2 views of George Floyd onlookers: Desperate to help, or angry mob

FILE - This May 25, 2020, file image from a police body camera shows bystanders including Alyssa Funari, left filming, Charles McMillan, center left in light colored shorts, Christopher Martin center in gray, Donald Williams, center in black, Genevieve Hansen, fourth from right filming, Darnella Frazier, third from right filming, as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was recorded pressing his knee on George Floyd's neck for several minutes in Minneapolis. To the prosecution, the witnesses who watched Floyd's body go still were regular people -- a firefighter, a mixed martial arts fighter, a high school student and her 9-year-old cousin in a T-shirt emblazoned with the word "Love." (Minneapolis Police Department via AP, File)
FILE - This May 25, 2020, file image from a police body camera shows bystanders including Alyssa Funari, left filming, Charles McMillan, center left in light colored shorts, Christopher Martin center in gray, Donald Williams, center in black, Genevieve Hansen, fourth from right filming, Darnella Frazier, third from right filming, as former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was recorded pressing his knee on George Floyd's neck for several minutes in Minneapolis. To the prosecution, the witnesses who watched Floyd's body go still were regular people -- a firefighter, a mixed martial arts fighter, a high school student and her 9-year-old cousin in a T-shirt emblazoned with the word "Love." (Minneapolis Police Department via AP, File)

To the prosecution, the witnesses who watched George Floyd’s body go still were regular people — a firefighter, a mixed martial arts fighter, a high school student and her 9-year-old cousin in a T-shirt emblazoned with the word “Love” — going about their daily lives when they happened upon the ghastly scene of an officer kneeling on a man’s neck.

“Normal folks, the bystanders,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell called them in his opening statement. “You’re going to see these bystanders, a veritable bouquet of humanity.”

But some of the same people are being portrayed as unruly, angry, even threatening by Eric Nelson, the attorney for Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer charged with murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death. Nelson has told the jury about the hostility the officers faced, how they were distracted and perhaps frightened by people at the scene — repeatedly describing the bystanders as a “crowd,” and calling the neighborhood a “high crime area.”

“As the crowd grew in size, seemingly so too did their anger,” Nelson said in his opening statement on Monday. “And remember, there’s more to the scene than just what the officers see in front of them. There are people behind them, there are people across the street, there are cars stopping, people yelling. There is a growing crowd and what officers perceive to be a threat.”

The carefully calibrated language by each side is no accident. As Nelson cross-examined Donald Williams, a former wrestler and a mixed martial arts fighter who has also worked security, he peppered his questions with the word “crowd": “Have you ever had to deal with a crowd of people?” “Have you ever had to deal with a crowd of people that was upset?" and “Is it easier or harder to deal with a crowd that is upset?”

Video of the scene suggests something less than a crowd — around 15 people can be seen on surveillance video on the sidewalk in front of Cup Foods, where Chauvin pinned Floyd to the street. That camera shows Darnella Frazier, who made the most widely seen bystander video, walking past with her 9-year-old cousin, then returning to begin filming, one of the first people to stop and watch. Others gather, one by one.

A still image of body-camera footage from Officer Tou Thao, who was facing the bystanders and admonishing them to stay on the sidewalk, shows 14 people. At least five are female, including Frazier, her cousin and two teenagers. One bystander is a small child. At least three people have their phones out to capture the scene. Of the 14, only one — a teenage girl two steps into the street with her phone out — is off the sidewalk at that point, although the live video shows others stepping into the street at times.

Nelson has suggested there were others off camera — across the street and on the other side of the intersection — though the broadest camera view so far does not show a crowd at the intersection. He has also highlighted passing cars that may have heightened officers' stress.