Darnella Frazier, the teenager who was on her way to a Minneapolis store to buy snacks with her young cousin last May 25 when she recorded the clearest video of former police officer Derek Chauvin pressing his knee into George Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes, released a statement on Tuesday to mark the one-year anniversary of Floyd’s death.
“A year ago, today I witnessed a murder. The victim’s name was George Floyd. Although this wasn’t the first time, I’ve seen a Black man get killed at the hands of the police, this is the first time I witnessed it happen in front of me. Right in front of my eyes, a few feet away,” Frazier said in a statement to CNN.
“I didn’t know this man from a can of paint, but I knew his life mattered. I knew that he was in pain. I knew that he was another Black man in danger with no power,” Frazier added.
Frazier’s video of Floyd’s final moments was widely credited for helping secure a guilty verdict against Chauvin, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz publicly thanked her after the trial.
“Taking that video, I think many folks know, is maybe the only reason that Derek Chauvin will go to prison,” Walz said last month.
“A lot of people call me a hero even though I don’t see myself as one. I was just in the right place at the right time,” Frazier said Tuesday.
“Behind this smile, behind these awards, behind the publicity, I’m a girl trying to heal from something I am reminded of every day. Everyone talks about the girl who recorded George Floyd‘s death, but to actually be her is a different story,” Frazier added.
Frazier, now 18, said her life was forever changed by that moment, and she spoke about the challenges she and her family have faced in the year since she witnessed Floyd’s death, adding that she’s suffered from sleeplessness, anxiety and panic attacks in the aftermath.
“A part of my childhood was taken from me. My 9-year-old cousin who witnessed the same thing I did got a part of her childhood taken from her. Having to up and leave because my home was no longer safe, waking up to reporters at my door, closing my eyes at night only to see a man who is brown like me, lifeless on the ground. I couldn’t sleep properly for weeks,” Frazier said.
“I used to shake so bad at night my mom had to rock me to sleep. Hopping from hotel to hotel because we didn’t have a home and looking over our back every day in the process,” the statement read.