Bodycam footage from the two Minneapolis cops who arrested George Floyd was leaked to the Daily Mail this week providing new details in the May 25 murder which sparked weeks of mass multiracial and multiethnic protests against police violence in the US and around the world. The tapes were provided by an anonymous source and show officers brutally arresting Floyd and then killing him.
Transcripts of the videos were released last month but a judge ordered the footage not to be released to the public, it could only be viewed at a courthouse by appointment. Now, for the first time, the public can view George Floyd’s agonizing last moments of life.
The footage includes 18 minutes from Officer J. Alexander Kueng’s body camera and 10 minutes from Officer Thomas Lane’s. They were the first to be called to the Cup Foods convenience store after Floyd allegedly tried to buy cigarettes with a fake $20 bill.
The video begins with Lane and Kueng, their first week as rookie cops, entering the store where an employee approaches them with the counterfeit bill saying, “Before they drive off. He’s parked right here. It’s a fake bill from the gentleman.”
The police walked up to Floyd’s blue Mercedes SUV parked on the other side of the street. Lane goes to the driver’s side where Floyd was sitting while Kueng approached the passenger side, where Floyd’s ex, Shawanda Hill, was in the back seat and Maurice Hall, a friend, in front.
Almost immediately upon encountering Floyd in his car, Officer Lane pulled his gun aiming for Floyd’s head. Floyd, clearly terrified, began sobbing uncontrollably, pleading, “Mr. Officer, please don’t shoot me. Please man.” Floyd told the officers he had been shot before to which Lane responds, “Keep your f**king hands on the wheel.”
Although Floyd was clearly distraught, the officers yelled obscenities at him as they manhandled him out of the vehicle. Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao were called in to assist.
Floyd was ordered out of the car with Lane saying, “Hands on top of your head. Step out of the vehicle and step away from me.” Floyd pleaded with the police not to shoot him. Lane said, “I’m not going to shoot you. Step out and face away.”
“I’ll look at you eye-to-eye. Please don’t shoot me man. I just lost my mom, man,” Floyd said.
After Floyd exited the car, Lane approached Hill and Hall who were standing next to the car. Lane asked, “Why’s he being all squirrelly and not showing us his hands and just being all weird like that?”
Hill explained, “Because he’s been shot before.” Lane said, “Well I get that. But still, when officers say: ‘Get out of the car…’ Is he drunk or something?”
“No, he’s got a thing going on,” Hill said as she pointed to her head and made a circular motion, implying Floyd had mental issues, adding, “About the police.”
When the officers tried to get him into the squad car a struggle began to escalate as Floyd refused to get in, saying he had claustrophobia and falling to the ground. Kueng yelled, “Stand up. Stop falling down. Stay on your feet and face the car door.”
Floyd begged them, “Please man. Don’t leave me by myself man, please. I’m just claustrophobic.” Lane responded, “Well you’re still going in the car.”
Floyd kept protesting, “Y’all, I am going to die in here. I’m going to die, man. I just had COVID, man. I don’t want to go back to that.” Lane offered to roll the windows down to calm Floyd but he was still agitated, saying, “I’m scared as f**k.”
Eventually people began to gather on the sidewalk with one bystander telling Floyd to calm down, saying he could not win. Floyd replied, “I don’t want to win. I’m claustrophobic and I’ve got anxiety. I don’t want to do nothing to them.”
While seated in the car Floyd declared for the first time, “I can’t breathe.” Officers Chauvin and Thao then arrived on the scene.
All four officers struggled to restrain Floyd in the car but he fell outside of the passenger side door. Within moments, Floyd was pinned on the ground with Chauvin’s knee pressing down on his neck.
For the next several minutes Floyd repeatedly yelled he couldn’t breathe and called for his mother as he slowly suffocated to death. He said at one point, “Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead.”
Chauvin asked his fellow officer if he was okay to which Lane answered, “My knee might be a little scratched but I will survive.”
As Floyd continued to say he couldn’t breathe, Kueng is heard saying, “You’re fine. You’re talking fine.” Floyd responded, “I’ll probably just die this way.”
A crowd had gathered by this point with one man heard shouting, “Check his pulse” and “You call what you are doing okay?” The officers did not respond but Lane asked, “Should we roll him on his side?” Chauvin answered, “No, he’s staying where we’ve got him.”
Floyd was seen motionless and silent on the ground and died before an ambulance arrived. All four were fired the next day after initially being placed on administrative leave.
The footage makes clear the reckless and callous manner in which the cops brutalized a non-violent person. A seemingly insignificant event, the alleged use of a counterfeit bill, is apparently enough to warrant a public execution by police officers in America.
Liberal advocates of police reform will argue the footage shows the need for “better training” of the police, as if this would alter the fact that the police primarily exist to defend the rich and their private property and no amount of training would prevent such violent encounters from taking place in a country as socially polarized and unequal as the United States.
Hennepin County District Court spokesman Spenser Bickett told the media that the court is working with police to determine who leaked the two videos. Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is prosecuting the four fired Minneapolis police officers, denied being the source of the leaks.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter, while Lane, Kueng and Thao have been charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. Lane and Kueng have been released after posting bond while Chauvin and Thao remain in custody. All four officers have a tentative trial date of March 8, 2021.