MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) — Body-camera footage made public Wednesday from two Minneapolis police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest captured a panicked and fearful Floyd pleading with the officers in the minutes before his death, saying “I’m not a bad guy!” as they tried to wrestle him into a squad car.
“I’m not that kind of guy,” Floyd says as he struggles against the officers. “I just had COVID, man, I don’t want to go back to that.” An onlooker pleads with Floyd to stop struggling, saying, “You can’t win!” Floyd replies, “I don’t want to win!”
A few minutes later, with Floyd now face-down on the street, the cameras record his fading voice, still occasionally saying, “I can’t breathe” before he goes still.
WCCO’s Jennifer Mayerle was among the few who were given access to watch the video on Wednesday. She reported that the body worn cameras of former officers Thomas Lane and J. Kueng began with the two of them in a squad car. They pulled up to Cup Foods in south Minneapolis and they went into the store. They were quickly told about a car that was still across the street, and that the person in that car allegedly passed a counterfeit $20 bill.
The officers quickly exited Cup Foods and walked across the street through traffic over to that vehicle, and it’s Lane that went up to the driver’s side window with something in his hand. It almost looked like the back of a flashlight or some kind of baton; he then tapped on the window saying, “let me see your hands.”
“The entire interaction would have been completely different if the cop wasn’t drawing his weapon in 10 to 15 seconds. It changed the mood completely,” U of M student Abdinasir Nourkadi said after watching the video.
George Floyd was in the driver’s seat. They exchanged a couple words and quickly Lane demanded that Floyd put his hands where he can see them. When he didn’t, you see Lane raise his weapon, pointing it at the driver’s side of the vehicle.
Floyd eventually put his hands on the steering wheel, at some point putting his head down on the wheel before coming back to talk to Lane. They talked a little bit more before Lane tells Floyd to “step out of the vehicle” — essentially pulling Floyd out of the car. That is the first time that there’s a bit of what appears to be a struggle on the video.
Kueng talked to the other people in the vehicle and they got out.
Mayerle said you can’t see everything that’s happening as the cameras move around a lot. You do see that Lane and Kueng got Floyd in cuffs after some struggle. They talked throughout this time and Kueng led Floyd over to the wall of a building nearby, where Lane went on to talk to the two other people that were in the vehicle, getting their names and other information.
The next point comes when Kueng and Lane are seen walking Floyd across the street and back to their squad vehicle near Cup Foods. This is when Floyd started to say he was claustrophobic, “I can’t breathe. I don’t want to go in there.”
“They did not treat George Floyd as if he was human from the moment they approached his vehicle, holding him at gunpoint, not listening to him, not taking his concerns seriously that he was unable to breathe,” activist Nekima Levy Armstrong said.
Mayerle said Floyd became louder and more adamant with his words. There are points early on where you have the impression like he was almost in tears. But at this point, he is shown clearly saying that he doesn’t want to go into the squad car, and a struggle to get them into the squad ensued.
You can see him almost brace and turn around and put his back against the squad, closing his eyes again at one point. Eventually, he goes through the back seat of the squad and out the other side. That is the first time we see former officer Derek Chauvin, along with Lane, on that side where they get Floyd onto the ground.
Chauvin and Kueng each gripped one of Floyd’s handcuffed hands to hold them in position behind his back, with Kueng’s knee appearing to press on Floyd’s bottom or just below. Lane is seen at Floyd’s feet.
At first, Floyd is seen moving, kind of restless — while being held down. He starts talking about his mom and says to “tell my kids I love them.” And saying I can’t breathe.
You can hear Chauvin say, “You’re doing a lot of talking, man.”
That is where much of the video picks up from what bystanders captured, but we continue to see it from Lane and Kueng’s video, Mayerle said.
Lane can be heard asking if they should roll Floyd on his side. Then saying he’s worried about “the excited delirium or whatever.” He checks on his breathing.
By this time you can hear bystanders in the video but not see them, shouting at the officers to get Floyd off the ground.
A couple of minutes later, Lane sounds a bit more concerned when he asks again about rolling Floyd onto his side. The officers go quiet, but show no apparent urgency as Kueng checks for a pulse and says he cannot find one.
Mayerle says it’s difficult to watch when Floyd stops talking and his body goes limp. They’re still on the ground waiting for the ambulance.
You can see Floyd’s face has blood on it when help arrives and they load him onto a stretcher.
“It was more traumatizing than the video we already saw,” Marques Armstrong said.
Lane gets in the ambulance and you see his hands on Floyd giving chest compressions. He continues and appears to check for a pulse. Lane helped while Floyd was being intubated — and later adding a machine that took over chest compressions.
“They did not do any CPR until he was in the ambulance. In my opinion he appeared to be already dead,” Armstrong said.
The recordings from Lane and Kueng are part of the criminal case against them and two other officers in Floyd’s May 25 death. Derek Chauvin, who held his knee against Floyd’s neck for nearly eight minutes, is charged with second-degree murder. Lane, Kueng and another officer, Tou Thao, are charged with aiding and abetting.
All four officers were fired a day after Floyd’s death. Journalists and members of the public were allowed to view the footage Wednesday by appointment. Judge Peter Cahill, without explanation, has declined to allow publication of the video.
The footage shows the officers’ view of a death already widely seen on a bystander’s cellphone video, which set off tumultuous protests in Minneapolis that quickly spread around the world and sparked a national reckoning on race and policing.
A coalition of news organizations and attorneys for Lane and Kueng have said that making the videos public would provide a more complete picture of what happened when Floyd was taken into custody.
The viewing of the video took place on the same day Floyd family attorney Ben Crump was announcing a lawsuit against the city and the police officers involved in his death.
The body camera videos and transcripts were filed in court last week by Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, as part of a request to have Lane’s case dismissed. Gray said at the time that he wanted the videos to be made public, telling the Star Tribune that they would show the “whole picture.” Gray said the bystander video shows just the last piece of what happened and “is not fair.”
Gray’s request highlighted portions of the body camera video that show Floyd “actively resisting and acting erratic” with officers. It also noted Floyd’s “request” to be put on the ground. Gray also argued that Lane did not have a clear view of what Chauvin was doing.
Kueng’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, has also asked that the video be made public.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)