A partial footage obtained from the body cameras worn by two of the new former Minneapolis officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd shows him struggling witht the officers while in the back of a squad car few minutes before his death, saying ”I can’t breathe”.
Moments later, following the struggle, Officer Thomas Lane can be heard asking Officer Derek Chauvin whether Floyd should be rolled on his side.
Floyd died May 25 while in custody, and the incident — which was also recorded on cell phone video — set off protests that soon went nationwide. The demonstrations over his killing and the deaths of other African Americans at the hands of police prompted intense discussions on racism in America.
Footage from the police body-worn cameras of Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng was filed with the court July 7 by Lane’s attorney as evidence supporting his motion to dismiss the charges against the former officer, but only the written transcripts were made public by the court at the time.
Judge Peter Cahill, who is presiding over the cases, made the body camera footage from Lane and Kueng available for limited in-person viewing at the court July 15.
Cahill had declined to allow news organizations to publish the footage. A coalition of local and national media companies filed a motion in July calling for the immediate release of the two body-worn camera videos.
The four officers involved have been fired. Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder. The three other officers involved in Floyd’s death — Kueng, Lane and Tou Thao — were also arrested and charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
Ben Crump, an attorney for Floyd’s family, said in a statement Monday that the leaked video shows Floyd did not pose a threat.
The police officers approached him with guns drawn, simply because he was a Black man. As this video shows, he never posed any threat. The officers’ contradictions continue to build. If not for the videos, the world might never have known about the wrongs committed against George Floyd.
While none of the officers has entered a formal plea, attorneys for Thao and Lane have asked for the cases against them to be dismissed, and Kueng’s attorney has said his client intends to plead not guilty.
A spokesman for the judge said Monday that Cahill had yet to rule on the motion to publicly release the body camera footage. Attorneys for Chauvin and Kueng declined to comment Monday. CNN also reached out to attorneys representing Thao and Lane for comment Monday but did not receive an immediate response.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison, who is prosecuting the case said that the prosecution team is not the source of the leak, and added that they will continue to take the strictest precautions to ensure a fair trial.
Kueng, Lane and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting Chauvin, who remains in custody on $1 million bail. Thao is held on $750,000 bail. Lane and Kueng are free on bond.
The four have yet to enter pleas. The judge set Sept. 11 as the next hearing date.
Cahill also warned that he was prepared to move the trials out of Minneapolis if public officials and attorneys didn’t stop speaking publicly about the case.
An independent autopsy later revealed that Floyd died of suffocation due to the police officer’s pressure on his neck and cited the cause of death as “homicide.”
The charges against Chauvin were increased to second-degree homicide and his three colleagues were also charged with “aiding and abetting” the murder.
Although Floyd’s family welcomed the new charges, protests and clashes with the police continued to rock the country.
The demands of the protesters grew from mere justice for Floyd to calls for sweeping reform of law enforcement, an end to racial inequality and for the US to acknowledge its history of slavery and racial injustice.
The demands bore fruit when some police departments banned “choke hold” restraints during arrests, while others pledged to allow access to records of previous complaints against officers who find themselves accused of abuse of