A Minneapolis police officer openly mocked and became increasingly aggressive with bystanders who sought to intervene as George Floyd complained of struggling to breathe and ultimately lost consciousness while handcuffed and pinned to the ground during a fatal altercation with police in May, according to newly released police body camera video.
The footage was captured by a camera worn by Tou Thao, one of the four former Minneapolis police officers charged with Floyd’s murder. The 22-minute video was filed as evidence in the ongoing criminal case into Floyd’s Memorial Day death and made public Wednesday, two days after videos worn by two other officers at the scene — Thomas K. Lane and J. Alexander Kueng — were released.
Derek Chauvin, then a 19-year veteran of the Minneapolis police, has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter. The three other officers at the scene — Kueng, Lane and Thao — have been charged with aiding and abetting. All four were fired by the Minneapolis police and are scheduled to be back in court Sept. 11.
Thao arrived on the scene with Chauvin as Lane and Kueng were struggling to place Floyd into a squad car, as they investigated him for the passing of a counterfeit $20 bill. The footage from Thao’s camera adds to the intensity of the scene, as Floyd fought against being placed in the car and claimed he was claustrophobic. The footage shows Chauvin grabbed Floyd into a headlock as he and Lane tried to place him into car, before ultimately pinning him to the ground.
As Chauvin, Kueng and Lane held Floyd to the street, Thao stood to the side monitoring a growing crowd of people who urged the officers to ease their bodies off Floyd, who was pleading with them and telling them he could not breathe. At one point, Floyd is heard crying out, “They’re going to kill me.” The footage shows Thao turn back to the people on the sidewalk and declare, “This is why you don’t do drugs, kids.”
The video shows Thao become increasingly aggressive with bystanders, who urge the officers to “get off” Floyd after he stops moving. He is shown yelling at a woman who identified herself as an off-duty Minneapolis firefighter and urged him to check Floyd’s pulse. “Back off,” Thao screamed. As she continued to try to intervene, Thao questioned her credentials, before finally declaring, “I am not going to have this conversation.”
Thao’s video is likely the last significant footage of the scene. Chauvin’s body camera was knocked off during the struggle with Floyd, and Thao’s video shows Kueng retrieving it from under the car after Floyd’s body is taken away by an ambulance. A source close to the case says Chauvin’s camera captured audio, but not video of the Floyd encounter. It has not yet been entered as evidence in the case.
After the ambulance drives away, Thao and Chauvin walk to their squad car — pursued by at least one man who continued to berate Chauvin, accusing him of murdering Floyd. In the car, the video shows Thao turn the ignition, and suddenly, a car radio blares on, playing “Alone,” an ’80s power ballad by the group Heart.