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Apr. 1 highlights for the murder trial of Derek Chauvin Day 4

Highlights from Day 4 of the trial of Derek Chauvin. Paramedics and a retired sergeant describe their experiences surrounding the death of George Floyd.
A woman protests outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is being held, on March 31, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn.A woman protests outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of
A woman protests outside the Hennepin County Government Center, where the trial of former police officer Derek Chauvin is being held, on March 31, 2021 in Minneapolis, Minn.Kerem Yucel / AFP - Getty Images

Live coverage of this blog has ended, please click here for the latest coverage of Derek Chauvin's trial.

A former Minneapolis police sergeant who was Derek Chauvin's supervisor on the day of his encounter with George Floyd was the final witness to take the stand Thursday during the fourth day of witness testimony in Chauvin's murder trial. David Pleoger testified that the officers' restraint of Floyd should have ended after he was handcuffed, on the ground and no longer resisting.

The two paramedics who treated Floyd and a captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department, who responded to the scene, also testified, along with Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross.

Download the NBC News app for updates on the Chauvin trial.

793d ago / 10:01 PM UTC

Court adjourned, Friday set to be just a half-day of testimony


The fourth day of testimony in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin ended on Thursday, in a session highlighted by accounts from his supervisor, two paramedics and George Floyd's girlfriend.

Friday's proceedings are scheduled to end earlier than usual with Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill expecting to adjourn no later than 12:30 p.m. CDT. 

793d ago / 9:36 PM UTC

Chauvin should have ended force against Floyd, after he was cuffed and on the ground, supervisor said

Derek Chauvin's former supervisor said force used against George Floyd should have ended when he was handcuffed and on the pavement.

"When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance," that should have ended use of force against him, retired Sgt. David Pleoger told jurors.

Pleoger, who recently retired from the Minneapolis Police Department, testified that he reviewed all of the body-worn cameras of Chauvin and the three other responding officers and that their restraint of Floyd should have ended much earlier than it did.

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked Pleoger: "Based upon your review of this incident, do you believe that the restraint should have ended at some point in the encounter?

Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, objected and the attorneys had a private sidebar with Judge Peter Cahill.

Cahill ordered the jury out of the courtroom and Nelson argued that Pleoger had not reviewed all of the evidence, such as witness accounts.

The debate was primarily over how extensive of an opinion Pleoger would be allowed to give. 

Once Floyd died on May 25, the matter was deemed a "critical incident," and that triggered a review by internal affairs, taking the matter out of Pleoger's hands.

Nelson argued that Pleoger shouldn't be allowed to make a judgment on Chauvin's use of force.

"This officer, Sgt. Pleoger, did not make this determination. He has not done a use of force review," Nelson argued, outside the ears of jurors. "He has not reviewed the entirety of this particular case."  

Cahill ultimately directed Schleicher to withdraw his earlier question but said he could ask Pleoger: "Do you have an opinion as to when the restraint of Mr. Floyd should have ended in this encounter?" which he did after the jury was called back into the courtroom. 

Pleoger responded: "When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended their restraint." 

"And that was after he was handcuffed and on the ground and no longer resisting?" Schleicher asked.

"Correct," Pleoger said.

This gets at the heart of the prosecution's argument that Chauvin did not follow proper protocol in his restraint of Floyd.

793d ago / 8:44 PM UTC

Restrained prisoner should be rolled on his side, Chauvin's supervisor said

A restrained prisoner, handcuffed and feet secured, must be rolled on their side so they're not deprived of oxygen, Derek Chauvin's former supervisor told jurors.

David Pleoger is now retired but last year he was a sergeant and Chauvin’s supervisor on May 25 when the officer encountered George Floyd outside of Cup Foods.

A prosecutor and Pleoger went over Minneapolis police policies and what officers should do when a suspect is put in the "hobble position," when both their feet and hands are cuffed. Former Sgt. Pleoger said officers are instructed to roll a suspect on their side.

“It gets them on their side so they can breathe easier," Pleoger said. “So they don’t suffer breathing complications." 

Pleoger noted that this is the policy even if no officers are putting their weight on a prisoner, as was the case when Floyd was taken into custody.


793d ago / 8:41 PM UTC

State asks about Minneapolis Police Department's policies on when to alert supervisor about an officer's use of force

Mary Moriarty, the former chief public defender of Hennepin County, explains that the prosecution is walking through the Minneapolis Police Department's policy on when a supervisor must be told about an officer's use of force. 

David Pleoger, who recently retired as a sergeant with the Minneapolis Police Department, is testifying about the proper protocol. Pleoger was supervising Derek Chauvin and the three other officers who arrested George Floyd last May 25. 

793d ago / 8:27 PM UTC

Minneapolis police sergeant who 911 dispatcher called after seeing officers restrain George Floyd takes stand

The prosecution has called recently retired Minneapolis police Sgt. David Pleoger to the stand.

Pleoger was supervising Derek Chauvin and the three other responding officers last May 25. A 911 dispatcher testified Monday that she called Pleoger after she watched the officers pin George Floyd to the ground live in a security video.

The dispatcher, Jena Scurry, said the officers restrained Floyd for so long that she asked someone whether her "screens had frozen because it hadn't changed" and "was told that it was not frozen."

793d ago / 7:40 PM UTC

Minneapolis fire captain takes the stand

Jeremy Norton, a captain with the Minneapolis Fire Department, took the witness stand Thursday afternoon in the trial against Derek Chauvin. He was the fourth witness called to the stand on Thursday.

Norton was among the first responders who arrived at the scene of Floyd’s arrest.

793d ago / 7:37 PM UTC

Paramedic: Any lay person can do chest compressions

During a testy exchange, Derek Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, asked Derek Smith, a Hennepin County paramedic who responded to the scene of George Floyd's arrest, about his actions in the ambulance.

Smith testified that his colleague who was driving the ambulance had pulled over to assist him in performing chest compressions on Floyd in the back of the vehicle.

Nelson questioned why Smith didn't ask Officer Thomas Lane, who was fired a day after Floyd's arrest and is charged in his death, to perform chest compressions instead. Lane had traveled in the ambulance with the paramedics and Smith testified he had directed Lane to deliver chest compressions on Floyd en route to the hospital, where Floyd was pronounced dead.

"Why didn't you just have the officer continue to help you?" Nelson asked.

"That's not what we do," Smith said.

"Is it because he's not an EMT," Nelson asked?

"Any lay person can do chest compressions," Smith responded. "There is no reason Minneapolis [police] couldn't have started chest compressions."

"That's not my question," Nelson shot back. "My question is: He's not an EMT, correct?"

Smith said he did not know the level of certification the officer in the ambulance had.

793d ago / 6:56 PM UTC

Paramedic says he thought Floyd 'was dead' when he assessed him at scene

A paramedic who responded to the scene of George Floyd’s arrest said in testimony Thursday that he thought Floyd “was dead” when he assessed his condition at the scene.

The Hennepin County paramedic, Derek Smith, said Thursday afternoon that he arrived to see three officers on top of Floyd. When he inspected the man he said he did not detect a pulse from Floyd.

“I thought he was dead,” he told prosecutors.

Smith said he looked to his partner and told him, “I think he’s dead, I want to move this out of here.”

He then said he would begin care at the back of the ambulance.

793d ago / 6:46 PM UTC

Trial resumes with testimony from a second paramedic

The trial has resumed after a lunch break with a second Hennepin County paramedic on the witness stand. 

The paramedic, Derek Smith, who was on duty last May 25, said when he arrived on the scene, he believed George Floyd was dead. 

793d ago / 5:43 PM UTC

Attorneys for George Floyd's family say jurors should look past his drug use

Two attorneys for George Floyd's family said jurors should look past his drug use after his girlfriend testified Thursday about their shared opioid addiction.

In a joint statement, the lawyers Benjamin Crump and Antonio Romanucci said they "fully expected the defense" to put Floyd's "character and struggles with addiction on trial because that is the go-to tactic when the facts are not on your side." 

Crump and Romanucci said they "are confident the jury will see past that to arrive at the truth — that 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." 

"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," they said.

Prosecutors called Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, to the stand and questioned her about Floyd's drug use in an apparent effort to head off the argument from Chauvin's lawyer, Eric Nelson, that drugs could have caused Floyd's death.


On Monday, before opening statements, Crump said the defense's strategy relied on "the same old playbook."

"They're going to try to assassinate his character — the fact that they found trace amount of drugs in his system is just a distraction," Crump said. "The thing that killed George Floyd was an overdose of excessive force."

793d ago / 5:15 PM UTC

Paramedic says Floyd's heart was 'not pumping blood' when they tried to resuscitate him

A paramedic who was dispatched to the scene of George Floyd’s arrest testified Thursday that Floyd’s heart was “not pumping blood” as they tried to resuscitate him a few blocks away from the site where he was restrained.

Seth Zachary Bravinder, a Hennepin County paramedic, said Thursday that Floyd’s heart wasn’t “really doing anything in that moment” as they began the process of trying to resuscitate him following the incident in front of Cup Foods. 

“It's not a good sign for a successful resuscitation,” he said. 

“Basically just because your heart isn't doing anything at that moment, it's not pumping blood so it's not a good sign for a good outcome,” he added.

The paramedics in the ambulance then used a LUCAS device to do mechanical chest compressions on Floyd as his heart was not beating. Bravinder testified that Floyd was not revived at any point. Floyd was ultimately pronounced dead.

793d ago / 5:03 PM UTC

WATCH: Paramedic says George Floyd appeared unresponsive when they first arrived on scene

793d ago / 4:41 PM UTC

Hennepin County paramedic who was dispatched to scene of George Floyd's arrest takes stand

Seth Zachary Bravinder, a Hennepin County paramedic, is on the witness stand after a morning break. 

Bravinder was on duty last May 25 and was dispatched to the scene of George Floyd's arrest.

793d ago / 4:34 PM UTC

Prosecution aired George Floyd's shortcomings as well as possible, legal expert says

Prosecutors explained George Floyd's struggle with drugs as well as possible, with an eye toward Derek Chauvin's defense that'll surely put blame on the victim, legal analysts said. 

Floyd's girlfriend Courteney Ross spared no details explaining their shared issues with opioids and even past overdose episodes.

As uncomfortable as that might have sounded to Floyd's survivors, airing his drug struggles was a necessary legal maneuver by prosecutors, according to former federal prosecutor Joyce Vance.

"We know intellectually there's not a death penalty in America for passing a counterfeit $20 bill or for being a drug addict. But that's really the strategy that the defense has in mind here, is to plant in the jury's mind the notion that (Floyd) in some ways deserved what happened here," Vance told MSNBC following Ross' testimony.

"And so here they're able to talk about Floyd's drug addiction in a very human way but also ... they're educating the jury about the fact even if the drugs in George Floyd's system contributed in some way to his death that importantly he was brought back in earlier overdose situations with medical treatment which wasn't provided here." 

Former U.S. Attorney Harry Litman said Chauvin's defense lawyer Eric Nelson could have made more from Ross' testimony with fewer questions.

"A cross should be very focused and make two or three points and out," Litman said. "And instead Mr. Nelson seems to be sort of meandering, repeating the direct, not highlighting what he wants to say, asking a lot of open questions. His goal should be make two or three points and sit down." 

But NBC News legal analyst Danny Cevallos said prosecutors should have brought out more "bad stories" of Floyd's drug problems, to get ahead of the defense.

"I think the AG should have brought out a lot more of the drug use. It kind of looks like they were hiding it," Cevallos said. "Anyone with opiate addiction has a lot of bad stories."

793d ago / 3:40 PM UTC

Defense asks about friend providing drugs to Floyd

Derek Chauvin’s defense attorney asked George Floyd’s girlfriend a series of questions about who provided Floyd with drugs during questions about his opioid addiction.

Attorney Eric Nelson asked Courteney Ross Thursday morning several questions about Maurice Hall providing Floyd with drugs. Hall was a friend of Floyd’s who was with him on the day that he died. Hall was in the passenger seat of the car when police approached Floyd.

Ross said, "she didn't like Maurice very much."

She said she did not see Floyd purchase drugs from Hall "with my own eyes" but speculated that he did.

A cashier at Cup Foods testified Wednesday that Hall had tried to use a fake $20 at the store earlier in the day on May 25, 2020, the day when Floyd died.

Hall has filed notice that he plans to invoke his 5th Amendment right not to testify in the case.

793d ago / 3:34 PM UTC

Why prosecutors are having George Floyd's girlfriend discuss his drug use

Prosecutor Matthew Frank asked George Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, many questions about their shared opioid addiction that she said they struggled with throughout their three-year relationship.

By calling Ross to the witness stand, prosecutors are attempting to not only humanize Floyd but also establish he had a high tolerance for fentanyl. An autopsy determined that Floyd was intoxicated with fentanyl and had recently used methamphetamines.

The defense has claimed that Floyd died from a drug overdose, underlying health conditions and the adrenaline flowing through his body — not from being pinned under Derek Chauvin's knee for 9 minutes, 29 seconds as the prosecution said Monday.

793d ago / 3:27 PM UTC

Prosectors show no qualms in showcasing George Floyd's drug use

Prosecutors didn't hesitate showcasing George Floyd's opioid addiction, a drug struggle that's sure to be central to Derek Chauvin's defense, legal analysts said.

Floyd's girlfriend Courteney Ross, under the friendly questioning of Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank, explained how they both had issues with opioids.

Ross admitted on the witness stand that she went to great lengths to secure various opioids for herself and Floyd. 

Minnesota prosecutors have no choice but to show these cards early, "to take the sting out of it before the defense talks about it," said Mary Moriarty, former chief Hennepin County public defender. 

An autopsy on Floyd showed evidence of fentanyl and methamphetamine use and Chauvin's defense wants to show that factors, other than the officer's knee, could have caused the man's death.

"It's better for the prosecution to detonate their own bombs and not let the defense detonate them," NBC legal analyst Danny Cevallos said. 



793d ago / 3:05 PM UTC

Girlfriend: Floyd and I both suffered with an opioid addiction

George Floyd's girlfriend, Courteney Ross, 45, recounted how they both struggled with opioid addiction.

She said they both struggled with their addiction to painkillers throughout their three-year relationship.

"Floyd and I both suffered with an opioid addiction," she told prosecutor Matthew Frank. "Both Floyd and I, our story, it's a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids."

She said they both suffered from chronic pain. 

"Mine was in my neck and his was in his back," she said. "We both had prescriptions. But after prescriptions that were filled, we got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction many times."

They attempted to work through it together, she said.

Asked by Frank how long they struggled with addiction, Ross said: "Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle. So it's something that we dealt with every day. It's not something that just kind of comes and goes. It's something I'll deal with forever." 

She said Floyd would take OxyContin and Oxycodone. They would purchase the opioids on the black market. 

She said there were times they would use opioids together.

793d ago / 2:59 PM UTC

George Floyd was ‘broken’ after mother’s death, girlfriend says

George Floyd’s girlfriend testified Thursday that he seemed like a “shell of himself” and “broken” following the death of his mother in 2018.

Courteney Ross, 45, said Thursday morning in court that Floyd changed after the death of his mother in May 2018.

“He seemed kind of like a shell of himself,” Ross said. “Like he was broken.”

Ross, who described Floyd as a "mama's boy," added that she could tell he was “devastated” by the loss of his mother.

“He seemed so sad. He didn't have the same kind of bounce that he had,” she said.

“He loved his mom so much,” she said through tears.

793d ago / 2:50 PM UTC

George Floyd's tearful girlfriend recounts how they first met

George Floyd's girlfriend broke down in tears on the witness stand, recounting how they met and how she always called him "Floyd," rather than by his first name.

Waitress Courteney Ross, 45, told jurors it's "one of my favorite stories to tell," explaining how they met in August 2017 at a Salvation Army shelter where he worked as a security guard.

The father of Ross' son was staying at that shelter and wasn't coming down to see the witness, upsetting her as Floyd offered comfort.

"He said, 'Can I pray with you?'" said Ross, as she choked back tears. "I was tired. We'd been through so much, my sons and I. This kind person, just to come up to me [and say], 'Can I pray with you,' I'm alone in this lobby, It was so sweet. At the time, I had had lost a lot of faith in God."

Earlier in her testimony, Ross said she always called her boyfriend, "Floyd," much like his old Houston friends who also knew him as "Floyd" or "Big Floyd." 

793d ago / 2:43 PM UTC

George Floyd's girlfriend takes the stand

Day Four of witness testimony in Derek Chauvin's trial begins as prosecutors call Courteney Ross, who was George Floyd's girlfriend, to the witness stand. 

Ross was emotional from the time prosecutor Matthew Frank asked her how she met Floyd. 

She said it was one of her favorite stories to tell before she broke down in tears. She said she knew him as Floyd and they met in August 2017 in the lobby of a Salvation Army, where he worked as a security guard.

794d ago / 11:32 AM UTC
794d ago / 11:30 AM UTC

New videos show what happened before George Floyd's deadly encounter with police

Christopher Martin, 19, who was a cashier at the store and lived above it, testified Wednesday that he flagged the $20 bill and that he suspected that Floyd was "high" but that he was friendly and talkative. An autopsy determined that Floyd was intoxicated with fentanyl and had recently used methamphetamines.

Martin said he accepted the bill, despite a store policy that said the amount would be taken out of his paycheck, because he didn't believe Floyd knew it was counterfeit. He also said he hadn't been trained by Cup Foods to identify a counterfeit bill. The color of the bill made him suspicious that it was fake, he testified.

"I thought I'd be doing him a favor," Martin said.

Click here to read the full story.

794d ago / 11:26 AM UTC