Months before the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former police officer who was convicted of killing George Floyd, millions of people around the world watched footage of Mr. Floyd’s death that had been recorded by a teenage witness.
Darnella Frazier was 17 when she recorded the cellphone video and uploaded it to Facebook in May, igniting international protests over racism and police abuse.
Ms. Frazier, now 18, was among the first witnesses called to testify by the prosecution. She said in court that she felt regret for not physically engaging the four officers at the scene, but that they were the ones ultimately at fault.
“It’s been nights I stayed up apologizing and apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more and not physically interacting and not saving his life,” Ms. Frazier said. She added, seemingly referring to Mr. Chauvin, “But it’s like, it’s not what I should have done, it’s what he should have done.”
Ms. Frazier has largely stayed out of the spotlight since Mr. Floyd’s death, but she said his death has haunted her and that she has anxiety. Her voice was emotional on the stand and she cried several times during her testimony, which was off-camera.
“When I look at George Floyd, I look at my dad, I look at my brothers, I look at my cousins, my uncles, because they’re all Black,” Ms. Frazier said. “I have a Black father. I have a Black brother. I have Black friends.
She added: “I look at how that could have been one of them.”
On the day of Mr. Floyd’s death, Ms. Frazier said, she had been walking to the Cup Foods convenience store with her 9-year-old cousin to get some snacks when they came upon the arrest.
“I see a man on the ground, and I see a cop kneeling down on him,” Ms. Frazier said. She described seeing Mr. Floyd “terrified, scared, begging for his life.”
Ms. Frazier said that as a crowd of bystanders yelled more loudly at the officers, Mr. Chauvin reached for his mace. “I felt in danger when he did that,” she said.
She made one of her first public comments last month, as the jury was being selected, when she wrote on Facebook and Instagram that Mr. Chauvin “deserves to go down” and wondered openly “what else got covered up if it was no evidence to see what really happened.”