Achildhood friend of George Floyd has said it was “disturbing” to find out how the man lost his life.
Video footage seen around the world of the moments leading up to 46-year-old Floyd’s death showed a Minneapolis police officer pinning him to the ground with a knee on his neck for several minutes while Floyd said he couldn’t breathe.
Jonathan Veal, who said that he and Floyd had played sports during their middle- and high-school years in their hometown of Houston, Texas, told KOCO 5 that he was heartbroken after hearing the news.
“It was very heartbreaking and disturbing to hear my childhood friend lost his life that way,” he told the station. “He was expressionless. Even the bystanders were yelling, almost violently at the officers.”
Veal added that he wanted to see a change in the way police and the black community interact as a result of his friend’s death.
Other friends and family members have also paid tribute to Floyd, including his brother Philonise Floyd, who told CNN on Tuesday that he was a “gentle giant” who was there for everyone. “Knowing my brother is to love my brother,” he said.
Christopher Harris, another childhood friend, told The Associated Press that Floyd left Houston to start a new life in Minneapolis several years ago.
Harris said he and other friends had moved to the city in 2014 in search of work. They convinced Floyd, who had recently been released from prison, to join them.
Harris said Floyd recently found himself in the same situation as millions of other Americans due to the coronavirus pandemic. He lost his job as a bouncer at a restaurant when Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz issued a stay-at-home order.
On Monday night, an employee at a grocery store in Minneapolis called police after Floyd allegedly tried to use a counterfeit $20 bill, the AP reported.