MINNEAPOLIS (CN) — The fourth day of testimony in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial for the death of George Floyd turned away from the scene of Floyd’s deadly arrest to his life, with Floyd’s on-and-off girlfriend testifying about their relationship and their struggles with opioid addiction.
Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson has maintained throughout the trial that Floyd’s death was caused by his drug use. So have attorneys for the three officers who face aiding-and-abetting charges for their role in the Memorial Day 2020 arrest, which sparked protests and riots around the nation.
Courteney Ross, 45, said that in her three-year relationship with Floyd, he’d been on and off of opioids. He’d gotten addicted, she said, after receiving a prescription for neck, shoulder and back pain.
Ross told the story of how she met Floyd in the lobby of a Salvation Army shelter, where he worked as a security guard.
“I was tired, and had just cleaned up and closed up the shop, and I went to go visit my son’s father,” she said. She wanted to talk about her son’s upcoming birthday, but the father didn’t come down to meet her. “I was pretty upset, and I started kinda fussin', in the corner of the lobby. And at one point, Floyd came up to me. Floyd has this great, deep, southern voice. Raspy. And he’s like, ‘sis, you OK sis?’ And I wasn’t OK.”
“He said, ‘can I pray with you?’” she added “I was so tired. We’d 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 at the time. I had lost a lot of faith in God.”
Ross, like many who knew him, called him by his last name.
“That was just Floyd,” she said. “Afterwards, he had asked me who my son’s father was, and I said, we co-parent, and we’re not in a relationship, and that’s when I want to say his voice dropped like two levels,” she continued, smiling a bit.
She said their relationship started shortly afterward. Floyd loved eating out, going to parks and the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden and exploring the city. He lived near Bde Maka Ska, a popular lake for swimming, and had come from Houston not long before.
“Everything was new to him. He made it seem like I was new to my own city,” Ross said.
The pair’s relationship, she said, had highs and lows, and at some points they would take breaks. They’d also each go through periods of sobriety and opioid use, sometimes together, sometimes not.
“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. Mine was in my neck and his was in his back. We both have prescriptions. But, um, after prescriptions that were filled-- we got addicted, and tried, really hard, to break that addiction many times,” she said.
“Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle,” she added. “It’s something that we dealt with every day. It’s not something that just kind of comes and goes.”
In the days after Floyd’s mother died, she said, his demeanor changed. “He seemed kind of like a shell of himself. Like he was broken-- he seemed so sad. He didn’t have the same kind of bounce that he had. He was devastated. He loves his mom, so much. And I knew that. He talked about her all the time.”