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Judge: George Floyd Bodycam Videos Can Be Viewed By Public, Except Media Can’t Publish Them

Minneapolis, MN – A judge ruled that bodycam footage submitted to the court by an attorney for one of the officers charged in the death of 46-year-old George Floyd as he was being arrested by the Minneapolis police can be viewed by media and the public by appointment on Wednesday but may not be publicly shared.

A media coalition asked Judge Peter Cahill to allow the media to copy the videos and publish them, the Associated Press reported.

The coalition has complained that the judge’s order not to publish the videos is akin to keeping the material under seal.

Leita Walker, a media attorney for the coalition, said in a court filing that the bodycam videos should be shared with “all members of the public concerned about the administration of justice in one of the most important, and most-watched, cases this State — perhaps this country — has ever seen,” the Associated Press reported.

Walker said reporters should be afforded the opportunity to copy and review the footage so it can be compared to the cell phone videos that have already circulated from the incident.

“As the days of unrest in the Twin Cities showed, it is vitally important that the public have full confidence in the process and outcome of this criminal prosecution,” she said.

Walker said it would help reporters to tell a more accurate story about what happened on May 25 when Floyd died in the custody of the Minneapolis police, the Associated Press reported.

The bodycam videos and transcripts of the audio from them were filed with a motion to the court from Earl Gray, the attorney for former Minneapolis Police Officer Thomas Lane, on July 7 that asked the judge to dismiss the charges against his client in connection with the death Floyd.

Gray, who is representing the former rookie officer, filed the motion along with supporting documents on July 7, KMSP reported.

The motion said that there was a lack of evidence to support probable cause for the charges against the former officer.

Lane is charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter in connection with Floyd’s death in the custody of the Minneapolis police on May 25.

The supporting documents included a transcript of the audio from former Officer Lane’s bodycam, a transcript of an interview with another officer at the scene, and pictures from inside the vehicle Floyd was in when officers tried to take him into custody, KMSP reported.

Gray previously revealed that two of the officers charged in connection with Floyd’s death were rookies under the tutelage of former Minneapolis Police Officer Derek Chauvin, their field training officer (FTO).

Chauvin is the former officer charged with second-degree murder in the death of Floyd after video depicted him kneeling on the suspect’s neck for nine minutes.

The attorney said that Floyd’s arrest occurred during Lane’s third shift as a police officer, according to NBC News.

It was the second shift working for former Minneapolis Police Officer J. Alexander Kueng.

Kueng’s attorney, Tom Plunkett, said that Kueng tried to intervene and told the other officers, “You shouldn’t do that.”

Lane also tried to intervene, a claim backed up in the charging documents, by asking Chauvin “Shall we roll him over?”

Chauvin responded “No, staying put where we got him.”

According to the charging documents, Lane then expressed concern about excited delirium and Chauvin responded, “That’s why we have him on his stomach.”

“What is my client supposed to do other than follow what the training officer said?” Lane’s attorney said.

Despite the fact that Floyd died during their first day on the job, both Lane and Kueng have been charged with lesser crimes than Chauvin but that carry the same potential sentences as the second-degree murder their former FTO is facing.

All of the officers involved in the arrest were fired the day after Floyd died in custody.

Both former rookies were released on $750,000 conditional bail each.

Floyd died while he was being arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill to make a purchase at a deli.

Store employees pointed out the suspect to police and they arrested him.

The complaint used to charge Chauvin said Floyd actively resisted arrest and then fought being put in the back of a police car once he had been handcuffed.

Viral cell phone video showed then-Officers Chauvin, Kueng, and Lane holding Floyd on the ground while Officer Tou Thao kept the crowd from advancing on the officers.

The video showed Officer Chauvin held his knee on Floyd’s neck for almost nine minutes, during which time the suspect lost consciousness.

Chauvin remained on Floyd’s neck for almost three minutes after he was unresponsive.

Floyd was pronounced dead 90 minutes later at the hospital.

After three days of violent riots and looting that left Minneapolis and its sister city, St. Paul, in flames, the state investigative agency announced it making an arrest even though the medical examiner’s preliminary report found no physical evidence that Floyd had suffered from asphyxiation or strangulation at the hands of the Minneapolis police, according to charging documents.

The charging documents state, “The combined effects of Mr. Floyd being restrained by the police, his underlying health conditions and any potential intoxicants in his system likely contributed to his death.”

Floyd’s family released an independent autopsy report by veteran forensic pathologist Dr. Michael Baden on June 1 that disputed that information and said the man died of asphyxiation much in the same way Eric Garner allegedly died from a choke hold in New York in 2014, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.

The Eric Garner autopsy report showed no damage to any area of his neck, and it was determined that he died of a medical emergency induced by officers who were arresting him. The medical examiner declared it was a homicide, but a grand jury refused to indict the officer on the theory that officers caused Garners death by arresting him.

But the final autopsy findings released by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s office hours later confirmed that Floyd had died from heart failure.

“Cause of death: Cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression,” Floyd’s autopsy said. “Manner of death: Homicide.”

“How injury occurred: Decedent experienced a cardiopulmonary arrest while being restrained by law enforcement officer(s),” the report continued. “Other significant conditions: Arteriosclerotic and hypertensive heart disease; fentanyl intoxication; recent methamphetamine use.”

The toxicology results showing fentanyl and methamphetamine directly contradicted assertions by the forensic pathologist that Floyd’s family’s attorneys hired to dispute the initial medical examiner’s report.

Protests erupted in the Twin Cities after Floyd’s death, leaving both Minneapolis and the state’s capital of St. Paul burned, looted, and destroyed.

Rioters overran and torched the Minneapolis Police Department’s 3rd Precinct where the officers accused of Floyd’s homicide were assigned.

Written by
Sandy Malone

Managing Editor - Twitter/@SandyMalone_ - Prior to joining The Police Tribune, Sandy wrote the Politics.Net column for the Wall Street Journal and was managing editor of Campaigns & Elections magazine. More recently, she was an internationally-syndicated columnist for Conde Nast (BRIDES), The Huffington Post, and Monsters and Critics. Sandy is married to a retired police captain and former SWAT commander.

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Written by Sandy Malone


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