Maurice Lester Hall, 42, was with Floyd in the car during the arrest that led to his death, The New York Times reported. It said it tracked him down in Houston, where he fled two days after he witnessed the death.
In an interview with the paper, Hall described Floyd as a mentor and fellow Houston native, saying they spent most of Memorial Day together before the fatal police encounter.
"He was, from the beginning, trying in his humblest form to show he was not resisting in no form or way," Hall told the paper Wednesday night. "I could hear him pleading, 'Please, officer, what's all this for?'"
Throngs of protesters have taken to the streets since Floyd died on May 25 to demand the arrest of all four officers involved. Authorities initially arrested Derek Chauvin, the officer who pinned Floyd to the ground by his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds before he died. On Wednesday, they upgraded the murder charges against him and charged three other former officers who were at the scene with aiding and abetting the killing.
Hall said he'll never forget what he saw that day.
"He was just crying out at that time for anyone to help because he was dying," Hall told the paper. "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."
After days of protests, Thursday will be a bittersweet day as Floyd's family holds a memorial for him and three of the four officers arrested make their first court appearance.