Chauvin attorney questions Floyd girlfriend about drug use
Courteney Ross (Screen Grab)

George Floyd's girlfriend on Thursday testified about his prior drug use at the trial of the former Minneapolis police officer facing murder and manslaughter charges over his death.

Courteney Ross, 45, Floyd's girlfriend of nearly three years, took the witness stand on the fourth day of the trial of Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, 45, was captured on video kneeling on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for more than nine minutes during his May 25, 2020 arrest for passing a counterfeit $20 bill in a store.

The video of Chauvin, who is white, with his knee on the neck of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, went viral and sparked protests against racial injustice and police brutality around the world.

Eric Nelson, Chauvin's attorney, has claimed Floyd's death was caused by the drug fentanyl and underlying medical conditions and he queried Ross extensively about Floyd's history of drug use.

Ross, a mother of two who said she had been Floyd's girlfriend since August 2017, acknowledged that both she and Floyd had struggled with opioid addiction.

"We both suffered from chronic pain," Ross said. "Mine was in my neck and his was in his back."

"Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle," she said. "It's something we dealt with every day."

"We got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction, many times," she said.

Ross said she and Floyd each had prescriptions for pain relievers but sometimes they got pills on the street or on the "black market."

She said Floyd had been hospitalized for several days in March 2020 for an overdose.

Floyd had been "clean" after that, she said, but he appeared to have begun using pills again in the two weeks before his death.

- Defense disputes drugs 'narrative' -

Nelson asked Ross whether Floyd had purchased pills previously from Morries Hall, who was with Floyd the day that he died.

Ross said she believed that he had at times obtained pills from Hall.

Asked by Nelson what she thought about Hall, Ross said "I didn't like Morries very much."

Hall filed a notice with the court on Wednesday that if he is called to testify at Chauvin's trial he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Ben Crump, a Floyd family attorney, released a statement after Ross's testimony denouncing what he called "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," Crump said.

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.

Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the police force, faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted of the most serious charge -- second-degree murder.

The other three former police officers involved in the arrest -- Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng -- are to be tried separately later this year.