As the trial of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis police officer accused of killing George Floyd, continued into its fourth day the focus was largely on what first responders witnessed when they arrived at the scene.
According to the New York Times, the trial began with what was the most affecting testimony of the day from Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross. Ross began crying when asked to recount about how she first met Floyd. The two initially met in 2017, when Ross went to a Minneapolis homeless shelter to visit her son’s father who had fallen on down times. She was there to discuss their son’s upcoming birthday, but it quickly turned into a conflict. Floyd, who was working security at the shelter, saw she was under distress and Ross recounted that he asked her if she was okay and if she wanted to pray.
Ross, through occasional laughter and tears, described Floyd as a playful and adventurous man. She talked about their first kiss and the ways they would spend their time together. She joked about how the picture of Floyd that has gone viral was a “dad selfie,” due to Floyd not knowing his angles.
One aspect the defense was expected to use in its favor was the fact that Floyd had drugs in his system at the time of his death. The prosecution didn’t shy away from this fact, and Ross’s testimony painted a portrait of a man who struggled with opioid addiction like so many other Americans.
From the New York Times:
Ms. Ross, 45, said she and Mr. Floyd had started taking opioids when they were prescribed for chronic pain, but that both had continued to take the pills after the prescriptions had run out. They tried to stop using the drugs many times and sought out various treatments, she said, but they relapsed together as recently as March 2020.
That month, Ms. Ross said, Mr. Floyd was hospitalized for several days after she found him doubled over in pain from an overdose. She recalled taking a new pill with him that month, the contents of which she did not know and which had a more stimulating effect.
Later that month, she thought they had both managed to quit again, but in the weeks before he died in May, a change in Mr. Floyd’s behavior made her think that he had again begun using.
“We got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction many times,” she said. “When you know someone who suffers from any type of addiction, you can start to kind of see changes when they’re using again.”
Unlike day two, which largely focused on witnesses who just happened to be at the scene of the incident, the witnesses called to the stand on Thursday were the first responders who arrived at the scene to treat Floyd, as well as a former police official.
Seth Bravinder, a Hennepin County paramedic, took the stand to describe what he saw when he arrived at the scene. When asked by the prosecution if Floyd appeared to be unresponsive by the time he showed up, Bravinder simply replied “yes.” He went on to detail the chest compressions, medications, and various techniques he and his fellow responders used to try and resuscitate Floyd.
Derek Smith, another paramedic who arrived at the scene with Bravinder, took the stand shortly after. Smith testified that when he arrived at the scene he tried to take Floyd’s pulse while the officers were still on top of him and couldn’t find one.
“In lay terms, I thought he was dead,” Smith testified.
When they put pads on Floyd’s chest to defibrillate him the monitor showed he had flatlined. The paramedics attempted multiple times to resuscitate Floyd on the way to the hospital but his condition never changed. “I was trying to give him a second chance at life,” Smith said of his efforts.
The final person to take the stand on Thursday was David Pleoger, a recently retired sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department. Pleoger was the person 911 dispatcher Jena Scurry testified earlier this week to whom she reported what she saw through Chauvin’s body camera.
Pleoger was Chauvin’s shift supervisor at the time the incident took place, and as such it was his responsibility to make sure use of force reports were filed, as well as help determine whether or not an officer’s use of force violated the department’s policy.
The prosecution questioned Pleoger on when he believed Chauvin should have released his restraint on Floyd. “When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint,” Pleoger testified.