MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The judge in the George Floyd case is allowing the public to see video of a 2019 incident involving Floyd and Minneapolis police. Judge Peter Cahill said he did not think it would taint a potential jury.
Attorney for fired Minneapolis police officer Thomas Lane wanted the public to see the video. And the prosecution wanted to prevent it from becoming public. Three body cam videos were released that show different perspectives.
All show Floyd with Minneapolis police officers on May 6, 2019. He’s a passenger in an unlicensed stop, and he fails to comply with officers initial requests.
“Put your hands on the dash. I’m not going to shoot you, put your hands on the dash,” an officer said as he pulls a weapon. “Put hands on dash, the last time I’m going to tell you that. It’s simple.”
Floyd complies, and another officer approaches.
“Open your mouth. Spit out what you’ve got. I’m going to tase you,” an officer said.
Floyd is out of the vehicle, and officers put his hands behind his back and handcuff him.
“You’re not going to get beat up or nothing if you just follow what we’re asking you to do,” an officer said.
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As officers are searching Floyd, you can faintly hear him asking for his “mama.” He pleads with officers as they say they found a bunch of pills.
“Look at how crazy he’s acting. Look at him, he’s crying like an adult male, too,” an officer said.
Within four and a half minutes of officers approaching the vehicle, Floyd is in the back of a squad.
Thomas Lane attorney Earl Gray stopped to talk with media after hearing and was confronted by a man who describes himself as a community activist pic.twitter.com/oTcyx3oP05
— Jennifer Mayerle (@jennifermayerle) October 15, 2020
Earl Gray, Lane’s attorney, tells WCCO why he thinks it should not only be made public, but also be admitted into evidence in the case.
“It shows a false narrative by the state,” Gray said. “The state is portraying Mr. Floyd as somebody that he isn’t, and if you see the 2019 video and compare them, they’re almost identical.”
Gray says Floyd’s behavior in the footage shows his modus operandi. Rachel Moran, an associate professor at the St. Thomas School of Law, says that’s a bit of a stretch, because modus operandi is usually designated for distinctive, intentional conduct being displayed multiple times.
“The fact that Mr. Floyd got frightened in two different arrests is not necessarily relevant,” Moran said. “One could speculate that what the defense is trying to do is simply muddy Mr. Floyd’s character, and I imagine that’s how the state will respond to it. This is simply an effort to get public opinion back on the police officers’ side.”
Moran says Judge Cahill did the safe thing by making the video available to the public, and his ruling wasn’t surprising.
The prosecutors argued that the video will unfairly sway public opinion, adding to pressure to move the trial out of Minneapolis.
Prosecutors also wanted a two-day seal on any submissions in the case so both sides would have time to object. Judge Cahill denied that request.