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Lawyers for George Floyd’s Family Say Jurors Should Look Past Drug Use

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Two lawyers for the family of George Floyd said jurors in the trial of Derek Chauvin should look beyond Mr. Floyd’s drug use after his girlfriend testified on Thursday about their shared struggles with addiction.

The lawyers, Ben Crump and Antonio Romanucci, said in a statement that Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer was focusing on Mr. Floyd’s drug use “because that is the go-to tactic when the facts are not on your side,” and that Mr. Floyd had been fine before the police were called. A day earlier, prosecutors played surveillance footage from inside Cup Foods, the convenience store where a clerk reported that Mr. Floyd had used a fake $20 bill, showing Mr. Floyd in the minutes before the police arrived.

“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,” Mr. Crump and Mr. Romanucci said. Mr. Chauvin is facing charges including second-degree murder in the trial, which entered its fourth day on Thursday.

Prosecutors had called Mr. Floyd’s girlfriend, Courteney Ross, to the stand and were the first to ask her about Mr. Floyd’s drug use, seemingly in an effort to head off the argument from Mr. Chauvin’s lawyer that drugs could have caused Mr. Floyd’s death or led him to struggle more with the police.

Ms. Ross said she and Mr. Floyd had both continued to use opioids after initially being prescribed the pills to treat chronic pain. She said Mr. Floyd had relapsed in May 2020 — the month he died — and had taken a different pill that month, the contents of which she did not know, but which she believed was more of a stimulant. An autopsy by the Hennepin County medical examiner found that Mr. Floyd had fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system when he died.

The lawyers for Mr. Floyd’s family said thousands of people who are addicted to drugs “are treated with dignity, respect and support, not brutality.”

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