Derek Chauvin trial live updates: Cashier who took George Floyds counterfeit $20 bill felt disbelief and guilt
MINNEAPOLIS — Jurors in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin on Wednesday heard from the cashier who took a counterfeit $20 bill from George Floyd the day he died.
Cup Foods employee Christopher Martin, 19, told jurors he told his manager he suspected the bill was fake and felt “disbelief and guilt” when Floyd was eventually taken away in an ambulance.
Over the last three days, jurors have heard from 10 witnesses to Floyd’s death, and several have broken down in tears on the stand describing their attempts to intervene on his behalf. Tuesday’s witnesses included a firefighter, 911 dispatcher, a cashier working across the street, a mixed martial arts fighter, the teenager who recorded the now viral video of Floyd’s death and her 9-year-old cousin.
Floyd, a Black man, died in police custody on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pinned his knee against Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as Floyd cried out “I can’t breathe” more than 20 times. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
- Witness Christopher Belfrey, 45, told jurors Wednesday he was “startled” by what he saw went to Cup Foods for food on May 25, 2020.
- Cup Foods cashier Christopher Martin, 19, told jurors Wednesday morning that he took the counterfeit $20 bill from George Floyd the day he died.
- Shareeduh Tate, George Floyd’s cousin, is the Floyd family representative in the courtroom for the second time. Tate, 50, is a registered nurse in Houston.
- Genevieve Hansen, 27, a firefighter, briefly returned to the stand Wednesday morning. Hansen said Tuesday if officers had allowed her to assist Floyd, she would have checked for a pulse, called 911 and started chest compressions.
- On Tuesday, four witnesses testified who were minors at the time. Among them was Darnella Frazier, the teenager who recorded the infamous video showing the arrest and death of George Floyd.
Late Wednesday morning, Lead prosecutor Matthew Frank began questioning Christopher Belfrey, 45, who has lived in South Minneapolis for three years.
Belfrey went to Cup Foods for food on May 25, 2020, and parked his red van on the corner of 38th and Chicago behind the blue SUV Mercedes-Benz that George Floyd sat in with two other people. He saw two officers approach the vehicle in front of him, and one of them drew a handgun, pointed it and opened the door at whoever was in the driver’s seat.
He said he was “startled” by what he saw and began recording on his phone. He stopped when he saw the commotion.
In the video exhibit, Officer Thomas Lane is seen with his gun out and then reholsters it. He is then seen talking to Floyd and begins to pull Floyd’s arm to get him out of the car. Officer J. Alexander Keung then comes to help and the two are seen wrestling with Floyd to make him move. Floyd can be heard yelling the word “please,” but the sound isn’t clear.
Cup Foods cashier Christopher Martin, 19, told jurors Wednesday morning that he was the person who took the counterfeit $20 bill from George Floyd — the incident that led to the call to police that brought Chauvin and the other officers to the scene.
Martin said he noticed Floyd was a big man and “sounded a little high.”
Lead prosecutor Matthew Frank played for jurors about 10 minutes of video from inside the store, which initially showed Floyd acting restless as he flipped through bills before roaming the store. Floyd can be seen dancing in line before he tries to buy cigarettes and hands over what was later determined to be a fake $20. Jurors seem riveted by the sight of Floyd as a customer.
‘All from a counterfeit bill’:What we know about fake currency and George Floyd’s death
After Martin sold Floyd a pack of cigarettes, he said he noticed the bill was likely a fake, similar in hue to a $100 bill. He explained that the store’s policy was to dock employee’s salaries for the cost of counterfeit bills they accepted for purchases.
Martin told his manager his suspicions, and the manager told him to leave the store and ask Floyd to return and pay. In his testimony, Martin said Floyd seemed like he was awake, countering defense claims that Floyd was taking a nap. Floyd and the two passengers in the car refused to come back in, so Martin told his manager that he would pay the $20. The manager sent Martin and another employee back out again to confront Floyd.
After Floyd refused to go into the store twice, the manager instructed a different employee to call the police. Martin then noticed the commotion outside. “I saw people yelling and screaming. I saw Derek with his knee on George’s neck on the ground,” he said.
Martin said he recorded part of the confrontation with his phone, but later deleted it because he didn’t want to have to show it to anyone.
Security video outside the store showed Officer Tou Thao pushing one of Martin’s co-workers back on the sidewalk and further from the where Chauvin was atop Floyd. Martin said the video showed the co-worker did not push or touch the police officer.
Martin testified that he experienced emotions of “disbelief and guilt” after Floyd was taken away in an ambulance. “If had just not taken the ($20) bill, this could have been avoided,” he said.
Martin said he ultimately left his job at Cup Foods because he didn’t feel safe.
During cross-examination by Nelson, Martin said he felt that the man who had been with Floyd knew the $20 bill was counterfeit, but he was uncertain about Floyd’s knowledge.
“I though that George (Floyd) maybe didn’t know it was a fake bill,” Martin said.
Attorney Jerry Blackwell, for the state, also said Monday that it was not clear if Floyd knew that the $20 bill was forged. But that regardless, it was a misdemeanor, minor crime.
Under re-direct from Frank, Martin said Floyd seemed “very friendly, approachable, talkative,” but noted again “he did seem high.”
Genevieve Hansen, 27, a Minneapolis firefighter and trained EMT, returned to the witness stand early Wednesday. She said Tuesday that she was off-duty on a walk last Memorial Day when she saw flashing lights and heard a bystander yelling.
Hansen teared up Tuesday during testimony about being blocked from helping Floyd as Chauvin had his knee on Floyd’s neck area.
On Wednesday, she acknowledged on cross examination from defense attorney Eric Nelson that she did not have her work ID with her at the time she came upon the scene.
“I was concerned to see a handcuffed man who was not moving with officers with their whole body weight on his back and a crowd that was stressed out,” Hansen said Tuesday
What you missed from Day 2 of the Chauvin trial: Emotional testimony from teen witnesses
Hansen said she was immediately concerned about Floyd because “he wasn’t moving” and “his face looked puffy and swollen.” She also noticed he was in an altered state, no longer responding to painful stimuli – the knee on his neck with body weight behind it.
She said she immediately identified herself because she thought Floyd “needed medical attention.” Hansen said she would have checked for a pulse, called 911, begun chest compressions and had someone bring over an external defibrillator from the gas station to help restart his heart.
She is heard on video begging officers to check Floyd’s pulse. “I could have given medical assistance, and that’s exactly what I should have done,” she said. “(But) the officers didn’t let me into the scene.”
Hansen said she began recording the scene “because memories of witnesses are never going to be as good as a video.”
In a 911 call Hansen made following the incident, she said, “I literally watched police officers not take a pulse and not do anything to save a man,” according to a recording played for the jury.
Witnesses on Tuesday described attempts to call officers off of George Floyd’s body and said they were frightened to approach the officers, who reached for their chemical spray.
Donald Williams, a mixed martial arts fighter, told the court he was on his way to Cup Foods, where Floyd was arrested, when he encountered Floyd “pleading” for his life. Williams told the court he asked officers to stop the “blood choke,” which is a form of chokehold that renders someone unconscious.
Darnella Frazier, the teen who recorded the viral bystander video of the incident, told jurors said she felt in danger because officers placed their hands on their chemical spray when she or others in the group tried to move closer to Chauvin and Floyd. “I didn’t understand why the Mace was even needed at all,” she said.
Frazier said she has stayed up some nights “apologizing and 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 (Chauvin) should have done.”
Tuesday afternoon, the court heard from Alyssa Nicole Funari, 18, and her 17-year-old friend. The two said they were going to Cup Foods to get an auxiliary cord on the day Floyd died. Funari recorded three videos of the incident with her friend’s phone.
“He looked like he was fighting to breathe,” Funari said of Floyd, adding, “I slowly knew that if he were to be held down much longer he wouldn’t live.”
Funari, crying, said she wanted to intervene but was unable to because “there was a higher power there” – an officer was pushing the crowd back. “There was nothing I could do as a bystander there,” she said, adding, “I couldn’t do physically what I wanted to do.”