George Floyd’s girlfriend told Derek Chauvin’s murder trial that the couple shared an addiction to opioid painkillers that they struggled to overcome in the weeks leading up to his death.
Courteney Ross said Floyd had been clean for a while after she took him to the hospital when he overdosed, but that he started using again about two weeks before his arrest by Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, in May. last.
Most of Ross’s often tearful testimony on the fourth day of the trial focused on the couple’s opioid use, as the prosecution sought to avoid defense claims that Floyd was murdered on drugs because he had opioids and methamphetamine. on your system.
Floyd’s death triggered a national reckoning on race in America, including a summer of protests and civil unrest aimed at tackling structural racism. The trial of Chauvin, who kept his knee on Floyd’s neck when he died during arrest, is seen as one of the largest US murder trials in recent history.
Ross’s account helps establish that Floyd developed a tolerance to opioids and that the relatively small amount recorded in the official autopsy would not have been enough to kill him.
The prosecution also seeks to undermine defense claims that the level of force Chauvin used by kneeling on Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes was justified because the detainee was using drugs.
Ross, who dated Floyd for about three years, said they both got hooked after they were prescribed opioids to treat chronic pain.
“We got addicted and we both tried to break that addiction many times,” he said.
Chauvin, 45, who is white, has denied charges of second- and third-degree manslaughter and manslaughter in the death of Floyd, 46, who was black. He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge.
Ross said sports injuries led Floyd to addiction to legally obtained prescription pills before the couple started buying drugs on the black market, including from Maurice Hall, the man who was in the car with Floyd at the time. his death.
These included oxycodone pills, including the powerful prescription opioid OxyContin.
Ross said at trial that he also believed Floyd bought heroin from a friend, Shawanda Hill, who is expected to be called as a witness. He said Hall was also among those who supplied Floyd with pills.
“I didn’t like Maurice very much,” he said.
Hall’s attorneys have told the court that he intends to exercise his right not to incriminate himself and that he will refuse to testify at trial.
Two months before his death, Ross said he took Floyd to the hospital when he overdosed after taking a new pill that appeared to be more powerful than the rest. She said she was complaining of a severe stomach pain and that she noticed a white substance around her mouth.
Upon questioning, the defense returned to that part of Ross’s testimony, apparently because at the time of his arrest Floyd repeatedly complained that his stomach hurt and he had white foam around his mouth.
Chauvin’s defense has claimed that Floyd was overdosing at the time and that it contributed to his death from heart failure.
The state medical examiner’s report on Floyd’s death recorded that he had the powerful opioid fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system when he died, but did not list them as the cause of his death.
Although the prosecution directed Ross’s testimony to focus on Floyd’s addiction, she also spoke about how they met in August 2017 when he was working as a security guard at a Salvation Army homeless shelter. He also worked as a guard at a nightclub.
Ross said Floyd had been devastated by the death of his mother in 2018.
“It looked like a kind of shell of itself, like it was broken,” he said. “It seemed so sad. He didn’t have the same kind of bounce that he had. “
When he was shown a selfie taken by Floyd, Ross reached out, touched the screen, and cried.
Seth Zachary Brabinde, a paramedic who treated Floyd at the scene, testified that his ambulance was called to the scene by “someone with a mouth wound.” He said the call was a “code two” suggesting it was not a life-threatening emergency, requiring no lights or sirens. But less than two minutes later, the call was updated requiring a more urgent response.
Upon arrival, he saw Chauvin and other police officers on top of Floyd.
“I didn’t see any breathing or movement,” he said.
Brabinde said his partner checked his pulse, didn’t detect one and said he thought Floyd had gone into cardiac arrest – a term he says is used for anyone whose heart has stopped.
Brabinde said they tried to resuscitate Floyd but failed.
Police body camera footage was shown showing Chauvin still kneeling on Floyd’s neck even as paramedics attempted to resuscitate him. The police officer only removed it immediately before he was put on a stretcher and taken to the ambulance.
The trial continues.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism