George Floyd, the Minneapolis man whose death in police custody was documented in a video showing an officer holding his knee against Floyd’s neck, is being remembered by those who loved him as a “kind” and spiritual man.
“If anybody knows him, they know he’s not a confrontational person. And I’m not just saying this because that happened to him,” his friend Milton Carney said, according to local station KTRK-TV.
Floyd, 46, died Monday night while in the custody of Minneapolis police.
Video footage of the arrest shows Floyd face-down on the ground while an officer presses his knee against Floyd’s neck for at least eight minutes — even after Floyd seemingly stops moving, NBC News reports.
He can be heard pleading with the officer, telling him, “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe.”
The four officers involved in the arrest have been fired from the Minneapolis Police department, but the 46-year-old black man’s death has sparked outrage across the nation and led to protests Tuesday night.
Those who knew Floyd described him as a spiritual man who was always quick to help others.
“My customers loved Floyd,” Conga Latina Bistro owner Jovanni Thunstrom told local station WCCO. “He was a nice guy. You know, he had good customer service.”
Thunstrom, who referred to Floyd as his best friend and an employee at the bistro, said Floyd had a knack for diffusing difficult situations and getting along with customers at the restaurant.
“He was kind,” he said. “He was helpful.”
Floyd’s fiancé, Courtney Ross, told the station he loved connecting with people where he once worked at Salvation Army and had enjoyed living in Minneapolis after moving here from the Houston area.
“He always felt like everybody got a chance here,” she said, describing him as “one of the most spiritual men I’ve ever come across.”
Floyd’s cousins, Shareeduh Tate and Tera Brown, told TMX.news that their cousin was an amazing father and great friend.
“He was everyone’s everything,” Brown said.
Tate said she first saw the video of the arrest without knowing her cousin — who had grown up in the same house as her — was the man involved.
“I just remember thinking how devastating this would be for the family who had lost a family member like this and everybody could clearly see it, and then maybe five minutes after that I got the phone call letting me know that it was actually my cousin,” she said.
Mayor Jacob Frey announced the firing of all four police officers involved in the incident on Twitter Tuesday, describing it as the “right call.”
Tate called the decision “a start” but said it’s definitely not enough.
“I am glad that it didn’t take forever for them to see what everybody else could clearly see took place and that’s that they murdered our cousin,” she said.
Floyd’s sister Bridgett Floyd said on the “TODAY” show Wednesday that she hoped the men involved would face charges for her brother’s death.
“I would like for those officers to be charged with murder because that’s exactly what they did,” she said, according to NBC News. “They murdered my brother; he was crying for help.”
Minneapolis police have said that officers at the scene had been responding to a call of a forgery when Floyd “physically resisted” the arrest.
He died after “suffering medical distress,” they said.
The case is now being investigated by both the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI.
Protests broke out in the city’s streets Tuesday night as angry protesters broke out windows of police cars, threw rocks, and vandalized police cars, Fox News reports.
The protest initially began peacefully Tuesday afternoon as crowds filled the same intersection where Floyd had once been pinned to the ground and shouted chants of “I can’t breathe” and “It could have been me,” local station WCCO reports.
“We’re here to let them know this can’t be tolerated, there will be severe consequences if they continue to kill us, this will not go on another day,” one protester told the station.
But chaos later erupted after a smaller group headed toward the 3rd Precinct, where it’s believed the officers had worked. Members of the crowd broke out windows, spray painted squad cars, and threw bottles at the officers nearby.
Police responded by firing rubber bullets, tear gas, and flash grenades into the crowd.
“It’s real ugly,” one protester told WCCO. “The police have to understand that this is the climate they have created, this is the climate they created.”
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