Derek Chauvin trial: George Floyd’s girlfriend tells of first kiss and addictionon April 1, 2021 at 6:15 pm

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Courteney Ross gives emotional testimony during the fourth day of Derek Chauvin’s murder trial.

A view of the George Floyd mural at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue a day before opening statements in the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is facing murder charges in the death of George Floyd, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S., March 28, 2021.

image copyrightReuters

George Floyd’s girlfriend has given emotional testimony as the murder trial of former US police officer Derek Chauvin enters its fourth day.

Courteney Ross told the court of their first kiss, and their struggle with opioid addiction.

Meanwhile a paramedic said he had to indicate Mr Chauvin should move off Mr Floyd’s limp body when he arrived.

The white officer was filmed kneeling on African-American Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes last May.

It sparked global protests over policing and racism.

Mr Chauvin, 45, denies charges of murder and manslaughter.

Ms Ross is the first person to testify who personally knew Mr Floyd.

She told the court that she met Mr Floyd in 2017 in the lobby of a Salvation Army homeless shelter, where he worked as a security guard and she was waiting to see the father of her son. She said Mr Floyd asked if she would pray with him.

“It was so sweet and at the time I had lost a lot of faith in God,” she said, adding that they kissed that night.

She said their first meeting was “one of my favourite stories to tell”.

Ms Ross said they both suffered from chronic pain, and were addicted to opioids.

“Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle,” she said. “It’s not something that comes and goes, it’s something I’ll deal with forever.”

She did not specifically address whether Mr Floyd was using opioids on the day he died.

A statement from Floyd family lawyers Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci denounced “defence attempts to construct the narrative that George Floyd’s cause of death was the Fentanyl in his system”.

“We want to remind the world who witnessed his death on video that George was walking, talking, laughing, and breathing just fine before Derek Chauvin held his knee to George’s neck, blocking his ability to breathe and extinguishing his life,” it said.

Paramedic Seth Bravinder said Mr Floyd appeared not to be breathing and had no pulse when he and his partner arrived at the scene.

Several officers were on top of Mr Floyd and the paramedics had to ask them to move, he said.

He initially thought that a struggle was taking place but quickly realised that Mr Floyd was limp.

Asked about video footage showing him gesturing to Mr Chauvin, Mr Bravinder said he wanted to “have him move” and this was “so we could move the patient”.

His partner Derek Smith checked Mr Floyd’s neck for a pulse but could not find one. “In lay terms, I thought he was dead,” Mr Smith said.

“When I arrived on scene there was no medical services being provided to the patient,” he added.

Mr Bravinder cradled Mr Floyd’s head to prevent it from hitting the road as they transferred him to a stretcher.

They put him in the ambulance and asked a police officer to get into the ambulance and start chest compressions. Mr Floyd was attached to a heart monitor which showed a flat line.

Mr Bravinder stopped the ambulance two blocks away and went to help his colleague. At one point on the subsequent journey to the hospital Mr Smith thought he saw electrical activity from Mr Floyd’s heart and delivered an electrical shock to try to restart it.

“He was a human being and I was trying to give him a second chance at life,” said Mr Smith.

But all efforts to resuscitate Mr Floyd failed.

In opening statements Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury that Mr Chauvin had “betrayed his badge” by kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck, and using “excessive and unreasonable force” to detain him.

Defence lawyers have indicated they will argue that 46-year-old Mr Floyd died of an overdose and poor health, and the force used was reasonable.

Bodycam footage played in court on Wednesday showed Mr Floyd pleading with officers during his arrest, saying: “I’m not a bad guy”.

In separate footage from Mr Chauvin’s body camera, he is confronted by a bystander about the arrest after Mr Floyd is taken away in an ambulance.

“We had to control this guy because he’s a sizeable guy,” Mr Chauvin told Charles McMillian, as he got back in his squad car. “It looks like he’s probably on something.”

Several witnesses have taken the stand in the opening days of the trial.

Darnella – the teenager whose film of Mr Floyd’s death sparked global protests – said she “stays up apologising” to him for “not doing more”.

Shop employee Christopher Martin told the court he briefly interacted with Mr Floyd as a customer inside Cup Foods shortly before his arrest.

He said Mr Floyd “appeared to be high” because he struggled to respond to a simple question, but he was lucid enough to able to hold a conversation. He described Mr Floyd as “friendly and approachable”.

Mr Martin told the jury he had sold Mr Floyd a packet of cigarettes, and received a counterfeit note as payment. Mr Martin described knowing the bill was fake by its colour and texture, but added that Mr Floyd “didn’t seem to know it was a fake note”.

He said he had considered letting the shop deduct it from his wages instead of confronting Mr Floyd, but then decided to tell his manager. Another employee went on to call the police.

Mr Martin, who witnessed the arrest, said he felt “disbelief and guilt” because “if I’d have just not taken the bill, this could have been avoided”.

Throughout the testimony, Mr Chauvin has been taking almost constant notes.

The video footage of Mr Chauvin kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck last May was watched around the world.

“I’m tired of hearing about black people dying,” one protester in Washington DC said. “I’m tired of being afraid just by being stopped by the cops.”

But despite the global outcry this is not an open and shut case. In the US, police are rarely convicted for deaths that occur while they are on duty, if they are charged at all.

The verdict in this case will be widely seen as an indication of how the US legal system treats deaths that occur while in police custody.

Three other officers charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder will go on trial later in the year.

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