On April 1st, George Floyd’s girlfriend, Courtney Ross, testified about their shared history of opioid addiction on the fourth day of the Derek Chauvin trial.
The testimony was partly an effort by the prosecution to show that Floyd had a high tolerance for fentanyl, which could undercut any argument that he died of a drug overdose. Ross had been dating Floyd for nearly three years prior to his death in May of 2020. During the trial, Ross tearfully told the jury how they met at a Salvation Army shelter where he was a security guard with “this great, deep Southern voice, raspy.” Both of them struggled greatly with an addiction to opioids. Ross expressed that “Their story, it’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids.” They both became addicted to opioids after being prescribed the drug for chronic pain.
She explained that “They both had prescriptions, but after prescriptions were filled, they got addicted.” Ross told the court that they would take “other people’s prescriptions to make sure they were safe.” On other occasions, they would purchase the drugs off the street. Though Ross and Floyd tried many times to break their addiction, they struggled throughout their three-year relationship. “Addiction in my opinion is a lifelong struggle,” Ross stated. “It’s not something that just kind of comes and goes. It’s something I’ll deal with forever.” She added that they “tried really hard to break that addiction many times.”
Ross was put on the stand by prosecutors as part of an effort to humanize Floyd in front of the jury while explaining his drug use. However, the defense has argued that Chauvin did what he was trained to do when he encountered Floyd last May. The defense claimed that Floyd’s death was caused by drugs, his underlying health conditions, and his adrenaline. An autopsy found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system.
Nevertheless, in other testimony, David Pleoger, a now-retired Minneapolis police sergeant who was on duty the night Floyd died, asserted that based on his review of the body camera video, officers should have ended their restraint after Floyd stopped resisting. Furthermore, he said officers are trained to roll people on their side to help with their breathing after they have been restrained in the prone position. Pleoger stated, “When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint.” Following Pleoger’s statement, prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked “And that was after he was handcuffed and on the ground and no longer resistant?” in which Pleoger replied with “Yes.”
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ARTICLE: GABRIELLA ANTOS
POLITICS EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: THE NEW YORK TIMES