George Floyd killing: Police bodycam video details fatal arrest

A man and young child kneel in front of a memorial.
A mural of George Floyd has been painted at the Cup Foods site where Floyd was arrested by Minneapolis police and later died in custody.
Judy Griesedieck for MPR News

Updated: 5:29 p.m.

Police body camera footage of George Floyd’s final minutes of life shows him telling Minneapolis police officers that he’s claustrophobic and pleading with them not to put him in the back of a squad car.

Floyd displays signs of distress as officers try to force him into the back of the vehicle, telling them he can’t breathe and volunteering to lie on the ground instead. 

The body camera footage from former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane was made available for in-person viewings Wednesday by Hennepin County District Court, providing a fuller picture of the fatal arrest.

It’s the first time the body camera footage of Floyd’s killing has been seen, although the court has previously released transcripts of the footage. 

 Nothing captured by the cameras suggests that Floyd acted aggressively against officers, although at times he did not comply with orders immediately. He was visibly distraught throughout the encounter. But he peppered his language with pleas to the officers that he didn’t mean them any harm. Floyd said the word “please” more than 50 times during his interaction with the officers, according to the transcript of Lane’s body camera footage.

‘Let me see your [expletive] hands’

Kueng and Lane arrived at Cup Foods at 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis shortly after 8 p.m. on Memorial Day after reports that someone tried to pass counterfeit money.

They briefly talk to the store manager, who points out a truck across the street. Lane takes out his flashlight as he crosses 38th Street. He taps on the truck’s front driver’s side window with the flashlight, and Floyd is startled. 

“Let me see your [expletive] hands,” Lane tells Floyd. “Get your hands on the [expletive] wheel.”

Floyd is moving around in the vehicle and apologizing to the officer, who swears at Floyd and demands to see his hands. Lane draws his gun and points it at Floyd, who tells him that he got shot the “same way by another police officer before,” and begs Lane not to shoot him, telling the officer that he just lost his mom.

In a court filing last week, Lane’s attorney explains that Lane drew his gun after Floyd was told to show his hands and didn’t. The video showed that it took only moments for Lane to draw his gun. Gray wrote in the court filing that Lane put his gun away when Floyd put his hands up. 

Lane tells Floyd to get out of the car, pulls Floyd’s hands behind his back and cuffs him just about two minutes after he’d approached the vehicle.

Kueng escorts Floyd over to a nearby wall and tells him to sit on the ground while Lane interviews the passengers in the truck he was driving. They say they were just getting a ride from Floyd.

‘I’m not trying to win’

The two officers lead Floyd across the street toward the squad car, search his pockets and then try to convince him to sit down in the squad.

Floyd tells them that he just got over COVID-19, that he’s claustrophobic and has anxiety. Floyd begs the officers not to put him in the back, at one point telling them he’ll get into the squad if they let him count to three.

A man on the street tells Floyd, "You can't win," and that he should just get in the car. 

Floyd responds, "I'm not trying to win." 

About a minute later, Kueng tries to push Floyd into the squad while Lane pulls him from the other side. Floyd is splayed across the back seat, frantic and yelling. At least twice while being forced into the squad, Floyd says, “I can’t breathe,” and tells the officers he’ll lie on the ground instead. 

Officer Derek Chauvin arrives on Lane’s side of the car. Floyd’s body comes out of the car — it's not clear from the video if he's pulled out or pushes himself out — and he goes to the ground near the squad’s back tire.

Chauvin kneels on his neck, even as bystanders gather and yell that they’re killing Floyd. Floyd calls out “mama” repeatedly — his family has said she died about two years ago.

‘Just leave him’

Lane asks multiple times whether they should roll him on his side, but Chauvin says to “just leave him.” Kueng checks Floyd’s pulse, and says he “can’t find one.”

At one point while Floyd is on the ground, Lane is asked if he’s OK. He says, “My knee might be a little scratched, but I’ll survive.” 

Prosecutors first said that Chauvin kneeled on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, then they revised it to seven minutes and 46 seconds. But timestamps on the videos indicate that Chauvin appeared to kneel on Floyd’s neck for almost nine and a half minutes. The Hennepin County Attorney’s Office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the discrepancies.

Chauvin lifts his knee from Floyd’s neck after an EMT arrives.  

The officers help the EMT get Floyd onto a stretcher. Lane rides with him in the ambulance for a few blocks, giving Floyd chest compressions as EMTs prepare their treatment. The officer later gets a ride back to 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in a fire truck.   

Chauvin’s body camera had come loose as he restrained Floyd on the ground. Kueng recovered it from under the squad. 

After the ambulance drives Floyd’s body away, Kueng takes a report from the store owner about the counterfeit $20 bill. As a crowd begins to gather outside the store, the manager tells Kueng, “People are silly. I don’t know why they’re messing with you.” 

Kueng asks Chauvin for an evidence envelope for the counterfeit bill. Chauvin asks whether Floyd was in the vehicle police were securing. 

The footage from the two officer body camera videos totaled a little more than an hour. Journalists and members of the public were required to schedule a one-hour appointment to view the videos in person at the Hennepin County Government Center. The court did not allow recordings of the footage.

A coalition of media organizations, including MPR News, has challenged the restrictions on public evidence. They argue that releasing the evidence in a piecemeal way could mislead the public, and that media organizations should have the right to record and distribute the footage.

Former officer Derek Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter in Floyd’s killing. Lane, Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

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