Minneapolis, MN – An important witness in the trial of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd announced he would “invoke his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination” if he is called to testify.
Morries Hall, who was a passenger in Floyd’s car on May 25, 2020, was listed as a witness by both the prosecution and the defense, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.
Police bodycam showed Hall and Shawanda Hill sitting in Floyd’s SUV when police approached him about the counterfeit $20 bill, according to The Hill.
Eric Nelson, the attorney for Chauvin, said in his opening statement on Monday that Hall and Hill would testify that Floyd injected drugs shortly before he was approached by police that day.
Nelson said Hall and Hill would also both testify that Floyd had consumed two pills in the car before police arrived, fell asleep, and neither of them could wake him up, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
“The evidence will show that when confronted by police, Mr. Floyd put drugs in his mouth in an effort to conceal them from police,” Nelson told the jury.
Cup Foods cashier Christopher Martin testified on Wednesday that when he went out to Floyd’s SUV to confront him about the counterfeit bill at the direction of his manager, Hall was sitting in the front seat, Insider reported.
Martin testified the Hall did most of the talking and was aggressive.
Officials said that Hall was wanted on multiple warrants and gave a fake name to police the day Floyd died, FOX News reported.
Then he left town.
Authorities tracked down Hall in Texas and arrested him on outstanding warrants for felony possession of a firearm, felony domestic assault, and felony drug possession, FOX News reported.
Hall had boasted to the media that he would be a witness in the Floyd murder trial, the Daily Mail reported.
“I’m a key witness to the cops murdering George Floyd, and they want to know my side. Whatever I’ve been through, it’s all over with now. It’s not about me,” he told The New York Times in an interview in June of 2020.
Hall has represented himself as a good friend of Floyd and said that the dead man had been a mentor to him.
But on Wednesday night, the public defender representing Hall notified the court in a motion that the “key witness” had decided to take the Fifth Amendment, The Hill reported.
“Mr. Morries Lester Hall, through undersigned counsel, hereby provides notice to all parties in this matter that if called to testify he will invoke his fifth amendment privilege against self-incrimination pursuant to U.S. Const. amend. V,” the motion read.
Hall’s attorney also moved to quash his client’s subpoena to appear and release him from any obligations.
Hours later, on Thursday morning, Floyd’s girlfriend testified that her boyfriend had bought drugs from Hall on multiple occasions, Insider reported.
Courteney Ross, who testified that she also had an opioid addiction and frequently did drugs with Floyd, said she didn’t particularly like Hall and didn’t trust him.
But Ross tried to walk back earlier statements to Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) agents that Hall sold Floyd pills and Hill sold him heroin, but confirmed in court that she had told investigators that shortly after the incident.
She also confirmed that she had told investigators that she and Floyd had previously taken pills that were supposed to be Percocet but had the opposite effect of making Floyd jumpy and unable to sit still.
Investigators found pill fragments in Floyd’s vehicle that looked like Percocet but actually contained a mixture of methamphetamine and fentanyl, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
Chauvin is facing charges of second-degree and third-degree murder, and second-degree manslaughter, The Washington Post reported.
Former Minneapolis Police Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane, and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting Floyd’s murder.
Their trials will be held together in August, The Washington Post reported.
Attorneys for the former officers have argued that Floyd’s death was a result of an overdose and not the fault of the officers who were arresting him.
The officers had responded to a call about a counterfeit $20 that Floyd had allegedly used to make a purchase at a deli on May 25, 2020.
Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.
The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.
Viral cell phone video showed then-Officer Chauvin and three other officers holding Floyd on the ground.
The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.
Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.