The teenage store clerk who first confronted George Floyd about his use of a fake $20 bill said in court on Wednesday that he felt “disbelief and guilt” when he saw Derek Chauvin kneeling on Mr. Floyd’s neck in front of the store after a co-worker called 911.
The clerk, Christopher Martin, 19, said he had quickly recognized that the $20 bill that Mr. Floyd used to buy cigarettes at the Cup Foods convenience store on May 25 appeared to be fake. At the urging of a manager, Mr. Martin twice went outside to Mr. Floyd’s car and asked him to come inside the store to pay for the cigarettes or talk with the manager.
Mr. Martin said he thought Mr. Floyd, unlike a friend of Mr. Floyd’s who had tried to use a fake bill earlier that day, had not realized that the bill was fake. “I thought I’d be doing him a favor” by accepting it, Mr. Martin said.
He said the store’s policy at the time was that clerks who accepted a fake bill had to pay to replace it themselves. Mr. Martin said that after Mr. Floyd and a passenger in his car refused to come back into the store, he offered to pay the store for it himself, but his manager later asked another worker to call the police.
Minutes later, Mr. Floyd was handcuffed on the ground under several Minneapolis police officers, and Mr. Martin could be seen on surveillance video with his hands raised over his head.
“If I would’ve just not taken the bill, this could’ve been avoided,” Mr. Martin testified.
During his testimony, prosecutors played surveillance footage from inside Cup Foods for the first time, showing Mr. Floyd chatting and laughing with shoppers and employees as he moved around the store. At one point, he purchased a banana, and at another point he was holding what appeared to be cash.
Mr. Martin said that Mr. Floyd had been friendly when he walked into the store and that the two had briefly discussed sports, but that Mr. Floyd had struggled to finish his sentences and appeared to be high on a drug.
An autopsy determined that Mr. Floyd was intoxicated with fentanyl and had recently used methamphetamines, but prosecutors have argued that the amount of drugs would not have been fatal for him because he had built up a tolerance over years of addiction. Medical experts and discussion of the autopsy are expected to be a major focus of the trial in the coming weeks.
About 30 minutes after the clerk called 911, Mr. Floyd was taken away on a stretcher. Not long after, he was pronounced dead at a hospital.