Police supervisor testifies Chauvin “could have ended” restraint

FAN Editor

Prosecutors continued to lay out their case Thursday against Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis officer charged in the death of George Floyd. Chauvin, who was seen in disturbing videos kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He has pleaded not guilty. 

The proceedings on Thursday ended with the testimony of Chauvin’s police supervisor, retired Minneapolis Police Sergeant David Ploeger, who testified that the officers’ use of force against Floyd could have ended once the man stopped resisting.

Retired Minneapolis Police Sergeant David Ploeger testifies in the trial of Derek Chauvin on April 1, 2021. Court TV/pool via WCCO

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. He was going crazy…wouldn’t go in the back of the squad.”

Ploeger said Chauvin didn’t tell him on the call he had pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck, but told him later at the medical center where Floyd was pronounced dead.

Earlier in the day, George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Batya Ross gave emotional testimony. 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.”

George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross cried as she testified about their relationship during the trial of Derek Chauvin on April 1, 2021. Court TV/pool via WCCO

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.

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.

George Floyd Officer Trial
This image from police bodycam video shows Minneapolis police officers attempting to remove George Floyd from a vehicle on May 25, 2020. Court TV via AP, Pool

Three other officers involved in the fatal arrest are charged with aiding and abetting, and will be tried jointly in August.

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