Newly released public body camera video played in court Thursday showed that two former Minneapolis officers withheld critical information about the killing of George Floyd from a superior, including that Floyd was pinned under a colleague's knee for more than nine minutes, that they couldn't detect his pulse and that he had appeared to stop breathing.
The video from former officer Thomas Lane's body camera also showed that Lane told Lt. Richard Zimmerman at the scene that they didn't know Floyd's condition even though officers knew he had stopped moving and that CPR had been administered on him to no effect. Zimmerman is head of the department's homicide unit and responds to death cases.
The video clip was played in the federal trial of Lane and former Minneapolis officers J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao, who are charged with violating Floyd's civil rights when they arrested him on May 25, 2020, for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 bill.
Former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck for more than nine minutes during the arrest outside of Cup Foods in south Minneapolis. Chauvin was convicted in state court last year of murdering Floyd and later pleaded guilty in federal court of violating his civil rights. He is serving 22 1⁄2 years in prison in the state case and awaits sentencing in the federal case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Samantha Trepel played the video, unveiling footage that was not shown at Chauvin's trial last year. It showed Zimmerman arriving at the scene after dark and approaching Lane and Kueng.
"What's going on?" Zimmerman said in the video.
Lane briefed Zimmerman about the call on the counterfeit bill and how the officers arrested Floyd. Kueng told Zimmerman that Floyd resisted arrest.
"He kind of seemed like he was on something, too, just kind of paranoid," Lane said.
"He was yelling a lot," Kueng said, adding that Floyd stopped talking but was "still moving."
Both officers told Zimmerman Floyd was "still breathing," and then Lane said paramedics and firefighters arrived at the scene.
"Do we know his condition yet?" Zimmerman asked.
"No, sir," Lane said. "We did find a pipe on him, too."
Several police body camera videos previously played at this trial and Chauvin's trial showed that Floyd became unresponsive while pinned under Chauvin's knee minutes before an ambulance and firefighters arrived. The videos also showed that Kueng took Floyd's pulse when he was unresponsive and told his fellow officers he couldn't find one.
Previously released video also showed that Lane boarded the ambulance with Floyd and did chest compressions on him while a cardiac monitor showed that his heart was not registering an electrical pulse.
Kueng and Lane did not share that information with Zimmerman at the scene, according to the video clip showed Thursday.
The police videos and a key video taken by bystander Darnella Frazier also showed that Floyd repeatedly told police he couldn't breathe before he became limp and silent while Chauvin, Kueng and Lane continued to pin him stomach-down in the street. Thao kept a crowd of concerned bystanders at bay.
Before playing the clip Thursday, Trepel walked Zimmerman, a veteran homicide detective who responds to death cases, through the Minneapolis police policy on intervening when other officers use unreasonable force and its policy on truthfulness.
"Why does the Minneapolis Police Department have a policy on being truthful?" Trepel asked.
"They have a policy on it, but it's the cornerstone of police work," Zimmerman said. "You need truthfulness to be able to assess … what your situation is."
After the video was played, Zimmerman testified that none of the officers intervened to help Floyd, and that the account Kueng and Lane gave him was not what he saw in Frazier's video, which he watched the morning after. He testified that based on the officers' account, he was led to believe Floyd's death was an overdose.
"What they told me and what was on the video is totally different," Zimmerman said.
"What was different?" Trepel asked.
"The amount of force used on Mr. Floyd, the type of force used on Mr. Floyd, the lack of doing any first aid on Mr. Floyd and the lack of intervening and stopping each other from doing what they were doing," Zimmerman said.
Under cross-examination by Kueng's attorney, Thomas Plunkett, Zimmerman testified that department policy requires officers involved in "critical incidents" like the death of a civilian to refrain from sharing details with others.
Zimmerman testified that such officers are supposed to only share details with the "incident commander," who was not Zimmerman; investigators — the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension (BCA) in this case; or their attorneys.
Under follow-up questioning from Trepel, Zimmerman later said he had asked Kueng and Lane questions to determine whether it was a critical incident.
Plunkett attempted to raise doubts about Zimmerman's credibility, getting him to admit that he told the BCA and FBI he himself had never received training on how to intervene when a colleague misbehaves.
"Keep in mind that the details are important in a homicide investigation and that it's important to be accurate and diligent," Plunkett said before raising questions about answers Zimmerman gave to the BCA and FBI.
Plunkett said Zimmerman told investigators Kueng and Lane had asked him if they should shut off their body cameras before talking about the incident.
"That never happened, did it?" Plunkett asked.
"Yes it did," Zimmerman said.
Plunkett replayed the start of Lane's body camera video, which showed that they never asked about turning off their cameras.
Plunkett said Zimmerman told investigators Kueng and Lane said it was an overdose, but noted that the officers never used the word "overdose."
"All they said was that they thought he was on something?" Plunkett asked.
"Yes," Zimmerman said.
Plunkett also pushed back on Zimmerman's statement to investigators that Kueng and Lane failed to inform him that a second squad arrived. Plunkett replayed Lane's video showing that the officers shared that information with a Minneapolis police sergeant as Zimmerman stood next to the officers looking down at his phone.
"You're standing right there, correct?" Plunkett asked.
"Yeah, I didn't hear what they said," Zimmerman said. "I said they did not tell me."
"You're standing right there but you imparted to the FBI that they lied to you," Plunkett said, adding that Zimmerman accused the officers of "misleading him" on the squad issue.
"No," Zimmerman said. "If I didn't hear something, how am I misleading?"
Testimony from other witnesses resumes at 9:30 a.m. Friday.