Darnella Frazier’s video exposed George Floyd’s killing. Her testimony exposed Derek Chauvin
Darnella Frazier. She’s the 18-year-old who filmed then-Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin as he pressed his knee into George Floyd’s neck. Yesterday, in tearful testimony at Chauvin’s murder trial, she recalled how the horror of that day stays with her, even now.
“I stay up at night apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more … not saving his life,” Frazier told the jury, before adding “It’s not what I should have done; it’s what [Chauvin] should have done.”
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He faces a maximum of 40 years in prison on the most serious charge.
Frazier, who filmed the video of the incident that eventually went viral, explained what she saw in horrifying detail. She told the jury that Chauvin continued to kneel on Floyd’s neck even after a woman in the crowd said she was a firefighter and begged the officers to let her check Floyd’s pulse.
In her own testimony, that firefighter, Genevieve Hansen, told jurors that, “There was a man being killed. I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human was denied that right.”
In essence, George Floyd was treated like he had no rights at all. According to Frazier’s 9-year-old cousin, who also witnessed Floyd’s death, watching Floyd die impacted her emotionally, and with a child’s innocence she explained how it made her feel.
“I was sad and kind of mad, because it felt like he was stopping his breathing, and it was kind of like hurting him,” she said in her testimony, and in many ways her words captured what so many others felt while watching the video of the incident.
The sad fact, the infuriating fact, is that Chauvin did not act alone. The three other officers on the scene allowed Floyd’s death to take place. Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng helped to restrain Floyd while Chauvin knelt on his neck. Tou Thao helped to hold back the onlookers, who were growing increasingly insistent while begging Chauvin to take his knee off Floyd’s neck.
All three officers have been fired and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
In my view, those charges are appropriate, because those officers did nothing as the crowd begged Chauvin to stop. And as the pleas of the onlookers grew louder, Frazier testified, Chauvin “just stared at us, looked at us. He had like this cold look, heartless. He didn’t care.”
Chauvin must be made to care now. He must be found guilt, and he must be given the maximum sentence. But this is not just about one police officer. This is about a system that puts officers like him on the street. This is about the truth a white firefighter named Genevieve Hansen shared about a Black man named George Floyd. He was a human, and he was denied the most basic right of all—the right to live.
Photo: Derek Chauvin By: ruperto miller