Judge orders release of body camera video showing Floyd killing

Demonstrators march in the street.
Demonstrators calling to defund the Minneapolis Police Department march on University Avenue on June 6, 2020, in Minneapolis. The march, organized by the Black Visions Collective, commemorated the life of George Floyd.
Stephen Maturen | Getty Images

Body camera footage showing what happened to George Floyd as he was killed by Minneapolis police will be more widely available to the public.

Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill ruled Friday that copies of the video from cameras worn by former officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng may be released.

The ruling does not say how the footage, which was filed as evidence in the case by Lane’s attorney, will be disseminated.

Previously, the videos were available to view in person and by appointment only. Media organizations, including MPR’s parent company, American Public Media Group, challenged that arrangement and sought to obtain copies of video.

But it became clear earlier this week that the tight restrictions couldn’t keep the footage from getting out to a wider audience. On Monday, the Daily Mail published some of the body camera footage on its website, prompting an investigation by Hennepin County authorities as to how it was leaked to the British tabloid.

In his order Friday, Cahill did not explain the reasons for his decision. “Members of the Media Coalition, as well as other media and members of the public, may obtain copies” of the videos, he wrote.

The media coalition also includes the Associated Press, the Star Tribune, The Silha Center for the Study of Media, and the parent companies of The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, KARE 11, KSTP, WCCO, KMSP and other Minnesota TV stations.

The body camera footage shows officers responding to a call about counterfeit $20 bills being passed at Cup Foods on the corner of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue in south Minneapolis. It shows the officers initially confronting Floyd, who was seated in a vehicle. Lane drew his gun just moments into the encounter, demanding to see Floyd’s hands. 

In the body camera footage, a clearly distressed Floyd begs officers not to shoot him and not to put him in the squad because he is claustrophobic. It shows them wrestling Floyd to the ground, where then-officer Derek Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes. 

Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Lane, Kueng and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. 

The trial of the four former officers is scheduled for March. 

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