Prosecutors continued to lay out their case Thursday against Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis officer charged in the death of George Floyd. First on the stand for the fourth day of testimony was George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Batya Ross.
She broke down in tears as she spoke about their relationship, saying they first met in August of 2017 in the lobby of the Salvation Army where Floyd worked as a security guard. Ross described Floyd as a “mama’s boy” who was devastated by his mother’s death in 2018. She also described him as an active person who liked to lift weights and play sports.
Asked to identify a photo of Floyd, she sobbed, and then laughed through tears as she described it as a “dad selfie.”
Ross also described how they had both struggled with opioid drug use. She said they had each gotten addicted after being prescribed medication.
“It’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back,” Ross said. “We both had prescriptions. But after prescriptions that were filled, we got addicted and — and tried really hard to break that addiction many times.”
She said both had quit the drugs for a period of time in March of 2020, but by May she suspected Floyd was using drugs again because of “behavior changes.”
Defense attorney Eric Nelson honed in on Floyd’s drug use, asking Ross about an overdose he suffered in March 2020. Nelson also asked whether Floyd bought drugs from his friend Morries Hall, who was in the car with Floyd before his fatal arrest, including pills about a week before his death that Ross said had a strong stimulant effect. Ross said she suspected Floyd had bought the pills from Hall, but didn’t know for sure.
After Ross stepped down, two paramedics took the stand, testifying about attempting to revive an unresponsive Floyd.
“He’s a human being, and I was trying to give him a second chance at life,” paramedic Derek Smith said.
Ultimately, the paramedics testified, their efforts were unsuccessful.
Later, Chauvin’s supervisor, retired Minneapolis Police Sergeant David Ploeger, testified that he called Chauvin after receiving a concerned call from a 911 dispatcher who had been watching the arrest on surveillance camera. Prosecutors played a portion of the call in court, in which Chauvin is heard saying, “We had to hold a guy down.” Ploeger said Chauvin didn’t tell him on the call he had pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck.
The first three days of testimony included firsthand accounts of Floyd’s fatal arrest from a series of eyewitnesses, some of whom cried and described feeling helpless as the unarmed Black man struggled for air. On Wednesday, jurors watched a series of police body camera videos showing the fatal encounter.
Chauvin, who was seen in disturbing videos kneeling on Floyd’s neck, is charged with second-degree murder,and second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty. Three other officers involved in the fatal arrest are charged with aiding and abetting, and will be tried jointly in August.