The teenager who shot the harrowing video of George Floyd under the knee of the Minneapolis police officer now charged with his death testified on Tuesday that she began recording because “it wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain".
Darnella Frazier, 18, said she was walking to a convenience store with her younger cousin when she came upon the officers and sent the girl into the store because she didn’t want her to see “a man terrified, scared, begging for his life".
Ms Frazier grew emotional at times, breathing heavily and crying as she viewed pictures of Officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on Floyd last May.
Floyd’s death and the video touched off sometimes violent protests around the world and a reckoning over racism and police brutality in the US.
Earlier on Tuesday, a man who was among the onlookers shouting at Mr Chauvin to get off Floyd testified that he called 911 after paramedics took Floyd away, “because I believed I witnessed a murder".
Donald Williams, a former wrestler who said he was trained in mixed martial arts, including chokeholds, returned to the witness box a day after describing seeing Floyd struggle for air and his eyes roll back into his head. He said he watched Floyd "slowly fade away … like a fish in a bag".
On Tuesday, prosecutor Matthew Frank played back Mr Williams’s 911 call, on which he is heard identifying Mr Chauvin by his badge number and telling the dispatcher that Mr Chauvin had been keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck despite warnings that Floyd’s life was in danger. The dispatcher offers to switch him to a sergeant.
As he is being switched, Mr Williams can be heard yelling at the officers: "Y'all is murderers, bro!"
During cross-examination, Chauvin lawyer Eric Nelson sought to show that Mr Chauvin and his fellow officers found themselves in an increasingly tense and distracting situation, with the crowd of onlookers becoming agitated over Floyd’s treatment.
Mr Nelson pointed out that Mr Williams seemed to grow increasingly angry at police on the scene, swearing at and taunting Mr Chauvin with “tough guy”, “bum” and other names, then calling Mr Chauvin expletives, which the lawyer repeated in court.
Williams initially admitted he was becoming angrier, but then backtracked and said he was controlled and professional and was pleading for Floyd’s life but wasn’t being heard.
Mr Williams said he was stepping on and off the kerb, and at one point, Officer Tou Thao, who was controlling the crowd, put his hand on Mr Williams’s chest. Mr Williams admitted under questioning that he told Officer Thao he would beat the officers if he was touched again.
Mr Williams was among the first witnesses as Mr Chauvin, 45, went on trial on charges of murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
Prosecutors led off their case by playing part of the bystander video of Floyd’s arrest. Mr Chauvin and three other officers were fired soon after the footage became public.
Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell showed the jurors the video after telling them that the number to remember was nine minutes, 29 seconds – the amount of time Mr Chauvin had Floyd pinned to the pavement “until the very life was squeezed out of him".
Mr Nelson countered by arguing: "Derek Chauvin did exactly what he had been trained to do over his 19-year career."
The defence also disputed Mr Chauvin was to blame for Floyd’s death, as prosecutors contend.
Floyd, 46, had none of the telltale signs of asphyxiation and had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system, Mr Nelson said.
He said Floyd’s drug use, combined with his heart disease, high blood pressure and the adrenalin flowing through his body caused a heart rhythm disturbance that killed him.