George Floyd death: Friend of Floyd speaks out about his death, calls for return to 'peace and justice'

A friend of deceased African American man George Floyd has spoken out about the "gentle giant" who was killed by a white police officer last Monday, calling for all involved to be "held accountable" for Floyd's death.

Randy Louis Pollard, a former Minneapolis resident who used to volunteer with Floyd, says he too has been a victim of racial profiling by American police. Speaking to The AM Show on Tuesday morning, Pollard revealed that he was wrongly targeted as an aggressor and maced when he had been attempting to help an assaulted woman in 2015.

Pollard recounted the moment when he spotted a man choking a woman and rushed to her aid. As he was pushing the man off the victim, Pollard's eyes and arms began to burn. Officers responding to a report of the assault had maced him, believing he was the offender.

He says onlookers screamed at police that Pollard was just trying to help.

"When they realised I wasn't the aggressor, they offered me a ride home - I only lived a block away, I wasn't going to get in that car after what had just happened," he told The AM Show.

"I called the police department and they said they would send a squad to take me to the hospital, I said, 'no, I'm at home now'. I went to the station and spoke with the captain, who found out who the officer was, but there was no follow up," he explained.

"They never apologised. They didn't do a report.

"At no point did I feel threatened when I was taking that guy off the lady. When I felt threatened is when I got sprayed with mace."

Pollard says there was "a motive" as to why four officers were called to arrest Floyd - who had been apprehended on suspicion of forgery - and why he was pinned to the ground with Derek Chauvin's knee on his neck for roughly eight minutes. Despite Floyd pleading for air, Chauvin did not remove his knee from the 46-year-old's neck. Floyd was pronounced dead shortly after, with his autopsy results revealing he had died by asphyxiation.

Floyd (left) and Pollard previously volunteered together and grew close.
Floyd (left) and Pollard previously volunteered together and grew close. Photo credit: Left - File; Right - The AM Show

Footage of the incident has caused international outrage and incited widespread riots and protests across the United States. All four officers involved in the arrest have been fired, and on Friday, Chauvin - the 44-year-old Caucasian officer at the centre of numerous conduct complaints throughout his career - was charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

The Minneapolis police department claimed Floyd had been "physically resisting officers", although video captured by citizens and surveillance footage shows no evidence of Floyd fighting the arrest.

"If you're not resisting - which he wasn't - why would you have your knee on his neck?... There was a motive behind [it]. To have other police standing by, three officers on him at one time when he's not resisting, it's ridiculous," Pollard said.

"I was very surprised, but [also] I wasn't so surprised. As a black man... I always thought police were there to keep us safe. To have something happen like that, you look at things totally different."

There have been widespread riots and protests across the US in response to Floyd's alleged murder.
There have been widespread riots and protests across the US in response to Floyd's alleged murder. Photo credit: Getty

Pollard called for the other three officers, who failed to intervene as Chauvin allegedly murdered Floyd on the road, to also be held accountable. 

"We talk about peace - how can there be peace and justice when this kind of stuff is happening? How can we feel safe when you see stuff like this? Who is to say I'm not next?" he said. 

"It will get worse. Those officers haven't been held accountable for what's been done. Having [Chauvin] arrested was put in place [because they thought] it was going to calm everything down."

Pollard also had a message for the family of Floyd, a man he described as "gentle", "lively" and "easy to approach" who loved to joke around. 

"We stand behind you. We want to see justice and stand up for what's right," he declared.

"We can only hope and pray that there will be justice and there will be peace again."