The Minneapolis teenager whose video opened the world’s eyes to the death of George Floyd wasn’t looking to be a hero when she coolly documented 10 minutes of history unfolding before her eyes, her lawyer said Thursday.
“She had no idea she would witness and document one of the most important and high-profile police murders in American history,” Darnella Frazier’s attorney, Seth Cobin, said. “If it wasn’t for her bravery, presence of mind, and steady hand, and her willingness to post the video on Facebook and share her trauma with the world, all four of those police officers would still be on the streets, possibly terrorizing other members of the community.”
Cobin said Frazier wasn’t looking to be a hero but is “just a 17-year-old high school student, with a boyfriend and a job at the mall, who did the right thing. She’s the Rosa Parks of her generation.”
The imagery of the white officer’s arrest of an unarmed and handcuffed black man played a crucial role in Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin being charged with murder and manslaughter, as well as three officers who were with him being charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. All were quickly fired.
Frazier is not ready to speak publicly about her role in telling the story of Floyd’s death beyond what she told the Star Tribune the next day. “The world needed to see what I was seeing,” she said. “Stuff like this happens in silence too many times.”
The benefits of Frazier’s quick thinking drew praise and gratitude from Police Chief Medaria Arradondo during a nationally telecast news conference Thursday.
While “we should never have to rely upon” witness video to keep police accountable, the chief said, “I am thankful, absolutely, that this was captured in the manner that it was.”
He went on to encourage others to do the same when confronted with such a scene involving officers’ actions.
“Record. Record, absolutely,” Arradondo said. “Record, call. Call a friend. Yell out. Call 911. We need a supervisor to the scene. Absolutely. I need to know that. We need to know that. So the community plays a vital role and did two weeks ago.”
In the moments before Frazier found herself feet from where Floyd was being pinned to the pavement, her 9-year-old cousin asked to go from the family’s apartment to nearby Cup Foods at the intersection that now serves as a shrine to the 46-year-old native of Houston.
“When she was a few storefronts from the shop,” Cobin said, “she saw four officers roughly removing a black motorist from his vehicle. Because police brutality is so common in that neighborhood, and the officers rarely face consequences, she pulled out her iPhone and started recording.”
Frazier is “doing well in terms of her outlook and attitude,” said Cobin, who is based in Minneapolis. “She’s staying positive and avoiding the drama on social media.”
Cobin said Frazier “hasn’t received threats or anything like that” but acknowledged she’s been the target of “trash talking and ‘shade’ ” on social media since her cellphone video May 25 showed Chauvin using his knee to pin Floyd to the pavement at the intersection of E. 38th Street and S. Chicago Avenue.
Many people have been inquiring about how to help Frazier and say thank you for her role in the saga.
Cobin verified the legitimacy of a GoFundMe page that has been established by two women who previously had no connection to Frazier. They wrote that the teenager “deserves peace and healing [as] she has had to deal with trolls, bullies and ignorant people harassing her online.”