A former Minneapolis convenience store cashier who claimed George Floyd gave him a counterfeit $20 bill testified on Wednesday he felt “disbelief and guilt” as he later watched the 46-year-old Black man being pinned to the ground by police.
“If I would’ve just not [taken] the bill, this could’ve been avoided,” said Christopher Martin, 19, who had been an employee at the Cup Foods store.
WATCH | George Floyd in Minneapolis convenience store
Martin was testifying on the third day of the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in the death of Floyd. Floyd died after Chauvin pressed a knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video captured by a bystander showed the handcuffed Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.
Chauvin, who was fired from the police force after Floyd’s death, is also charged with the lesser offence of second-degree manslaughter.
Along with Martin’s testimony, the Hennepin County District Court also saw about 10 minutes of video footage of Floyd inside the Cup Foods convenience store, where he had gone to buy some cigarettes.
In the video, Floyd can be seen walking through the store, waiting in line, laughing, and doing what appears to be a brief dance.
Martin testified that Floyd was very friendly, approachable and talkative and that he had asked Floyd if he played baseball.
‘Appeared he was high’
Floyd responded that he played football but it took him a little long to “get to what he wanted to say” and that it “appeared he was high,” Martin told the court.
Martin said he sold Floyd a pack of cigarettes, at which time Floyd handed him a $20 bill. When Floyd left the store, Martin said he examined the bill and determined, because it had a “blue pigment” to it, that it was counterfeit.
Martin also noted that the store’s policy is that counterfeit bills that are accepted by the cashiers will come out of their salary.
He said he initially planned to just put the bill on his “tab” and that he thought Floyd “didn’t really know that it was a fake bill.”
However, Martin notified the store manager, who told Martin to go outside and ask Floyd to come back into the store.
Refused to come back
Martin said he attempted that twice, once with one co-worker, and a second time with two different co-workers. Both times, Martin said, Floyd refused to come back into the store.
It was after the second refusal that the manager told another co-worker to call the police.
After police arrived, Martin said he went outside as people were gathering on the curb and yelling at the officers who were confronting Floyd. He then called his mother, with whom he lived in an apartment upstairs, and told her to stay inside. He then took out his phone and began recording.
Martin testified he saw one of the officers, Tou Thao, push one of his co-workers. Martin said he also held back another man who was trying to defend himself after being pushed by Thao.
Under cross examination by Chauvin’s defence counsel Eric Nelson, Martin told court that Floyd had been in the store earlier with another man. That man, said Martin, had been caught trying to pass off a counterfeit $20 bill, one that looked similar to the bill Floyd had paid with, Martin said.
The prosecution claims Chauvin crushed his knee into Floyd’s neck, an application of unreasonable force that it says led to his death later in hospital. But Chauvin’s defence argues the 19-year veteran police officer did exactly as he had been trained to do and that Floyd’s death was the result of a combination of underlying medical conditions and drugs in his system.
Three other officers at the scene were fired. Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, and will go on trial in August.