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Ahead of the trial of the police officer accused of killing George Floyd, Floyd’s sister is remembering the brother she considered her “best friend.”
LaTonya Floyd told People the last time she spoke with her younger brother, George, the two had sung their own rendition of REO Speedwagon’s “Keep on Loving You.”
“He called me Chief,” she said. “That was by best friend.”
LaTonya doesn’t just miss her brother’s singing skills, she also misses his smile, laughter and dancing.
Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin—who is accused of pressing his knee into Floyd's neck during an arrest in May, even as he pleaded with the officer that he couldn't breathe— will stand trial in Floyd''s death; LaTonya is hoping to find “justice” for her brother.
“I want this man incarcerated for as long as we possibly can. I want him to get the max---because whatever happens to him, he’s still gonna breathe. He’s still gonna be breathing. But my brother can’t," she said.
LaTonya still hasn’t been able to bring herself to watch video of her brother “being murdered” on the street, but said she believes his death has launched a worldwide movement to re-examine racial inequalities.
“The Bible said one man was going to change the world,” she said. “So many people’s lives have been changed.”
The sentiment was also echoed by Floyd’s wife, 40-year-old Jewelz Floyd.
“They say he was the chosen one—and I believe that,” Jewelz told People.
Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree unintentional murder and second-degree manslaughter charges in Floyd’s death and has pleaded not guilty to both charges. Jury selection in Chauvin’s trial was scheduled to begin at the Hennepin County Government Center Monday, according to CNN. But Judge Peter Cahill put a pause on the proceedings amid questions over whether to reinstate a third-degree murder charge, in addition to the second-degree count, according to the Associated Press.
Floyd died May 25, 2020 after Minneapolis Police responded to a call about a man using an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill at an area store. The officers found George sitting in the driver’s seat of a nearby vehicle, handcuffed him and then struggled to get him into the police car, according to an amended complained obtained by CNN.
As the struggle continued, Floyd was placed on the ground as Chauvin pinned his neck and head with his knee for nearly nine minutes as George pleaded for his life, telling officers “I can’t breathe.”
He was pronounced dead at a local hospital a short time later.
Due to the publicity of Floyd’s death—which helped to spark nationwide protests for racial justice—it may not be possible to find jurors who have not heard of the case. However, former chief Hennepin County public defender Mary Moriarty told the news outlet the goal will more likely be to find jurors who can be impartial.
“No matter what a potential juror has seen or heard, can they set that aside and base their decision on evidence in court and the law the judge gives them?” she said.
Prospective jurors, who already answered a 16-page questionnaire in December, will be questioned in greater depth as the week unfolds by Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill, Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, and defense attorney Eric Nelson, NPR reports.
On the eve of the trial, hundreds of demonstrators took to the streets outside the Hennepin County Government Center holding Black Lives Matters signs, carrying bouquets of flowers and even carrying a symbolic white casket covered with roses, according to The Minneapolis Star Tribune.
LaTonya Floyd told People she still struggles to live in a world without her little brother.
"I miss you so much. If I could trade places with you, I would," she said of what she wishes she could tell him today. "I'm having a hard time breathing without you."
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