Key takeaways from day 4 of the Chauvin trial: Paramedics say Floyd was unresponsive when they arrived

Dylan Stableford and Crystal Hill
·5-min read

The fourth day of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin’s trial featured testimony from George Floyd’s longtime girlfriend as well as from first responders who attempted to resuscitate him after his fateful encounter with police.

Jurors heard from five witnesses on Thursday, including paramedics and other emergency workers called to the scene where Chauvin pinned Floyd against the pavement by placing a knee on his neck.

In all, 17 people, most of whom witnessed Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death firsthand, have testified in case so far.

Chauvin, 45, is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s death. His murder trial is expected to take several weeks.

Here are the key takeaways from day four.

Floyd’s girlfriend takes the stand; Floyd family attorney speaks out

Courteney Batya Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend, testified that she and Floyd struggled with an opioid addiction and that Floyd used drugs while grieving the death of his mother.

A prosecution witness, Ross testified under cross-examination that Floyd was hospitalized following an overdose in March 2020, two months before his own death. Ross said she had taken Floyd to the hospital because he complained he wasn’t feeling well and that his stomach hurt. She later learned that Floyd suffered an overdose, but she never learned what drugs had caused it.

Courteney Batya Ross
Courteney Batya Ross testifying in the Derek Chauvin trial. (Court TV via Reuters)

Floyd’s May 25, 2020, death was declared a homicide by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, which concluded that the 46-year-old died from “cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression.” The report also listed “other significant conditions,” including heart disease, fentanyl intoxication and “recent methamphetamine use.”

As Ross delivered her testimony, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, attorneys for Floyd’s family, issued a statement to reporters that criticized the defense team for attempting to “construct the narrative” that the fentanyl discovered in Floyd’s system was the cause of his death.

“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,” the attorneys said in a statement released to reporters as Ross testified.

From left, Terrence Floyd, Ben Crump, Philonise Floyd, and Al Sharpton
From left, Terrence Floyd, brother of George Floyd; attorney Ben Crump; Philonise Floyd, brother of George Floyd, and the Rev. Al Sharpton hold a news conference on the first day of the Derek Chauvin murder trial, March 29, 2021. (Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via AP)

Ross also testified that at the time of his death, Floyd was still grieving the loss of his mother, who passed away two years earlier. Earlier in the trial, prosecutors played video filmed by bystanders in which Floyd calls out “Mama!” as Chauvin applies pressure to Floyd’s neck with his knee.

After returning from her funeral in Houston in May 2018, Ross said that Floyd, who she described as a “mama’s boy,” seemed “like a shell of himself.”

"He was broken,” she said.

During cross-examination from defense attorney Eric Nelson, Ross said that Floyd also called her “mama,” raising the possibility that Floyd had called out for his girlfriend — rather than his mother — during his final moments alive.

Paramedics say Chauvin stayed on Floyd’s neck after they arrived

Seth Zachary Bravinder, a paramedic with the local EMS who treated Floyd, testified that he asked Chauvin to get off Floyd’s neck so they “could move the patient” to begin resuscitation.

When he arrived, Bravinder had assumed there was potentially an ongoing struggle because police officers were still on top of Floyd.

But Bravinder and his partner soon discovered that Floyd was “unresponsive,” didn’t have a pulse and appeared to be in cardiac arrest.

Derek Smith and Seth Zachary Bravinder
Derek Smith and Seth Zachary Bravinder, Hennepin County paramedics work to resucitate George Floyd on May 25, 2020 in this video evidence in the Derek Chauvin trial in Minneapolis, MN. on April 1, 2021. (Court TV via Reuters Video)

According to Bravinder, the paramedics loaded Floyd into the ambulance in part to get away from the crowd of bystanders who appeared to be angry.

Bravinder’s partner, Derek Smith, testified that he checked Floyd’s pupils and determined that they were dilated, and that he also did not detect a pulse.

“In lay terms, I thought he was dead,” Smith said.

Smith later said there was no reason Minneapolis police could not have started chest compressions before emergency responders arrived. “Any lay person can do chest compressions,” he said.

Seth Zachary Bravinder and Derek Smith
Paramedics Seth Zachary Bravinder and Derek Smith. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: Court TV via Reuters)

Minnesota police sergeant believes restraint on Floyd went too far

Former Minneapolis Police Sgt. David Pleoger, a shift supervisor at the time of the incident, told prosecuting attorney Steve Schleicher that he believes the use of restraint on Floyd should have ended when he no longer resisted.

“Based on your review of the body-worn camera footage,” Schleicher asked Pleoger, “do you have an opinion as to when the restraint of Floyd should have ended in this encounter?”

“Yes,” Pleoger said.

“What is it?” Schleicher asked.

“When Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers,” Pleoger said.

Pleoger also testified that he did not know Floyd had died until he and the other officers who were involved in the incident went to Hennepin County Medical Center. It was there that Chauvin told Pleoger that he had knelt on Floyd’s neck, according to Pleoger’s testimony.

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