A Minnesota court is investigating how a British newspaper obtained police body-camera footage showing the arrest and death of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man who died after an officer kneeled on his neck for nearly nine minutes in May.
The Daily Mail on Monday published parts of videos from cameras being worn by two now-former Minneapolis police officers involved in Floyd’s arrest on May 25 in the United States.
A Hennepin County judge last month allowed journalists and members of the public to view the footage by appointment, but has not yet ruled on a motion by a coalition of news organisations seeking public access to the videos.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, whose office is leading the prosecution of the four fired Minneapolis police officers charged in Floyd’s death, said he was not the source of the leak.
“We will continue to take the strictest precautions to ensure a fair trial,” Ellison said in a statement.
The newspaper’s article said the videos were leaked to DailyMail.com. The website shows about 10 minutes from former officer Thomas Lane’s bodycam and about 18 minutes from former officer J Kueng’s bodycam.
‘Please don’t shoot me’
Keung’s body camera shows the officers walking into Cup Foods, where they speak to the owner, who had called them about being paid with counterfeit money.
The footage then shows two officers approaching Floyd’s car.
One, officer Lane, goes to the driver’s side, and the other, Keung, to the passenger’s side.
Lane taps on the driver’s side window – where Floyd is sitting – with a flashlight.
Floyd appears initially slow to comply, repeating “I’m sorry, I’m sorry”.
Lane is heard yelling “Let me see your hands!” and “Put your [expletive] hands up!”.
Within seconds, Lane draws his gun and points it at Floyd, eliciting a look of terror.
The officer tells Floyd to put his hands on the wheel. He is again slow to comply before saying “yes, sir” and placing his hands on the wheel.
Floyd is heard apologising and saying the situation reminded him of the “last time I got shot”.
Floyd begins crying as Lane tells him to get out of the car.
“Please don’t shoot me,” Floyd repeats.
At one point he says “I just lost my mom, man”.
The officers handcuff Floyd, who remains distraught.
‘I am going to die in here’
Keung’s footage shows a handcuffed Floyd sitting on the sidewalk as he asks him identifying questions and tells him that the officers reacted in the way they did because he did not immediately show his hands.
Floyd sobs at some points, but remains compliant.
Meanwhile, Lane’s camera captures him speaking to the two passengers in the car, asking why Floyd was “being all squirrelly and not showing us his hands and just being weird like that”.
Shawanda Hill responds: “Because he’s been shot before”.
“He’s got a thing going on,” she adds, pointing to her head and making a circular motion.
The officers then attempt to put Floyd into the back of a police car.
Floyd refuses, saying “I’m claustrophobic”.
At one point he falls down to the ground, but gets back up and still refuses to get back in the car.
“Y’all, I am going to die in here,” Floyd says. “I’m going to die, man. I just had COVID, man. I don’t want to go back to that.”
The officers finally move Floyd into the back of the vehicle and close the driver’s side door, but Floyd emerges through the passenger side door.
‘I can’t breathe’
At this point, officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao have arrived at the scene.
Floyd tussles with officers on the passenger side. The struggle ends with him on the ground and officer Chauvin kneeling on his neck.
Floyd can be heard repeating, “I can’t breathe” and calling out “Momma”.
“Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead,” he is also heard saying.
At one point, when Floyd says he can’t breathe, an officer identified by the Daily Mail as Keung is heard telling him “You’re fine. You’re talking fine”.
“I’m through … I’m claustrophobic. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. I need some water or something, please,” Floyd is also heard saying.
An officer identified by the Daily Mail as Chauvin replies: “Then stop talking. Stop yelling. It takes a lot of oxygen to talk.”
At one point, an officer identified as Lane asks: “Should we roll him on his side?”
Chauvin responds: “No, he’s staying where we’ve got him.”
“Okay,” Lane replies. “I just worry about the excited delirium or whatever.”
Chauvin replies “Well, that’s why we got the ambulance coming.”
Floyd stops moving as Chauvin continues to kneel on his neck.
Several people are heard yelling from off camera, some calling for the officers to “check his pulse”.
“You call what you’re doing okay?” one man says from off camera.
Chauvin has since been charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter.
Lane, Kueng and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.
All four officers were fired from the department after the incident.