A witness who saw Minneapolis police officers attempt to take George Floyd into custody broke down on the stand at former Officer Derek Chauvin’s trial Wednesday after prosecutors showed him bodycam footage of the encounter.
Charles McMillian started sobbing when prosecutors played footage of officers struggling to get Floyd into their police vehicle before pinning him to the ground. The footage shows Floyd appearing to resist the officers’ attempts to place him in a squad car, telling them he was claustrophobic. Floyd then called out for his mother and started saying he couldn’t breathe when police put him on the ground.
Asked by the prosecution how he felt watching the incident unfold, McMillian struggled to control his emotions.
“I feel helpless,” McMillian, 61, said through tears. “I don't have a mama either.”
Judge Peter A. Cahill then called for a brief recess.
McMillian said he lives near Cup Foods, the convenience store in front of which Floyd died, and stopped to observe the encounter when he was driving by the scene on May 25, 2020.
In a video shown by prosecutors, McMillian can be heard telling Floyd, “You can’t win,” while standing near the police vehicle and trying to convince Floyd to get into the car when police officers appear to be pushing Floyd into the back seat.
Under questioning from Minnesota Assistant Attorney General Erin Eldridge, who is a part of the prosecution team, McMillian said he was trying to help Floyd make the situation easier.
“I’m watching Floyd saying he’s claustrophobic and I'm trying to get him to understand that once [police] get you in the car [you have to go with them], and I was trying to get him to go,” McMillian told Eldridge.
McMillian is the 11th witness to testify at the trial. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death.
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