Derek Chauvin trial: Cashier who served George Floyd says he appeared ‘high’ shortly before arrest – watch live

The cashier who served George Floyd shortly before his death said the 46-year-old was friendly but appeared to be “high” as he described the “disbelief and guilt” he felt over his fatal arrest.

Christopher Martin, 19, described how his encounter with Mr Floyd in Minneapolis last May led to the unarmed black man being pinned to the ground by Derek Chauvin, the white former police officer charged with his murder.

Mr Martin was testifying on the third day of Mr Chauvin’s trial for second-degree murder and manslaughter and third-degree murder.

He is the latest witness to describe to the court his horror at watching Mr Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, a scene which set off global protests against police brutality and racial injustice.

Juror suffers ‘stress reaction’

Earlier in the day, the trial was briefly halted when a juror said she had suffered a “stress-related reaction” to the proceedings.

The juror, a white woman in her 50s, briefly left the courtroom after indicating she felt unwell. She later told the judge she has been having trouble sleeping.

On Wednesday the court heard a detailed account of the events leading up to Mr Floyd’s arrest for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill to buy cigarettes.

Floyd was ‘friendly and approachable’

Cashier Christopher Martin testifies


Cashier Christopher Martin testifies


Credit: Court TV 

Mr Martin told the court Mr Floyd had been “friendly and approachable” as he served him in the Cup Foods store on May 25.

“But it kind of took him a little long to get to what he was trying to say, so it would appear that he was high,” he said.

CCTV footage of Mr Floyd in the Cup Foods shop showed him smiling and making cheerful conversation inside the shop, at one point putting his arm around a female friend.

Mr Martin said he immediately recognised the $20 that Mr Floyd paid with as a forgery, but accepted it and initially planned to just put the bill on his “tab”.

But he then second-guessed himself and told a manager, who sent him outside to ask Mr Floyd to return to the store.

George Floyd, right, is seen inside Cup Foods on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis


George Floyd, right, is seen inside Cup Foods on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis


Credit: Court TV 

Mr Floyd refused to return and the shop later called the police.

Mr Martin told the court he immediately regretted the incident and watched the police officers’ behaviour with “disbelief and guilt”.

The teenager, who is black, said: “I was standing there on the curb, and I was just like, they’re not going to help him. This is what we have to deal with.”

Mr Martin said he witnessed another officer on the scene, Tou Thao, push another shop worker as he approached the spot where Mr Chauvin was kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck.

CCTV footage from the scene showed Mr Thao pushing the man twice. Asked by prosecutors if Mr Martin saw his colleague touch Mr Thao at any point, he replied: “No”.

Mr Martin said he had filmed Mr Floyd’s arrest on his phone, but later deleted it when he watched an ambulance take Mr Floyd away and concluded he was dead.

“I just didn’t want to have to show it [the footage] to anyone,” he said. He said he later quit his job after the incident because he did not feel safe.

‘There was a man being killed’

Earlier in the trial the jury heard from an off duty Minneapolis firefighter who witnessed the arrest and said she called 911 after police refused to let her give Mr Floyd medical attention. 

Genevieve Hansen, one of several bystanders who witnessed Mr Chauvin pin Mr Floyd face down, cried on the stand on Tuesday as she recounted being unable to check his pulse. 

Genevieve Hansen answers questions on the second day of the trial 


Genevieve Hansen cried on the stand on Tuesday 


Credit: Jane Rosenberg/REUTERS

“There was a man being killed,” said the 27-year-old, who testified in her dress uniform and detailed her emergency medical technician training. 

Ms Hansen was the third eyewitness to tell the jury that the incident led them to call the police.

“I literally watched police officers not take a pulse and not doing anything to save a man,” a distressed Ms Hansen was heard saying in audio of the call.

Mr Chauvin, 45,  was shown frowning as he listened to the audio of the call.

Genevieve Hansen leaves the Hennepin County Government Center after finishing her testimony 


Genevieve Hansen leaves the Hennepin County Government Center after finishing her testimony 


Credit: Scott Olson /Getty

Ms Hansen was later admonished by Judge Peter Cahill over a testy exchange with Mr Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, who highlighted inconsistencies in some of her testimony.

During cross examination, Mr Nelson asked Ms Hansen if she would have found it distracting to be heckled by bystanders while responding to an emergency.

Ms Hansen rejected the suggestion, saying she was “confident” in her job and her training.  

When Mr Nelson asked her if the crowd of bystanders was upset or angry she curtly replied: “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting”.

Later Judge Cahill told her: “Do not argue with the court. Do not argue with counsel.”

She was among several testifying on the second day of the trial of Mr Chauvin, who is accused of murdering 46-year-old Mr Floyd during an arrest in south Minneapolis on May 25 last year. 

Viral footage played in court

Various clips of Mr Floyd being pinned to the ground for more than nine minutes were played throughout the day during the testimony.

Sitting in court during the testimony was Mr Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams.

Mr Williams told a reporter inside the courtroom that he had never watched the horrific footage of his uncle’s arrest. He looked away whenever the footage was shown in the court.

Because of coronavirus-related space constraints, just one member of the Floyd family is allowed to sit in the courtroom each day.

Mr Chauvin’s family has also been allocated one seat, but the spot has remained empty each day, according to a reporter in the room.

A view of the George Floyd mural at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue a day before opening statements in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, in Minneapolis


The death of George Floyd prompted worldwide protests


Credit: Octavio Jones/REUTERS

Another witness described how Mr Chauvin was unmoved by their pleas, including the teenager who shot the harrowing video of the arrest that set off global protests. She said the officer gave the crowd a “cold” and “heartless” stare.

Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she filmed the footage, broke down in tears as she described the impact the events of that day had on her life.

Ms Frazier, whose face was not shown to the public because of her age, said her life had been completely altered by the racial justice movement that grew out of the footage.

“When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, my uncles because they are all black,” she told the court. “And I look at how that could have been one of them.”

Ms Frazier said: “There’s been nights I stayed up apologising and apologising to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life.”

One juror was deeply troubled by Tuesday’s testimony, according to a reporter allowed into the courtroom.

Sitting in court during the testimony was Mr Floyd’s nephew Brandon Williams.

Mr Williams told a reporter inside the courtroom that he had never watched the horrific footage of his uncle’s arrest. He looked away whenever the footage was shown in the court.

Because of coronavirus-related space constraints, just one member of the Floyd family is allowed to sit in the courtroom each day.

Mr Chauvin’s family has also been allocated one seat, but the spot has remained empty each day, according to a reporter in the room.

Protesters demand police reform

Outside the courthouse, a gaggle of protesters settled in for the night to call attention to the urgent need for police reform. 

Kaia Hirt, a high school teacher who had organised the gathering, spent 24 hours chained to a fence outside the courthouse to show support for victims of police killings and their families. 

Grace Busse, a 22-year-old student, relieved Ms Hirt’s position later on Tuesday evening.

Ms Busse said she was there to “keep the focus on social justice reform” as well as Mr Chauvin’s trial. 

“I’m praying for the trial’s outcome,” she told The Telegraph. “But I don’t trust our [justice] system yet.”

Another demonstrator, Ifran, a 43-year-old chef, said she felt optimistic that change was coming to America. 

Ifran said she remembered the 1991 riots that occurred in Los Angeles after Rodney King, a black man, was beaten by police. 

“I watched my city burn. This is a different way of doing things and if I need to be here through the night I’m more than happy to do that,” she said.

“I do not want that [riot] to be repeated whatever the outcome might be. We’re hoping it’s going to be a beautiful thing.”

More Stories
Britons enjoy settled weekend with highs of 60F as winter ends with equinox