On April 13, 2021, the loved ones of two Black men killed by white Minnesota police officers — 20-year-old Daunte Wright and 46-year-old George Floyd — held a news conference in downtown Minneapolis, near the building of former police officer Derek Chauvin’s murder trial. After the media event, rumors surfaced claiming a connection between the families beyond the circumstances of Wright’s and Floyd’s deaths.
Social media posts asserted Floyd’s girlfriend at the time of his death, Courteney Ross, once taught the younger victim at Edison High School in northeast Minneapolis.
The public school is about 10 miles southeast from where authorities say a suburban police officer mistook her handgun for a taser and fatally shot Wright on April 11, and roughly seven miles north from where Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck before he died less than one year prior.
The crux of the claim was true. However, the circumstances under which Ross interacted with Wright at the high school and the duration of their working relationship were not known.
Let us unpack that conclusion. First, we confirmed via Ross’ interviews with journalists, as well as her testimony during Chauvin’s trial, that she recently dated Floyd. For instance, she told a neighborhood news outlet, the Northeaster Newspaper, that she met Floyd at a local Salvation Army in 2017, fell in love with him immediately, and told him “I love you” hours before his death. “I have Floyd and the world has George Floyd,” Ross said in that interview.
Next, we considered her alleged connection to Wright, who was killed in the neighboring suburb of Brooklyn Center, a town of roughly 30,000 people on Minneapolis’ northwest border.
At the news conference near Minneapolis’ Hennepin County Government Center, Wright’s aunt, Naisha Wright, indeed said Ross (who was present at the media event) was her nephew’s teacher. Here’s the aunt’s full quote, verbatim, according to video recordings of the event:
“The craziest thing is to find out today that my family has connections to this man, to this family,” she said of Floyd’s social circle. “His girlfriend was a teacher for my nephew. My nephew was a lovable young man. His smile, oh lord, the most beautiful smile. Ya’ll took that.”
Later that day, Ross said, according to The Associated Press: “(I’m) crushed. It’s enough that Floyd is gone, but for one of my youths to be gone as well.
“He was just a wonderful, beautiful boy,” she added.
Following those statements, The Washington Post interviewed Ross to learn more about how she knew Wright. She told that news outlet he indeed was a student of Edison High School (The Associated Press also confirmed that detail of Wright’s biography) when she worked there, and that he was a gregarious young person who was well-known throughout the community. That article continued:
“She was not particularly close to him, but said she last saw him being confronted by police on the corner in Brooklyn Center in the summer of 2019. She said she was walking with Floyd when she saw the incident.”
Jonathan Mason, who worked as a youth development specialist at Edison High School and also knew Wright, confirmed with journalists that Ross was a teacher’s assistant and counselor there.
Snopes reached out to district officials to learn when, exactly, Ross worked at Edison High School, what her purported role entailed, and when Wright was a student — questions that would help discern how often, or under what circumstances, they crossed paths. We have not received responses, but we will update this report when, or if, we do. (She was not listed as a staff member or administrator on the school’s website, as of this writing.)
Wright attended two other Minneapolis high schools, in addition to Edison, according to an Associated Press story in which educators discussed their experiences with him. His father, Aubrey Wright, told reporters he eventually dropped out of school because of a learning disability and, after that, worked in retail and fast-food restaurants to support his 2-year-old son.
“He was a great kid,” Aubrey Wright said. “He was a normal kid. He was never in serious trouble. He enjoyed spending time with his 2-year-old son. He loved his son.”