George Floyd grew up in Houston’s Third Ward neighborhood, and residents honored his legacy with a mural (Photo Credit: Regal Media Group/Todd A. Smith).
Emotionally Draining Derek Chauvin Trial Begins
On March 29, the trial of former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin, who stands accused of murdering George Floyd, began.
Prosecutors played the video of Floyd’s death, which lasted for over nine minutes, which showed Floyd begging for his life while witnesses pleaded with Chauvin to get his knee off of Floyd’ neck.
After several minutes of having Chauvin’s knee in his back, Floyd became unresponsive before first responders finally brought a stretcher to transport Floyd to a local hospital.
To combat the graphic video of Floyd’s death, Chauvin’s defense attorneys played up the size difference between Chauvin and Floyd.
Attorneys said that since Floyd was a lot larger than Chauvin, he needed to use the force that he used to detain him.
Despite that claim, many believe that putting a knee to Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes was unnecessary because officers had already placed Floyd in handcuffs.
Throughout the first week of the Derek Chauvin trial, prosecutors have sought to humanize Floyd, while beating the defense to the punch when it comes to Floyd’s past drug use.
On April 1, Floyd’s former girlfriend Courteney Ross, 45, tearfully explained how the couple met, their courtship and the couple’s struggle kicking opioid addictions.
Ross said that she met Floyd in August 2017 when he worked as a security guard at a downtown Minneapolis Salvation Army.
Floyd’s former girlfriend said that she appeared visibly shaken when she got to the Salvation Army to visit her son’s father.
Seeing that the visit to the Salvation Army had Ross stressed, Floyd approached Ross to offer some assistance.
Ross said, “He’s like, ‘Sis, you’re O.K., sis?’ And I wasn’t O.K. He said, ‘Can I pray with you?’”
Floyd and Ross exchanged numbers and kissed for the first time moments later.
During the courtship, Ross explained that both dealt with opioid addiction because of chronic pain.
Floyd dealt with chronic pain in his back.
Ross said, “Our story is a classic story of how people get addicted to opioids. We got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction many times.”
She also testified that Floyd used the pet name “Mama” in reference to her.
However, it still remains unclear whether Floyd’s calling out for his “Mama” meant his girlfriend or his deceased mother.
The New York Daily News reported, “Under cross examination by defense attorney Eric Nelson, Ross talked about a time in March 2020 when Floyd was hospitalized with an overdose. She said the substance abuse that led to that overdose was likely not an opioid since it had a ‘different effect’ on them. But when asked whether the drug was heroin, Ross said she had previously ‘speculated’ it might have been but did not know that for a fact.”
Testimony from witnesses began on March 29 in the Chauvin case.
Chauvin is the first of four police officers charged in the death of Floyd.
If convicted, Chauvin could face up to four decades behind bars.
Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder, second-degree manslaughter and third-degree murder.
Two paramedics also took the witness stand on April 1.
Both paramedics testified that they saw no signs of life from Floyd when they reached the scene outside of Cup Foods in Minneapolis.
Paramedic Derek Smith said that when he arrived at the scene, he saw no movement from Floyd.
“In lay terms, I thought he was dead,” Smith said.
On March 31, Charles McMillan a witness to Floyd’s arrest tearfully took the witness stand.
The Star Tribune reported, “Charles McMillan said in Hennepin County District Court that he came upon the scene early on when police detained Floyd on suspicion of passing a fake $20 bill at the Cup Foods convenience store at E. 38th Street and S. Chicago Avenue.”
McMillan said, “I’m watching Mr. Floyd, I’m trying to get him to understand that when you make a mistake, once they got you in handcuffs, there’s no such thing as being claustrophobic, you have to go. I’ve had interactions with officers myself, and I realize once you get in the cuffs you can’t win.”
When asked how he felt when Floyd possibly called out to his mother, McMillan said that he felt “helpless” because “I don’t have a mama either; I understand him.”
In a breathy whisper, McMillan then said, “Oh my god.”
Judge Peter Cahill then called for a brief recess so that McMillan could regain his composure.
McMillan also said that he had seen Chauvin just five days earlier.
He said, “I pulled up to the squad car somewhere in south Minneapolis, and I see Mr. Chauvin, and I told him like I tell other officers—that the end of the day, you go home to your family safe and that the next person goes home to their family safe.”
The Star Tribune reported, “George Floyd’s youngest brother occupied the lone family seat in the courtroom for the (Wednesday) afternoon session and did not watch the video when the officers were trying to get George Floyd into the squad car. Rodney Floyd stared down, his eyes wide during that video moment.”
The younger Floyd shook his head and averted his eyes downward when the video of his brother yelling for “Mama” played in the courtroom.
On March 31, Donald Williams, 33, a witness with experience in wrestling and mixed martial arts testified about his experience in combat sports and what he saw outside of Cup Foods that day in May 2020 when Floyd took his last breath.
Williams testified, “He just pretty much killed this guy that wasn’t resisting arrest.”
He said that he thought he had “witnessed a murder.”