Closing arguments in the second-degree murder trial of Derek Chauvin, the now-former Minneapolis police officer who held his knee to George Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes on May 25 of last year, were delivered on Monday. As the country awaits a verdict, George’s brother—Philonise Floyd—spoke with the Today show alongside family attorney Ben Crump.
At the top of the interview, Philonise was asked about a call he received on Monday from President Joe Biden. As Philonise explained, Biden has empathy for what the family is going through and is hopeful regarding the outcome of the Chauvin trial.
“It was just, he was just calling,” Philonise said. “He knows how it is to lose a family member and he knows the process of what we’re going through. So he was just letting us know that he was praying for us and hoping that everything will come out to be okay.”
Biden offered public comment on Tuesday before an Oval Office meeting with lawmakers. “They’re a good family and they’re calling for peace and tranquility no matter what that verdict is,” the president said, per the AP. “I’m praying the verdict is the right verdict. It’s overwhelming, in my view. I wouldn’t say that unless the jury was sequestered now.”
About a minute into the Today interview, Philonise was asked to detail how he feels about the status of the case after having heard the closing arguments and also taken the stand himself. Philonise noted the global importance of this case, stating that it represents a “pivotal point” in his life and beyond.
“I’m optimistic about everything,” he said Tuesday. “Me and my family, we pray about it every day. I just feel that in America, if a Black man can’t get justice for this, what can a Black man get justice for? It’s just a pivotal point in my life and I think a case of this magnitude and for people all around the country, they’re waiting on this verdict. And hopefully it will be the way that the world wants to see it because the video is facts and it’s proof of what happened. We just need Minnesota to make the right decision.”
Philonise took the stand on the 11th day of testimonies in the Chauvin trial. During his testimony, Philonise remembered his brother as “a leader” to everyone in his household and a beloved member of his community.
“He would always make sure that we had our clothes for school,” Philonise said on the stand. “He made sure that we all were gonna be to school on time. … He was one of those people in the community that, when they had church outside, people would attend church just because he was there.”
During closing arguments on Monday, prosecutor Jerry Blackwell—in a rebuttal to the defense’s closing statement—told jurors they “know the truth” about what happened on May 25, 2020.
“You were told, for example, that Mr. Floyd died because his heart was too big,” Blackwell said in court on Monday. “You heard that testimony and now—having seen all of the evidence, having heard all of the evidence—you know the truth. And the truth of the matter is that the reason George Floyd is dead is because Mr. Chauvin’s heart was too small.”