MINNEAPOLIS (CN) — Body-camera footage of George Floyd’s arrest and death made semi-public Wednesday shows officers taking an aggressive approach to confronting Floyd over an allegedly counterfeit bill, but doing little to ensure his safety as his vital signs collapsed.
Footage from cameras worn by former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng was filed as an exhibit in the case against Lane last week by his lawyer alongside a motion to dismiss. Transcripts were released at that time, but the videos themselves were only made available by reservation for in-person viewing on Wednesday.
Reservations filled up quickly, with a gaggle of reporters and a handful of members of the public taking up the majority of morning slots within hours after court officials announced the viewing protocols.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, argued that the footage showed that none of the officers involved in Floyd’s arrest and subsequent death had committed a crime, and that even if there had been a crime, Lane had been following his training and the directions of Derek Chauvin, the senior officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck as Floyd lost consciousness and eventually his pulse.
Lane’s camera showed him pointing his gun at Floyd, a Black man, without warning within seconds of approaching the car Floyd was sitting in. Floyd becomes visibly panicked as Lane holds the gun on him and repeatedly demands that Floyd put his hands up.
The officer put the gun away after about a minute, then pulled a crying and apologizing Floyd out of the car and against the hood.
The next several minutes of Kueng’s video show Kueng interrogating a handcuffed Floyd as Floyd sits against a wall, then both officers taking him to their patrol SUV and searching him. After displaying a pipe, the pair attempt to push a protesting Floyd into the car with little success.
A bystander shouted to Floyd “You can’t win,” to which Floyd responded, “I’m not trying to win.” While struggling against the officers’ efforts to push him into the car, he pleads with the officers, repeating that “I’m not that kind of guy.”
Chauvin, the 19-year force veteran who has been charged with Floyd’s murder, arrived on scene around that time with his partner, Tou Thao. Both helped the two junior officers pull Floyd into and then out of the car and into the street. Just short of 12 minutes into the videos, which started shortly before the officers arrived at Cup Foods, Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck. He kept it there until EMTs arrived several minutes later.
Thao, plainly visible and audible throughout the viral video of Floyd’s arrest that sparked a wave of protests and civil unrest, can be seen and heard only in brief snippets throughout the body-camera footage.
As Floyd cried out for his mother and said “I can’t breathe,” Chauvin told him that “it takes a lot of energy to say that.” The officers agreed that Floyd appeared intoxicated and idly speculated on what substance could be involved. Lane suggests PCP because of its tendency to make users’ eyes move involuntarily.
Lane asked twice in a casual tone about rolling Floyd on his side, but Chauvin dismissed the idea.
“I think he’s passing out,” Lane observes about five minutes into the hold, as Floyd’s legs convulse and he holds them down. He receives no response, but Chauvin asks if Lane is alright.
As bystanders become agitated and demand that the officers check Floyd’s pulse, Kueng does so.
“I can’t find one,” he told Chauvin.
“Huh?” Chauvin asked.
“I can’t find one,” Kueng repeated. His face is shown briefly on Lane’s camera with what appears to be an anxious expression. Kueng, who had been on top of Floyd’s back, was instead crouching alongside him at this point.
Hennepin County EMTs arrived shortly afterward, and Chauvin got off of Floyd to allow them to put him on a gurney. After a brief conversation, Lane went with Floyd and the EMTs to another location a few blocks away, and Kueng, with another officer, crossed the street to talk with the two other occupants of the minivan Floyd was taken from before Kueng broke off to discuss the counterfeit bill with Cup Foods’ manager.
The manager said a man matching Floyd’s description had purchased cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. Another man, matching the description of the man who had been in the car with Floyd, had attempted to pass another counterfeit bill but was unsuccessful.
In the ambulance, three minutes after medics arrive, Lane briefly does chest compressions on Floyd before a machine takes over. After the medics say they don’t need more help, he gets a ride from the area in a fire truck, whose driver says EMTs had been confused by the way police reported the incident to them, and had wound up at the wrong place.
“Yuck,” she says as Lane describes the incident, fiddling with a pair of handcuffs.
Chauvin faces charges of second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Thao, Lane and Kueng have all been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
Floyd’s family brought a civil rights lawsuit against the four former officers and Minneapolis on Wednesday.