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George Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross gives jurors first glimpse of his personal life, good times and bad

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George Floyd’s girlfriend broke down in tears on the witness stand Thursday as she gave jurors an intimate glimpse at the “mama’s boy,” amateur athlete, restaurant lover and struggling drug user whose death prompted nationwide protests against police brutality last summer.

Courteney Ross said she had a relationship with Floyd for about three years after they met in Minneapolis in August 2017.

“It’s one of my favorite stories,” she said, growing emotional and stifling tears as she recounted the romantic beginning.

Ross was among the prosecution witnesses who testified Thursday in the trial of Derek Chauvin, a white, former Minneapolis police officer. He is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in the death of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man.

Ross was the 13th witness to testify, but the first to detail Floyd’s life beyond the day he died.

Floyd was devastated by his mother’s death

The day they met, Ross had gotten off work at the coffee shop where she has worked part-time for 22 years. She went to see her son’s father, who had fallen on hard times and was staying at the Salvation Army Harbor Light Center shelter for the homeless, where Floyd worked as a security guard.

“Floyd came up to me. Floyd had this great, deep Southern voice, raspy. ‘You OK, Sis?’ he said. I wasn’t OK. He said, ‘Can I pray with you?’” said Ross, 45. “We’d been through so much, my sons and I. And this kind person asks if he can pray with me. It was so sweet. … We had our first kiss in the lobby.”

In early 2020, the two separated for a while, Ross said. But from March to early May, they were together every day. She described visits to a sculpture garden, restaurants and other places with Floyd. She choked back tears, then chuckled after being shown a photo that he’d apparently taken himself. She called it a “dad selfie.”

Ross said Floyd was “devastated” after his mother died in May 2018.

“Floyd is what I would call a mama’s boy. I could tell, from the minute I met him,” Ross said. When he returned from his mother’s funeral in another state, “he seemed like a shell of himself, like he was broken.”

Ross said Floyd saved her number in his cell phone as “mama.” Asked by prosecutor Matthew Frank whether Floyd also referred to his mother that way, Ross said: “He called her mama, too,” but in a different way.

Floyd cried out “mama” more than 20 times as police officers struggled to subdue him and as he lay on the ground with Chauvin and three other officers holding him down, according to recordings played during the trial.

One of the Black men on the jury appeared to become emotional behind a face mask during parts of Ross’ testimony.

Both struggled with drug addition

Floyd was usually very active, Ross said, and worked out every day.

“He lifted weights that were far beyond anything I could lift. He did sit-ups, push ups … he would do anything physical,” she said. “Floyd loved playing sports with anyone who wanted to, including neighborhood kids. He’s that person who’d just run to the store.”

He never complained about shortness of breath, she said.

Guilt, regret, helplessness: Watching George Floyd die had a ‘profound’ impact on witnesses

Ross acknowledged that drug use was part of their relationship. The couple sometimes split up for a period but always got back together, she said.

“Floyd and I both suffered from opiate addiction,” she said. “We both suffered from chronic pain. Mine was in my neck. His was in his back. We both had prescriptions. After prescriptions were filled, we got addicted, and we both tried, very hard, to break the addictions, many times.”

On cross-examination by lead defense attorney Eric Nelson, Ross acknowledged that she and Floyd had ups and downs during which one of them sometimes used drugs but the other didn’t.

Many of the drugs were opiates, highly addictive medications obtained through prescriptions of their own or bought from others who had gotten prescriptions, said Ross.

“Addiction, in my opinion, is a lifelong struggle” that continues every day, she said. “It’s not something that comes and goes.”

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NYPD releases video of gunman firing into group in the Bronx

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New video tweeted by the NYPD Sunday shows a gunman wildly firing down a Bronx street into a group of people in Fordham Manor, leaving two men wounded, cops said.

“WANTED for ASSAULT: Do you know this guy?” the NYPD wrote on Twitter.

“On 6/25/21 at approx 11:10 PM, in front of 2710 Morris Ave in the Bronx, the suspect fired several rounds towards a group, striking a 26-year-old male and a 20-year-old. Any info? DM @NYPDTips, or anonymously call them at 800-577-TIPS.”

The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
The suspect who shot at a group of people in the Bronx on June 25, 2021.
NYPD
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
The suspect firing the gun in the Bronx.
NYPD
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
The shooting left two people injured, according to the NYPD.
NYPD

The 26-year-old was shot in the buttocks and the 20-year-old was shot in the leg, police said. Both were expected to survive.

The victims said they were standing with a group of friends when the “guy just came up and started shooting,” a police spokesman said.

No words were exchanged, video shows. 

There were no immediate arrests.

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FDA finds peeling paint, debris at US plant making J&J’s COVID vaccine

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A US plant that was making Johnson & Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine must fix a long list of problems including peeling paint and unsanitary conditions and practices to resume operation, according to a highly critical report by the Food and Drug Administration.

Experts said addressing the issues raised in the scathing FDA inspection report could take months.

Neither J&J nor the FDA has said when they expect vaccine production to restart at the Baltimore plant owned by Emergent Biosolutions. Only two other plants are currently equipped to supply the world with the key drug substance for J&J’s vaccine.

“It may take many months to make these changes,” said Prashant Yadav, a global health care supply chain expert at the Center for Global Development. He described some of the issues raised by the FDA as “quite significant.”

No vaccine manufactured at the Emergent plant has been distributed for use in the United States. However, J&J said it will exercise its oversight authority to ensure that all of the FDA observations are addressed promptly and comprehensively.

The Johnson & Johnson vaccine was put on a pause in the US over a potential link to a blood clotting condition.
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The health care conglomerate has drawn scrutiny for months over its halting process to scale up production of a vaccine that is easier to handle and, by virtue of being a single shot, easier to use than other authorized vaccines.

Its use in the United States has been paused since last week as health officials study a possible link to a very rare but serious blood clot condition.

Emergent has been seeking regulatory authorization to make the J&J vaccine in the United States. It stopped production at the plant recently, saying the FDA had asked it to do so after an inspection.

J&J’s plant in Leiden, the Netherlands, is still producing doses for the world. It has another facility in India, which is currently curtailing exports of the shot as it struggles to vaccinate its own population.

Johnson & Johnson reiterated on Wednesday that it was working to establish a global supply chain in which 10 manufacturing sites would be involved in the production of its COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to the Leiden plant.

The company has a US government-brokered agreement with rival drugmaker Merck, which is preparing to make doses of J&J’s vaccine.

Failure to train personnel

The FDA in its final 12-page inspection report said it had reviewed security camera footage in addition to an in-person site visit to the Emergent plant.

It found a failure to train personnel to avoid cross-contamination of COVID-19 vaccines from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, which had also been produced at the site. The agency also cited staff carrying unsealed bags of medical waste in the facility, bringing it in contact with containers of material used in manufacturing.

The FDA reviewed security camera footage and visited the Emergent BioSolutions plant in Baltimore.
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Earlier this week, the House launched an investigation into whether Emergent used its relationship with a Trump administration official to get a vaccine manufacturing contract despite a record of not delivering on contracts.

Emergent said in a statement that it is working with the FDA and J&J to quickly resolve the issues outlined in the report.

Production of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which is not yet authorized for use in the United States, was previously stopped at the Emergent plant after ingredients from that shot contaminated a batch of J&J vaccine, ruining millions of doses.

The FDA also noted that Emergent did not produce adequate reports showing that the vaccines it was producing met quality standards.

The inspection, carried out between April 12 and April 20, also found the building not of suitable size or design to facilitate cleaning, maintenance or proper operations.

J&J said it was redoubling its efforts to get authorization for the facility as quickly as possible.

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One dead after pair of fires breaks out in Manhattan

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One person was killed and several others were injured in a pair of Manhattan fires Wednesday morning, officials said.

The first blaze erupted in Midtown around 8:15 a.m. inside a DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse at 213 W. 34th St., where an escalator became fully engulfed in flames — sending smoke billowing into the first and second floor and the interconnected 40-story hotel building, fire officials said.

It was not immediately clear which hotel it was.

Five firefighters suffered minor injuries putting out the blaze.

“The fire went out, but we have a smoke condition that we’re trying to alleviate,” FDNY Battalion Chief John Porretto said at the scene. “Units are going to remain on scene until all the smoke alleviates.”

The fire marshal will determine the causes of the fire.

A second blaze broke out 15 minutes later on the Upper East Side at 1576 2nd Ave., officials said.

A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th Street in Manhattan that left one dead
A three-alarm fire at 213 W. 34th St. in Manhattan left one dead.
NYFD

One man died in the fire and a second man was in serious condition at Lenox Hill Hospital, police said.

A firefighter suffered minor injuries battling the blaze and was taken to Cornell Hospital, fire officials said.

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