A teenager who witnessed the death of George Floyd at the hands of Derek Chauvin, believes the police officer knew he had killed the father-of-five but decided to keep quiet, for fear of aggravating the situation further.
Kaylynn Gilbert, 17, was one of those who could do nothing but watch on helplessly as she begged for Chauvin to stop kneeling on Floyd’s neck, one year ago today.
Although she questions her own actions and wonders if she could have done anything more to prevent the black man’s death, she also believes that had the gathered crowd realized Floyd was dead, more people could have lost their lives as tensions boiled over.
Kaylynn Gilbert, left with bag, was one of several eye witnesses to the killing of George Floyd
The 17-year-old watched and pleaded with Officer Derek Chauvin as he kept his neck on Floyd for more than nine minutes
Kaylynn believes that Chauvin already knew that Floyd had passed away but decided not to get up until paramedics arrived for fear of inflaming the situation further
Kaylynn told the Daily Mirror that she thinks the very moment Chauvin got up from Floyd, it would have been obvious to all present there was nothing that could be done to save him.
‘I believe Derek stayed on his neck for so long because he knew he was dead.
‘If he would’ve got up before the ambulance arrived, it would have escalated. Everybody would have known there and then George was dead… The police would have killed someone else,’ Kaylynn said.
Video that was shot by the teen was ultimately used as evidence in court in the trial of Chauvin who was found guilty of murder last month. He faces sentencing June 25. Three other fired officers still face trial.
‘It doesn’t make sense why he would stay on top of him, especially after George was unconscious,’ Kaylynn explained.
Gilbert could be seen pacing back and forth as the horrifying situation unfolded. She questions whether she could have done anything further to help
Video evidence filmed by her and her best friend was used at Chauvin’s trial
‘A cop doesn’t have any reason to be applying pressure to them when they’re handcuffed. He knew what he was doing. I understood what he was doing.
‘I had a gut feeling George was dead because of how the paramedics later lifted him up and how they were reacting.
‘When I watch my video back, I can see that when the ambulance crew arrived they went to check his pulse, it was clear they couldn’t find one.’
‘They then took their time to get the [stretcher]. Unbelievably, Derek was still on his neck. The ambulance crew had to signal to him to get off him.
‘It was like they were saying “get up off of him – he’s dead”. It was murder, pure and simple.’
George Floyd was arrested after he was suspected of trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store in Minneapolis
Kaylynn’s pleas were ignored by Officer Chauvin who kept his knee on George Floyd’s neck
George Floyd was arrested after he was suspected of trying to use a counterfeit $20 bill at a convenience store in Minneapolis.
He was wrestled to the ground at which point Chauvin’s knee remained on his neck for more than nine minutes. He was unconscious for about three of those minutes.
Kaylynn had arrived on scene just as the arrest was occurring. Her friend, Alyssa Funari, was originally filming what was happening while Kaylynn remained in the car.
But as she heard her friend becoming distressed by what she was witnessing, Kaylynn then got out of the car herself.
‘At the time, I knew George needed help, but I didn’t know then Chauvin was killing him,’ Kaylynn said to the Mirror.
Chauvin was found guilty of murder last month and will be sentenced on June 25
At one point, she was just a few feet away from Chauvin and Floyd who was repeatedly telling officers ‘I can’t breathe.’
Kaylynn testified in court during the trial how as she got closer, she was threatened by Chauvin with pepper spray.
‘I really think if me or anyone else there would have continued to move forward to challenge the police, somebody else would have been killed by them as it was getting so intense.’
A person reacts near Cup Foods after a guilty verdict was announced last month
As the anniversary of George Floyd’s murder approaches, some people say the best way to honor him is for Congress to pass a bill in his name that overhauls policing. Pictured, people carry posters with George Floyd on them as they march from the Lincoln Memorial to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington last August (file photo)