Tag Archives: George

George Floyd died of oxygen loss, not pre-existing conditions or overdose, prosecution experts say

George Floyd’s pre-existing medical conditions and drugs in his system had nothing to do with his death, two medical experts for the prosecution testified at Derek Chauvin’s murder trial Thursday. Rather, a combination of actions during his arrest that deprived him of oxygen caused his death, they said.

“Floyd died from a low level of oxygen, and this caused damage to his brain that we see, and it also caused a PEA (pulseless electrical activity) arrhythmia that caused his heart to stop,” Martin Tobin, a lung and critical care specialist at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital and Loyola University’s medical school in Chicago, told Hennepin County District Court.

Tobin said handcuffing Floyd and pinning him face down to the pavement — along with the knees of Chauvin pressed into his neck and back, all combined to reduce his ability to breathe and, ultimately, killed him.

“A healthy person subjected to what Mr. Floyd was subjected to would have died as a result of what he was subjected to,” Tobin said.

‘Pressure on his chest and back’

Dr. Bill Smock, a Louisville, Ky., physician and expert on deaths from asphyxia, agreed that Floyd died “because he had no oxygen left in his body,” as a result of “pressure on his chest and back.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of his neck and back for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video of the arrest captured by a bystander prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests over race and police brutality across the U.S. and around the world.

Chauvin, 45, a former Minneapolis police officer, is facing trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter. Thursday marked the ninth day of the trial.

The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck while detaining him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store, caused his death. But the defence argues Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

Floyd suffered from heart disease and high blood pressure, while toxicology results revealed fentanyl and methamphetamine in his system.

WATCH | Expert explains why fentanyl overdose is unlikely to have caused Floyd’s death:

Dr. Bill Smock, an expert on deaths from asphyxia, said that based on the actions of George Floyd, there was no evidence he overdosed on fentanyl. 0:22

However, Tobin dismissed any suggestion that fentanyl in Floyd’s system led to his death, saying that based on his calculations, Floyd’s respiratory rate before he lost consciousness would have been much lower if this was the case.

“Do any of those conditions have anything to do with the cause of Mr. Floyd’s death, in your professional opinion, whatsoever,” prosecutor Jerry Blackwell asked Tobin.

“None whatsoever,” he replied.

Instead, Tobin went through a detailed examination of Floyd’s death, based on medical records, videos and interviews. Tobin said four things contributed to Floyd’s lack of oxygen: That he was handcuffed; put in the prone position face down on the ground; that Chauvin’s knees were pressed into Floyd’s neck and back; and that his chest was pinned against the pavement, unable to fully expand.

All of these four forces are ultimately going to result in the low tidal volume, which gives you the shallow breaths,” he said. 


In this image from video, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell poses questions in the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who is charged with murdering George Floyd. Two medical experts for the prosecution testified Thursday that Floyd died because of a lack of oxygen caused by the way he was restrained by Chauvin and other officers during his May 2020 arrest. (COURT TV/Associated Press)

Tobin said the way the police were pushing down on Floyd’s handcuffs, combined with Floyd being pressed against the hard pavement, had the effect of putting his left side in a vise “that totally interfere(s) with central features of how we breathe.”

“There was virtually very little opportunity for him to be able to get any air to move into the left side of his chest,” he said.

“He’s jammed down against the street. And so the street is playing a major role in preventing him from expanding his chest.”

Prevented from expanding chest

Based on videos of the arrest, Tobin said, he calculated that half of Chauvin’s weight , 91.5 pounds, came down directly on Floyd’s neck. 

Tobin explained to jurors what happens as the space in the airway narrows. Breathing then becomes “enormously more difficult,” he said, comparing it to “breathing through a drinking straw,” although he later clarified it would be much harder than that.

Tobin also explained that Chavin’s knee on Floyd’s neck “is extremely important because it’s going to occlude (stop) the air getting in through the passageway.”

“Officer Chauvin’s left knee is virtually on the neck for the vast majority of the time,” he said.

Under cross examination, Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, argued that Tobin was making certain assumptions when doing his calculations.

Tobin disagreed, saying he made “very few assumptions.”

But Tobin agreed that, for example, he never actually weighed Chauvin on May 25, 2020, or weighed his equipment.


Defence attorney Eric Nelson questions witness Martin Tobin in Hennepin County District Court Thursday. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

‘That is not a fentanyl overdose’

Meanwhile, Smock, under questioning by Blackwell, stressed that in his opinion, Floyd wasn’t exhibiting the signs of someone who had suffered a fentanyl overdose.

“When you watch those videos and we go through them, what is his respiration? He’s breathing. He’s talking, he’s not snoring. He is saying, ‘Please, please get off of me. I want to breathe. I can’t breathe.’ That is not a fentanyl overdose. That is somebody begging to breathe.”

Smock also testified that the level of methamphetamine in Floyd’s system was “really a nothing level.”

Under cross-examination, Smock was asked whether a “methamphetamine and fentanyl” death is a much different type of a death than an exclusive fentanyl death.

“Depending upon the level, yes,” he said.


A screen capture from an officer’s body-worn camera shows Floyd in his car as police attempt to arrest him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store on May 25, 2020, in Minneapolis. (Minneapolis Police body camera video)

Smock was also asked if he has experience with deaths in people who have ingested methamphetamine and fentanyl and also have cardiac disease.

“Not just necessarily from those, but maybe from something else,” Smock said.

“But sometimes, it could just be from those,” Nelson said.

“It would depend upon the case,” Smock sad.

Smock was also asked if one of the side effects of prescribed amphetamine is a sudden heart arrhythmia. 

“Depending upon the level, it’s a rare side effect, but it’s certainly possible,” Smock said.

And Smock agreed that people have suffered cardiac arrhythmias during struggles with police before.

But under redirect from Blackwell, Smock agreed there was no evidence that Floyd had a heart attack or a “sudden death that looked like an arrhythmia.”

“Did you see any evidence that he died of an overdose?” Blackwell asked.

“No, sir, he did not,” Smock said.

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Chauvin trial witness backtracks on whether body cam captured George Floyd saying he ‘ate too many drugs’

The lead Minnesota state investigator on the George Floyd case changed his testimony at the trial of Derek Chauvin on Wednesday, telling the court that he now believed Floyd said, “I ain’t do no drugs,” not “I ate too many drugs,” during his May 2020 arrest.

Senior Special Agent James Reyerson of Minnesota’s Bureau of Criminal Apprehension initially agreed with Floyd’s defence attorney that it sounded like Floyd said the latter in police body-camera video played in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis Wednesday.

But after listening to a longer version of the recording, Reyerson said, he believed Floyd was, in fact, saying: “I ain’t do no drugs.”

Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin, who is white, pressed a knee on the back of Floyd’s neck and his back for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video of the arrest captured by a bystander prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests across the U.S. and around the world.

Chauvin, 45, is facing trial on charges of second-degree unintentional murder; third-degree murder; and second-degree manslaughter. Wednesday marked the eighth day of the trial.

Drug use a key question in trial

The issue of Floyd’s drug use is significant to Chauvin’s defence. The prosecution says Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck caused his death. But the defence argues Chauvin did what his training taught him and that it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

Floyd had been detained outside a convenience store after being suspected of paying with a counterfeit bill. All four officers were later fired. 

Chauvin’s lawyer, Eric Nelson, had earlier in the day introduced this evidence during his cross-examination of prosecution witness Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant and use-of-force expert.

Nelson played a snippet of video from the body-worn camera of J. Alexander Kueng, one of four officers involved in the arrest and later fired, and asked Stiger if he could hear Floyd say, “I ate too many drug” as he was handcuffed and prone on the pavement, pinned by the officers.

Stiger replied that he could not make out those words in the footage.

Later, Nelson attempted to get confirmation of the comment while cross-examining Reyerson. Nelson played the clip again, and asked whether it sounded like Floyd said, “I ate too many drugs.”

“Yes, it did,” Reyerson said.

After a short break, Reyerson was questioned by prosecutor Matthew Frank and told the court that during the break, he was able to watch a longer version of the clip that included discussion by officers about Floyd’s potential drug use.

“Having heard it in context, were you able to tell what Mr. Floyd was saying there?” Frank asked Reyerson after the clip was played again in court.

“Yes, I believe Mr. Floyd is saying, ‘I ain’t doing no drugs,'” Reyerson said.

Chauvin had responsibility to re-evaluate use of force: expert witness

Earlier in the day, court heard from Stiger, appearing as a paid prosecution witness providing expert testimony on use of force, say that Chauvin had a responsibility to re-evaluate pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck during their encounter as the health of the 46-year old Black man was clearly “deteriorating.”


Jody Stiger, a Los Angeles Police Department sergeant, serving as a paid prosecution witness providing expert testimony on use of force, appeared for his second day of testimony Wednesday, the eighth day of trial. (COURT TV/The Associated Press)

Stiger had testified the day before that the pressure being exerted on Floyd was excessive and could cause positional asphyxia and lead to death. On Wednesday he reaffirmed that the force Chauvin used on Floyd was “not objectively reasonable.”

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked Stiger whether Chauvin had an obligation to take into account the distress Floyd was displaying when considering whether to continue the type of force he was applying.

“Absolutely. As the time went on … his health was deteriorating,” Stiger said. “His breath was getting lower. His tone of voice was getting lower. His movements were starting to cease.

“So at that point, as on officer on scene, you have a responsibility to realize, ‘OK, something is not right. Something has changed drastically from what was occurring earlier.’ So therefore, you have responsibility to take some type of action.”

During cross-examination, Chauvin’s lawyer asked a question he has posed to other witnesses — whether there are times when a suspect can fake the need for medical attention. Stiger agreed there were.

Obligated to believe

But when asked by the prosecutor whether an officer can “opt not to believe” the detained individual, Stiger said an officer is still obligated to believe them. 

“That’s part of our duty,” he said. 

Stiger also testified that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck or neck area from the time officers put Floyd on the ground until paramedics arrived.

“That particular force did not change during the entire restraint period?” Schleicher asked as he showed the jury a composite image of five photos taken from various bystander and body-cam videos of the arrest.


Chauvin, a former Minneapolis police officer, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in Floyd’s death. (COURT TV/The Associated Press)

“Correct,” Stiger replied.

But Nelson was able to get Stiger to agree with a number of statements. Stiger agreed with Nelson, for example, that an officer’s actions must be viewed from the point of view of a reasonable officer on the scene, not in hindsight.

He also agreed that a not-risky situation can suddenly escalate and that a person in handcuffs can still pose a threat to an officer.

Stiger also agreed that when Chauvin arrived at the scene and saw officers struggling to get him in the back seat of the squad car, it would have been within police policy guidelines for Chauvin to have stunned Floyd with a Taser. 

And he agreed with Nelson that sometimes the use of force “looks really bad” but is still lawful.

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Police could have ended George Floyd’s restraint after he was handcuffed, former sergeant testifies

A former Minneapolis police supervisor, on duty the night George Floyd died, says officers could have stopped restraining him after he was handcuffed and no longer resisting.

That testimony from David Pleoger, now retired, was a key part of the prosecution’s case on the fourth day of the murder trial of former officer Derek Chauvin. It included a snippet of a call between Pleoger and Chauvin — in which Chauvin says he was going to call Pleoger and request that he come to the scene where Chauvin and three other officers had had their encounter with Floyd.

Jurors also heard the emotional testimony of Floyd’s former girlfriend along with evidence from two paramedics who attended to Floyd that day, one of whom said that when he arrived, he thought Floyd was dead.

Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in the death of Floyd on May 25, 2020. The 46-year-old Black man died after Chauvin pressed a knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video captured by a bystander showed the handcuffed Floyd repeatedly say he couldn’t breathe. 

Floyd had been detained outside a convenience store after being suspected of paying with a counterfeit bill. All four officers were later fired. The footage of the arrest prompted widespread outrage, setting off protests across the U.S. and around the world.

For the prosecution, Pleoger, who had worked with Chauvin for eight years, and whose duties as a sergeant included reviewing police use-of-force incidents, may have offered the most important evidence.


Courteney Ross, the former girlfriend of George Floyd, offers emotional testimony at the trial into his death. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

Indeed, his opinion on the officers’ use of force against Floyd became a point of contention between the prosecution and Eric Nelson, defence counsel for Chauvin. 

Prosecutor Steve Schleicher asked Pleoger, based upon his review of this incident, if he believed the restraint on Floyd should have ended at some point.

That prompted Nelson to object, who argued that Pleoger, because of the “criticality” of the incident, had hiked the review of it up the chain of command, and that he had only reviewed the police officers’ body camera video.

But Judge Peter Cahill allowed Schleicher to ask one question about Pleoger’s view of the incident.

“Do you have an opinion as to when the restraint of Mr. Floyd should have ended in this encounter?” Schleicher asked.

Pleoger answered: “When Mr. Floyd was no longer offering up any resistance to the officers, they could have ended the restraint.”


Paramedic Derek Smith testified that he couldn’t find Floyd’s pulse upon arriving on the scene. ‘In layman’s terms? I thought he was dead,’ he told court. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

Schleicher followed up: “And that was when he was handcuffed and on the ground and no longer resistant?” 

Yes, Pleoger replied.

Pleoger had gone to the scene after he was contacted by a dispatcher, who was concerned about what she had seen of the arrest on a city surveillance camera.

He testified that, after hearing from the dispatcher, the first person he called was Chauvin.

Chauvin told Pleoger: “I was just going to call you and have you come out to our scene here,” according to a clip of their conversation played in the Hennepin County District Court in downtown Minneapolis on Thursday.

“We just had to hold a guy down. He was going crazy. He wouldn’t go in the back of the squad,” Chauvin said, as the recording cut off. 

Pleoger described the rest of the conversation, saying that he believed Chauvin told him they had tried to put Floyd in the back of the squad car but that he became combative and injured his nose or mouth. He said Chauvin told him that, after struggling with Floyd, Floyd had suffered a medical emergency and the ambulance was called.

Court also heard from Seth Bravinder, a paramedic, who said when he arrived, he saw no signs that Floyd was breathing or moving, and it appeared he was in cardiac arrest. A second paramedic, Derek Smith, testified that he couldn’t find a pulse: “In layman’s terms? I thought he was dead.”

But the most emotional testimony came from Floyd’s former girlfriend Courteney Ross who chronicled some of their struggles with opioid addiction.

Ross wept through much of her testimony as she told the court about how she met Floyd, their relationship, and their battle with addiction to painkillers.

Floyd’s drug use is a central argument in Chauvin’s defence. The prosecution believes Chauvin’s knee pressing into Floyd’s neck as he lay handcuffed on to the pavement was the cause of his death. But the defence argues it was a combination of Floyd’s underlying medical conditions, drug use and adrenaline flowing through his system that ultimately killed him.

Under cross-examination, Nelson asked Ross about some incidents of Floyd’s drug use, including an overdose he suffered in March 2020. 

“You did not know that he had taken heroin at that time?” Nelson asked.

She said she didn’t.

Nelson also focused on pills they had purchased that same month that were different than other painkillers purchased in the past.

Ross testified that instead of relaxing her, they made her jittery, and she couldn’t sleep at night.

Ross also testified that in May, she used similar pills and that she experienced the same effects. Nelson reminded her that she has previously told FBI agents that the pill made her feel like she was going to die, although she said she didn’t recall saying that to the agents.

She said she noticed a change in Floyd’s behaviour about two weeks before his death. Court also heard that she had told FBI agents that the pills made Floyd bounce around and be unintelligible at times.

However, prosecutor Matthew Frank tried to downplay the potential toxicity of those pills, getting Ross to agree that, obviously, neither she or Floyd had died from ingesting them in March or May.

She said Floyd “had a lot of energy” after using them.

Court also heard that Floyd’s pet name for Ross in his phone was “Mama” — testimony that called into question the widely reported account that Floyd was crying out for this mother as he lay pinned to the pavement.

In some of the video, Floyd can be heard calling out, “Mama!” repeatedly and saying, “Mama, I love you! … Tell my kids I love them.”

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Former cashier felt ‘disbelief and guilt’ as police confronted George Floyd

A former Minneapolis convenience store cashier who claimed George Floyd gave him a counterfeit $ 20 bill testified on Wednesday he felt “disbelief and guilt” as he later watched the 46-year-old Black man being pinned to the ground by police.

“If I would’ve just not [taken] the bill, this could’ve been avoided,” said Christopher Martin, 19, who had been an employee at the Cup Foods store.

Martin was testifying on the third day of the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin.

Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in the death of Floyd. Floyd died after Chauvin pressed a knee on the back of Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes as two other officers held him down. Video captured by a bystander showed the handcuffed Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe. 

Chauvin, who was fired from the police force after Floyd’s death, is also charged with the lesser offence of second-degree manslaughter.

Along with Martin’s testimony, the Hennepin County District Court also saw about 10 minutes of video footage of Floyd inside the Cup Foods convenience store, where he had gone to buy some cigarettes.

In the video, Floyd can be seen walking through the store, waiting in line, laughing, and doing what appears to be a brief dance.

Martin testified that Floyd was very friendly, approachable and talkative and that he had asked Floyd if he played baseball.

‘Appeared he was high’

Floyd responded that he played football but it took him a little long to “get to what he wanted to say” and that it “appeared he was high,” Martin told the court.

Martin said he sold Floyd a pack fo cigarettes, at which time Floyd handed him a $ 20 bill. When Floyd left the store, Martin said he examined the bill and determined, because it had a “blue pigment” to it, that it was counterfeit.

Martin also noted that the store’s policy is that counterfeit bills that are accepted by the cashiers will come out of their salary.

He said he initially planned to just put the bill on his “tab” and that he thought Floyd “didn’t really know that it was a fake bill.”

However, Martin notified the store manager, who told Martin to go outside and ask Floyd to come back into the store.


Former convenience store cashier Christopher Martin testified that Floyd gave him a counterfeit $ 20 bill. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

Refused to come back

Martin said he attempted that twice, once with one co-worker, and a second time with two different co-workers. Both times, Martin said, Floyd refused to come back into the store.

It was after the second refusal that the manager told another co-worker to call the police.

After police arrived, Martin said he went outside as people were gathering on the curb and yelling at the officers who were confronting Floyd. He then called his mother, with whom he lived in an apartment upstairs, and told her to stay inside. He then took out his phone and began recording.

Martin testified he saw one of the officers, Tou Thao, push one of his co-workers. Martin said he also held back another man who was trying to defend himself after being pushed by Thao.

Under cross examination by Chauvin’s defence counsel Eric Nelson, Martin told court that Floyd had been in the store earlier with another man. That man, said Martin, had been caught trying to pass off a counterfeit $ 20 bill, one that looked similar to the bill Floyd had paid with, Martin said. 

The prosecution claims Chauvin crushed his knee into Floyd’s neck, an application of unreasonable force that it says led to his death later in hospital. But Chauvin’s defence argues the 19-year veteran police officer did exactly as he had been trained to do and that Floyd’s death was the result of a combination of underlying medical conditions and drugs in his system.

Three other officers at the scene were fired. Thao, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane have been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter, and will go on trial in August.

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Off-duty firefighter ‘was desperate’ for police to let her aid George Floyd, court hears

A Minneapolis firefighter who saw George Floyd being pinned to the ground by police officers while she was off duty testified at the Derek Chauvin murder trial Tuesday that she felt “totally distressed” that she was prevented from providing the 46-year-old Black man medical aid.

Genevieve Hansen was one of a series of bystanders who testified in Hennepin County District Court in Minneapolis on the second day of the trial about what they witnessed on May 25, 2020, as police pinned Floyd to the ground after they detained him on suspicion of using a counterfeit bill at a convenience store.

That included the emotional testimony of Darnella Frazier, who was 17 when she took the viral video of Floyd’s arrest that sparked protests over police brutality and racial injustice around the world. 

Chauvin, 45, who is white, faces two murder charges — second-degree unintentional murder and third-degree murder — in the death of Floyd. Chauvin, who was fired from the police force after Floyd’s death, is also charged with the lesser offence of second-degree manslaughter.

The prosecution claims Chauvin crushed his knee into Floyd’s neck, an application of unreasonable force that it says led to his death later in hospital. But Chauvin’s defence argues the 19-year veteran police officer did exactly as he had been trained to do and that Floyd’s death was the result of a combination of underlying medical conditions and drugs in his system. 

Hansen, who testified in her dress uniform and said she had emergency medical technician training, had been out for a walk when she came across the officers and Floyd.

She said she observed that Floyd needed medical attention and was in an “altered level of consciousness.”


This image from a police body camera shows people gathering as Chauvin presses his knee on Floyd’s neck outside the Cup Foods convenience story in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Floyd later died in hospital. (Minneapolis Police Department/The Associated Press)

Would have checked for pulse

She told the court had she been allowed to assist, she would have requested additional help and had someone fetch a defibrillator from the nearby gas station.

She said she would have checked Floyd’s airway for any obstructions, checked for a pulse, and, if no pulse was found, would have started compressions.

But she said, the officers didn’t allow her to assist.

She was asked by prosecutor Matthew Frank how that made her feel.

“Totally distressed,” she said. 

“Were you frustrated?” Frank asked.

“Yes,” she said, as she broke into tears.

Frank later asked her to explain why she felt helpless.

“Because there was a man being killed, and had I had access to a call similar to that, I would have been able to provide medical attention to the best of my abilities, and this human was denied that right,” she told the court.

She said she pleaded with police and “was desperate” for them to let her help. 

WATCH | Judge Peter Cahill rebukes witness over testimony:

Judge Peter Cahill admonished witness Genevieve Hansen for her responses to defence counsel. 0:50

When ambulance arrived and took Floyd, she called 911. The recording of that call was played in court Tuesday. In it, Hansen tells the dispatcher that she had just watched police officers not take a pulse or do anything to save a man.

But during cross-examination, she grew testy with Chauvin attorney Eric Nelson. When asked about the bystanders expressing their anger at police, she told Nelson: “I don’t know if you’ve seen anybody be killed, but it’s upsetting.”

“I’m going to just ask you to answer my questions as I ask them to you,” Nelson said.

Judge rebukes witness

Her responses to Nelson earned her a stern rebuke from Judge Peter Cahill, who, after the jury had been cleared for the day, warned her that she should not argue with the court or counsel and that they have the right to ask questions.

“I was finishing my answer,” Hansen said.

“I will determine when your answer is done,” Cahill said.

Earlier in the day, court also heard from Frazier, the teenager who shot the viral video, who testified that she had stayed up at night apologizing for not doing more to help him.

Frazier, acknowledging that that video has changed her life, was tearful at times and testified that any of her Black friends or family members could have been in Floyd’s position that day.

She said she has stayed up at night “apologizing to George Floyd for not doing more, and not physically interacting, not saving his life.”

Then she added: “But it’s not what I should have done. It’s what he should have done,” in what appeared to be a reference to Chauvin.

Frazier told the court she had been walking to a corner store with her younger cousin on May 25, 2020, when she encountered police pinning Floyd to the ground.

“It wasn’t right. He was suffering. He was in pain,” she said.

WATCH | Teen who shot video of Floyd says she wishes she could have saved him

Darnella Frazier, the teenagers who shot the viral video of George Floyd, says she stays up at night apologizing for not doing more to help him. 1:07

She said she sent her cousin into the store because she didn’t want her to see “a man terrified, scared, begging for his life.”

Frazier said she took out her phone and began recording. She later posted the video on social media, where it went viral around the globe.

As Frazier recorded, she said she heard Floyd say that he “can’t breathe,” for the officer to “please get off of me,” and that he cried for his mom.

“He was in pain. It seemed like he knew it was over for him. He was terrified. He was suffering. This was a cry for help,” she said. 

As the crowd of bystanders became more hostile toward police, Frazier said that Chauvin applied more pressure with his knee to Floyd. 

She said Chauvin’s response to the crowd was a “cold look, heartless.

“He didn’t care. It seemed as if he didn’t care what we were saying.”


Witness Donald Williams says he called 911 after watching Chauvin shove his knee into Floyd’s neck because he believed he had witnessed a murder. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

‘I believe I witnessed a murder’

Court also heard from Donald Williams, another bystander and witness who continued his testimony from the first day of the trial.

Court heard a 911 recording of Williams, who testified he made the call because at the time, “I believe I witnessed a murder.”

“I felt the need to call the police on the police,” he said.

Williams can be heard on the call with a dispatcher, saying that Chauvin “just pretty much killed this guy who wasn’t resisting arrest.”


Defence attorney Eric Nelson, left, and Chauvin are seen in court on the second day of the murder trial into Floyd’s death. (Court TV/The Associated Press)

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Minneapolis to pay George Floyd’s family $27M US to settle civil suit

The city of Minneapolis on Friday agree to pay $ 27 million US to settle a civil lawsuit from George Floyd’s family over the Black man’s death in police custody, even as jury selection continued in a former officer’s murder trial.

The Minneapolis City Council emerged from closed session Friday to announce the settlement, which includes $ 500,000 US for the neighbourhood where Floyd was arrested.

Floyd family lawyer Ben Crump said in a prepared statement that it was the largest pretrial civil rights settlement ever, and “sends a powerful message that Black lives do matter and police brutality against people of colour must end.”

Floyd was declared dead on May 25 after now-former police officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressed his knee against Floyd’s neck for about nine minutes. Floyd’s killing sparked protests in Minneapolis and beyond and led to a national reckoning on racial justice.

City council offers condolences

“I hope that today will centre the voices of the family and anything that they would like to share,” council president Lisa Bender said. “But I do want to, on behalf of the entire city council, offer my deepest condolences to the family of George Floyd, his friends and all of our community who are mourning his loss.”

Floyd’s family filed the federal civil rights lawsuit in July against the city, Chauvin and three other fired officers charged in his death. It alleged the officers violated Floyd’s rights when they restrained him, and that the city allowed a culture of excessive force, racism and impunity to flourish in its police force.

In 2019, Minneapolis agreed to pay $ 20 million US to the family of Justine Ruszczyk Damond to settle her family’s civil rights lawsuit. Damond, an unarmed woman who was shot by an officer after she called 911 to report hearing a possible crime happening behind her home, was white.

The federal lawsuit sought unspecified compensatory and special damages in an amount to be determined by a jury. It also sought a receiver to be appointed to ensure that the city properly trains and supervises officers in the future.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the settlement might affect the trial or the jury now being seated to hear it. Joseph Daly, a professor emeritus at Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., said it will be hard to stop jurors or potential jurors from hearing about it.

According to Daly, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill “will likely explain to the jurors that each must make a decision based solely on the evidence they hear in the criminal trial.” 

Jury selection continues in murder trial

Meanwhile, another potential juror was dismissed Friday after she acknowledged having a negative view of Chauvin.

The woman, a recent college graduate, said she had seen a bystander video of Floyd’s arrest and closely read news coverage of the case. In response to a jury pool questionnaire, she said she had a “somewhat negative” view of Chauvin and that she thought he held his knee to Floyd’s neck for too long.

“I could only watch part of the video, and from what I saw … that did not give me a good impression.” She said she did not watch the video in its entirety because “I just couldn’t watch it anymore.”

The woman repeatedly said she could put aside her opinions and decide the case on the facts, but Chauvin’s attorney Eric Nelson nonetheless used one of his 15 challenges to dismiss her.

LISTEN | The trial for George Floyd’s killing begins:

Front Burner29:31The trial for George Floyd’s killing begins

This week, jury selection is underway for one of the most scrutinized court cases in recent history: the second-degree murder and manslaughter trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin in the death of George Floyd. Floyd’s killing sparked an enormous, international protest movement for racial justice. Today, CBC senior correspondent Susan Ormiston takes us to Minneapolis to hear from the people there as they brace for this trial. 29:31

With jury selection in its fourth day, six people have been seated — five men and one woman. Three of those seated are white, one is multiracial, one is Hispanic and one is Black, according to Cahill.

He has set aside three weeks for jury selection, with opening statements set to begin no sooner than March 29.

Friday’s quick dismissal echoed others earlier in the case for similar reasons. On Thursday, one woman was dismissed after she said she “can’t unsee the video” of Chauvin pinning Floyd.

Jurors pressed on potential bias

Nelson pressed the woman hard on whether she could be fair despite her strong opinions.

“Looking in your heart and looking in your mind can you assure us you can set all of that aside, all of that, and focus only on the evidence that is presented in this courtroom?” Nelson asked.

“I can assure you, but like you mentioned earlier, the video is going to be a big part of the evidence and there’s no changing my mind about that,” she replied.

Potential jurors’ identities are being protected and they are not shown on livestreamed video of the proceedings.

Chauvin and three other officers were fired. The others face an August trial on aiding and abetting charges. Lawyers haven’t said whether Chauvin will testify in his own defence.

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CBC | World News

George Floyd murder trial tests how much — if anything — will change in U.S.

Bishop Richard Howell Jr. thundered from his North Minneapolis pulpit Sunday that the city “is under great stress right now” as the George Floyd murder trial tests how much, if anything, will change in the U.S. almost 10 months after the killing sparked global outrage.

Jury selection for the trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, whose knee pressing on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes was captured on graphic video last May, is expected to get underway Monday.

“This officer coldly refused to respond to his plea and kept his knee on Mr. Floyd’s neck, snuffing the very life out of him,” preached Howell as his congregants shouted out their acknowledgement.

“A senseless, cold, hideous act of hate, bigotry and brutality,” said Howell, who is opening his church to those who may struggle watching the live-streamed trial.

WATCH | Security high in advance of trial in George Floyd’s killing:

Emotions are high and security is heavy as the murder trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin is slated to begin. The killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, touched off numerous protests and an ongoing racial reckoning. 3:37

Benjamin Crump, the Floyd family’s lawyer, told CBC News that the upcoming case is “one of the most important civil rights cases in the last 100 years. It is the Emmett Till of today.”

Till, a 14-year-old Black teenager, was brutally murdered in Mississippi in 1955 after allegedly flirting with a white woman in a grocery store. His killers were swiftly acquitted.

“Mississippi or Minnesota, I don’t see much difference,” Deborah Watts, one of Till’s cousins, said at a Minneapolis news conference on Friday surrounded by dozens of families whose relatives have been shot or killed by police. “Emmett Till was murdered in August 1955, and we are still fighting for justice.

“Something is wrong with that … we have not made much progress.”

Last summer, millions of people protested across the U.S. against Floyd’s killing in scenes not witnessed since the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Protests against racial injustice and police brutality spread to Canada and many cities internationally.

WATCH | Lawyer for George Floyd’s family discusses upcoming trial:

Benjamin Crump tells CBC’s Susan Ormiston that if the officer’s involved in George Floyd’s killing aren’t convicted, it would be ‘one of the worst miscarriages of justice’ in U.S. history. 1:59

Crump said the video of Floyd — handcuffed, face down on the pavement, gasping for breath — is “ocular proof” of a man being “tortured to death by the very people who are supposed to protect and defend.”

“The world had gotten used to seeing reality TV, but we were still shocked,” he told CBC News from his office in Tallahassee, Fla.

The criminal trial against Chauvin will be prosecuted by the state of Minnesota. While Crump is not directly involved in this case, its outcome will inevitably impact the family’s civil case against the city of Minneapolis and the four police officers involved in Floyd’s death.

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, with the potential addition of a third-degree murder charge. Three other officers involved in Floyd’s death go on trial in August.

Increased security around courthouse

Cameras in the courtroom will capture the trial and live stream it for broadcast on some TV channels — a first for Minnesota. The trial is being compared to that of the Los Angeles police officers who were acquitted in the beating of Rodney King 30 years ago, as well as the O.J. Simpson murder trial, which commanded large TV audiences.

“The killing of George Floyd by Officer Chauvin is akin for many Americans to some type of public lynching, the likes of which we haven’t seen for decades,” said Kami Chavis, a law professor at Wake Forest University in North Carolina.

“I don’t want people to underestimate the power and the importance of this case and what might happen,” she said. “It’s a huge signal, I think, to law enforcement about what they can and can’t do.”


The Hennepin County courthouse and many federal buildings in Minneapolis are barricaded and surrounded by concertina wire ahead of the trial. (Sylvia Thomson/CBC)

The Hennepin County courthouse in Minneapolis is now surrounded by three rings of cement barriers, three-metre high fencing and concertina wire. The state has allocated $ 36 million US to security and has activated the Minnesota National Guard. Staff in the building, which includes the county government office, have been told to stay home.

The courtroom has been modified to accommodate physical distancing due to COVID-19, restricting the number of people allowed inside. One person per family, four each for the defence and prosecution teams and two media members are allowed in at a time. Masks are mandatory, but cannot have anything written on them. 

Challenges in selecting a jury

Three weeks have been allotted to jury selection as lawyers try to screen potential jurors for bias, a complicated task in such a highly publicized case.

Activists in Minneapolis say Chauvin is the fourth police officer to be prosecuted in the death of a citizen in Minnesota. Two were acquitted, while one other was convicted in the death of a white woman.

“For the most part, officers are pretty sympathetic figures in a lot of these cases. And juries give a great deal of deference to what police officers do. So that will be a challenge as well,” Chavis said.


The courtroom for Chauvin’s trial has been modified to allow for physical distancing due to COVID-19. (Hennepin County)

One of those acquittals involved the death of Philando Castile, who was shot and killed by police in July 2016 in a St. Paul suburb while stopped at a traffic light with his girlfriend and a four-year-old in the car. The officer, who was charged with second-degree manslaughter, was acquitted — but fired from the force.

Castile’s mother, Valerie Castile, sent a message to legislators during Friday’s emotional news conference.

“We’re gonna have to be brutally honest about what’s going on in this country”, she said. “To the State of Minnesota: we are not going to shut up, we are not going to sit down, we are going to stand in unity and we’re going to bring it to you”.

‘Many other people were murdered before George Floyd’

The death of Floyd, who was originally from Texas, has propelled the fight against anti-Black racism and police brutality back into the forefront.. Artwork of the 46-year-old’s face has popped up on billboards, buildings and in museums, and his death has become a lightning rod for thousands of Black families whose relatives have been stopped, shot or killed by police in their communities.

“What happened after George Floyd’s death — the riots, the uproar — did not happen as a result of one man’s life. It happened because many other people were murdered before George Floyd. And nothing happened. Nothing changed”, Toshira Garraway, founder of Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, told CBC News.

Garraway’s fiancé, Justin Teigen, died following a run-in with police 12 years ago. According to St. Paul police, Teigen was fleeing police and did not die in their custody.

A mural showing his face along with dozens of others, including Floyd’s, covers the side of a building in North Minneapolis. It serves as a visual reminder of the more than 400 people who’ve been killed in altercations with police in Minnesota in the last 20 years, according to the Communities United Against Police Brutality advocacy group.

“If George Floyd did something wrong, if all the rest of our loved ones did something wrong, [police] were to arrest them. Not take their lives, not destroy our lives,” Garraway said.


Toshira Garraway, who founded Families Supporting Families Against Police Violence, stands in front of a mural of Minnesotans who have died after police encounters. (Sylvia Thomson/CBC)

Crump said the Floyd family is “very, very anxious” and wants “a conviction to the fullest extent of the law.” He said anything less has the potential to unleash more unrest.

Violence and riots last summer in the days after Floyd’s killing burned blocks of the city, with damage estimated at $ 350 million US. Minneapolis is bracing against heightened tensions when the case goes to the jury, which is expected to happen late April or May.

“Historically in America, the police have not been held accountable for killing African Americans,” said Crump, who has taken on dozens of cases where Black men and women have been shot or injured by police.

“The George Floyd case will be a referendum on how far America has come in this quest for equal justice under the law.”

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How the Black Canadian Coaches Association was born from George Floyd’s death

There is an equation St. FX women’s basketball Lee Anna Osei continually instills in her players. 

It reads E+R=O. Event plus response equals outcome. The idea is that if you respond to an event in the right way, the outcome will turn out favourably.

Osei, known as Coach Lee to her players and friends alike, has witnessed firsthand the lack of minority coaching hires across the Canadian sports landscape.

But that’s more of a long-standing fact than an event. And so a response never followed.

Then George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer, sparking a worldwide racial reckoning and increased calls for racial justice by the likes of Toronto Raptors president Masai Ujiri, Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James and Canadian WNBAer Natalie Achonwa.

Those three in particular spurred Osei to a response: the formation of the Black Canadian Coaches Association (BCCA).

“I considered this a passion project to start. But then in realizing the change that it really can have, it’s not just a passion project of mine. It’s a passion project for hundreds of thousands of people,” Osei said.

The BCCA intends to increase opportunities for BIPOC coaches in Canada through its principles of networking, celebration and advocacy through allyship.

CBC Sports visual audit

In July, a CBC Sports visual audit revealed that only about 10 per cent of 400 top positions at 56 Canadian universities are held by a Black person, Indigenous person or person of colour.

“Everyone sees this as a gap that needs to be addressed — not just in Canada. We need to do better. But how we do that is probably the challenging thing right now,” Osei said.

In addition to initiatives such as the Black Female Coach Mentorship Program and The Racial Equity Project, the BCCA plans to maintain numbers on how many coaching positions in Canada are filled by minority candidates. Nothing official on that front currently exists.

Osei says the organization is also hoping to secure funding from the federal government.

Osei, 30, grew up in Toronto’s Jane and Finch neighbourhood. She says she first picked up a basketball “because honestly, it was either a ball or probably something not as positive.”

WATCH | Bring It In’s Black History Month book recommendations:

Morgan Campbell, Meghan McPeak, and Dave Zirin suggest some readings for February as we celebrate Black History Month. 5:08

One of Osei’s first coaching influences was her Grade 6 principal who co-starred as basketball coach. Now, she’s put together a 12-year coaching career herself.

“The most passionate, the most impactful, the most helpful people I’ve met have all been coaches, and that said something about the Canadian context of coaching because there’s not a lot of professional jobs out there,” Osei said.

Corey Grant wants one of those jobs. Currently the offensive co-ordinator of McMaster’s football team, Grant, first and foremost, says he wants the pandemic to end so he can return to the field. 

But the former CFLer would also like to rise the ranks and chart a path for future Black athletes and coaches.

“Representation matters because you want to see what you can be. And sometimes if we’re seeing lack of representation at different levels, especially in coaching and then head coaching, as a player and as a former player, I start to think, ‘Well, maybe I can’t be that head coach.’ As an athlete, you never want to say ‘can’t,’ said Grant.

Grant, 44, grew up in Stoney Creek, Ont., near Hamilton. He spent 11 years as a CFL receiver from 1999-2009 with the Tiger-Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders, winning a pair of Grey Cups in the process.


Corey Grant says the BCCA is important so that young, prospective Black coaches can see a path to the job. (Courtesy Corey Grant)

In the years since, Grant has begun his coaching career, going from McMaster receivers coach to Tiger-Cats running backs coach and back to McMaster in his current role.

As a player, Grant said his sole focus on playing made him block out the various microaggressions he encounters every day as a Black man.

“Sometimes you shake it off because, hey, I got to focus on the game, I got to focus on practice. And now you start to realize, you know what, that’s not good for your mental health,” Grant said.

High school memory

Certain incidents can’t be blocked out though, such as one high school memory Grant says he recalls like it was yesterday.

It was after a school dance and Grant noticed a crowd packed with screaming people in the parking lot. As he walked towards the noise, some classmates stopped him: “don’t get him,’ they said, “leave him, he’s an athlete.”

“It was some guys wearing swastikas and beat up some South Asian kids and ripped off their turbans and beat them to a pulp in the parking lot. You felt helpless. You couldn’t do anything,” Grant recalled.

Grant went home and punched his garage door out of frustration. It was the only thing he could do.

As assistant director of the BCCA, Grant aims to prevent that feeling of helplessness among Black children — specifically daughter Qiawna, 12, and son Devonn, 10, who are both aspiring athletes.

“It’s doing it through advocacy, through our relationships, through celebration and networking, because sometimes there’s that thought of, ‘it’s just me going through this. Nobody else is there with me. I have to deal with this,’ and then that’s where that mental health piece comes in,” Grant said.


Grant won two Grey Cups as a CFL player with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats and Saskatchewan Roughriders. (The Canadian Press)

Grant’s parents were his first coaching inspirations. Father Lynford was a steel worker and mother Hermine worked various jobs when Corey was growing up, but now runs a nursing home.

Their hard work stuck with Corey, who is the oldest of four siblings, plus two foster sisters and a foster brother.

As a player with the Tiger-Cats, Grant met Bernie Custis, the first Black professional quarterback in the modern era, and first-ever in the CFL.

Custis, who played with NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown at Syracuse, is also one of few Black head coaches in Ontario University Athletics (OUA) history.

“None of the [current football] head coaches in the OUA are of colour. So then who is having those conversations and leadership position with the players that are on their team? Who is having those conversations about George Floyd, social justice and injustices and equity?”

OUA announces task force

In August, the OUA announced the creation of a Black, biracial and Indigenous task force to emphasize diversity throughout the conference.

The desire to educate is perhaps what drew Grant to Osei and the BCCA. Having one centralized network to disperse information to coaches throughout Canada could become an invaluable tool.

Not to mention the work the BCCA is hoping to do in providing more opportunities for BIPOC coaches.

“Our goal is really simple,” Osei said. “We’re going to use the platform and leverage other organizations and individuals who believe in our mandate to find the very few people of colour in leadership positions and we want to celebrate them and we want other people to know, hey, that can be you.”

Grant watched recently as just two of seven open NFL head coaching positions went to BIPOC candidates. Eric Bienemy, the Black offensive co-ordinator of the Kansas City team going for its second straight Super Bowl, has now been passed over two years in a row.

Grant says how Bienemy handled that adversity is something he’s drawing from as he waits for his own head coaching opportunity to arise.

“I’m not satisfied with where I’m at, but I’m content right now with where I’m at,” Grant said. “I’m going to continue to move forward. And when it’s my time, I’m going to be ready to shine.”

Since May, a common reprieve in the fight for social justice is that the conversation can’t be left as a moment — it must be a movement.

Osei takes that one step further.

“It’s not a movement. It’s a lifestyle. It’s understanding that this system was built on systemic oppression. And there are so many tangible ways that can combat it.”

“We’re not pointing the blame here. We’re just stating a fact.”

With the BCCA, Osei’s response to systemic racism in Canada is well underway. And if E+R=O holds firm, a positive outcome should follow.

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Former Maple Leafs captain George Armstrong dead at 90

George Armstrong, who captained the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the 1960s and wore the blue and white his entire career, has died.

He was 90.

The Maple Leafs confirmed the death Sunday on Twitter.

Armstrong played a record 1,187 games with 296 goals and 417 assists over 21 seasons for the Leafs, including 13 seasons as team captain. The right-winger added another 26 goals and 34 assists in 110 playoff games.


Known as the Chief, Armstrong was one of the first players of Indigenous descent to play professional hockey.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975. Some 41 years later, Armstrong was voted No. 12 on the franchise’s list of 100 greatest Maple Leafs in its centennial season.

“George is part of the very fabric of the Toronto Maple Leaf organization and will be deeply missed,” Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement.

“A proud yet humble man, he loved being a Maple Leaf but never sought the spotlight even though no player played more games for Toronto or captained the team longer. Always one to celebrate his teammates rather than himself, George couldn’t even bring himself to deliver his speech the day he was immortalized on Legends Row.”

A young Armstrong met Syl Apps when the Maple Leafs star came to his bantam team’s annual banquet. Armstrong would go on to wear No. 10, the first Leaf to do so after the retirement of talismanic Cup-winning captain Apps.

Armstrong would also become one of a select number of Leafs honoured with a banner at Scotiabank Arena, and his number was officially retired in October 2016 at the team’s centennial anniversary home opener.

In 2015, Armstrong and Apps were added to the Leafs’ Legends Row.

Armstrong’s speech released in statement

The Leafs released a statement on Sunday with the words from Armstrong’s unread speech that night.

“Hockey is a great game and I love it. I am part of a fading generation that you will never have again. Every one of us is one of a kind, that will never be repeated. To all of my friends and acquaintances, thank you for your advice and direction, that helped make me who I am today … a very, very happy person.”

After hanging up his skates in 1971, Armstrong coached the Toronto Marlboros to Memorial Cup victories in 1972-73 and 1974-75 before accepting a scouting position with the Quebec Nordiques in 1978.

He spent nine years with Quebec before returning to the Toronto fold as assistant general manager and scout in 1988. Armstrong served as interim coach for the final 47 games of the 1988-89 season after John Brophy was fired following an 11-20-2 start.

The next year, Armstrong returned to his role as a scout for the Leafs.

He scored 20 goals four times during his career but was better known for his leadership and work ethic, helping restore the franchise’s winning touch. A smart player and talented backchecker, he worked the angles to get the best shot at his opponent and formed a formidable penalty-killing tandem with Dave Keon.

Humble approach

A humble man, Armstrong was quick to deflect praise. He credited his players for his Memorial Cup wins as coach.

“It wasn’t because I was a great coach, it was because I had some great players,” he said in a 1989 interview, listing off the likes of the Howe brothers, John Tonelli, Mark Napier and Mike Palmateer.

And he offered a typical response when inducted into the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

“I don’t know whether I deserve it or not, but I sure am happy to get it,” said Armstrong, who lived in several areas of the city before making Leaside his Toronto home.

Born in Bowland’s Bay, Ont., to an Irish father and an Iroquois mother, a young Armstrong honed his hockey skills in Falconbridge near the Sudbury nickel mines, where his father worked.

The Boston Bruins were interested, but Armstrong waited until the Leafs put him on their protected list while he was playing with the Copper Cliff Jr. Redmen of the NOHA in 1946-47. After winning the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the OHA’s leading scorer with Stratford next season, the Leafs sent him to their main junior affiliate, the Toronto Marlboros.


George Armstrong drops the ceremonial opening faceoff to Jason Smith (21) of the Edmonton Oilers and Mats Sundin (13) of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 17, 2007 in Toronto. (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

He was elevated to the senior Marlies for the 1949 Allan Cup playoffs and helped the team win the title over Calgary the next year.

It was during the Allan Cup tournament, specifically a visit to the Stoney Indian Reserve in Alberta, that he got his nickname. When the band heard of Armstrong’s ancestral background, they made him an honorary member with the name “Chief Shoot-the-Puck” and presented him with a ceremonial headdress.

It was a different era and “The Chief” nickname stuck. Armstrong, who was proud of his mother’s heritage, would become the first player of Indigenous descent to score in the NHL.

He spent most of two seasons in Pittsburgh with the Leafs’ American Hockey League farm team before making the big league. He made his NHL debut in December 1949 and became a full-time member of the Leafs in time for the start of the 1952-53 season.

Sign of things to come

“It looks as if he’s going to be here for quite a long time the way he handled that puck,” legendary broadcaster Foster Hewitt said after Armstrong scored his first NHL goal in a 3-2 win over Montreal.

Taking a pass from future Hall of Famer Max Bentley, Armstrong beat defenceman Butch Bouchard and beat goaltender Gerry McNeil.

“I did a little war dance that night, and I think everybody in Maple Leaf Gardens was pretty happy about it as well,” Armstrong recalled 15 years later.

Toronto owner and GM Conn Smythe named Armstrong his captain before the 1957-58 season. Smythe would later call Armstrong “the best captain, as a captain, the Leafs have ever had.”

The Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1962, the first of three straight championships.

Armstrong was 36 when the veteran Leafs won the franchise’s last championship in 1967. His insurance empty-net goal with 47 seconds remaining in the clinching 3-1 Game 6 win proved to be the final goal of the Original Six era.

The six-foot-one, 204-pounder played a few more seasons but suffered a knee injury during the 1969-70 campaign that forced him to retire. Armstrong was convinced to come back for the 1970-71 season before quitting for good at age 40.

At the time, Armstrong had played more seasons and more games as a Maple Leaf than any other player, and was second in career points.

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Why George Springer is such a big get for the Blue Jays

This is an excerpt from The Buzzer, which is CBC Sports’ daily email newsletter. Stay up to speed on what’s happening in sports by subscribing here.

Here’s what you need to know right now from the world of sports:

The Blue Jays gave out their richest contract ever

Toronto has lured centre-fielder George Springer away from the Houston Astros with a six-year agreement reportedly worth $ 150 million US. Here are the key things to know about Springer and the deal, which is awaiting a physical to become official:

This is the largest contract in Blue Jays history. The only other one to hit nine figures was the seven-year, $ 126-million extension signed by Vernon Wells in December 2006. The previous Jays record for a free agent was the $ 82 million given to Canadian catcher Russell Martin before the 2015 season. At $ 25 million per year, Springer’s average annual pay eclipses that of pitcher Hyun-jin Ryu, who signed for $ 20 million a year for four years last off-season.

But this isn’t the biggest free-agent signing in Jays history. In terms of sheer “Holy s—! I gotta tell everyone I know!” impact, that would be the Roger Clemens deal in December of ’96. The four-year, $ 40-million pact worked out pretty well too, at least to start. Clemens won the Cy Young in his only two seasons with the Jays before demanding a trade. The signings of Jack Morris (two years, $ 10.85 million before the ’92 season) and Paul Molitor (three years, $ 13 million prior to ’93) were also very big at the time and helped propel the Jays to World Series titles.

Springer was one of the top free agents on the market. This list on MLB.com ranked him third, behind Philly catcher J.T. Realmuto and Cincy pitcher Trevor Bauer. Not the greatest class, but Toronto can say it got the best non-battery player available.

Springer is a very good player. His best years were 2017 and ’19, when he averaged about 36 homers and an OPS+ of 145 — meaning his on-base-plus-slugging percentage was 45 per cent better than the average hitter’s in his league when adjusted for ballpark. He hit well in the shortened 2020 season too, smashing 14 homers in 51 games with an OPS+ of 140. Springer was named the MVP of the 2017 World Series after hitting five home runs in seven games vs. the Dodgers. The Astros won that year with the help of their infamous signal-stealing scheme that allowed them to tip off their hitters about what kind of pitch was coming.

He’s a bit old, though. Six years is a lot to commit to a 31-year-old, so the Jays might end up regretting the last few years of the deal. But that’s the price teams usually have to pay to land a player of this calibre.

The Springer signing adds excitement to an already-promising Jays team. Last year’s post-season appearance may have been a pandemic-induced fluke — as much a product of the shortened season and expanded playoff field as the actual skill on Toronto’s roster. A (presumed) return to a full 162-game regular season would probably benefit stronger-looking AL East rivals New York and Tampa Bay, and another 16-team playoff tournament is unlikely. But baseball seems interested in expanding from the old 10-team field, which would give the Jays more hope of making it through their tough division. And Springer joins a talented lineup of hitters whose returning core — Bo Bichette, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., Cavan Biggio, Teoscar Hernández, Lourdes Gurriel Jr. — are all currently between the ages of 22 and 28. If the pitching can just not be a trainwreck again (prospect Nate Pearson might help there) this team has a lot of upside.


The Blue Jays’ prized free agent signing joins a budding young core ready to take the next step. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press)

Quickly…

The Calgary ski and snowboard bubble burst. The plan, announced two weeks ago, was to hold the world championships for freestyle skiing and snowboarding there in February and March. Some World Cup competitions were also part of the pitch, which was awaiting approval from various authorities. But the world governing body for skiing and snowboarding decided today to pull the plug on the idea, with the backing of the Canadian federations for those sports. Read more about the decision here.

The NHL postponed two more Hurricanes games. Five Carolina players have been placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, resulting in the postponement of last night’s game at Nashville and now a pair of home dates vs. Florida on Thursday and Saturday. These are the first three games to be postponed since the NHL season began. Dallas’ first few games were postponed before the season started. Read more about the Carolina outbreak here.

Marielle Thompson won another medal. Today’s silver in Sweden is the 2014 Olympic ski cross champion’s 45th career World Cup podium spot. This one came in a “sprint” event, where the course is shorter than the standard one. Read more about it and watch highlights here.

Tiger Woods needed another back surgery. This makes five, and it’ll keep the 45-year-old out for at least the PGA Tour’s West Coast Swing, which starts this week and runs through Feb. 21. The operation was to remove a disc fragment that Woods said caused him pain during the event he played with his 11-year-old son last month. Tiger’s friend and fellow tour star Rory McIlroy said he thinks Woods will be out of action “for the next couple of months” but will return in time for the April 8-11 Masters “if not before that.” Read more about Tiger’s latest setback here.

Also…

Philip Rivers retired.

He never made it to a Super Bowl, and he didn’t make it look pretty, but the fiery Alabaman owns one of the best quarterback resumés ever. Rivers’ awful-looking, shot put-style throwing motion should not have worked in the NFL. But he overcame it (and then some) with supreme accuracy and a savant’s understanding of how to attack defences. He spent 17 years in the NFL (all but the last one with the Chargers) and ranks eighth in wins and fifth in completions, yards passing and touchdown passes.

Two other numbers essential to the Rivers story: nine (how many kids he has) and zero (how many games he missed after becoming an NFL starter in 2006). Rivers played his only conference championship game on a torn ACL on Jan. 20, 2008 — one of the reasons he chose today to announce his retirement with a charmingly down-home statement that included the word “dadgummit.” Read more about Rivers’ career here.

And finally…

Donald Trump isn’t the only polarizing Republican we’ll be hearing less from now.

As the 45th President left the White House today, Kelly Loeffler also appeared set to vacate her most public-facing roles. The pro-Trump U.S. Senator recently lost her seat to Raphael Warnock in one of the two high-profile Georgia run-offs that resulted in Democrats grabbing control of the Senate. As Warnock was sworn in today, a sale of the Atlanta Dream was being finalized that would presumably see Loeffler give up her 49 per cent stake in the WNBA team.

If that goes through, it will fulfill the wish of the WNBA players who openly campaigned for Warnock and called for Loeffler to sell her piece of the Dream after she criticized the league for embracing the Black Lives Matter movement. Read more about Loeffler’s potential departure from the league here.

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CBC | Sports News