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Surveillance Video of George Floyd in Store Played at Derek Chauvin Trial. Aired 11-11:30a ET

Aired March 31, 2021 - 11:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


(SURVEILLANCE VIDEO OF GEORGE FLOYD IN STORE)

[11:01:13]

MATTHEW FRANK, PROSECUTING ATTORNEY: Mr. Martin, let me pause this right here. For the record 7:44:36. We see you standing at the cashier area and seems to be speaking with Mr. Floyd, correct?

CHRISTOPHER MARTIN, CUP FOODS EMPLOYEE: Correct.

FRANK: And were you able to understand the conversation with him at that point?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: So let's keep rolling then, please.

(SURVEILLANCE VIDEO OF GEORGE FLOYD IN STORE)

FRANK: Let's stop here for the record at 7:44:49.

Where are you now with Mr. Floyd?

MARTIN: In the tobacco section of the store.

FRANK: And did you, in fact, sell him something there?

MARTIN: I did.

FRANK: Do you recall what it was you sold to him?

MARTIN: A pack of cigarettes.

FRANK: We saw you reach over to your left. Is that where the cigarettes were stored?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: And so, had he already told you at that point what he wanted?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: And you didn't have any difficulty understanding what he wanted to buy from you? MARTIN: No.

FRANK: And then did you complete that transaction?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: And after that, what did Mr. Floyd do?

MARTIN: He ten went back outside to his vehicle.

FRANK: All right. So, we'll let this run to its end.

(SURVEILLANCE VIDEO OF GEORGE FLOYD IN STORE)

FRANK: Now, I'll freeze it here. Sorry. I said I was going to let it run. We saw you holding something up. Can you describe, for the record, this is 7:45:10, describe what you were doing there?

MARTIN: I was holding up the $20 bill I just received.

FRANK: Is that something you always do or something about this?

MARTIN: No. When I saw the bill, I noticed it had a blue pigment to it, kind of like a $100 bill would have. I found that odd. So, I assumed that it was fake.

FRANK: OK. But Mr. Floyd is still there, correct?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: You completed the transaction?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: And then upon doing that, did he leave the store?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: So now let's let that run, please.

(SURVEILLANCE VIDEO OF GEORGE FLOYD IN STORE)

FRANK: After you looked at the bill, though, he didn't leave immediately, did he?

MARIN: No.

(SURVEILLANCE VIDEO OF GEORGE FLOYD IN STORE)

FRANK: All right. So, that's the end of exhibit 29. I believe the time there is 7:45:51, correct?

Well, I'm asking you. You saw the time stamp on there.

MARTIN: Correct.

FRANK: We can look at other video to determine if that time is correct. That's the time he left the store on this video.

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: All right. After he left, did you look at the bill again?

MARTIN: I did.

FRANK: At the time you were working on May 25th, 2020, what was the store policy about cashiers accepting $20 bills?

[11:05:06]

MARTIN: The policy was if you took a counterfeit bill, you would have to pay for it out of your money or your paycheck.

FRANK: It gives you an incentive to be careful about what you take.

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: So, did you think that bill might not be legitimate?

MARTIN: I did.

FRANK: What did you decide to do?

MARTIN: I took it anyways and I was planning to just put it on my tab until I second-guessed myself. As you can see in the video, I kept examining it, and then I eventually told my manager.

FRANK: All right.

And when you told your manager, what happened next? What was -- what were you told to do?

MARTIN: He told us to go out to the vehicle and to ask him to come inside to discuss what just happened.

FRANK: When you say vehicle, what are you referring to?

MARTIN: The car or the SUV I think that George Floyd was in.

FRANK: How did you know that?

MARTIN: I could see from where I was standing in tobacco in the store.

FRANK: So, we know from the video those windows we could see where that bus was, that's actually Chicago, correct?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: Thirty-eighth runs along the back side of the store?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: Is there a way to look then out onto 38th from the store? MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: I guess what I'm questioning is how did you know he was in that vehicle?

MARTIN: I watched him walk to it.

FRANK: Pretty good way to know.

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: You saw him going to that vehicle after he made this purchase?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: So your manager -- what were your instructions?

MARTIN: Just to go out to the vehicle and ask him to come inside to talk to the manager.

FRANK: And did you, in fact, do that?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: When you went out there -- let me ask you this. How many times did you go out there?

MARTIN: Twice.

FRANK: So, let's talk about the first time you went out there. Did you go by yourself or with some other people?

MARTIN: The first time I went with one other person.

FRANK: Right, and you are aware that there is a security video of the restaurant across the street, correct?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: That's the Driving Wok is the restaurant?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: Prior to coming to court, we showed you security video that captured you and other employees going out to the vehicle, correct?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: And that also shows -- we also used some of the footage from inside the store to show when you guys leave the store to go out there, is that correct?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: The review of that video, does it fairly and accurately depict the times that you and other employees went out to the SUV about the bill?

MARTIN: Yes.

FRANK: We're going to offer Exhibit 31.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No objection.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It will be received.

FRANK: And, again, Mr. Martin --

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to hold on. Let's take a quick stretch break. Why don't we take five minutes?

BIANNA GOLODRYGA, CNN ANCHOR: Hello, everyone. I'm Bianna Golodryga. Thanks so much for joining me.

We've been watching day three of the trial of Derek Chauvin. I want to go straight to our Laura Coates to talk about what we just heard.

Laura, we have been hearing from Chris Martin, an employee at cup foods that actually sold those cigarettes to George Floyd. Tell us your reaction to what you just heard from him.

LAURA COATES, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: Well, he also spoke about how his initial impression of George Floyd was that he was under the influence of something and talked about now infamous apparently counterfeit or is perceived counterfeit $20 bill. This is very important because it's coming through a prosecution witness, Bianna, which means they're trying to head off what the defense strategy is going to be.

You want to lead with your trump in most instances, but give the bad facts, take the wind out of the sails out of a defense argument of, a- ha, here's a gotcha moment. As long as they present it and they're able to say, here is the dirty laundry, we're going to air it. And now, we're going to be systematically, you know, do away with it in the course of our prosecution strategy. You're seeing that play out right now.

COATES: I want to bring in Charles Ramsey as well, CNN law enforcement analyst and former Philadelphia police commissioner.

Chief Ramsey, it's interesting that we heard from Chris Martin, because as Laura Coates said, that this was sort of a preemptive approach in talking about what we conveyed earlier, what we heard from the defense attorney and talking about what Chris Coates had said and he said -- Chris Martin had said. And he said, you will hear from Chris Martin who is the store clerk at Cup Foods.

[11:10:03]

Mr. Martin observed Mr. Floyd. He watched his body language. He interacted with Mr. Floyd in this moment.

And Mr. Martin formed the opinion that Mr. Floyd was under the influence of something. We heard him reiterate that as well. Why was that significant and is it in your opinion?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Well, yeah, it is significant. But what's also significant, the prosecutor didn't let it just sit there. He followed up by asking questions, like did you understand what he was asking for, did you hold a conversation with him, to show he wasn't totally out of it. He may have been high, but he was still in control and lucid. I think that was important as well. He just didn't leave it hanging there. He appeared to be under the influence. He took it further than that.

GOLODRYGA: Right, because the defense's strategy is to focus as much as they can on George Floyd and whatever drugs or whatever influence he had been under that day. As we heard from Chris Murphy there, he said he was able to have a conversation with George Floyd, even understanding, however, that he did appear to be high. He asked him whether he was a baseball player.

What else stood out to you in that video, Chief Ramsey?

RAMSEY: Well, I mean, I was always wondering exactly when this whole transfer of the $20 bill took place, and now we know. I mean, Floyd spent quite a bit of time in that store before he made that purchase. I was a little surprised at that.

Oftentimes when you have someone, if they are knowingly going to try to do something like that, they certainly don't spend a whole lot of time in a store. They get something kind of in and out, and then stay in the vehicle right outside the store afterwards. So, that's kind of interesting and unusual. But again, you know, I don't know if it really proves anything.

You know, George Floyd may have been high, but he certainly was not high to a point where he was about to pass out or succumb to any kind of drug overdose. At least not at that time.

GOLODRYGA: Right. And you saw there were others in the store as well. Nobody seemed to be distraught, at least from what we saw on video, as to his behavior. They didn't seem aware of anything he had been doing and were sort of going about their own business.

I want to go now to CNN's Omar Jimenez who is joining us from outside the courthouse in Minneapolis. You have now been watching this. This is day three of testimony. Give us a sense of what the atmosphere is like on the ground there.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Bianna, as you can imagine, like people across the country, people here in Minneapolis especially are watching this very, very closely.

I mean, when you go back a little over ten months, the saga the city has been through from those initial moments we saw in the surveillance video in Cup Foods, all the way leading up to now -- this has been a long time coming. And, of course, we're now getting context from what led up to that initial 911 call or the initial call to police, I should say, about a counterfeit $20 bill that brought these officers to the scene in the first place. We're seeing that surveillance video being played of George Floyd

walking through the Cup Foods, having conversations it seems with some of the store employees. Christopher Martin, who was on -- who has been on the stand testifying that he believed Floyd was on some drugs, but that he was able to still carry on a conversation with him.

One of the more interesting parts came from the decision the cashier was wrestling with. When he got the bill, he was holding it up into the light. He mentioned the store policy was, that if you take a counterfeit $20 bill, you have to pay for it out of your own paycheck. He said initially he was going to do that. But he pointed out in the video himself, he kept examining it, he second-guessed himself. Then went and spoke with the manager.

They both said, well, we have to go speak to him. Floyd who is now in a vehicle parked across the street. And as we understand, the cashier said he went out there twice. That's sort of where we left things. We can imagine that timeline will continue to move forward when we get back from that short five-minute break.

But all of this adds context to the record of what happened that day on May 25th, 2020. Yesterday was dominated by eyewitness testimony to Floyd being under the knee of Derek Chauvin, people steps away. We got the latter portion, literally, five minutes of the firefighter and trained EMT testimony, Genevieve Hansen, when we started the day today.

And now, we're seeming to add some context to what began this series of events that, of course, sparked what we've seen unfold over the past ten months or so -- Bianna.

GOLODRYGA: And, Omar, thank you.

I want to go back to Laura Coates because you get chills when you think about what could have been if, in fact, Chris Martin, had taken out his own money instead of going to the manager and subsequently then going out to the car and we know what unfolded then.

[11:15:02]

The whole country changed in the moments and hours after that.

But talk about how he described holding up that $10 bill and seeing that blue mark and what that meant to you in terms of his response and what happened in the moments after.

COATES: You know, I spend very little time thinking about all the things that took place prior to the police being called, not because it's irrelevant entirely, but because of what's happening right now to pre-focus on what the jurors are going to be thinking about. And that is, Derek Chauvin is on trial for the use of excessive force in the form of murder, two charges, and manslaughter.

What took place before gives you the context about why officers were called. It's important to set the stage and to establish just how many people were touched over the course of the interaction. It shows you the video of his body language, the idea of whether other people were threatened around him in that moment, his ability to control his faculties contrastingly to what happened when he was on the ground, et cetera, all that gives context.

But it does not -- does not allow the prosecution or the defense to go away from what the true meat of the matter is, which is once use of force was used and applied to George Floyd, should it have continued, was it reasonable and was the kneeling on the neck the substantial causal factor in his killing? You look at what happened in terms of the counterfeit bill, all very colorful and formative in trying to talk about what his demeanor was like, to give impressions, whether he went out to the car multiple times.

I'm waiting to hear from his witness why he had to go out twice? Was George Floyd combative in some way? Was he refusing to come in? Was that a physical event? Is that the reason the police officers were called, et cetera? That's important.

But in terms of all the precipitating factors before that, I focus as a prosecutor, what is the actual charge? What is the moment in time that needs to be focused on? It's the use of force, the kneeling on the neck for the duration of 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

GOLODRYGA: It's a reminder, a good reminder there that this is a trial of Derek Chauvin, right? And Derek Chauvin is not involved in this video right now. That is what the defense said. There's much more to this case than just those nine minutes and 29 seconds. That's what we're seeing here now. It's still hard to piece together how that can lead to George Floyd's death and that torturous video we were watching.

I want to slip in a quick break. We'll return with our panel and day three of testimony in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

We'll be right back.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)

GOLODRYGA: And welcome back, everybody. I'm Bianna Golodryga. We have been watching day three in the trial of Derek Chauvin.

The judge has now issued a five-minute break, as soon as the trial resumes. We will bring back to the courtroom.

But for now, I want to have more analysis with our panel. CNN senior legal analyst and former federal prosecutor, Laura Coates, as well as Charles Ramsey, CNN law enforcement analyst and former Philadelphia police commissioner.

Chief Ramsey, let me ask you what, if anything, stood out to you in that video. I'm asking from the perspective of the defense's argument, in that George Floyd was under the influence and thus led to the subsequent violent exchange or the difficulty in restraining him with Derek Chauvin. What, if anything, stood out to you by his body language, by his demeanor during the few minutes we saw ahead of time? RAMSEY: I think what the defense will do is play on this whole notion

that the witness stated he thought Mr. Floyd was high at the time. I think it can also show something else not in favor of the defendant. You know, for most people, myself included, the only picture we have seen of George Floyd is him laying in a prone position with a knee on his neck.

Now you get a chance to see what he was like before all that happened. He's calm. He's walking around. He's talking to people. He's not aggressive. I mean, he's not attacking employees or anyone else in the store.

And so, people get a little different picture of him prior to the encounter with the police. That may not necessarily work in the defense's favor in my opinion. I mean, you want to see something about the whole person, not just the end of his life, but what was he doing immediately before the police even arrived at the scene? How was he behaving? How was he acting?

And that could cut both ways as far as an argument. The defense and the prosecution can use that as well.

GOLODRYGA: That is really interesting. It's the first time we're seeing George Floyd live just a few moments before he was killed. It's the first time we're seeing him in exchanges with other people, his full body demeanor.

And I'm curious, Laura Coates, how the jurors will be approaching this video, because for them, this may be the first time they have seen him as well.

COATES: And remember, just two days ago may have been the first time that several of the jurors had even seen the video of him in a prone position with the knee on the neck. In the voir dire, not everyone said they had seen the whole video, either that it was so disturbing or they'd only seen it once. None of us had seen that full 9 minutes and 29-second video.

And so, jurors are looking at this to look at the body language. And they're remembering, it's very close in time, the defense's statements about how three men could not subdue. This is the open statement, three men, three officers, could subdue George Floyd. They talked about his weight and his height compared to the weight and height of then-Officer Chauvin.

[11:25:02]

And now you have an employee who's testifying that he had a conversation, thought he may have been a baseball player because of his size. It's not an indication that he was combative, that he was domineering towards anyone, or anyone around him, including a little toddler walking around in the store, a pregnant woman walked into the store. Several people walked by George Floyd.

You didn't see anyone grab at anything or flinch their bodies away, even absorbing this person, even the store employee who believed he was under the influence wasn't shirking away or feeling he was threatened. And the store manager had an employee, not an officer, go out to speak to him more than once.

This is not indicative of somebody who was physically threatening to people, who made everyone uncomfortable and made the officers feel as though they had to be on notice, that there was somebody they would have to subdue for any period of time, let alone all that period of time.

So, this is ought the contextual clues the jurors are looking at in saying, and also, as Charles Ramsey pointed out, you're talking about a human being who was walking around, who maybe he handed a $20 counterfeit bill, maybe he was high. Is that a death sentence by an officer with a knee to the neck? Is that worthy of that moment? Those jurors are thinking about that in this moment.

GOLODRYGA: And I'm also thinking, Chief Ramsey, in addition to the other customers who are coming and going and minding their own business and didn't seem to be distracted at all by George Floyd, but there were a number of store employees who are there as well, and I would imagine that they have experiences with many people coming and going and what to look out for in signs of trouble, or who to watch out for, and become apprehensive about.

You see many of them having side conversations, very relaxed. It didn't seem as though they had been alarmed by what they witnessed from George Floyd.

RAMSEY: Yeah, if he hadn't tried to pass that $20 bill, the police never would have been called.

GOLODRYGA: Yeah.

RAMSEY: And I would bet that there have been times when Cup Foods has had to call the police for a disturbance inside the store, that is not unusual, because of the behavior of an individual. That would not have happened in this case based on what you see in that video.

The reason the police were called is because he ride to pass the $20 bill. That was the only reason. Nothing to do with his behavior other than that.

So, I think it paints a different picture of an individual, of George Floyd, because again, all of us, most of us have only seen him in one position on the ground. We didn't know -- what was he like before, you know? Was he being aggressive toward anybody that would lead you to believe that he was going to be a suspect that high levels of force would have to be used against him. So far, I have not seen that.

GOLODRYGA: And, Laura, something you said earlier this morning really stood out. And that was in terms of what the defense is trying to say here. And their argument is that the police, in particular, Officer Chauvin, were distracted by the crowd surrounding them, the number of people that were watching over those 9 minutes and 29 seconds and that that was why they were distracted from administering aid. You make the comparison of what happened on January 6th and the insurrection that I'm sure many of the jurors watched play out as well. You see in real time what happens when police are distracted, what happens when police are under duress. And you can't compare the two.

COATES: No, you can't. I find myself smirking, as I'm sure jurors were and jurors in the court of public opinion, because sometimes lawyers write their questioning early on. They probably were preparing for the trial for quite some time. They had some of the evidence accessible to them. And they probably thought, well, here is a good strategy.

Then you've got this close in time, universally recognizable reference point of the insurrection. America knows what it looks like to have an unruly crowd that can overwhelm police officers. One officer who passed away lied in repose in the Capitol rotunda. We were all aware of what happens when officers are overwhelmed.

That was not what was happening here, and the different vantage points that we saw throughout the testimony yesterday, Bianna, really honed in on that. We didn't see from one angle head on. We saw it from the other side, from the perspective, of course, of what the onlookers and bystanders.

It wasn't a huge, massive crowd. And again, there were four armed officers on the scene who were not even moved or in any way uncomfortable by cars. You know, I actually owned a home when I first was practicing law in Minneapolis a couple blocks from where this all happened.

It was the first home I was able to buy. I was very proud having the opportunity to do so. So, it very hits close to home.

This is a major street we're talking about. It's not a cul-de-sac in a quiet, residential area. There were cars going back and forth, Bianna.

So, they're moved by the cars. They weren't impacted by the crowd in the certain extent. And so, this is really in many respects, as Ramsey was speaking about, I'm waiting to see the body cam footage from these officers to hear the conversations.

I doubt that they were truly scared of this crowd, and this defense strategy will fall by the wayside.

GOLODRYGA: Derek Chauvin's hand didn't move from his pocket the entire time. I mean, you're talking about body language, I don't know anyone who is under distress and just keeps their hands.