Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin should not have knelt on George Floyd’s neck after he stopped resisting, a former supervisor told jurors on the fourth day of testimony in Chauvin’s murder trial, as more details emerged about the aftermath of Floyd’s arrest.

The supervisor, now-retired sergeant David Pleoger, said Thursday that Chauvin never mentioned holding his knee to Floyd’s neck in their first call after the incident. Body camera footage captured Chauvin telling Pleoger that officers “had” to hold Floyd down and that “he was going crazy.”

First responders helped reconstruct the immediate aftermath of the arrest — confusion from first responders dispatched to the scene, Floyd’s eventual transport to the hospital and officers’ statements as Floyd’s dire condition became increasingly clear.

The trial has ended for the day and will resume on Friday.

Here’s what to know:

  • Jurors heard for the first time Thursday from a witness close to Floyd, his girlfriend Courteney Ross, who described his loving personality, struggles with drug addiction and the final weeks of his life.
  • Morries Hall, a man who was with Floyd the day he died, plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment if he is asked to testify in court, according to a court notice.
  • A paramedic dispatched to the scene of Floyd’s arrest testified that Floyd flatlined in the ambulance about three blocks away as first responders tried to revive him.
  • As testimony shifted to address Floyd’s struggle with addiction, attorneys for his family released a public statement to dispel attacks on his character that they anticipate from Chauvin’s defense team.
10:53 p.m.
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Former sergeant says Chauvin did not initially say he had his knee on Floyd’s neck

In his first call with his supervisor after the deadly arrest of Floyd, Chauvin did not mention that he held his knee on Floyd’s neck, former Minneapolis police sergeant David Pleoger testified.

Pleoger, the precinct’s supervisor before he retired, said in court Thursday that he called Chauvin after a 911 dispatcher reached out with worries.

“She called to say she didn’t mean to be a snitch, but she’d seen something while viewing a camera that she thought was concerning,” Pleoger said.

In a body-camera video taken by Chauvin, he can be heard answering Pleoger’s call, telling his supervisor that the officers “had” to hold Floyd down because he was not going into the police car.

“He was going crazy,” Chauvin claimed to his supervisor.

Pleoger testified that he told Chauvin to turn off his camera for the conversation and that the call continued, with Chauvin saying Floyd was “combative.” Pleoger then went to the scene to investigate.

Pleoger said that putting pressure on a suspect’s neck is not necessarily a use of force if an officer briefly takes that position when arresting someone. But he said that once the suspect is under control — in handcuffs or not fighting — the restraint is not necessary. Witness video captured Chauvin’s restraint of Floyd’s neck while Floyd was motionless.

The 911 dispatcher called Pleoger, telling him that the officers got something out of a patrol car “and all of them sat on this man,” according to audio of the call played in court.

The dispatcher asked whether officers alerted him to the use of force.

“I’ll find out,” he responded.

Pleoger said he was not aware of the force placed on Floyd’s neck until a later conversation with Chauvin, after Floyd was taken to the hospital. Pleoger testified that Chauvin said “he knelt on Floyd or knelt on his neck, something of that nature.” Chauvin did not say how long he had applied that pressure, Pleoger said.

After learning that Floyd had died, Pleoger said, he told Chauvin to “get down to 108,” a room in city hall where officers would gather after a “critical incident.”

9:45 p.m.
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Chauvin should not have knelt on Floyd after he stopped resisting, former sergeant says

Officers had no reason to use force on Floyd after he stopped resisting while handcuffed, former Minneapolis police sergeant David Pleoger testified.

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

“Yes. … When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint,” Pleoger said.

Pleoger affirmed that kneeling is a use of force, that the restraint “should stop” once a subject “is handcuffed and no longer resisting.”

Nelson, the defense attorney, had questioned Pleoger’s authority on the issue, emphasizing he did not see all of the evidence in the case or formally review Chauvin’s use of force for the police department. The now-retired sergeant responded to the incident, spoke with the officers involved and later reviewed body-camera footage, according to his testimony.

“While he may have seen certain body-camera footage and made some determination based on that limited information,” Nelson said, “he hasn’t seen everything else. And so it’s not within his purview.”

But Cahill, the judge, said he understood Schleicher to be asking a narrower opinion, based on Pleoger’s broader experience reviewing officers’ use of force. Cahill let the prosecutor proceed.

Nelson focused on the part of the police department’s use-of-force policy that says medical assistance should be given “as soon as reasonably practical.” He asked Pleoger about instances that could delay an officer in providing medical help, including if a “volatile” crowd was gathered at the scene or if paramedics were on the way.

Pleoger confirmed that such situations could hinder providing immediate care.

8:51 p.m.
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Policy requires rolling prone, restrained people into ‘recovery position,’ retired sergeant says

Minneapolis police policy requires officers to roll prone, restrained people into a “recovery position” on their side to avert potential breathing problems, testified David Pleoger, a recently retired Minneapolis police sergeant.

If you restrain somebody or leave them on their chest and stomach for too long, their breathing can become compromised,” said Pleoger, saying that the dangers of “positional asphyxia” were included in training and well-known in the police department. Pleoger said he has personally known about the condition for 10 or 15 years.

Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes as the man lay face down and handcuffed.

Pleoger affirmed that the threat of “positional asphyxia” could stem from just a person’s body weight, without additional pressure.

So the danger is there without anyone pressing down on them,” prosecutor Steve Schleicher said.

Yes, Pleoger said.

Body camera video captured Thomas Lane, who also faces criminal charges, asking Chauvin if they should turn Floyd on his side. Chauvin said it was not necessary.

The state previewed Pleoger’s testimony in opening statements Monday. Prosecutor Jerry Blackwell told the jury that Pleoger would tell them “the force against Mr. Floyd should have ended as soon as they put him on the ground.”

8:09 p.m.
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Fire captain says he understood off-duty firefighter’s distress after seeing ‘severity’ of Floyd’s condition

Jeremy Norton, a Minneapolis fire captain, testified Thursday that he sent crews to check on a distraught off-duty firefighter who tried to intervene in Floyd’s arrest, realizing “the justification for her duress” as he saw Floyd’s poor condition in an ambulance.

We came in with very little information,” Norton testified, saying he did not initially understand why the off-duty first responder, Genevieve Hansen, was so distressed.

Hansen testified tearfully earlier this week that she was “desperate” to help Floyd, and jurors heard her 911 call: “I literally watched police officers not take a pulse and not do anything to save a man,” she said at the time.

Norton said Thursday that “once we got in the ambulance and I saw the severity of Mr. Floyd’s condition and the gravity, I understood, I was able to infer or put together what she had been talking about. And I understood the justification for her duress. And so I sent my crew back to check on her to make sure she was okay.”

Norton said he walked past Hansen upon arriving at the scene of Floyd’s arrest, and went inside Cup Foods, looking for an injured person. Floyd was actually pinned outside the store.

The call was confusing because we did not have a lot of information,” said Norton, a certified EMT who has been with the city fire department for more than two decades. “So I did not have a patient description.”

He said he gathered from Hansen and an “upset” crowd that Floyd had been injured in a “scuffle” with police.

Eventually, Norton said, he and his partner entered the ambulance where Floyd was lying face up on a stretcher, unresponsive, a breathing tube down his throat and a device working to compress his heart. Floyd was taken to the hospital.

7:15 p.m.
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‘I was trying to give him a second chance at life,’ paramedic recalls

While Floyd remained in what Smith described as “a dead state,” the paramedic recounted to prosecutors Thursday how he administered a shock with a defibrillator to try to get the 46-year-old out of cardiac arrest.

When asked by prosecutors to walk them through the process for a potentially lifesaving situation like the one May 25, Smith said he hoped the action would help resuscitate Floyd.

“He’s a human being, and I was trying to give him a second chance at life,” Smith said.

But Smith said to the court that Floyd remained in cardiac arrest and “was still deceased” by the time they arrived at the hospital.

Responding to whether police could have started medical treatment to Floyd, Smith told the defense there was “no reason” Chauvin and the officers couldn’t have started chest compressions before paramedics arrived.

6:53 p.m.
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Second paramedic says about Floyd: ‘I thought he was dead’

When the trial reconvened after lunch Thursday, a paramedic testified to prosecutors that he thought Floyd was already dead by the time emergency medical services arrived May 25.

“In lay terms, I thought he was already dead,” said Derek Smith, a paramedic with Hennepin County EMS. “I looked for my partner and told him, ‘I think he’s dead.’ ”

Smith said he wanted to move Floyd “as quickly as possible” to begin resuscitation efforts, believing he was suffering from cardiac arrest. The paramedic added that there were no medical services being provided to Floyd when he arrived.

Smith followed the testimony from his colleague Seth Bravinder, who told prosecutors that he did not see Floyd breathing or moving outside Cup Foods.

5:23 p.m.
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Paramedic describes Floyd flatlining in ambulance as first responders removed him from the scene

A paramedic dispatched to the scene of Floyd’s arrest testified that he flatlined in the ambulance about three blocks away as first responders tried to revive him.

Seth Bravinder, a Hennepin County paramedic, testified Thursday that he arrived at the scene to find Floyd handcuffed on the ground with officers on top of him. Bravinder said he was standing a short distance away but suspected Floyd was already in cardiac arrest.

“From what I could see where I was at, I couldn’t see any breathing,” Bravinder said Thursday.

As he helped to load Floyd onto a stretcher, he testified to holding Floyd’s head to keep it from “slamming on the pavement.”

“I guess limp would be the best description,” Bravinder said. “He was unresponsive and wasn’t holding his head up.”

Floyd was then placed in the ambulance. About three blocks away, Bravinder testified, the paramedic noted that the cardiac monitor was showing asystole — otherwise known as a flatline.

“It basically tells us your heart isn’t really doing anything at that moment,” he said.

Bravinder said Floyd was administered a shot of adrenaline as is typical with patients whose heart has stopped. “[It’s] something we’re going to give to hopefully help the heart start working again.”

Shortly before the court took a recess for lunch, Bravinder added that at no point did Floyd regain a pulse.

4:37 p.m.
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Paramedic testifies not seeing ‘any breathing or movement’ from Floyd when he arrived

Paramedic Seth Bravinder testified on April 1 about how he perceived George Floyd’s condition when he first arrived at the scene on May 25, 2020. (The Washington Post)

A paramedic who arrived outside Cup Foods last May testified Thursday that he saw Floyd as lifeless once he got closer to the scene.

“I didn’t see any breathing or movement,” Seth Bravinder recalled to prosecutors.

Bravinder, a paramedic with Hennepin County EMS, testified that when he was initially called to the scene May 25, it was considered not to be a life-threatening situation. But that soon changed, he said.

The paramedic said he was not sure what condition Floyd was in when they arrived at Cup Foods because “multiple officers were on top of the patient.”

“I assumed there was potentially some struggle still since they were on top of him,” Bravinder said.

4:24 p.m.
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Floyd family lawyers say they expect defense to cast Floyd’s character, addiction struggles in negative light

As witness testimony Thursday shifted to address George Floyd’s struggle with opioid addiction, attorneys for the Floyd family released a public statement to dispel attacks on his character that they anticipate from Chauvin’s defense team.

“We fully expected the defense to put George’s character and struggles with addiction on trial because that is the go-to tactic when the facts are not on your side,” Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, lawyers for Floyd’s family, said in a statement released during a morning recess.

Floyd was “walking, talking, laughing, and breathing just fine before Derek Chauvin held his knee to George’s neck,” the attorneys wrote, casting Chauvin’s behavior as an outlier. “Tens of thousands of Americans struggle with self-medication and opioid abuse and are treated with dignity, respect and support, not brutality.”

The first testimony of the day came from Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend, who fondly remembered his warmth and charm while also sharing his struggle with an addiction to prescription opioids she said stemmed from chronic back pain.

3:45 p.m.
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Chauvin’s defense focuses on man who was with Floyd at Cup Foods

During Ross’s cross-examination Thursday, Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson repeatedly asked Floyd’s girlfriend about the man who was with Floyd at Cup Foods when police approached his car.

Nelson and the defense team for the former Minneapolis police officer mentioned Morries Hall roughly 15 times Thursday, focusing on the man who hung around with Floyd and allegedly sold him controlled substances. Hall was sitting in the front passenger seat of the car when police approached Floyd about allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.

Hall, who was looked at as a potential witness for Chauvin’s defense team, plans to invoke the Fifth Amendment if he is asked to testify in court, according to a court notice filed Wednesday.

When asked by Nelson about Hall, Ross said although Floyd hung out with him from time to time, she “didn’t like Morries very much.”

3:21 p.m.
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Floyd tested positive for coronavirus months before his death, girlfriend says

Courteney Ross, George Floyd’s girlfriend, teared up on April 1 remembering the man she had known as “Floyd” during the fourth day of testimony. (The Washington Post)

Floyd tested positive for the coronavirus in “late March” 2020, his girlfriend told the court Thursday.

Ross said that she and Floyd were tested and that while her results were negative, Floyd told her his were positive. The two did not live together, she said, and Floyd had already been in quarantine when he learned of the results because his roommates had tested positive.

She had previously told The Washington Post’s Robert Samuels that Floyd was asymptomatic.

Ross described Floyd as constantly active despite having chronic back pain and said he never complained of shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.

“He would do anything physical,” Ross said. “We were always paddle-boating. We would take walks. He was the type of person choosing to run to the store.”

Questions about Floyd’s diagnosis came after Ross described his penchant for sports and his physically active lifestyle, an apparent effort by prosecutors to demonstrate that his breathing was not affected long-term by his covid-19 infection.

The defense’s strategy includes the argument that Floyd died as a result of other underlying health factors and that Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck was not itself deadly.

3:07 p.m.
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Ross recounts how she and Floyd were ‘classic story’ of opioid addiction

Ross told prosecutors Thursday that the couple’s chronic pain issues led to their addiction to opioids.

“It’s a classic story of how many people get addicted to opioids,” Ross, 45, said in court, adding that she suffered from pain in her neck and Floyd in his back. “We both had prescriptions. After the prescriptions were filled, we got addicted and tried really hard to break that addiction many times.”

Ross said they bought opioids, mostly OxyContin and oxycodone, off the black market and through street purchases.

“Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle and something that we dealt with every day,” she recalled. “It’s something that doesn’t come and go. It’s something we dealt with forever.”

3:00 p.m.
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Floyd was ‘a shell of himself’ after mother’s death in 2018, girlfriend testifies

The 2018 death of Floyd’s mother left him “devastated” and ushered in a noticeable change in him, Ross, his girlfriend, testified Thursday.

“Floyd is what I’d call a mama’s boy, I could tell from the minute I met him,” said Ross, 45, smiling through tears. After Floyd’s mother died and he returned from his native Houston, “he seemed like a shell of himself,” Ross said.

“He seemed broken,” she added. “He seemed so sad. He didn’t have the same kind of bounce that he had. He was devastated.”

Ross described their close but on-again, off-again relationship after meeting in 2017 and described him fondly as a loving father, devoted son and kind man who offered to pray with her when he first met her.

Ross’s humanizing portrait contrasts with the defense’s narrative of him as a police suspect who was resistant and hard to control. Ross spoke about Floyd’s struggles with grief after his mother’s death and also his addiction to prescription opioids due to chronic back pain.

2:42 p.m.
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Floyd’s girlfriend tearfully remembers the first time she met him: ‘He said, can I pray with you?’

Before she could even begin the story of how they met in August 2017, Courteney Ross teared up Thursday morning remembering the man she always knew as “Floyd.”

Ross, 45, recalled to prosecutors how she was waiting on her son’s father in the lobby of a Salvation Army shelter when she first noticed a security guard walking up to her. She was upset and tired, but was comforted by the “great, deep Southern voice” that came from the man’s mouth.

“He’s like, ‘Sis, are you okay, sis?’ I said, ‘No, I’m just waiting for my son’s father.’ He said, ‘Can I pray with you?’” she testified. “I was so tired, and we had been through so much … and this kind person coming up to me saying ‘Can I pray with you?’ when I felt alone in this lobby, it was so sweet.”

Ross said she had lost faith in God around that time, and that Floyd gave her new life.