George Floyd had Courtney Ross saved in his cell phone as ‘mama.’ Was he calling for his fiancee that evening while laying on the cement with Derek Chauvin’s knee on his neck?
The fourth day of the Derek Chauvin trial began with the State calling Floyd’s fiancee Courtney Ross to the stand. Ross, 45, told the courtroom on Thursday about George, their three-year on-and-off relationship, and their shared drug addiction.
It became clear that the prosecution wanted to set the record straight given that Chauvin’s defense lawyer, Eric Nelson, has argued that Floyd’s death was the result of health issues and a drug overdose.
Through Ross’s testimony, prosecutors sought to address the narrative head-on, painting a sympathetic portrait of Floyd and his long-term battle with opioid addiction.
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“It was something that we dealt with every day” but “we tried really hard to break that addiction, many times.”
Strange how prison life involving drug use and related crimes is so easily excused in this case. George Floyd has been charged in the past for manufacturing drugs and possession.
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In between sniffles, Ross described how she first met Floyd in August 2017 when she went to see her son’s father at a Harbor Lights Salvation Army shelter where Floyd worked as a security guard. After “fussin” in a corner of the lobby, she said Floyd “came to her” and asked her “Sis, you OK?” and asked if he could pray with her.
“Floyd had this great deep southern voice. Raspy. And he’s like, ‘Sis, you OK, sis?’ And I wasn’t OK. I said, ‘No, I’m just waiting for my son’s father. Sorry.’ He said, ‘Well, can I pray with you?’ I was so tired. We had been through so much, my sons and I. And this kind person, just to come up to me and say can I pray with you, when I felt alone in this lobby. It was so sweet,” Ross said.
They talked for a while and shared their “first kiss in the lobby,” she added. “It’s one of my favorite stories to tell.”
Ross also recalled their initial dates in the Twin Cities.
“Floyd was new to the city, so everything was new to him, made me feel like I was new to my own city,” Ross said, adding that they always had “an adventure” together. She added that Floyd would often talk about his children — he has five, whom he “loved.”
She broke down several times but continued on.
“I can do it,” she told the court.
She explained that after his mother died in 2018, Ross said that Floyd became “kind of a shell of himself, like he was kind of broken.”
“He didn’t have the same bounce that he had. He was devastated. He loved his mom so much. He talked about her all the time. I knew how he felt. It’s so hard to lose a parent that you love like that,” Ross said, describing him as a “mama’s boy.”
She then went on to explain how they both got hooked on pills.
“Both Floyd and I, our story—it’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids. We both suffered from chronic pain,” she said. “Mine was in my neck and his was in his back. We both have prescriptions. We got addicted, and tried really hard to break that addiction many times.”
Ross shared that they had periods of time when they both were clean and other times when they bought other people’s prescriptions if their own ran out; and when that wasn’t available, they would purchase opioids through other illegal means. She said that Floyd also purchased drugs from his friend Morries Lester Hall and Shawanda Hill.
Both ‘friends’ were with him the day he died. Incidentally, Hall was also accused of using counterfeit bills at Cup Foods that day.
Hall was going to be a central witness. However, he filed a notice Wednesday night stating that he plans to exercise his Fifth Amendment rights—meaning he will likely not testify during the trial.
“Mr. Hall through undersigned counsel hereby provides notice to all parties in this matter that if called to testify he will invoke his fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination, Therefore counsel for Mr. Hall respectfully moves this court to quash the subpoena.”
Ross mentioned that she did not particularly like Hall.
March Overdose and Coronavirus
Ross stated that in March 2020, Floyd relapsed.
“To someone who suffers from any type of addiction, you can see change when they’re using again,” Ross explained. “Slight behavioral changes that I saw in him that made me suspect.”
Ross admits that she also started using again in March 2020, and later in May, she took drugs that felt different from what she normally used.
In March, Floyd spent several days in the hospital. It happened after she’d picked him up for work one night.
“He wasn’t feeling good. His stomach really hurt. He was doubled over in pain,” Ross said during cross-examination. Floyd reportedly had foam at the sides of his mouth, similar to May 25th.
She brought him to the ER, but had to leave to get to work.
“You learned it was an overdose,”Nelson asked.
“Yes,” she said.
The prosecution attempted to object. But Judge Cahill overruled.
This was a win for Chauvin in establishing a pattern of drug abuse.
Nelson also questioned Ross at length about whether she believed Floyd had taken heroin before that particular hospitalization. He also questioned whether she previously told the FBI whether Floyd had bought drugs from Hall and Hill in the past.
Ross told the court that she was “speculating” and could not be certain.
So Nelson donned his mask and showed her a transcript from an FBI report. She then stated she had previously purchased drugs from Hall.
It was also around March or April that Floyd tested positive for COVID-19 and had to quarantine along with his two roommates. Ross tested negative. It wasn’t clear whether Floyd simply tested positive or was experiencing symptoms.
At the time, Floyd also worked security at the Conga Latin Bistro until the coronavirus forced its closure. You can hear an interview with the owner Jovanni Thunstrom I conducted back in May 2020.
Ross spoke with him over the phone the day before he died. He told her he was spending the night with some friends, including a woman named Sylvia Jackson who possibly owned the Benz he was driving on May 25th.
Around that time the two had taken a two-month break in their relationship.
Chauvin faces charges of unintentional second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter for kneeling on Floyd’s neck for “9 minutes, 29 seconds,”as he lay face down in handcuffs.
There has been no mention yet of his time working at the El Nuevo nightclub with Chauvin. Drugs were found in Floyd’s system; although when he was asked if he was on anything, he said no and that he’d been playing basketball.
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