HOUSTON – The family of George Floyd, a black man who died in Minneapolis police custody Monday night, is mourning his death.
“He was a good dude,” said Floyd’s cousin, Zackery Terrell. “Whenever you were around him, you felt nothing but just good energy.”
Floyd, 45, died Monday night after a white officer kneeled on his neck for several minutes. A bystander’s video showed him pleading and groaning that he could not breathe as the officer knelt on his neck. The officer is seen in the video ignoring his pleas. Police claimed Floyd matched the description of a suspect in a forgery case at a grocery store and that he resisted arrest.
Terrell, who affectionately referred to Floyd as “Uncle George” because of their age difference, said the violent video was “heartbreaking” to watch.
“When I saw the video it was heartbreaking, seeing that that was my cousin down there begging for his life and that it was clear that none of the officers there on the scene cared about what was going on, so when I saw it, it was just heart-stopping,” Terrell said.
Floyd was from Houston’s Third Ward. He left several years ago for a better life in Minnesota. He still has a daughter and sister here in Houston. The NAACP said he played football and attended Jack Yates High School.
“He was getting his life together over there, just kind of got away,” Terrell said. “He was driving trucks to provide for his family.”
Earlier Tuesday, four Minneapolis police officers were fired after public outrage erupted over the video and how Floyd was killed. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey also apologized to the black community Tuesday in a post on his Facebook page.
When asked about her thoughts on the officers being fired, family member Shareeduh Tate said “it’s a start.”
“It’s definitely not enough, but I’m glad that it didn’t take forever for them to see what everybody else could see and that’s that they murdered our cousin,” Tate said.
Tera Brown, Floyd’s cousin, said watching the video was difficult.
“I watched it first thing this morning and uh, it is unbelievable. Unbelievable to see someone suffer in the way that he did and have so many people around asking for them to basically allow him to live,” Brown said.
Tate said she watched the disturbing video before knowing her cousin was the actual victim.
“Gayle King was doing the story and I remember thinking, ‘How devastating it is for the family to lose a family member like this and everybody could clearly see it,’" Tate said. “Maybe five minutes after that I got the call letting me know it was my cousin. I didn’t watch it again.”
Floyd’s family says they are grateful for the bystanders around him during the incident.
“I can only be grateful that there were people there advocating for him, even more so grateful for the person who was there with the camera to capture it,” Tate said. “So many times there aren’t any witnesses around and it is questionable as to what happened or whether the person was resisting or whatever those things that might come into people’s minds.”
As for Floyd’s daughter, Brown said she is taking it “very hard.”
“[I] spoke with her mother and she is, you know, not doing well,” Brown said.
Dozens of people gathered at Houston’s Emancipation Park Tuesday to remember Floyd. Black Lives Matter Houston said they are protesting at Discovery Green in his honor at 2 p.m. Friday.