The tragic death of George Floyd, 46, after a botched attempt to arrest him by the Minneapolis police on May 25 had sparked nationwide protests against racism in the United States.
Of the many reasons that sparked outrage, most striking was the footage of Floyd being held down with officer Derek Chauvin’s knee pressed against the back of his neck for nearly eight minute while Floyd pleaded to be released, saying “I can’t breathe” over 20 times over the course of the clip.
Floyd was arrested after a local grocery store called the police alleging Floyd had handed over a fake $20 bill.
Two officers present during the arrest, Thomas Lane and Aelxander Kueng had their body cameras turned on during the arrest. Other videos of the arrest came from bystanders and from a restaurant CCTV that was pointed towards the scene of the arrest.
Now, the Daily Mail has released the bodycam footage taken by the two officers, which shows the moments when Floyd was first approached by police and asked to come with them to the police station, and the events leading up to him being restrained by Chauvin.
The new footage shows Floyd being approached by a policeman who had already drawn his pistol. Floyd appears visibly anxious and tells the police he is claustrophobic. He pleads with the police not to shoot him, saying he had been shot before, and that he lost his mother recently. His ex-girlfriend, present in the car, even tells officers that Floyd was afraid of the police.
After much argument, Floyd is taken out of the car and towards the police vehicle, where the officers struggle to get him inside as he insists he is claustrophobic. In a few instances, he says he cannot breathe. Following this, he is eventually brought to the ground at which point the leaked bodycam footage ends.
Floyd was eventually pronounced dead at the Hennepin County Medical Centre. Initial autopsies identified the cause of death as a heart attack suffered while Floyd was restrained and subjected to “neck compression”. It also noted that Floyd had recently consumed methamphetamine and that he had tested positive for COVID-19 a month ago.
A second autopsy ordered by Floyd’s family attributed the cause of death to asphyxiation. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Lane, Kueng and another former officer, Tou Thao, are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter. All four officers were fired.
Floyd’s lawyer responded to the newly-released video.
“The more video evidence you see, the more unjustifiable George Floyd’s torture and death at the hands of the police becomes. Although the allegation against George was for a non-violent offense involving a $20 bill, 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,” read a statement by Floyd’s lawyer Ben Crump.
Meanwhile, a Minnesota court is investigating how a British newspaper obtained police body-camera footage showing Floyd’s arrest.
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 organizations, including The Associated Press, seeking public access to the videos.
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.
Hennepin County District Court spokesman Spenser Bickett told the Star Tribune an investigation is underway into the leak, but declined further comment.
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.
Representatives of the Daily Mail did not immediately respond to an AP request for comment Monday.
With inputs from agencies