The body camera footage from the entire encounter that George Floyd had with police leading up to his death was released today, and the video is extremely upsetting. The footage is taken from the body cameras of Officer Alex Kueng and Officer Thomas Lane, who were the first to officers to arrive on the scene, after a local business called police to report that Floyd had attempted to purchase a few items with a counterfeit twenty-dollar bill. A judge had previously ruled that these recordings should not be made public until the trials are over, but they were leaked to The Daily Mail by someone involved with the case.
From the moment that police began interacting with Floyd, he is completely compliant and not aggressive in any way. It is obvious that he is terrified of the police, and he had good reason to be afraid. The first officer that approached him immediately pointed a gun at his head for not rolling down his window fast enough.
Floyd tried his best to deescalate the situation, begging the officer not to shoot him and apologizing to him for not responding fast enough. The officer was not calmed by Floyd’s apologies, and quickly escalated the situation, shouting, “Put your f***ing hands up right now! Let me see your other hand.”
Floyd froze in terror and the officer became more aggressive.
‘Put your f***ing hand up there. Jesus Christ, keep your f**king hands on the wheel,” he shouted.
Floyd tried to explain that he had been shot before, which is why he was so nervous.
“Keep your f***ing hands on the wheel,” Officer Lane shouted again, ignoring Floyd’s plea for compassion.
“Hands on top of your head. Step out of the vehicle and step away from me,” the officer ordered.
“Okay. Mr. Officer, please don’t shoot me. Please man,” Floyd pleaded.
“I’m not going to shoot you. Step out and face away,” the officer assured him.
Floyd stepped out of the car as he was ordered to and then he was handcuffed.
Officer Lane asked the passengers why Floyd was acting so nervous, and they explained that he was shot by police in the past and suffers from mental problems as a result. Floyd told the officers that he had been shot and that he had anxiety. The officers were unimpressed by the explanation and insisted that everyone is expected to follow orders when they come from a police officer, regardless of their mental health.
Floyd may have been slow to cooperate because he was so afraid of what the cops would do to him, or afraid of being locked up, but he did not show any signs of aggression or make any attempt to get away at any point in the interaction. However, when they got to the police car, Floyd began to object to being arrested and began begging and pleading with the officers to not put him in the car, explaining that he is claustrophobic and just had COVID. The police became more aggressive when he refused to get in the car and fell to the ground.
“Stand up. Stop falling down, Stay on your feet and face the car door!” one of the officers shouted.
Floyd continued begging and pleading for his life.
‘Y’all, I am going to die in here. I’m going to die, man. I just had COVID, man. I don’t want to go back to that. I’m scared as f**k,” he said.
They appeared to get him in the car for a moment, but for some reason that is not clear from the video, he ended up on the ground on the other side of the vehicle. That is when Officer Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd’s neck, where it remained for over 8 minutes. The whole time, Floyd continued to plead for his life, and explain that they were killing him, but they didn’t take him seriously.
‘Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead,” he said at one point in the video before taking his last breath.
“I’ll probably just die this way. I’m through. I’m claustrophobic. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. I need some water or something, please,” he said.
At one point, Lane expressed a bit of concern about the situation and asked if they should roll him over, but Chauvin told him “No, he’s staying where we’ve got him.”
The officers then begin to discuss whether or not they thought that he was on drugs. Officer Lane suggested that they found a “weed pipe” in Floyd’s car, which meant that perhaps, “There might be something else, there might be like PCP or something.”
As Floyd was telling Chauvin that he couldn’t breathe, the officer told him, ‘Then stop talking. Stop yelling. It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”
Sadly, Floyd was dead just a few seconds later.
The defense attorneys for the officers who were charged with the killing will argue that they were justified because Floyd was not immediately obedient, and because he begged the officers not to hurt or arrest him. Passing off a fake twenty-dollar bill should not be an offense that lands someone in handcuffs, so he had every right to plead and protest with the officers about getting arrested over such a petty offense. Furthermore, people with mental illness, especially those with post-traumatic stress disorder from previous police encounters, can’t be expected to step in line like a soldier every time a cop barks a command at them. This video shows how police are entirely unequipped to deal with people who have a mental illness or other considerations that may prevent them from being as obedient as some officers demand.