The Minneapolis teenager who shot the viral video of George Floyd’s police custody death broke down in court Tuesday when asked to identify ex-cop Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murder in the case — before she described agonizing, sleepless nights apologizing for “not saving his life.”
Darnell Frazier, who was 17 when she captured Floyd’s May 25 death on her mobile phone, started sobbing when prosecutors asked her if she recognized Chauvin in a photo that shows the fallen cop with his knee on Floyd’s neck.
“This was the officer that was kneeling on George Floyd’s neck,” Frazier, now 18, told Jerry Blackwell, a member of the prosecution team.
Frazier’s video of the deadly encounter, the first to go viral, spread on social media, and sparked worldwide protests for racial justice and against police brutality.
In court Tuesday, she recounted the incident during emotional testimony in Hennepin County District Court, where Chauvin is on trial on second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
“He was stating that he was in pain,” she said of Floyd. “He said his neck, his back, everything hurt. ‘I can’t breathe. Mom. I would get up if I could,’ something like that.”
Frazier was part of a crowd of bystanders that gathered at the intersection of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue where Floyd died — many urging the cop to let Floyd up.
“Did Chauvin ever let up or get up off Mr. Floyd?” Blackwell asked.
“No,” Frazier said. “If anything he was actually kneeling harder. Looked like he was shoving his knee in his neck… I felt like he was feeding off of our energy.”
She said Chuavin “had like this cold look. Heartless.”
Frazier said Chauvin even kept his knee on Floyd’s neck when paramedics arrived and took Floyd’s pulse for the first time — nearly four minutes after he stopped moving.
Frazier broke down again under re-direct questioning by Blackwell.
“When I look at George Floyd I look at my dad. I look at my brothers. I look at my cousins, uncles,” she said. “Because they are all black. I have a black father, I have a black brother, I have black friends.”
“And I look at that and I look at how that could’ve been one of them,” Frazier said. “It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing, and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting, in not saving his life.”
“It’s not what I should’ve done,” she said. “It’s what he should’ve done.”
The teen said she had gone to the Cup Foods convenience store at the intersection with her little cousin when she came upon Floyd’s arrest.
Under cross-examination by Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson, Frazier conceded that the crowd at the scene grew as the scene played out and became increasingly loud.
She also said she did not know what communications were taking place between the cops at the scene. The officers called for an ambulance during the encounter.
Frazier was the second witness called by the prosecution on day two of Chauvin’s murder trial — which is expected to take about four weeks.
Three other former Minneapolis police officers — Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng — are due to stand trial on charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter in the case.
Frazier, and bystander Donald Williams, who testified earlier at the trial, both contend that Thao kept eyewitnesses at bay while they pleaded for Floyd’s life.