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Tuesday, August 3, 2021
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‘He was high’: store cashier who chatted with Floyd testifies at ex-officer’s trial

A cashier who was one of the last people to speak with George Floyd before his deadly arrest last May testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial in Minneapolis on Wednesday (March 31) that Floyd appeared to be high on drugs but was able to make conversation.

Chauvin, who is white, was fired by the city’s police department the day after he was captured on video with his knee on the neck of Floyd, a Black man in handcuffs, and has pled not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges.

The jury watched video on Wednesday that showed a cheerful-looking Floyd in his final minutes inside a grocery store before he ended up below Chauvin on the road outside.

Several eyewitnesses, one a child of nine, have spent the last two days describing to the jury the shock of watching Floyd’s dying struggle beneath Chauvin. Video footage of the arrest on May 25, 2020, sparked global protests decrying police brutality against Black people.

It was Christopher Martin, a cashier at the Cup Foods grocery store, who accepted the $20 bill that triggered everything that followed. Martin thought the bill was fake, told his manager for fear it would be docked from his wages, and a few minutes later police were arresting Floyd on suspicion of passing a counterfeit.

Silent security-camera video played for the jury shows Floyd dressed in a black tank top approaching Cup Food’s counter with a banana in hand, smiling and making cheerful conversation and putting his arm around a female friend. Floyd appears to be filled with energy and constantly in motion, at one point almost dancing on the spot, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.

Martin, 19, told the jury that he made conversation with Floyd, asking him if he played baseball. Floyd replied that he played football, Martin said, “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.”

Soon after, Martin sold him a pack of cigarettes. He told the jury he thought the bill was counterfeit and considered just letting the store deduct it from his wages, but then decided to tell his manager, who told Martin to go and confront Floyd, who had got back into a car outside.

Although the county medical examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide resulting from the police restraint, fentanyl and methamphetamine was found in Floyd’s blood at autopsy and Chauvin’s lawyers argue the death was really a drug overdose.

(Production: Vanessa Johnston)

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