George Floyd's girlfriend and paramedics take the stand in Derek Chauvin trial

Courteney Ross

A cashier who was one of the last people to speak with George Floyd before his deadly arrest last May testified at Derek Chauvin's murder trial in Minneapolis on Wednesday that Floyd appeared to be high on drugs but was able to make conversation.

Police body camera footage of Floyd's arrest was shown on Wednesday to the nine-woman, five-man jury hearing the case in a heavily guarded Minneapolis courtroom.

Ms Ross began by telling how the two of them met. We both suffered from chronic pain.

The encounter was in 2017 at a Salvation Army shelter where Floyd was a security guard with "this great Southern voice, raspy", Courteney Ross said on day four of former Officer Derek Chauvin's murder trial. "They said, if he keep talking, well, he can breathe", McMillian said.

Prosecutors had called Mr. Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, to the stand and were the first to ask her about Mr. Floyd's drug use, seemingly in an effort to head off the argument from Mr. Chauvin's lawyer that drugs could have caused Mr. Floyd's death or led him to struggle more with the police.

Former police officer Chauvin is on trial, accused of killing Mr Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, while arresting him in Minneapolis, US. The most serious charge against the now-fired officer carries up to 40 years in prison.

The defense has argued Floyd's death was caused by his drug use, underlying health conditions and the adrenaline flowing through his body.

An autopsy found fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system.

Ms Ross also explained that both she and Floyd struggled to overcome opioid addiction.

She said they both had prescriptions, and when those ran out, they took the prescriptions of others and also used illegal drugs.

"Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle", she said. It's not something that just kind of comes and goes. The witness initially couldn't recall saying that and when provided with a transcript of her interview said she was "shocked" and "don't know what I mean by some of the things I said", prompting the defense to call for her words to be stricken from the record.

As Floyd was pinned down by Chauvin and other officers, McMillian, the bystander, could be heard on video saying to Floyd, "You can't win" and "Get up and get in the vehicle". "Tell my kids I love them". "I was like, 'No, I'm just waiting for my sons" father.' He said, 'Can I pray with you?'".

In March 2020, Ms Ross drove Floyd to the emergency room because he was in extreme stomach pain, and she learned he had overdosed.

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In the months that followed, Ross said, she and Floyd spent a lot of time together during the coronavirus quarantine, and Floyd was clean during that time.

In an interview with The New York Times, Hall said that Floyd had tried to defuse the tensions with the police and in no way resisted arrest.

Martin then second-guessed his decision and told a manager, who sent Martin outside to ask Floyd to return to the store. "It's one of my favorite stories to tell".

She was waiting in the lobby to see the father of her son, exhausted after closing up the coffee shop where she worked.

Asked if she noticed any foam coming from his mouth when he was hospitalised in March, she said there was "some foam building on the corner of his mouth" and clarified it was some dry white substance.

Mr Bravinder said they loaded Floyd into the ambulance so he could get care "in an optimum environment", but also because bystanders "appeared very upset on the sidewalk", and there was some yelling. "We've 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".

Minnesota is a rarity in explicitly permitting such "spark of life" testimony about a crime victim ahead of a verdict.

Defence attorneys often complain such testimony allows prosecutors to play on jurors' emotions.

The Hennepin County Public Defender's Office filed a notice Wednesday on behalf of Morries Lester Hall, 42, who was in the auto with Floyd when police approached him for allegedly using a fake $20 bill at Cup Foods in Minneapolis.

At one point during his testimony, McMillan broke down sobbing, dropped his head, and removed his glasses to wipe tears from his eyes after prosecutors played the video of police putting Floyd in the vehicle.

The bodycam footage continues until an ambulance arrives and takes an unconscious Floyd to hospital, where he was declared dead.

The composite video shows McMillian approaching Chauvin as he got back in his squad vehicle after Floyd was taken away.

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