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Voices From The Trial Over George Floyd's Killing


This city is reliving a traumatic summer through the trial of Derek Chauvin. He's the white former Minneapolis police officer accused of murdering George Floyd, a Black man, last May. Floyd's death was, of course, the spark that ignited global protests and a national reckoning with racism and police brutality that continues to this day. So we want to begin the program today with some of the intensely emotional testimony heard so far at the trial.

The witnesses this week were all called by the prosecution as it builds the case for a conviction. Chauvin's defense team will have their turn later on. Among the most stirring moments on the stand came from Darnella Frazier, now 18. It was her cell phone video posted online of Floyd's arrest and killing that was seen by millions.


DARNELLA FRAZIER: It's been nights I've stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life. But it's, like - it's not what I should have done. It's what he should have done.

FADEL: He meaning then-officer Derek Chauvin, who prosecutors said pinned Floyd's neck to the ground with his knee for nine minutes and 29 seconds. Another witness at the scene that day, 61-year-old Charles McMillian, broke down in tears while watching footage of Floyd struggling to breathe and calling out for his mother.


CHARLES MCMILLIAN: I feel helpless. I don't have a mama either. I understand him.

FADEL: George Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, took the stand as well and choked up throughout her testimony. She cried as she remembered their relationship and the moment they met.


COURTENEY ROSS: I was so tired. We'd been through so much, my sons and I. And this kind person just to come up to me and say, can I pray with you when I felt alone in this lobby - it was so sweet.

FADEL: Over and over again, the prosecutors played videos of George Floyd's last moments from every angle, a member of his family in court each day, listening, watching, reliving their loved one's death. And at the end of the week, the police began to testify against its own, a rare occurrence. The most senior officer in the Minneapolis Police Department, Lieutenant Richard Zimmerman, called Chauvin's use of force while restraining Floyd, quote, "totally unnecessary."


RICHARD ZIMMERMAN: Pulling him down to the ground face-down and putting your knee on the neck for that amount of time - it's just uncalled for. I saw no reason why the officers felt they were in danger, if that's what they felt. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.