• April 20, 2024

George Floyd’s brother Philonise testifies

The jury has repeatedly heard George Floyd’s last words and seen pictures of him dying on a Minneapolis street. But on Monday they got a different picture of him: family photos that were taken all his life, tells of the memories of his younger brother Philonise.

A baby huddled against its mother’s chest. A teenager leaning over a textbook. A basketball player on the South Florida Community College basketball team. A father holds up his daughter.

Philonise Floyd, 39, took the stand on Monday afternoon in the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin and told the jury stories about growing up with his “big brother” when prosecutors showed the old photos.

The younger brother choked on seeing the picture of George – named “Perry” after his father – and his mother. “I miss both of them,” he said.

Philonise Floyd said he was married on May 24th. His brother died on May 25, 2020. And his mother died on May 30, 2018. “It’s like a bittersweet month because I should be happy when that month comes,” he said. He paused to take off his glasses and wipe your eyes with a tissue.

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He testified as a “Spark of Life” witness to help the jury get a better sense of who George was. A 1985 Minnesota Supreme Court ruling enables prosecutors to humanize deceased individuals. “The victim was not only made of bones and tendons covered with flesh, but was also permeated with the spark of life,” the court said.

Philonise Floyd said his brother “was so very much a manager for us in the household.” He was born in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and the family moved to Houston at a young age. The brothers have two older sisters. George Floyd was born after them, then Philonise, and then Rodney.

“He always made sure we had our clothes for school. He made sure we all went to school on time,” he said. George couldn’t cook – he “couldn’t boil water” – but he made “the best banana and mayonnaise sandwiches,” said Philonise.

Philonise Floyd, who is married with two Houston-based children, said he grew up playing Nintendo games with George. He remembered George marking his height on the walls and saying he wanted to “keep getting taller”. He said George was loved in the community.

“People went to church just because he was there,” said Philonise Floyd. “He just knew how to make people feel better.”

The younger brother spoke about George Floyd’s love of sports. He said George excelled at basketball and soccer in high school and received a scholarship to South Florida Community College before moving to Texas A&M University, where he played soccer.

Philonise said George taught him how to play basketball. “He would say man, let’s go mature,” said Philonise.

George also taught him how to play soccer, Philonise said. “I always thought my brother couldn’t throw, but he never intended to throw the ball at me. He would always throw it at an angle where I had to chase it or jump or dive for it.”

Philonise said George had a “unique” relationship with her mother, nicknamed “Miss Cissy”.

“I cry a lot, but George with my mother would only ever be on top of her,” said Philonise. “It was just as unique as they were with each other. He would just lie on her in the fetal position as if he were still in the womb.”

Philonise said George was broken by her mother’s death in 2018. At the funeral, George just kissed her. He didn’t want to leave the coffin, said Philonise.

The funeral was the last time he saw George before he died, Philonise said. But the two of them often phoned in the mornings when Philonise was working as a truck driver.

“He would just listen,” said Philonise.

Featuring: Kevin McCoy and Tami Abdollah


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