapolis firefighter and certified EMT Genevieve Hansen pleaded with the cops to let her intervene and help Floyd. She had been out on a walk during her day off when she came across the scene. Given her expertise, she was aware Floyd was potentially losing his life as Chauvin continued pressing his knee on the 46-year-old man's neck. She repeatedly asked the police officers to check for a pulse but they ignored her pleas. "He wasn't moving and he was cuffed, and three grown men putting all their weight on somebody is too much," said Hansen.
"I feel helpless": Charles McMillian, a witness in the Derek Chauvin trial, cries on the stand after watching video of police pinning George Floyd to the ground. pic.twitter.com/yE2GkTvtwt— MSNBC (@MSNBC) March 31, 2021
She identified herself as a Minneapolis firefighter and but was kept from helping by former officer Tou Thao who refused her access to treat Floyd. "I tried calm reasoning, I tried to be assertive, I pled and was desperate," testified Hansen. "I was desperate to give help." She called 911 to report the police. "When things calmed down, I realized I wanted them to know what was going on. I wanted to basically report it," she said. It was the third such call to the emergency line. A Minneapolis 911 dispatcher who watched the situation unfold on a live video feed testified on Monday that she alerted a police sergeant.
Courteney Ross, George Floyd’s former girlfriend, takes the stand on Day 4 of Chauvin trial and recounts the first time she met him.— The Recount (@therecount) April 1, 2021
She was upset while waiting in a lobby. Floyd asked what was wrong and said “Can I pray with you?” pic.twitter.com/YWcAuIfyUY
The MMA fighter, Donald Wynn Williams II, testified and said he repeatedly told Chauvin he was using a "blood choke" and finally called 911 to report the incident. "I called the police on the police. I believed I witnessed a murder," said Williams. A 9-year-old girl also witnessed Floyd's death. "I was sad and kind of mad," said the girl. "Because it felt like he was stopping his breathing, and it was kind of like hurting him."
Christopher Martin, the former Cup Foods cashier, who interacted with Floyd and took the suspected counterfeit $20 bill from Floyd, said he felt indirectly responsible for his death. "Not only am I, like, the contributing factor, I’m kind of like the big domino that fell, and then now all the small dominos are just scattered,” said Martin. “There was so much pain and hurt that followed that was unneeded,” said an emotional Martin. The former cashier said he thought about Floyd's children as he knows what it is like to grow up in an African-American household without a father. “I just hope and pray that George’s daughters know that they can do it and it’s possible to do it, to make it and to be successful even if your father is no longer with you,” said Martin, reported CNN. “The one thing I would say to Derek Chauvin is justice will be served.”
Tears already in court. The simple question to Courteney Ross, how did you meet Mr. Floyd? It was enough to make her cry. These witnesses are testifying as part of a trial but these are their lives, and we're witnessing that pain in real time.— Omar Jimenez (@OmarJimenez) April 1, 2021
"He was a Mama's boy"
Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, testified in court and it took just one question for her to break down in tears — "How did you meet?" Ross said she met Floyd when he was working as a security guard at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center shelter for the homeless. "It's one of my favorite stories," she said, reported USA Today. She had gone to meet her son's father who was there. "Floyd came up to me. Floyd had this great, deep Southern voice, raspy. 'You OK, Sis?' he said. I wasn't OK. He said, 'Can I pray with you?'" said Ross, 45. "We'd been through so much, my sons and I. And this kind person asks if he can pray with me. It was so sweet. ... We had our first kiss in the lobby." She opened up about their relationship, their struggle with drug abuse, and called Floyd a "mama's boy." The pair were in a relationship for three years after meeting in August 2017. Ross said Floyd was devastated by his mother's death in 2018. "Floyd is what I would call a mama's boy. I could tell, from the minute I met him," said Ross. Floyd was heard crying out "mama" more than 20 times as his life ebbed away from his body on May 25, 2020.
Cover image source: Getty Images | Photo by Brandon Bell