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Judge rules bodycam videos from George Floyd cops can be released publicly

The Minnesota judge has declared that the police body camera footage from two police officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest and subsequent death should be publicly released. 

Judge Peter Cahill wrote in a ruling Friday that ‘Members of the Media Coalition, as well as other media and members of the public, may obtain copies’ of the video footage recorded by former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. 

Footage from the May 25 body cam videos were exclusively obtained by last week. 

Cahill did not elaborate on why he decided to allow the footage to be released publicly or when it would be released.  

The judge had previously restricted the viewing of Lane and Kueng’s body cam footage, allowing it to be viewed only by appointment in the county courthouse on July 15, after Lane’s attorney had two body cam videos as evidence for his motion to dismiss charges against Lane. 

In doing so, state law said that the videos became public data.   

Although allowing the video to be viewed by appointment, Cahill did not allow it to be recorded or distributed. 

A variety of media outlets formed a coalition challenging Cahill’s decision, as they claimed the restrictions violated state laws involving public records and the US Constitution’s First Amendment.  

The footage from the body cam that was leaked to last week showed a rookie officer terrifying Floyd by pointing a handgun at his head and another callously picking a pebble from the squad car tire just inches from dying Floyd and seconds before he draws his last breath.

The tapes show in minute detail how a very distressed Floyd begs ‘Mr. Officer, please don’t shoot me. Please man,’ before the struggle that ended with his death on May 25.

It also shows how belligerent cops cursed at and manhandled the sobbing suspect, ignoring his pleas for compassion.

Floyd resisted as the cops tried to force him into the back of the car, telling them he suffers from claustrophobia and anxiety and how Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes, leading to his death, ignoring Floyd’s repeated cries of ‘I can’t breathe.’

Floyd is even heard predicting his own death. ‘I’ll probably just die this way,’ he says. 

The footage includes more than 18 minutes from Officer Alex Kueng’s bodycam and 10 minutes from Officer Thomas Lane. 

They were the first two cops to arrive on the scene after a complaint that Floyd had attempted to pass a fake $20 bill to buy cigarettes at Cup Foods, a store in the Powderhorn Park section of Minneapolis.

Chauvin and a fourth officer, Tou Thao, were called in to assist. All four were fired the day after Floyd’s death.

Chauvin, 44, has been charged with Floyd’s murder and the other three face charges of aiding and abetting murder. The events have led to months of Black Lives Matter protests throughout the country over police racism and brutality.

It is clear from the video that Floyd was not trying to run away – he had plenty of time to leave the scene before police arrived. But instead he decided to sit in his car with two friends, giving the cops the opportunity to approach.

The videos begin with Lane, 37, and Kueng, 26 — both in their first week as Minneapolis police officers — entering Cup Foods. A staff member rushes up to them waving the banknote. ‘Before they drive off. He’s parked right here. It’s a fake bill from the gentleman,’ he tells the cops.

Lane and Kueng then both approach Floyd’s blue Mercedes SUV on the other side of the street. Lane goes to the driver’s side where Floyd is sitting at the wheel and Kueng approaches the passenger side, where Floyd’s ex, Shawanda Hill is in the back seat and a friend, Maurice Hall, is in the front.

Lane is seen knocking on the car window with his flashlight, but Floyd does not immediately open the door. Once the door is open, Lane immediately pulls out his handgun and points it straight at Floyd’s head.

‘Hey man, I’m sorry,’ Floyd says and apologizes again before Lane gets belligerent.

‘Put your f***ing hands up right now! Let me see your other hand,’ the cop is heard saying.

Floyd does not immediately put his hands on the wheel. ‘Put your f***ing hand up there,’ Lane orders him. ‘Jesus Christ, keep your f**king hands on the wheel.’

Floyd tells the officer he had been shot before, and Lane replies: ‘Keep your f***ing hands on the wheel.’

Lane then tells Floyd to put his foot inside the vehicle. ‘I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,’ Floyd replies. ‘God dang man. Man, I got shot the same way, Mr. Officer, before.’

‘Okay. Well when I say ”Let me see your hands,” you put your f***ing hands up,’ Lane responds.

The cop then orders Floyd out of the car. ‘Hands on top of your head. Step out of the vehicle and step away from me,’ he says.

Floyd replies: ‘Okay. Mr. Officer, please don’t shoot me. Please man.’

‘I’m not going to shoot you,’ Lane says. ‘Step out and face away.

‘I’ll look at you eye-to-eye. Please don’t shoot me man,’ Floyd replies. ‘I just lost my mom, man.’

Floyd, 46, is seen sobbing as Kueng and Lane pull him out of the car and handcuff him.

After getting Floyd out of the car, Lane then starts talking to the passengers, Hill and Hall. ‘Why’s he being all squirrelly and not showing us his hands and just being all weird like that?’ Lane asks.

‘Because he’s been shot before,’ Hill, 45, replies.

‘Well I get that,’ Lane says. ‘But still, when officers say: ”Get out of the car…”

‘Is he drunk or something?’

‘No, he’s got a thing going on,’ Hill says, pointing to her head and making a circular movement with her finger as if to suggest her ex had mental problems. ‘About the police,’ she adds.

The two officers then walk Floyd to the squad car and the struggle really begins when Floyd refuses to get in, saying he has claustrophobia.

He falls to the ground. ‘Stand up. Stop falling down,’ Kueng shouts. ‘Stay on your feet and face the car door.’

‘Please man. Don’t leave me by myself man, please. I’m just claustrophobic.’

‘Well you’re still going in the car,’ Lane says.

‘Y’all, I am going to die in here,’ Floyd protests. ‘I’m going to die, man. I just had COVID, man. I don’t want to go back to that.’

Lane offers to roll the cruiser’s windows down to help his phobia but Floyd still struggles. ‘I’m scared as f***,’ he says.

A bystander tells Floyd to calm down because he cannot win in the situation he is in. ‘I don’t want to win,’ Floyd says. ‘I’m claustrophobic and I’ve got anxiety. I don’t want to do nothing to them.’

While still in the car, Floyd says for the first time the line that has become synonymous with his death. ‘I can’t breathe.’ Shortly afterwards Chauvin and Thao arrive on the scene.

The officers finally get him in the squad car and close the rear driver’s side door behind him, but for a reason that is not clear from the video, Floyd comes out of the passenger side door still struggling.

Within seconds he is lying on the sidewalk with Chauvin’s knee pressed on his neck and Lane and Kueng helping to restrain him.

He says he can’t breathe over and over again and calls for his ‘momma’ but his voice slowly gets weaker as his life drains away.

‘Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead,’ he says at one point.

Kueng is seen nonchalantly picking a pebble from the squad car tire with his right hand as he restrains Floyd’s legs with his left.

As his knee presses the life out of Floyd, Chauvin, the most senior officer on the scene, asks rookies Lane and Kueng if they are okay. ‘My knee might be a little scratched but I will survive,’ Lane answers.

Thao asks his fellow officers whether Floyd is high.

‘I believe so. We found a pipe,’ Kueng replies. Lane says: ‘We found a weed pipe. There might be something else, there might be like PCP or something.’

When Floyd continues to wail that he can’t breathe, Kueng is heard telling him. ‘You’re fine. You’re talking fine.’

Floyd replies: ‘I’ll probably just die this way.’

‘I’m through,’ Floyd says. ‘I’m claustrophobic. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. I need some water or something, please.’

‘Then stop talking. Stop yelling,’ Chauvin replies. ‘It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.’

As Floyd stops moving Chauvin keeps his knee on his neck, despite complaints from a small crowd that has gathered.

‘Check his pulse,’ one man says repeatedly. ‘You call what you are doing okay?

But the other officers do little to stop Chauvin. At one point Lane asks: ‘Should we roll him on his side?’ But Chauvin replies. ‘No, he’s staying where we’ve got him.’

‘Okay,’ Lane says. ‘I just worry about the excited delirium or whatever.’

‘Well, that’s why we got the ambulance coming,’ Chauvin says.

By the time EMTs arrive, George Floyd is dead. 

All four of the officers involved in Floyd’s arrest were fired by the Minneapolis police department. 

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

Chauvin faces second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter charges. 

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