Body Camera Video Of George Floyd And Police Offers New Details Of Deadly Encounter
Newly released officer-worn body camera video is giving a fuller view of the tense scene in which George Floyd was killed in Minneapolis on Memorial Day. In it, bystanders clamor for officers to check Floyd's vital signs as Officer Derek Chauvin holds his knee on the man's neck.
The video, from former Officer Tou Thao, shows another vantage of Floyd's arrest as well as Thao's interactions with a crowd of bystanders. The recording was released by a judge's order in Hennepin County, Minn.
In the video, Thao seems to get increasingly agitated as the crowd becomes more vocal. Onlookers repeatedly ask him why Floyd's vital signs aren't being checked as other officers hold Floyd, who is handcuffed, on the pavement.
Floyd can be heard pleading with officers for air, including telling them, "I can't breathe" — the complaint that's been repeated by thousands of protesters as they call for an end to systemic racism and police brutality across the U.S. and internationally.
At one point, Thao tells the crowd, "This is why you don't do drugs, kids."
One bystander, a Black man in a black hoodie and shorts, tells the officers he trained at the police academy. He asks Thao about the tactic Chavin is using, asking if it's a "jiu-jitsu move."
Referring to Floyd, Thao repeatedly says, "He's talking, so he's fine."
Thao also tells the onlookers that officers tried for 10 minutes to get Floyd in the back of the police vehicle, although the actual time appears to have been less than five.
Thao arrived on the scene after Floyd was cuffed, and as fellow officers Chauvin, Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were struggling to place Floyd in the back of a police SUV.
All four officers have since been fired and charged in connection with Floyd's death. Chauvin faces a second-degree murder charge, while Thao, Kueng and Lane each face charges of aiding and abetting.
In the video, Thao primarily engages in crowd control as people gather on the sidewalk near the rear of the police vehicle. While Floyd appears at times, the video largely does not show what happened to him as he was held down on the pavement. Instead, it shows the crowd's reactions — which range from concern to anger.
Floyd died after Chauvin kneeled on his neck for several minutes. The Minneapolis officers initially confronted Floyd on the suspicion of using a counterfeit $20 bill to purchase cigarettes.
At about the 8:43 mark in the video, the man in the hoodie steps off the sidewalk and into the street, moving toward where Floyd is in the street. Thao yells at the man to get back on the sidewalk.
Moments later, a white woman identifies herself as a Minneapolis firefighter as she approaches Thao and asks if Floyd has a pulse. He yells at her to get back on the sidewalk as well.
Things grow more tense as men and women in the crowd implore the officers to check on Floyd. As they do, some of them shout expletives at the officers.
"He's f***ing dead, bro," the man in the hoodie shouts as he steps into the street again.
Thao shoves the man back toward the sidewalk. He had taken out his cellphone to begin recording Floyd lying on the pavement.
"Don't not touch me again," Thao yells. People on the sidewalk shout back at Thao that the Black man never touched him.
Thao also pushes, though not as forcefully, a man wearing a white T-shirt, sending him back toward the sidewalk as people try to step into the street to get a better view of what's happening to Floyd.
The video is the latest officer-worn footage from the Minneapolis case to be released this week. On Monday, video captured by ex-Officers Lane and Kueng was released following a legal challenge by a group of media companies arguing for their public release, as the Star Tribune reported.
TheStar Tribune also noted Robert Paule, Thao's attorney, filed his client's body camera video with the court to support a motion to get criminal charges against him dropped.
"Paule has argued in court filings that the case should be dropped because Thao was focused on crowd control and didn't have a full view of what was happening as three of his former colleagues restrained Floyd, among other reasons," the paper reported.
Hennepin County District Judge Peter Cahill is scheduled to hear oral arguments Sept. 11 on motions filed on behalf of Lane and Thao.
Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.