The Backstory: Derek Chauvin trial, repeated showing of George Floyd video, traumatizes witnesses, community — and journalists

I’m USA TODAY editor-in-chief Nicole Carroll, and this is The Backstory, insights into our biggest stories of the week. If you’d like to get The Backstory in your inbox every week, sign up here.

The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin paused for 10 minutes Wednesday to give a witness time to compose himself. Charles McMillian was driving May 25 when he saw officers struggling with George Floyd by a blue Mercedes. He stopped and got out of his car to see what was going on, and became one of the earliest witnesses to the scene. 

“I was looking away, then, when I turned back, I saw Mr. Floyd handcuffed. Then they started to walk him down the sidewalk,” McMillian said. 

Soon Floyd was on the ground, Chauvin’s knee on his neck. In the court video, McMillian appeared to be about 10 to 12 feet away. He moved closer as Floyd called for his mother and yelled, “I can’t breathe.” On the stand, McMillian took off his glasses and wiped his eyes.

“Oh my God,” he said.

That’s when Judge Peter Cahill ordered a 10-minute recess. When court resumed, the video did, too, and two Black men on the jury were stone-faced. Rodney Floyd, George Floyd’s brother who was sitting in the courtroom, held his hands and looked down, shaking his head and refusing to watch. Chauvin wrote on a notepad, and then looked up at the video.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.