"I know Floyd stood for what's fair, Floyd stood for what's right," Courteney Ross said after the verdict that convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin for George Floyd's murder

By Jeff Truesdell
April 21, 2021 12:07 PM
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Courteney Ross
Courteney Ross
| Credit: Dominick Sokotoff/Shutterstock

Amid the jubilation in the streets of Minneapolis Tuesday after the guilty verdict that convicted former police officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd, the victim's girlfriend was handed the microphone.

"I love him with all my heart, and I'd do anything to have him standing next to me again today," Courteney Ross said while surrounded by a small crowd.

"But I know, I know, he gave his life so this could happen," she said. "And I know that he gave his life so that other people's cases can get reopened, we can re-examine the cases that were closed, we can get justice for people that deserve it."

Ross, 45, had testified during Chauvin's trial about the couple's three-year relationship before Floyd, 46, was killed last May while in police custody for allegedly spending a counterfeit $20 bill, held facedown on the ground with Chauvin's knee pinned to his neck for approximately nine minutes.

Chauvin, 44, who was fired from the Minneapolis police force after his actions, was convicted of all charges against him: second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. He will be sentenced in two months.

Listen below to the episode of our daily podcast PEOPLE Every Day for more on Derek Chauvin's conviction.

His defense had argued that it wasn't Chauvin's force that killed Floyd, but rather Floyd's underlying medical conditions and history of drug use. And in court, Ross had described their joint opioid abuse, including Floyd's hospitalization after what she feared was an overdose, and their struggle to quit their addictions.

RELATED VIDEO: Derek Chauvin Convicted of All Charges in Murder of George Floyd

But Ross, a mother of two, also recalled his compassion, how they'd met and shared their first kiss at a homeless shelter where Floyd worked as a security guard, echoing other descriptions by friends who previously described Floyd as a "person of peace" anchored in his faith who was trying to leave his past troubles behind.

George Floyd and Derek Chauvin
George Floyd, at left, and Derek Chauvin
| Credit: Splash

"He approached me with prayer," she told onlookers Tuesday. "He asked me if he could pray with me, 'cause he knew I was down and out. So I want everyone to remember, whoever you pray to, whatever you believe in, God is good, God proved that today, thank you father God!"

She continued, in support of those who'd gathered to anxiously await the verdict: "Thank you father God, for giving us this moment, we needed this. Minneapolis needed it, my young people needed it, all my protesters, everybody out on the streets, boots on the ground, I know everyone's tired. I can't thank you enough. Floyd can't thank you enough."

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"His spirit is here with y'all, and his big arms are reaching around everybody in this town," she said. "This is y'all's big, big, big, big hug.

"I know Floyd stood for what's fair, Floyd stood for what's right, Floyd stood for those that were voiceless ... keep yelling, don't let anybody put your voice down in life," she said. "Keep it up."

"Today it's a moment to celebrate," she said. "I want everyone to take a night to just be glad that we have one day of victory. The battle's gonna continue, we know that, but one day we can just celebrate and be happy today. ... Put your arms around somebody today. Put your arms around somebody. Get your hug on, get your love on. Let's — can't we all just love each other for a moment."

To help combat systemic racism, consider learning from or donating to these organizations:

  • Campaign Zero (joincampaignzero.org) which works to end police brutality in America through research-proven strategies.
  • ColorofChange.org works to make the government more responsive to racial disparities.
  • National Cares Mentoring Movement (caresmentoring.org) provides social and academic support to help Black youth succeed in college and beyond.