George Floyd's brother testifies at Chauvin murder trial, telling of childhood

Philonise Floyd calls George 'a big momma's boy' who loved his family

George Floyd grew up obsessed with basketball and stood out among his siblings for the way he adored his mother, his younger brother Philonise said on Monday in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Mr Floyd, one of the last prosecution witnesses in the trial that is now in its third week, was called under a Minnesota rule that allows loved ones to reminisce to the jury about a crime victim in a "spark of life" testimony.

Mr Chauvin has pleaded not guilty to murder and manslaughter after kneeling on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes in an arrest last May.

Mr Chauvin, who is white, and other officers were arresting Floyd, 46, a black man, on suspicion of using a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at a grocery store.

Floyd's death prompted protests against racism and police brutality in cities around the US and the world.

Philonise Floyd, 39, testified about 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 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 foetus position like he was still in the womb."

George was inconsolable at her 2018 funeral, Philonise said.

"He was just kissing her and kissing her, he didn't want to leave the casket," Mr Floyd testified.

His was one of the shortest appearances on the witness box, at less than 15 minutes.

But it included a pre-emptive attack on a defence Mr Chauvin's lawyers have said in court filings they intend to use, involving the meaning of "hooping", a slang term used by Floyd during his arrest.

Mr Chauvin's lead lawyer, Eric Nelson, has quoted the crowd-sourced website Urban Dictionary, saying that when Floyd is heard in bodycam footage telling police he "was just hooping earlier", he was using term referring to taking drugs rectally.

Prosecutors have ridiculed the definition.

After showing photographs of a young George 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'," Mr 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."

He would always be up on our mom. He was a big momma's boy.

Philonise Floyd

Floyd was an accomplished basketballer who played on a community college team in Florida, his brother said.

Dr Jonathan Rich, a cardiologist and medical school professor at Northwestern University in Illinois, was the seventh and final medical expert called by prosecutors.

Dr Rich said that there were several moments when Mr Chauvin could have intervened to save Floyd's life.

He echoed evidence given by 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," Dr Rich said.

Mr 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.

Earlier in the day, Mr Nelson sought to have the jury sequestered after the fatal police shooting a day earlier of a black man named Daunte Wright in a traffic stop in Brooklyn Centre, a suburban city just north of Minneapolis.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill denied the request, although he plans to sequester jurors in a hotel once they begin deliberations in central Minneapolis.

The hotel is already heavily fortified against any unrest after the outcome of the high-profile trial.

Updated: April 13, 2021 03:34 AM

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