New footage shows delayed medical response to George Floyd

Nearly 11 weeks after George Floyd was killed by police in Minneapolis, inciting a wave of protests across the United States, a Minnesota county court has released police body camera footage of the episode to the public for the first time.

>>Evan Hill, Haley Willis, Robin Stein, Christiaan Triebert, Ben Laffin and Drew JordanThe New York Times
Published : 12 August 2020, 01:47 PM
Updated : 12 August 2020, 01:54 PM

The New York Times has reviewed the full 65 minutes of footage, which was previously viewable only by appointment, and selected crucial moments that offer new information.

The footage fills in blanks, raises new questions and gives insight into both Floyd’s state of mind and how the police response to his apparent use of a counterfeit bill became a deadly encounter. It shows officers escalating the situation from the beginning of the arrest, Floyd begging not to be placed into a squad car and a repeated lack of care for Floyd’s health while he is restrained on the ground.

The footage was taken from the body cameras of officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng, who detained Floyd on May 25. The camera of a third officer, Derek Chauvin, who appeared in widely viewed footage kneeling on Floyd’s neck, fell off during the arrest, and its footage has not been released. Lane, Kueng and a fourth officer, Tou Thao, have been charged with aiding and abetting murder, and manslaughter, while Chauvin was charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. The officers were all fired after Floyd’s killing.

ESCALATION

At 8:09 p.m., Lane can be seen approaching a car containing Floyd and two companions, Shawanda Hill and Maurice Lester Hall. Lane’s footage shows how quickly he seems to escalate the situation.

Floyd sits in the driver’s seat, and Lane taps his flashlight on the window. He asks Floyd to show his hands and taps again when Floyd does not comply.

When Floyd — who appears to be looking toward the passenger side where Kueng is standing — does not comply with the order, Lane taps again.

Floyd is visibly taken aback and then apologises while opening the car door.

Lane tells Floyd to show his hands three more times. Six seconds after the door opens, he draws his gun, points it at Floyd and says, “Put your [expletive] hands up right now.” Without explaining the reason for the stop, he pulls Floyd out of the car.

CLAIM OF PREVIOUS SHOOTING

The body camera footage from Lane and Kueng reveals one possible reason for Floyd’s fear: Both Floyd and Hill tell the officers multiple times that Floyd has previously been shot in a similar situation.

“Man, I got shot the same way, Mr. Officer, before,” Floyd tells Lane. “Last time I got shot like this, Mr. Officer, it was the same thing.”

Later, Lane asks Hill why Floyd is being so “squirrelly.”

“He’s got a thing going on, I’m telling you, about the police,” Hill says while pointing her finger to her head and making a circular motion with her finger.

The Times was not able to verify whether or not Floyd had been previously shot during an encounter with police, but a spokesman for the Minneapolis Police Department said Monday that its officers had not previously shot Floyd.

STRUGGLE

The footage also offers a new view of the struggle to put Floyd into the squad car and an explanation of how Floyd ended up facedown on the street, where officers would pin him for nine minutes and 30 seconds.

After removing Floyd from his vehicle, Lane and Kueng handcuff him and walk him across the street to their squad car.

Floyd can be heard telling the officers that he is claustrophobic. Lane promises to keep the rear window partly open, but Floyd resists their efforts to get him into the car.

In an image taken from video provided by Hennepin County authorities, paramedics treat George Floyd shortly after bringing him into an ambulance. Nearly 11 weeks after George Floyd was killed by police officers in Minneapolis, a Minnesota county court has released police body camera footage of the episode to the public for the first time. (Hennepin County via The New York Times)

A minute later, Floyd tells the officers that he has had the coronavirus, which a medical examiner’s report later confirmed.

“I’m going to die, man,” he says. “And I just had COVID, man. I don’t want to go back to that.” He uses an expletive to describe how scared he is, then offers to count to three before getting in, sit in a front seat or get on the ground instead. The officers insist that he sit in the back.

Lane moves to the other side of the car and opens the door. Floyd shouts that he is “not a bad guy” as the struggle to force him into the back seat begins.

RESTRAINT

Before the release of the body camera footage, it was unclear how Floyd exited the squad car after being forced inside and exactly what happened after the officers had him pinned.

The new footage shows that as Lane and Kueng try to force Floyd into the back seat, Floyd shouts that he cannot breathe, says that he has injured his nose and appears to use his legs to push himself out the other side, repeating, “I’m going to lay on the ground.”

After about a minute of struggle to push Floyd back into the car, Thao, who is watching from the side, says, “Let’s lay him,” and Chauvin and Kueng move Floyd onto the pavement.

Lane’s and Kueng’s videos provide the first clear evidence of the time Chauvin places his knee on Floyd’s neck, changing the widely known narrative that Chauvin held his knee there for eight minutes and 46 seconds. Prosecutors initially gave this duration, then changed it to seven minutes and 46 seconds. The footage shows that neither were correct: Chauvin actually keeps his knee on Floyd’s neck from 8:19 until 8:28 p.m., for a total of nine minutes and 30 seconds. That is nearly two minutes more than the prosecutors’ amended time.

Lane’s footage also provides a new and revealing view of how the officers restrain Floyd.

Lane prepares to use a beltlike hobble restraint on Floyd but then puts it away, possibly indicating that the officers feel they have Floyd under control. From this perspective, Chauvin can be seen kneeling on Floyd’s neck and arm and gripping his left hand. Kueng is kneeling on Floyd’s upper legs and holding his wrist, while Lane is holding Floyd’s legs.

DELAY IN MEDICAL CARE

The body camera footage also shows delays by the officers and the paramedics who respond.

“This is a cascade of everything going wrong,” said Rohini J. Haar, a medical expert at Physicians for Human Rights, who reviewed the footage for The Times. “And they never recorrected course, even inside the ambulance.”

Six minutes after Chauvin, Lane and Kueng put Floyd facedown, and only after bystanders have shouted at the officers to attend to Floyd’s health, Kueng checks for Floyd’s pulse and tells Chauvin and Lane that he cannot feel it. All three of the officers continue to hold Floyd in a position that restricts his breathing, and none check to see whether he is getting air.

Two minutes later, emergency responders arrive and check Floyd’s pulse but do not assess his breathing. Instead of repositioning Floyd to assess or treat him on the scene, the medics load him into the ambulance as Lane joins them.

It takes three minutes after their arrival on the scene — and four more pulse checks — before Lane begins first chest compressions. It is five additional minutes before a medic ventilates Floyd — 10 minutes after Kueng first reported Floyd did not have a pulse. Lane eventually leaves the ambulance when the Fire Department arrives.

A spokeswoman for the Hennepin County Medical Center did not respond to an emailed request for comment asking why paramedics did not begin chest compressions sooner.

“They spend an unthinkable amount of minutes taking his shirt off before they even check his breathing,” Haar said. “You can do CPR with a shirt on.”

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