'A big momma's boy': George Floyd's brother recalls childhood at Chauvin murder trial
Philonise Floyd, due to be one of the last prosecution witnesses in the trial, was called under a Minnesota doctrine that lets loved ones reminisce to the jury about a crime victim in what is called "spark of life" testimony. He also was used by prosecutors to undermine a defense advanced by Chauvin's lawyers that revolves around what George Floyd meant when he told officers he was "hooping" before the arrest.Reuters | Updated: 13-04-2021 01:14 IST | Created: 13-04-2021 01:12 IST
George Floyd grew up obsessed with basketball and stood out even among his siblings for the way he adored his mother, his younger brother Philonise Floyd testified on Monday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin. Philonise Floyd, due to be one of the last prosecution witnesses in the trial, was called under a Minnesota doctrine that lets loved ones reminisce to the jury about a crime victim in what is called "spark of life" testimony.
He also was used by prosecutors to undermine a defense advanced by Chauvin's lawyers that revolves around what George Floyd meant when he told officers he was "hooping" before the arrest. Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter charges for kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes in a deadly arrest last May. Chauvin's lawyers have argued that Floyd's death, which the medical examiner ruled a homicide at the hands of police, was really a drug overdose.
Chauvin, who is white, and other officers were arresting Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, on suspicion of his using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a grocery store. The arrest prompted protests against racism and police brutality in many cities in the United States and around the world. Here are some important moments from the 11th day of witness testimony:
PHILONISE FLOYD, GEORGE FLOYD'S YOUNGER BROTHER Philonise Floyd, 39, testified how he and his older brother and three other siblings grew up in a housing project for poor families in Houston, playing Nintendo video games and dreaming of one day being as skilled as their basketball heroes.
They were raised by a mother everyone in the community called Miss Cissy. George Floyd doted on her most of all, his brother said. "He would always be up on our mom. He was a big momma's boy," he told jurors. "He would lay upon her in the fetal position like he was still the womb."
His was one of the shortest appearances on the witness stand — less than 15 minutes — but involved a pre-emptive attack on a defense Chauvin's lawyers have said in court filings they intend to use revolving around the meaning of a slang term used by Floyd during his arrest: "hooping." Chauvin's lead lawyer, Eric Nelson, has argued, by citing the crowdsourced website Urban Dictionary, that when Floyd is heard in body-worn camera footage telling police he "was just hooping earlier," he was using term referring to taking drugs rectally, which prosecutors have ridiculed.
After showing photographs of a young George Floyd dressed in an orange basketball uniform, prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked the brother: "When he would talk about playing basketball, would he use any particular term or phrase?" "He said, 'Let's go hooping,'" Philonise Floyd replied. "We always went hooping. You have to hoop every day. If you don't go and shoot a whole bunch of shots, like 50 to 100 shots a day, my brother would say he would never be able to compete."
Earlier in the day, Chauvin's lead lawyer, Eric Nelson, sought to have the jury sequestered in light of the fatal police shooting a day earlier of a Black man named Daunte Wright in a traffic stop in Brooklyn Center, a suburban city just north of Minneapolis. Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill denied the request, though he plans to sequester jurors by confining them to a hotel once they begin deliberations in downtown Minneapolis, which is already heavily fortified against potential unrest based on the outcome of the high-profile trial.
The shooting, which police said happened after an officer accidentally grabbed her gun instead of her Taser, sparked a night of angry protests, with Brooklyn Center police firing rubber bullets and chemical irritants to injure some in the crowd. DR. JONATHAN RICH, CARDIOLOGIST
Dr. Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist and medical school professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, was the seventh and final medical expert called by prosecutors. Rich testified that there were several moments when Chauvin could have intervened to save Floyd's life. Rich echoed the testimony from other medical experts supporting the conclusion by the Hennepin County chief medical examiner that Floyd's death was a homicide at the hands of police.
"I can state with a high degree of medical certainty that George Floyd did not die from a primary cardiac event, and he did not die from a drug overdose," Rich testified.
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