In his fatal encounter with the Minneapolis Police over a counterfeit $20 bill, George Floyd used the word “please” nearly five dozen times as he pleaded for his life. At least two dozen times he told the officers he could not breathe, both before and during the time he was restrained.
As officer Thomas Lane ordered Floyd to get out of his car and to put his hands behind his head, Floyd continued to plead.
“Please don’t shoot me, Mr. Officer. Please, don’t shoot me, man. Please. Can you not shoot me, man?” Floyd said.
When Lane and fellow officer J. Alexander Kueng grabbed Floyd’s arms, he said, “I’m not going to do nothing … I’m sorry Mr. Officer, I’ll get on my knees, whatever.”
The newly released transcripts of police body camera footage provide the most detailed accounts of Floyd’s death, which ignited protests and riots across the globe.
The transcripts from the body cameras worn by former police officers Lane and Kueng were released Wednesday as part of lawyer Earl Gray’s motion to dismiss criminal charges against Lane. The video footage from the cameras was attached to the Hennepin County District Court filing motion but was not publicly released by the court.
Kueng, Lane and former officer Tou Thao face charges of aiding and abetting murder and aiding and abetting manslaughter in the May 25 killing of Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man from St. Louis Park. Former officer Derek Chauvin, a 19-year veteran, faces murder and manslaughter charges.
As the encounter began with the two rookies, a confused Floyd apologized to the officers, whom he called “sir” and “Mr. Officer,” telling them he’d just recovered from COVID-19 and had been shot before by the police.
“I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. God dang, man. Man, I got, I got shot the same way Mr. Officer, before,” Floyd said.
Floyd alternately resisted the officers’ commands and apologized.
When Lane pulled Floyd from the vehicle, he asked Shawanda Renee Hill, a witness who had been in his car, why Floyd was acting erratically. “Why’s he getting all squirrelly and not showing us his hands, just being all weird like that?”
“I have no clue, because he’s been shot before,” Hill said.
“Well I get that, but still when officers say ‘Get out of the car.’ Is he drunk? Is he on something?” Lane said.
“No, he got a thing going on, I’m telling you, about the police … He have problems all the time when they come, especially when that man put that gun like that,” Hill said.
As the encounter continued, according to the transcripts, Kueng had escorted Floyd across the street and sat him down.
“Thank you, man. Thank you, Mr. Officer,” Floyd said, remaining cooperative as he gave Kueng his name and date of birth, adding once again that “I got shot last time, same thing, man.”
Kueng then explained to Floyd that he was being detained for suspicion of passing a fake $20 bill. Floyd said he understood.
“And do you know why we pulled you out of the car? Because you was not listening to anything we told you,” Kueng said.
“Right, but I didn’t know what was going on,” Floyd said.
Lane then asked Floyd if he was on something, while Kueng asked about the foam around his mouth. Floyd said he was scared, and that he had been playing basketball earlier.
Lane and Kueng sought to move Floyd into the back of the squad car, but he begged them not to do so, telling them he was claustrophobic. Lane offered to sit in the squad with him, crack open a window and turn on the air conditioner.
“I’m not that kind of guy, man, I’m not that kind of guy … and I just had COVID, I don’t want to go back to that,” Floyd said.
As they were trying to keep Floyd in the car, Chauvin arrived and asked, “Is he going to jail?”
Kueng said he was under arrest for forgery.
At that point, Floyd had told the officers he’d just had COVID-19 and couldn’t breathe. It was something he would repeat more than 20 times before he died.
When Kueng told him to get out of the squad, Floyd said, “Thank you. Thank you.”
Chauvin said, “Get him down on the ground.”
Floyd said, “All right, all right. Oh my god. I can’t believe this. I can’t believe this.”
Chauvin responded, “So you’re going to jail.”
“Mom, I love you. I love you,” Floyd said. “Tell my kids I love them. I’m dead.”
Lane was holding onto Floyd’s legs at the time, trying to prepare him for a hobble. Kueng was holding onto Floyd’s back. Floyd kept calling, “Mama, mama, mama,” saying he couldn’t breathe.
Floyd said, “I’m through, I’m through. I’m claustrophobic. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. I need some water or something, please. Please? I can’t breathe, officer.”
Chauvin said, “Then stop talking, stop yelling.”
According to the transcripts, Floyd’s final words were, “Come on, man. Oh, oh. I cannot breathe. Cannot breathe. Ah! They’ll kill me. They’ll kill me. I can’t breathe. Can’t breathe. Oh!” and “Ah! Ah! Please. Please. Please.”
Thao was managing a crowd nearby that had begun to gather; some bystanders pleaded for the officers to check for a pulse, saying Floyd had passed out.
Lane asked again if they should roll him on his side, and Chauvin said, “No, he’s staying put where we got him.”
Lane raised concerns about “excited delirium or whatever,” and Chauvin said, “that’s why we got the ambulance coming.” They alerted paramedics that the call was more serious.
When the ambulance arrived, Lane jumped inside with Floyd. He told a medic that Floyd “wasn’t showing us his hands at first. Then we were trying to get him into the squad, he kicked his way out, he was kicking on there. And we came out the other side, and he was fighting us, and we were just basically restrained him until you guys got here.”
One of the medics said Floyd was in “full arrest” and directed Lane to do chest compressions. After a machine took over, Lane climbed out of the ambulance. Back on the corner of 38th and Chicago, Kueng approached Hill and briefly wondered what to do with Floyd’s phone.
“Put his phone back,” Kueng said. “If he’s gonna come back and get his stuff, we got to be able to tell him where it is.”
Staff writers Abby Simons and Chao Xiong contributed to this report.