On Wednesday, a Hennepin County Judge allowed the public to view new video evidence in the May 25 police murder of George Floyd involving four Minneapolis, Minnesota police officers. According to various news outlets, the footage does not show Floyd acting aggressively toward officers or threatening them.
The footage comes from body cameras worn by officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, and shows officer Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes, a minute more than previously thought. Floyd struggled to breathe, and said “please” to officers 50 times before he died.
When Lane asked that Floyd be rolled onto his side after he is seen begging for help, Chauvin can be heard saying, “just leave him.” Lane entered the videos as evidence in a bid to have the charges against him dropped. Lane, who held Floyd’s legs during the killing, has been charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin, who has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The judge in the case ruled that members of the public could view the videos in person at the courthouse by appointment, but were not allowed to record it. The judge also banned news organizations from publishing the material.
Sixty-six spaces were made available for one-hour slots to watch the videos, which total about 65 minutes.
Floyd’s murder at the hands of the police on Memorial Day sparked weeks of massive protests in all 50 states and around the world against police brutality and inequality. Many rallies and protests featured a moment of silence lasting 8 minutes and 46 seconds, the time it was previously thought that Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, suffocating him to death.
The footage shows Lane and Kueng arriving at the Cup Food convenience store after 8 p.m. following a call that Floyd may have used a fake $20 bill. Lane is seen approaching Floyd and two passengers in a parked SUV and asking to see his hands. When Floyd did not immediately respond, Lane yelled, “Put your f**king hands up right now!”
Floyd appears distraught in the video, asking, “What did we do, Mr. Officer?” He then says “I’m sorry” to the officer twice before putting his hands on the steering wheel and repeating that he wants to comply. He then says, “I got shot the same, Mr. Officer, before.” Floyd is then arrested two minutes after Lane approaches his car, but is not told why.
Lane and Kueng are then seen trying to place Floyd into the back of a police car, but Floyd resists, saying he’s claustrophobic and recently recovered from COVID-19. “I’m not that kind of guy,” he told the officers, “I just had COVID, man, I don’t want to go back to that.”
He pleaded with the officers not to put him in the back of the car but said he would go in if they let him count to three. A man on the street can be heard yelling, “You can’t win” to Floyd, to which he responded, “I’m not trying to win.”
The officers tried to push him into the car but Floyd yelled in agony “I can’t breathe” telling officers he would lie on the ground instead. Floyd fell out of the passenger side and onto the asphalt near the car’s back tire, telling the officers, “Thank you.”
At this point, Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck for nine and a half minutes. Chauvin asked the other officers if they were okay, to which Lane replied, “My knee might be a little scratched but I’ll survive,” as Floyd slowly runs out of air beneath their weight.
Floyd was heard saying he could not breathe several times, and begged for water, to which Chauvin responded in a mocking tone, “takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to say that.”
Kueng is then seen trying to check Floyd’s pulse, only after several witnesses plead for the officers to stop and check his pulse, but says he “can’t find one.” Chauvin responds callously, “uh huh,” keeping his knee on Floyd’s neck even after he loses consciousness, and not moving until paramedics arrive and put Floyd on a stretcher.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, filed the videos as evidence last week in order to have the charges against him dropped. He argues that Lane, a rookie cop, was merely following orders from Chauvin, the superior officer on the scene and a 19-year veteran.
The video shows Lane asking Chauvin twice to flip Floyd onto his stomach, but being denied each time. According to media reports, however, there was no sense of urgency on the part of Lane. Nor was there any speed from the paramedics, who nonchalantly arrive late after first going to the wrong address. Three minutes went by before any of them attempted CPR on Floyd, who had already been unconscious for several minutes by then.
Lane would later enter the ambulance to perform CPR on Floyd, who was pronounced dead at the hospital at 9:25 p.m.
While he was arresting him, Lane did not inform Floyd that he was being investigated for allegedly using a fake $20 bill at Cup Foods. Floyd is seen crying in the video, reluctant to leave his car after Lane points his gun at him.
Lane's attorney argues that Floyd was “digging underneath the seat” and was acting “erratically,” but the videos do not show this. The footage also shows Kueng accusing Floyd of resisting arrest, even though Floyd insisted he wasn’t.
Joseph Malinao, a former EMT, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune how he drove to the courthouse to watch the videos to get a better understanding of what happened. “It’s baffling to pull the gun that quick over a forgery charge,” he said, adding, “That set the tone for the whole interaction.”
Chauvin, Kueng, Lane and officer Tou Thao were fired only after the cell phone footage captured by a passerby went viral and mass protests erupted in the city and spread across the country and internationally. Lane and Kueng were charged with aiding and abetting murder while Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Thao, who held back the crowd that assembled, was also charged with aiding and abetting murder.
A coalition of media organizations petitioned the court to obtain the footage, which could then be released to the public. Judge Peter Cahill will hold a meeting on Tuesday to decide.
Floyd’s family filed a lawsuit on Monday against the City of Minneapolis, arguing that the police had violated his Fourth Amendment rights in killing him.
Benjamin Crump, a lawyer representing the family, told assembled media, “It was not just the knee of Derek Chauvin on George Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, but it was the knee of the entire Minneapolis Police Department on the neck of George Floyd that killed him.”
The lawsuit contends that the policies and training approved or condoned by the mayor, City Council and police chief “were the moving force behind and caused” Floyd’s death.