A longtime friend of George Floyd’s who was in the passenger seat of Mr. Floyd’s car during his fatal encounter with a Minneapolis police officer said on Wednesday night that Mr. Floyd tried to defuse the tensions with the police and in no way resisted arrest.
“He was, from the beginning, trying in his humblest form to show he was not resisting in no form or way,” said the friend, Maurice Lester Hall, 42, who was tracked down on Monday in Houston, arrested on outstanding warrants and interviewed by Minnesota state investigators.
“I could hear him pleading, ‘Please, officer, what’s all this for?’” Mr. Hall said in an interview on Wednesday night with The New York Times.
Mr. Hall recounted the last moments with Mr. Floyd on Memorial Day, May 25, after they had spent part of the day together.
“He was just crying out at that time for anyone to help because he was dying,” Mr. Hall said. “I’m going to always remember seeing the fear in Floyd’s face because he’s such a king. That’s what sticks with me, seeing a grown man cry, before seeing a grown man die.”
Mr. Hall is a key witness in the state’s investigation into the four officers who apprehended Mr. Floyd, including Derek Chauvin, who knelt on Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, even after he became unresponsive.
But Mr. Hall — who had outstanding warrants for his arrest on felony possession of a firearm, felony domestic assault and felony drug possession — provided a false name to officers at the scene of Mr. Floyd’s arrest, according to a Minnesota official.
Mr. Hall left Minneapolis and hitchhiked to Houston two days later, after visiting a memorial at the site of the police encounter.
“When the whole world was finding out that they murdered George Floyd,” he said, “I went and said a prayer where I witnessed him take his last breath, and I left.”
Mr. Hall said he had left dinner with his family late this Monday evening when their car was surrounded by at least a dozen law enforcement officers. After his arrest, he was questioned for hours by a Minnesota state investigator about Mr. Floyd’s death — not about his warrants. Mr. Hall was then transferred to the Harris County Jail in Houston, and on Tuesday, he returned to his home in the city, after his lawyers fought for his release.
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SOURCE: New York Times, Erica L. Green and Katie Benner