SAN ANTONIO – The man who is seen in a video pleading for his life as a Minneapolis police officer kneels on his neck is from Texas.
George Floyd, 45, died Monday night in Minneapolis police custody, leading to the swift firings of four police officers involved and a protest with hundreds of demonstrators asking for justice.
The mayor of Minneapolis called for charges to be filed against the white police officer who pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck. Mayor Jacob Frey said Wednesday that Derek Chauvin should be criminally charged.
But before the deadly struggle and the video, which has sparked outrage across the nation, Floyd was a “fixture in the sports community in Houston,” his friend Cal Wayne told KPRC.
KPRC, a sister station of KSAT 12 News, reported that Floyd was a Houston native but hadn’t lived in the city for several years.
“He was up there getting his life together, up there in Minnesota,” Wayne said, adding that “he’s the pillar of the community.”
Dozens of people gathered at Houston’s Emancipation Park Tuesday to remember Floyd.
“We grew up together, literally, like the only thing that’s not blood between me and him is the blood,” his friend Milton Carney said.
Friends told KPRC that he was born in Houston and lived part of his life in the Third Ward. The NAACP said he attended Jack Yates High School.
Monday’s incident began when police said Floyd matched the description of a suspect in a forgery case at a grocery store, and that he resisted arrest.
A video captured by a witness shows him on the ground and does not show what happened in the moments prior. The unidentified officer is kneeling on his neck, ignoring his pleas.
“Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man,” said Floyd, who has his face against the pavement.
One of the officers tells him to “relax.” Floyd calls for his mother and says: “My stomach hurts, my neck hurts, everything hurts ... I can’t breathe.” As bystanders shout their concern, one officer says, “He’s talking, so he’s breathing.”
But Floyd slowly becomes motionless under the officer’s restraint. The officer does not remove his knee until the man is loaded onto a gurney by paramedics.
The Hennepin County medical examiner said the cause of death is pending, according to the Associated Press.
Floyd had worked security for five years at a restaurant called Conga Latin Bistro and rented a home from the restaurant owner, the AP reported.
Four police officers were fired on Tuesday by the Minneapolis chief with the mayor’s full backing.
Mayor Jacob Frey announced the firings on Twitter, saying: "This is the right call.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.