By Rory Carroll
(Reuters) - NBA champion Stephen Jackson on Friday said he would not allow the police to assail the character of George Floyd, a friend he called his "twin" who was killed this week by a police officer in Minneapolis, sparking widespread outrage and days of protest.
"I'm here because they are not going to demean the character of George Floyd -- my twin," Jackson, who played 14 seasons in the NBA, said at a rally at the Government Center Plaza in Minneapolis.
The 42-year-old Jackson, who won a championship with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003, grew up in Houston with Floyd, a 46-year-old black man who died after a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, pinned him to the ground with a knee to his throat on Monday. A bystander caught the incident on video using a cell phone.
Chauvin, who along with three other police officers on the scene was fired on Tuesday, was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter on Friday.
"A lot of times when police do things that they know is wrong, the first thing that they try to do is cover it up and bring up your background to make it seem like the bullshit that they did was worth it," Jackson said.
"When was murder ever worth it? When it's a black man."
The cellphone footage showed Floyd repeatedly moaning and gasping while he pleaded to Chauvin, kneeling on his neck, "Please, I can't breathe." After several minutes, Floyd gradually grows quiet and ceases to move.
"You can't tell me when that man had his knee on my brother's neck, taking his life away, with his hand in his pocket, that that smirk on his face didn't say, 'I'm protected.'"
"I stand for what's right and I'm going to get justice for my friend," Jackson said on NBC's Today show on Thursday.
Jackson joins numerous other athletes, including Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James and Basketball Hall of Famer Lisa Leslie, who also spoke out on Floyd's death.
(Reporting by Rory Carroll in Los Angeles; Editing by David Gregorio)