George Floyd’s brother Philonise Floyd took the stand in the trial of Derek Chauvin Monday, crying when he described his brother’s “one of a kind” relationship with their late mother. He was one of the prosecution’s final witnesses in their case against Chauvin, the fired cop charged in George Floyd’s death, which has spanned more than two weeks of testimony. Chauvin’s defense is expected to launch its case Tuesday, judge Peter Cahill said.
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. He told the jury to expect to be sequestered for deliberations beginning April 19, following closing statements.
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.
Also taking the stand Monday was University of South Carolina law professor Seth Stoughton, who testified for prosecutors that Chauvin’s use of force was “unreasonable, excessive, and contrary to generally accepted police practices.” The defense has argued Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis Police Department, followed his training.
Chauvin, who was seen in disturbing videos kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes, is charged with second-degree murder, third-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.