MINNEAPOLIS — The teenager who recorded the infamous video showing the arrest and death of George Floyd testified Tuesday in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin.
Darnella Frazier, then 17 years old, said she was taking her 9-year-old cousin to nearby Cup Foods when she saw “a man terrified, scared, begging for his life.”
“It wasn’t right,” she said Tuesday. “He was suffering, he was in pain.”
At times, Frazier’s voice broke and she began to cry during the emotional testimony.
Responding to a question from prosecutor Jerry Blackwell, Frazier said she would not characterize the group on the sidewalk watching Floyd’s arrest as an unruly crowd. She said no one threatened the police or got physically violent toward the officers. The only violence she witnessed was “from the cops, from Chauvin and Officer (Tou) Thao.”
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Frazier said she felt threatened when officers moved to remove a chemical spray from their equipment belt as those in the group tried to move closer to Chauvin and Floyd.
“I didn’t understand why the Mace was even needed at all,” she said.
She said as bystanders urged Chauvin to check Floyd’s pulse, he continued to kneel on Floyd’s neck.
“He actually was kneeling harder,” Frazier said. “He was shoving his knee in his neck.”
Before Frazier took the stand Tuesday, Hennepin County Circuit Judge Peter Cahill ruled that livestream video of the courtroom would be cut off during the testimony of anyone who was a minor, in order to “to give them comfort” during the high profile trial.
Frazier’s video sparked nationwide protests against racism and police brutality. Frazier was taking her cousin to nearby Cup Foods when she saw four officers taking Floyd from his vehicle and pulled out her phone to record, her attorney Seth Cobin told the Star Tribune in June.
Cobin acknowledged that as Frazier’s video went viral, she became the target of social media backlash. He told the Star Tribune that Frazier wasn’t looking to be a hero and is “just a 17-year-old high school student, with a boyfriend and a job at the mall, who did the right thing. She’s the Rosa Parks of her generation.”
In December, Frazier virtually accepted the 2020 PEN/Benenson Courage Award from Oscar-winning director Spike Lee for capturing Floyd’s death.
More: George Floyd’s death was traumatizing for Black teens in Minneapolis, who fear the trial will be just as painfulDuring the first week of jury selection, Frazier shared her thoughts on the case on Facebook, saying Chauvin “deserves to go down.”
“George Floyd was already cuffed on the ground, a knee to the neck when you’re already restrained is absolutely unnecessary,” she wrote. “That man was begging for his life and Chauvin did not care.”
Follow N’dea Yancey-Bragg on Twitter: @NdeaYanceyBragg