"A GENTLE giant who was kind and generous and loved by all who met him".

That's how Sam Diatta's family remember him.

Sam tragically died in a disturbance at Mappin and Webb jeweller's in Coney Street in York city centre on Tuesday (July 26).

A medical investigation is being conducted into the cause of his death. 

Three men, who were initially arrested in connection with the report, have been interviewed and released on bail pending the results of police and medical investigations.  

Today (July 27) the Diatta family from York have released a tribute to him.

They said: “It is with deep sadness that we announce the death of our beloved son and brother Sam Diatta.

“Sam was a wonderful member of our family who will be greatly missed by us, his friends and family around the world.

“Sam was half Senegalese and his family in Senegal meant the world to him. He was a keen sportsman and supported both the England and Senegal football sides. He also played for York RI rugby team.

“Sam spent the first 9 years of his life living on Leeman Road and attended St Barnabas church and school.

“When we moved to Acomb Sam attended Poppleton Road primary school for two years, before heading to Manor C of E Secondary school, where he was a popular face in his year group. He belonged to Lidgett Grove church cubs and Scouts and enjoyed camping.

“Sadly, in his later teenage years Sam developed mental health issues which stayed with him throughout his life.

“A gentle giant, who was kind and generous and loved by all who met him. He had a strong Christian faith and with two others led the Christian Union at York College.

“As a young teenager he professed his faith in Jesus by being baptised at Acomb Baptist Church.

“We anticipate his funeral/thanksgiving service to be there at a date to be announced later.

“It has caused our family great distress to read some of the news articles online, suggesting Sam was involved in a robbery.

“This is incorrect information as confirmed by North Yorkshire Police and we respectfully ask that these rumours stop.

“Please can you respect our privacy moving forward.

On social media one of Sam's friends said: "Sam was the most caring and loyal friend anyone could ask for.

"His smile could light a 1000 Christmas trees.

"His passing has left everyone who knew him numb and in complete disbelief he will be sadly missed.

"My thoughts are with his family who loved him dearly."

As The Press reported yesterday, North Yorkshire Police officers received several reports of a disturbance at the store and upon arrival a man was being restrained by a member of the shop staff and members of the public.

Unfortunately Sam, from York, began to have medical difficulties and was taken to York Hospital where he was sadly pronounced dead shortly after 6.40pm. 

Sam made headlines in The Press when, as a 20-year-old, he dived in to the River Ouse in York to rescue a 24-year-old woman who plunged in to the River Ouse at Esplanade Court, near Marygate. 

He was out for a drink in the former Bay Horse pub in Marygate - now Roots restaurant - with friends and was one of a group of of people involved in the rescue.

He said at the time: "Someone threw a life-ring and we put it over her and then together we managed to drag her out. I'm glad I did it, I couldn't have lived with myself if I'd stood by and something had happened to her."

York Press: The police cordon in Coney Street. Picture: Haydn LewisThe police cordon in Coney Street. Picture: Haydn Lewis

Anyone who witnessed the incident and has not yet come forward is asked to call North Yorkshire Police on 101 and ask for the Major Incident Team. If you prefer to remain anonymous, you can pass information to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Please quote incident number 405 of July 26.

North Yorkshire Police referred the incident to the Independent Office for Police Conduct, which is standard procedure when someone dies following police attendance at an incident.