George Floyd’s friend tells the jury about the fight against addiction, the first kiss
© Reuters. The city of Minneapolis enters day three of Derek Chauvin’s trial
By Jonathan Allen
MINNEAPOLIS (Reuters) – George Floyd’s friend smiled tearfully as she told a jury on Thursday how they first met when he offered to pray with her less than three years before he was fatally arrested and described how they both struggled with opioid addiction.
Courteney Ross, 45, was the first person Floyd knew personally to testify in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the white former Minneapolis police officer who appeared in a popular video kneeling on Floyd’s neck, a 46- year old black man handcuffed for about nine minutes. The footage sparked global protests against police brutality.
“It’s a classic story about how many people become addicted to opioids,” Ross, who wore a heart-shaped brooch on her black jacket, told the jury. “We both had chronic pain: mine was in my neck, his was in his back.”
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty of murder and manslaughter. In a central dispute in the trial, his lawyers have argued that Floyd’s death, which ordered a police murder, was actually an overdose caused by the fentanyl found in his blood at autopsy.
The Minnesota Attorney General’s attorneys have told the jury that they will hear evidence contradicting this, including Ross’ testimony of his drug tolerance, and that Floyd’s drug use is irrelevant to the Chauvin indictment.
Here are some key moments from day four of testifying:
COURTENEY ROSS, FLOYD’S GIRLFRIEND
“It’s one of my favorite stories,” Ross said, smiling at the jury when a prosecutor asked her how she met Floyd in August 2017 at a Salvation Army homeless shelter where he was working as a security officer.
She was waiting in the lobby for her son’s father, who was tired after closing the cafe where she worked. Floyd approached her.
“Floyd has that great, deep, southern voice, scratchy,” she said, “and he was like ‘sister’, you all right, sister ‘?'”
He sensed that she felt alone and offered to pray with her.
“It was so cute,” she said, patting a handkerchief over her eyes. “At the time, I had lost a lot of faith in God.”
They had their first kiss in the lobby that evening and were together, except for his death, for the occasional hiatus after a love affair until his death, she said.
They took walks in the parks and around Minneapolis lakes, which were new to Texas-raised Floyd, and ate a lot: “He was a big man,” she said, describing his daily weightlifting lots of energy to keep him running to keep. “She said he adored his mother, who died in 2018, and his two young daughters.
Sometimes they took prescribed pain medication. At other times, they were given opioids illegally. Sometimes they shook the habit, sometimes they fell behind.
“Addiction is a lifelong struggle in my opinion,” she said. “It is not something that comes and goes, it is something that I will grapple with forever.”
Chauvin’s lead attorney, Eric Nelson, cross-examined Ross many questions about how the couple got their drugs and an episode in which Floyd rushed himself to a hospital emergency room because of a non-fatal overdose.
She said she thought Floyd sometimes bought pills from Morries Hall, who was sitting next to Floyd in the passenger seat in the car when the police arrived last May.
Nelson summoned Hall to testify when the defense will bring her case and told the jury that Hall and a woman in the car would tell them that they saw Floyd swallow two pills before the police arrived on May 25 and that he was fell into a deep sleep.
Through an attorney, Hall said he would exercise his constitutional right against self-indictment if asked to testify and asked Hennepin District Judge Peter Cahill to overturn the subpoena.
SETH BRAVINDER, PARAMEDICIAN WHO TREATED FLOYD
Floyd appeared to be breathless and not having a pulse when Seth Bravinder and his partner from Hennepin Emergency Medical Services arrived in an ambulance outside Cup Foods, where Floyd was suspected of handing over a fake $ 20 bill early that evening.
They had to ask Chauvin and other officers to move.
“They were still on top of him,” Bravinder told the jury. His first thought was that some sort of fight was going on, but it quickly became apparent that Floyd was limp and Bravinder cradled Floyd’s head as they placed him on a stretcher to avoid hitting the street.
They stopped two blocks away to continue the resuscitation effort for Floyd. Bravinder saw a flat line on the heart monitor.
“It’s not a good sign,” he said.
On cross-examination, Bravinder said to Nelson that he believed he was responding to an 911 call, including a note about the possible narcotics involvement.
Floyd was pronounced dead at a downtown hospital at 9:25 p.m., just over an hour after entering Cup Foods.