Morries Hall, George Floyd

DEVELOPING: Friend with George Floyd during deadly arrest may plead the Fifth to avoid testifying

Floyd’s girlfriend testified that the friend, Morries Hall, gave Floyd illicit drugs the month of his death

A Minnesota judge is in the process of deciding whether the friend who was with George Floyd the day of his deadly arrest will be compelled to testify in Derek Chauvin’s murder trial.

Morries Hall reportedly said on Tuesday that he will invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination if he is expected to take the stand. The Star Tribune reported that Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill will likely rule on the matter later this week.

Floyd’s girlfriend Courteney Ross testified last week that Hall had given Floyd illicit drugs the month of his death. Both the prosecution and defense subpoenaed Hall, but his attorney said his testimony could result in him facing criminal charges — including third-degree murder.

Hall was reportedly inside the SUV with Floyd when Minneapolis police responded to the 911 call alleging Floyd had used a counterfeit $20 bill at Cup Foods. NPR reported that Hall was accused of attempting to use the fake bill before Floyd.

Defense attorney Eric Nelson reportedly said his planned questions to Hall include whether he gave Floyd drugs, whether he gave Floyd the counterfeit $20 he used at Cup Foods, why he provided a false name to police, and why he immediately left the state after Floyd’s death last year.

Cahill noted that many of the questions Nelson wanted to ask Hill would be incriminating. However, Nelson said Hall would not be incriminating himself by testifying about Floyd allegedly falling asleep behind the wheel — which Nelson believes was due to fentanyl use.

Hall appeared in court via Zoom, as he is currently jailed in Hennepin County on unrelated charges. Court records indicate that Hall was arrested in late March on charges of domestic abuse, violating a no-contact order, and domestic assault by strangulation. Hall is also facing felony charges in Redwood County, though the nature of those charges is unclear.

On May 25, Minneapolis police officers were filmed arresting Floyd, 44, on suspicion that he used a counterfeit bill at the Cup Foods supermarket. After police pulled Floyd out of his car and handcuffed him, Chauvin was filmed forcing his knee into Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes.

Floyd was heard gasping for air and repeatedly saying he could not breathe before he lost consciousness and died.

Hennepin County’s official autopsy report, obtained by KARE 11, stated that Floyd’s blood had a fentanyl concentration of 11 nanograms per milliliter. While the medical examiner described the concentration as high and potentially fatal, they stressed that it does not mean Floyd died of an overdose. The report also stated that there was no evidence “to support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation” in Floyd’s death.

However, an independent autopsy asserted that sustained forceful pressure on Floyd’s neck and back led to his death.

Both the county’s and the independent report mentioned drugs in Floyd’s system. However, the two reports listed his cause of death as a homicide.

The defense has argued that a “speedball” — an opioid and a stimulant combination —  along with hypertension led to Floyd dying of cardiac arrhythmia. However, the prosecution said video evidence and expert testimony disproves Floyd was dying from a drug overdose, and that Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for several minutes killed him.

Chauvin is charged with third-degree murder, second-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death. In addition to Chauvin, three other ex-officers, Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34 are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death.

Chauvin is being tried separately from the other three former officers, who will stand trial together. Their trial is scheduled to begin this summer.

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[Featured image: Morries Hall/Court TV via AP, Pool]