Darnella Frazier’s cellphone footage of George Floyd’s arrest last May helped rewrite the story of his death, then arguably became the “star witness” in a police officer’s conviction for murder.

In this still image from video, Derek Chauvin kneels on the neck of George Floyd, who was pleading that he could not breathe. Darnella Frazier via AP

Yet Frazier herself has largely stayed out of the public eye, offering few windows into her experience as a teenager thrust into the center of a traumatic, history-altering day.

On Tuesday, the anniversary of Floyd’s death, Frazier spoke out.

“Behind this smile, behind these awards, behind the publicity, I’m a girl trying to heal from something I am reminded of every day,” the now 18-year-old wrote in a Facebook post. “Everyone talks about the girl who recorded George Floyd’s death, but to actually be her is a different story.”

Frazier, who is Black, testified earlier this year that she saw her own father, brother and uncles in Floyd.

“I’m not who I used to be,” she said Tuesday.


Frazier’s role in documenting Floyd’s deadly arrest has earned her wide praise, with many crediting the conviction of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin to the teenager and other bystanders who protested and tried to intervene. Her footage of Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck as the Black man begged for air helped spark a worldwide movement against police violence and racism.

Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, a Democrat, alluded to those bystanders after Chauvin’s trial, thanking “brave young women, teenagers, who pressed record on their cellphones.” Some called Frazier a “hero” and wondered what justice Floyd might have gotten without video to contradict law enforcement’s initial statement: “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction.”

Frazier said Tuesday that the footage had changed her life, too. The trauma, she said, was just beginning.

“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,” said Frazier. “I couldn’t sleep properly for weeks. I used to shake so bad at night my mom had to rock me to sleep.”

Adding to the stress, her family had to jump “from hotel to hotel” because they lacked a home, she said.

Then there were the “anxiety attacks” when she saw a police car.


Floyd’s death – out in the street, at the hands of police – “changed how I viewed life.” Frazier wrote. “It made me realize how dangerous it is to be Black in America. We shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around police officers, the same people that are supposed to protect and serve.”

She went on to rebuke attention on Floyd’s criminal record, saying that the 46-year-old “was a loved one, someone’s son, someone’s father, someone’s brother, and someone’s friend.”

“We the people won’t take the blame, you won’t keep pointing fingers at us as if it’s our fault, as if we are criminals,” she wrote.

Frazier has consistently declined interview requests but opened up at times over the past few months.

Late last year, she spoke briefly while accepting an award for courage from PEN America. As the jury was selected in March, she wrote on social media that Chauvin “deserves to go down.” And later that month she gave the public a glimpse into her personal struggle during her court testimony, saying that she has stayed up “apologizing” to Floyd “for not doing more.”

Frazier said she cried after Chauvin’s conviction, gushing on social media with gratitude.

Tuesday, however, brought the teenager’s most extended comments on Floyd’s death and the way it has weighed on her.

She said she took pride in what she achieved amid tragedy.

“If it weren’t for my video, the world wouldn’t have known the truth,” she wrote Tuesday.” I own that. My video didn’t save George Floyd, but it put his murderer away and off the streets.”

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