George Floyd's girlfriend is the latest person to testify in the murder trial of Derek Chauvin, and what she revealed Thursday morning was both shocking and devastating.
Breaking down in tears almost immediately after taking the stand, Courteney Ross told the court she and her late boyfriend – who died on the street outside a convenience store in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on May 25, 2020 – were both addicted to oxycodone, a prescription opioid painkiller. His addiction, she said, was something he struggled with "every day."
"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," Ross explained, adding, "We both have prescriptions. But after prescriptions that were filled, and we got addicted, and tried really hard to break that addiction many times."
Ross revealed in her testimony that both she and Floyd purchased opioids from the friend who was in the passenger seat of Floyd's car on the day he died. That friend – Morries Lester Hall, a key witness for the state – is now refusing to testify. Ross told the court she "did not like Morries at all."
Elaborating, she explained she once took pills she believed were bought from Hall that made her feel like she was "going to die."
Then in March 2020, two months before Floyd's death, Ross said her late boyfriend purchased pills from Hall she thought seemed different from the ones they typically took. She said the pills appeared "thick," not uniform and had the effects of a strong stimulant.
Floyd was hospitalized twice that month, one of the times for five days after what Ross believes was an accidental overdose allegedly due to Hall’s pills.
The witness went onto reveal that she noticed a change in Floyd's behavior in the weeks prior to his death, adding that she and Floyd had purchased pills from Hall one week before he died.
In an obvious attempt to draw a parallel between the symptoms Floyd experienced the day he died and his earlier known overdose, the defense team asked Ross if she noticed "foam coming from [Floyd's] mouth … a dry white substance," when he was hospitalized for his overdose.
She said yes, adding that he was "doubled over in pain" due to his stomach hurting.
Ultimately, the defense has asserted that Floyd died from an accidental overdose of methampthetamine and fentanyl – high levels of which were found in his system during a post-mortem toxicology exam – and not due to the pressure Chauvin's knee put on Floyd's neck for several minutes prior to his death.
Immediately following Ross' emotional testimony – during which she also spoke about their relationship, Floyd's love for his children and his strong bond with his mother, who passed away in May 2018 – Floyd's family's attorneys released a statement slamming the defense team for trying to bring Floyd's addiction to the forefront of the case.
"As the defense attempts to construct the narrative that George Floyd's cause of death was the Fentanyl in his system, we want to remind the world who witnessed his death on video that George was walking, talking, laughing, and breathing just fine before Derek Chauvin held his knee to George's neck, blocking his ability to breathe and extinguishing his life for all to see," the statement read.
"Tens of thousands of Americans struggle with self-medication and opioid abuse and are treated with dignity, respect and support, not brutality," it went on. "We fully expected the defense to put George's character and struggles with addiction on trial because that is the go-to tactic when the facts are not on your side."
The statement concluded: "We are confident that the jury will see past that to arrive at the truth – that George Floyd would have lived to see another day if Derek Chauvin hadn't brutally ended his life in front of a crowd of witnesses pleading for his life."
Chauvin – who was fired from the Minneapolis Police Department following Floyd's death – is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
In perhaps the most gut-wrenching moment of Ross' testimony, she revealed Floyd's nickname for her was actually "Mama," implying he may have been calling out for her when he was being pinned down by Chauvin and other police officers on May 25, 2020.