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George Floyd was seeking new start in Minnesota before death

A chain portrait of George Floyd is part of the memorial for him, Wednesday, May 27, 2020, near the site of the arrest of Floyd who died in police custody Monday night in Minneapolis. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)

'It's just so sad, the world we're living in now.'

Posted: May 27, 2020 7:10 PM

(ASSOCIATED PRESS) - Before he died after being pinned for minutes beneath a Minneapolis police officer's knee, George Floyd was suffering the same fate as millions of Americans during the coronavirus pandemic: out of work and looking for a new job.

Floyd moved to Minneapolis from his native Houston several years ago in hopes of finding work and starting a new life, said Christopher Harris, Floyd's lifelong friend. But he lost his job as a bouncer at a restaurant when Minnesota's governor issued a stay-at-home order.

On Monday night, an employee at a Minneapolis grocery store called police after Floyd allegedly tried to pass a counterfeit $20 bill.

In widely circulated cellphone video of the subsequent arrest, Floyd, who was black, can be seen on the ground with his hands cuffed behind his back while Officer Derek Chauvin presses him to the pavement with his knee on Floyd's neck. The video shows Chauvin, who is white, holding Floyd down for minutes as Floyd complains he can't breathe. The video ends with paramedics lifting a limp Floyd onto a stretcher and placing him in an ambulance.

Four officers were fired Tuesday; on Wednesday, Mayor Jacob Frey called for Chauvin to be criminally charged. Frey made no mention of the other three officers, who were also at the scene.

Police say Floyd was resisting arrest, but Chauvin's lawyer has declined to comment and the other officers have not been publicly identified.

Floyd, 46, grew up in Houston's Third Ward, one of the city's predominantly black neighborhoods, where he and Harris met in middle school. At 6 feet, 6 inches, Floyd emerged as a star tight end for Jack Yates High School and played in the 1992 state championship game in the Houston Astrodome. Yates lost to Temple, 38-20.

Donnell Cooper, one of Floyd's former classmates, said he remembered watching Floyd score touchdowns. Floyd towered over everyone and earned the nickname “gentle giant.”

“Quiet personality but a beautiful spirit,” Cooper said. His death "definitely caught me by surprise. It's just so sad, the world we're living in now.”

Floyd was charged in 2007 with armed robbery in a home invasion in Houston and in 2009 was sentenced to five years in prison as part of a plea deal, according to court documents.

Harris, Floyd's childhood friend, said he and some of their mutual friends had moved to Minneapolis in search of jobs around 2014. Harris said he talked Floyd into moving there as well after he got out of prison.

“He was looking to start over fresh, a new beginning," Harris said. “He was happy with the change he was making.”

Floyd landed a job working security at a Salvation Army store in downtown Minneapolis. He later started working two jobs, one driving trucks and another as a bouncer at Conga Latin Bistro, where he was known as “Big Floyd.”

“Always cheerful,” Jovanni Tunstrom, the bistro's owner, said. “He had a good attitude. He would dance badly to make people laugh. I tried to teach him how to dance because he loved Latin music, but I couldn't because he was too tall for me. He always called me ‘Bossman.’ I said, ‘Floyd, don't call me Bossman. I'm your friend."

Harris said Floyd was laid off when Minnesota shut down restaurants as part of a stay-at-home order. He said he spoke with Floyd on Sunday night and gave him some information for contacting a temporary jobs agency.

“He was doing whatever it takes to maintain going forward with his life,” Harris said, adding he couldn't believe that Floyd would resort to forgery. “I've never known him to do anything like that.”

Floyd leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter who still lives in Houston with her mother, Roxie Washington, the Houston Chronicle reported. Efforts to reach Washington on Wednesday were unsuccessful.

“The way he died was senseless,” Harris said. “He begged for his life. He pleaded for his life. When you try so hard to put faith in this system, a system that you know isn't designed for you, when you constantly seek justice by lawful means and you can't get it, you begin to take the law into your own hands.”

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 97638

Reported Deaths: 2067
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hennepin27372932
Ramsey11088322
Dakota7635126
Anoka6238137
Stearns407724
Washington388355
Scott262533
Olmsted251928
Nobles197716
Blue Earth17266
Wright16957
St. Louis165941
Carver14377
Clay141741
Rice13438
Mower13425
Sherburne116914
Kandiyohi10552
Winona91318
Lyon7224
Waseca6898
Benton5603
Crow Wing55518
Steele5552
Freeborn5464
Nicollet54517
Watonwan5304
Chisago5131
Todd5042
McLeod5012
Le Sueur4744
Otter Tail4624
Beltrami4505
Martin43010
Goodhue3829
Itasca34715
Pine3430
Douglas3372
Polk3224
Isanti3151
Becker2812
Carlton2761
Morrison2682
Dodge2570
Pipestone23210
Cottonwood2280
Chippewa2231
Meeker2132
Wabasha2020
Sibley1993
Brown1962
Yellow Medicine1902
Cass1844
Redwood1773
Rock1760
Murray1722
Mille Lacs1693
Renville1578
Unassigned15452
Jackson1491
Faribault1470
Swift1441
Fillmore1330
Houston1280
Kanabec1278
Roseau1250
Koochiching1233
Pennington1201
Hubbard1171
Lincoln1160
Stevens1041
Pope990
Aitkin831
Big Stone830
Wadena720
Wilkin703
Lac qui Parle651
Grant634
Lake600
Norman540
Marshall531
Mahnomen491
Red Lake451
Traverse340
Clearwater280
Lake of the Woods231
Kittson120
Cook60

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 86860

Reported Deaths: 1315
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Polk16010262
Woodbury555467
Johnson517027
Black Hawk450990
Linn4101113
Story346217
Dubuque333241
Scott304528
Dallas280738
Pottawattamie215939
Buena Vista199912
Marshall179134
Sioux16803
Wapello134057
Webster128014
Plymouth116121
Clinton113021
Muscatine112155
Crawford11005
Cerro Gordo105921
Warren9666
Jasper86432
Des Moines8008
Marion7697
Henry7554
Tama73932
Carroll6855
Lee6437
Wright5961
Dickinson5306
Boone5178
Bremer5027
Washington47211
Louisa43115
Delaware4233
Mahaska41519
Floyd3543
Jackson3523
Franklin35118
Lyon3514
Winneshiek3406
Clay3344
Hamilton3323
Benton3281
Winnebago31713
Hardin3071
Poweshiek3078
Buchanan2861
Jones2843
Kossuth2800
Butler2752
Emmet27010
Clarke2683
Shelby2681
Allamakee2666
Chickasaw2661
Sac2650
Clayton2633
Cherokee2552
Cedar2521
Guthrie2527
Harrison2523
Fayette2312
Madison2272
Grundy2243
Iowa2161
Palo Alto2050
Hancock1952
Howard1927
Humboldt1913
Mitchell1910
Calhoun1873
Mills1831
Page1710
Cass1692
Osceola1690
Pocahontas1652
Monona1601
Monroe16011
Lucas1566
Appanoose1423
Jefferson1391
Union1383
Taylor1321
Davis1274
Ida1261
Fremont1210
Van Buren1151
Keokuk1141
Worth1090
Greene1030
Montgomery975
Audubon871
Wayne872
Adair721
Decatur670
Ringgold532
Adams330
Unassigned140
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