George Floyd was 'very loving' and a 'gentle giant,' friends and family say

"You can't name someone that never had a great experience around him," said Floyd's brother Rodney.

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

Those who knew George Floyd, the man who died after a Minneapolis police officer pinned him by the neck with his knee for more than eight minutes, say he was a "gentle giant" who was quick to help and easy to adore.

"If you got a chance to know him, you would have loved him," said Floyd's brother Rodney on MSNBC Wednesday. "You can't name someone that never had a great experience around him."

Rodney Floyd added that his brother was "very loving" and "trusting."

Full coverage of George Floyd's death and protests around the country

Floyd, 46, a former high school football and basketball star, would coach kids in his spare time, Rodney Floyd said.

Floyd also loved to rap, his brother said. Christian hip-hop artists who knew Floyd shared stories on Twitter about him ministering to his community.

"He’d help us when we had church at the basketball court in the middle of the hood," wrote musician Corey Paul on Twitter. "When we did community outreach in the hood he was a 'person of peace.' He wanted to see us come together as a people."

An artist who goes by Reconcile on Twitter said Floyd had once helped him drag a pool to a basketball court in the projects "so we could baptize dudes in the hood."

"The man that helped put down & clean up chairs at outreaches in the hood. A man of peace! A good man," the musician wrote.

"I mean, he had a great understanding of life and [he was a] great people person — walk in a room and absorb the whole room," Floyd said. "He was an all-around man, and good to his family, kids, mother, brothers, friends. He would help anyone who needed help."

Jessi Zendejas can attest. She wrote on Facebook Tuesday that Floyd, who was a security guard at Conga Latin Bistro, would watch after her when she went to the Minneapolis restaurant and dance club. He would make sure no one got too close without her say so and would keep her jacket in his closet when she forgot cash for the bar's coat check.

George Floyd.Courtesy photo

"Everyone who knows him knew he loved his hugs from his regulars when working as a security guard and would be mad if you didn’t stop to greet him because he honestly loved seeing everyone and watching everyone have fun," Zendejas wrote, adding that Floyd was a "gentle giant."

Floyd's other brother Phil also called him a "gentle giant" on CNN Tuesday night.

"I love my brother. Everybody loves my brother. Knowing my brother is to love my brother," Phil Floyd said. "He was a very loving person. And he didn't deserve what happened to him."

Video of the Monday night incident showed a white police officer with his knee on Floyd's neck as Floyd pleaded, "Please, please, please, I can't breathe."

Bystanders begged the officer to remove his knee, before and after Floyd became silent. The officer did not move for at least eight minutes, at which point paramedics carried Floyd away. He was later pronounced dead.

Minneapolis police said in a statement early Tuesday that the officers were responding to a report of a forgery when Floyd "physically resisted" and that he died after "suffering medical distress."

Civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who is representing Floyd's family, said he has received further footage from security cameras and bystanders, "and it doesn't seem like he was posing a threat to police officers."

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI are both independently investigating Floyd's death.

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The four officers involved in the incident were fired Tuesday night, but Floyd's family is calling for them to be arrested and charged with murder. Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey on Wednesday called for swift charges to be brought against the officer who pinned Floyd to the ground, and kept him there with his knee.

Rodney Floyd said he saw the video of his brother being pinned to the ground early on Tuesday morning. He said he both immediately knew it was his brother and couldn't believe what he was seeing. "That's not him," he thought "I know he's not no violent person like that, you know. And, I mean, it just, it just took me."

Jovanni Thunstrom, the owner of Conga Latin Bistro, said when he realized the man in the harrowing video was his employee and his friend, he sobbed.

"My body is full of emotions, of questions without answer," Thunstrom wrote on Facebook. "My employee George Floyd was murdered by a police officer that had no compassion, used his position to commit a murder of someone that was begging for his life."

Floyd's sister, Bridgett Floyd, says that the faith she shared with her brother leads her to believe the officers involved would be charged.

"Faith is something that me and my brother always talked about because he was a God-fearing man," she said Wednesday in an interview with "TODAY." "I believe that justice will be served. I have enough faith to stand on it."