Testimony is entering its third week in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the fired Minneapolis officer charged in George Floyd’s death. George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd took the stand and gave emotional testimony, crying when he described his brother’s “one of a kind” relationship with their late mother.
Philonise Floyd said he and his brother grew up with their family in a public housing complex in Houston. He described Floyd as a family “leader” who couldn’t cook but made “the best banana mayonnaise sandwiches.”
Philonise Floyd identified several photos of his brother, one showing him with his daughter Gianna, now 7, and one showing him on his college basketball team, a sport he enjoyed his whole life. He said he recognized a photo of his late mother with George Floyd as a child, at first nodding and smiling and then tearing up.
Their mother died in 2018, leaving George Floyd devastated, he testified. Philonise Floyd said George Floyd didn’t want to leave as he stood by his mother’s casket, saying over and over, “Mama.” Floyd said the same words as he was being pinned to the ground by Minneapolis police officers during his fatal May 2020 arrest.
Before the jury was called into the courtroom Monday, a judge denied a defense request for the jury to be further questioned and sequestered in light of the fatal police shooting Sunday of a driver in nearby Brooklyn Center, which led to protests.
“This incident last night highlights, I think, brings to the forefront of the jury’s mindset that a verdict in this case is going to have consequences,” defense attorney Eric Nelson said.
Judge Peter Cahill said the Brooklyn Center shooting is a “totally different case,” and said sequestering the jury now might heighten their safety concerns. He said the jury will be sequestered once they begin their deliberations.
Monday’s testimony began with cardiologist Jonathan Rich, who said he believed the police restraint caused Floyd’s death, leading to low oxygen and causing his heart to stop. Rich testified he did not believe underlying heart disease or drug use caused Floyd’s death, as the defense has suggested.
How Floyd died has been a key point of contention at the trial. Several medical experts testified for the prosecution last week, offering similar opinions about Floyd’s cause of death. On Friday however, Hennepin County medical examiner Dr. Andrew Baker, who conducted Floyd’s autopsy, offered a different opinion — that heart disease and drugs contributed to but didn’t directly cause Floyd’s death.
Chauvin, who was seen in disturbing videos kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder,and second-degree manslaughter.
Chauvin has pleaded not guilty. The other three officers involved are charged with aiding and abetting, and are expected to be tried jointly in August.