Cup Foods store employee Christopher Martin speaks as a witness on the third day of the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, US on Wednesday. Photograph:( Reuters )
The jury watched video on Wednesday that showed a cheerful-looking Floyd in his final minutes inside a grocery store before he ended up below Chauvin on the road outside, a scene that the cashier, Christopher Martin, told the jury he watched in disbelief
A cashier who was one of the last people to speak with George Floyd before his deadly arrest last May testified at Derek Chauvin's murder trial in Minneapolis on Wednesday that Floyd appeared to be high on drugs but was able to make friendly conversation.
Chauvin, who is white, was fired by the city's police department the day after he was captured on video with his knee on the neck of Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs. He has pled not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges, and a central dispute in the case is his lawyers' contention that Floyd's death, which was ruled a homicide, was instead a drug overdose.
The jury watched video on Wednesday that showed a cheerful-looking Floyd in his final minutes inside a grocery store before he ended up below Chauvin on the road outside, a scene that the cashier, Christopher Martin, told the jury he watched in disbelief.
Several other eyewitnesses, one a child of nine, have spent the last two days describing to the jury the shock of watching Floyd's struggle beneath Chauvin as bystanders screamed at police that Floyd was falling unconscious. Video footage of the arrest on May 25, 2020, sparked global protests decrying police brutality against Black people. Christopher Martin, eyewitness and Cup Foods cashier, was the one who accepted the $20 bill that triggered everything that followed.
"I thought that George didn't really know it was a fake bill," Martin, 19, told the jury. He considered letting Cup Foods just dock it from his wages, but ended up telling his manager and a few minutes later, police were arresting Floyd on suspicion of passing a counterfeit.
Silent security-camera video played for the jury shows Floyd dressed in a black tank top approaching Cup Food's counter with a banana in hand, smiling and making cheerful conversation and putting his arm around a woman. Floyd appears to be filled with energy and constantly in motion, at one point almost dancing on the spot, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
Martin, 19, told the jury that he made conversation with Floyd, asking him if he played baseball. Floyd seemed to take time to find his words but replied that he played football, Martin said.
"He seemed very friendly, approachable, he was talkative, he seemed to be having just an average Memorial Day, just living his life," Martin recalled. "But he did seem high."
Although the county medical examiner ruled Floyd's death a homicide resulting from the police restraint, fentanyl and methamphetamine was found in Floyd's blood at autopsy and Chauvin's lawyers argue the death was really a drug overdose.
(With inputs from agencies)