MINNEAPOLIS – After the ambulance took George Floyd away, the Minneapolis officer who had pinned his knee on the Black man’s neck defended himself to a bystander by saying Floyd was “a sizable guy” and “probably on something,” according to police video played in court Wednesday.
The video was part of a mountain of footage — both official and amateur — and witness testimony at Officer Derek Chauvin 's murder trial that all together showed how Floyd's alleged attempt to pass a phony $20 bill at a neighborhood market last May escalated into tragedy one video-documented step at a time.
A security-camera scene of people joking around inside the store soon gave way to the sight of officers pulling Floyd from his SUV at gunpoint, struggling to push him into a squad car as he writhed and screamed that he was claustrophobic, and then putting him on the pavement.
When Floyd was finally taken away by paramedics, Charles McMillian, a 61-year-old bystander who recognized Chauvin from the neighborhood, told the officer he didn't respect what Chauvin had done.
“That’s one person’s opinion," Chauvin could be heard responding. "We gotta control this guy ’cause he’s a sizable guy ... and it looks like he’s probably on something.”
Floyd was 6-foot-4 and 223 pounds, according to the autopsy, which also found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system. Chauvin's lawyer said the officer is 5-foot-9 and 140 pounds.
Chauvin, 45, is charged with murder and manslaughter, accused of killing the 46-year-old Floyd by kneeling on his neck for 9 minutes, 29 seconds, as he lay face-down in handcuffs. The most serious charge against the now-fired white officer carries up to 40 years in prison.
Floyd’s death, along with the harrowing bystander video of him gasping for breath as onlookers yelled at Chauvin to get off him, triggered sometimes violent protests around the world and a reckoning over racism and police brutality across the U.S.