George Floyd tried to defuse the situation and was not resisting in any way before a Minneapolis cop pressed a knee into his neck shortly before he died, a friend who was in the slain man’s car said in an interview.
“He was, from the beginning, trying in his humblest form to show he was not resisting in no form or way,” Maurice Lester Hall told The New York Times.
“I could hear him pleading, ‘Please, officer, what’s all this for?’” Hall told The Times on Wednesday night. “He was just crying out at that time for anyone to help because he was dying.”
He added: “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.”
The 42-year-old was arrested after being tracked down in Houston on Monday and interviewed by state investigators in Minnesota, the newspaper reported.
Hall, who had outstanding felony warrants for his arrest on charges of possession of a firearm, domestic assault and drug possession, gave cops a false name at the scene of his pal’s arrest, a Minnesota official told The Times.
After visiting a memorial at the site of the fatal encounter, Hall hitchhiked to his native Houston.
“When the whole world was finding out that they murdered George Floyd, I went and said a prayer where I witnessed him take his last breath, and I left,” he told the paper.
On Tuesday, Hall returned to his home after his lawyers managed to secure his release.
“When Mr. Hall’s family found us, he had been isolated in jail for 10 hours after being interrogated until 3 a.m.,” his attorney Ashlee McFarlane told The Times.
“This is not how you treat a key witness, especially one that had just seen his friend murdered by police. Even with outstanding warrants, this should have been done another way,” McFarlane added.
Hall told the outlet that he knew investigators would catch up to him.
“I’m a key witness to the cops murdering George Floyd, and they want to know my side. Whatever I’ve been through, it’s all over with now. It’s not about me,” he said.
Hall said he went to Houston because the “only ties I had in Minnesota that had me Houston-rooted was George.”
The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension “attempted to contact Mr. Hall numerous times to no avail,” spokesman Bruce Gordon told the paper.
Hall said he did not take phone calls in the days right after his friend’s death because he was distraught.
The two passengers in the car with Floyd had remained unidentified until Hall spoke with The Times. He said that he did not know the name of the other passenger, a woman.
On Wednesday, prosecutors upgraded the top charge against ex-cop Derek Chauvin to second-degree murder in the death of Floyd during his May 25 arrest for allegedly passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store.
Chauvin has been held on $500,000 bail since his arrest May 29 on charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
The three former Minneapolis cops who have been fired in the case — Thomas Lane, 37, J. Alexander Kueng, 26, and Tou Thao, 34 — were charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
“I walk with Floyd,” Hall told The Times. “I know that I’m going to be his voice.”