A court has seen new footage of George Floyd in a store shortly before his death, as the murder trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin continues.
A store clerk told the court he believed the bill Mr Floyd paid was fake and appeared to be doing drugs but could have a conversation.
Mr Floyd’s arrest and death in May 2020 sparked global protests against the police and racism.
Moments after Mr. Floyd left the store, his fatal encounter with the police began.
It ended with Mr. Chauvin pressing his knee against Mr. Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes before he died.
Mr. Chauvin, 45, denies the murder and manslaughter charges. Defense attorneys said they would argue that 46-year-old Mr. Floyd died of an overdose and ill health, and that the force used was reasonable.
Trial observers said Wednesday’s footage may be an attempt by prosecutors to address the allegation that drugs played a role in his death.
Store employee Christopher Martin, 19, told court he briefly interacted with Mr Floyd as a customer inside Cup Foods shortly before his arrest.
He said Mr. Floyd “looked like he was stoned” because he had trouble answering a simple question, but was lucid enough to be able to carry on a conversation. He described Mr. Floyd as “friendly and approachable”.
In the store’s surveillance video, Mr. Floyd can be seen laughing, talking to people and walking around.
Mr. Martin told the jury that he sold Mr. Floyd a pack of cigarettes and received a forged bill as payment. Mr Martin explained that he knew the bill was wrong in color and texture, but added that Mr Floyd “didn’t seem to know it was a wrong note”.
He said he considered letting the store deduct it from his paycheck instead of confronting Mr. Floyd, but then decided to let his manager know. Another employee called the police.
Mr Martin, who witnessed the arrest, said he felt “incredulous and guilty” because “if I had simply not taken the note it could have been avoided”.
What else has happened during the trial so far?
In his opening statements Monday, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury that Mr. Chauvin had “betrayed his badge” by kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck and using “excessive and unreasonable force” to detain him.
Meanwhile, Mr Chauvin’s lawyer Eric Nelson said the case was about evidence and not about a “political or social cause”. He said Mr. Floyd had ingested drugs at the time of his arrest “in an attempt to hide them from the police”, and suggested that this had contributed to his death.
Four young witnesses took the stand on Tuesday. Darnella – the teenager whose film about Mr. Floyd’s death sparked worldwide protests – said she “continues to apologize” to him for “not doing more.”
She told the court she started filming on her phone because she “saw a terrified man begging for his life.”
“It wasn’t right – he was in pain,” she said.
A witness, Donald Williams II, trained in mixed martial arts, was questioned for more than an hour by the prosecution and the defense on Monday and again on Tuesday. He told the court that Mr. Chauvin used a dangerous technique called “blood throttling” and back and forth with his knee to increase pressure on Mr. Floyd’s back and neck.
He rejected the defense’s suggestions that he and the interactions of other passers-by with police threatened officers at the scene.
Genevieve Hansen, a Minneapolis firefighter and emergency medical technician who was not on duty at the time of the arrest, said she was “desperate to help” Mr. Floyd, but officers did not. left.
Mr. Chauvin remained silent but remained engaged during the proceedings, taking almost constant notes on a yellow legal pad while listening to the evidence.
Why is this case so important?
Video footage of Derek Chauvin kneeling on George Floyd’s neck last May has been watched worldwide.
For many, Mr Floyd’s death in police custody has become a symbol of police brutality – especially against people of color – and has sparked mass protests for racial justice.
But despite the global outcry, this is not an open and closed case. Police in the United States are rarely convicted of deaths that occur while on duty, if charged at all.
The verdict in this case will be widely seen as an indication of how the US legal system treats deaths that occur in police custody.