A British newspaper somehow came into possession of bodycam footage of the beginning of the police encounter between Minneapolis police officers and George Floyd. It reveals a man behaving irrationally from the moment the police arrive. He is uncooperative with the police. His erratic behavior caused the officers to wonder if he was under the influence of drugs. One of Floyd’s acquaintances implied he has psychiatric problems.
Indeed, this newly published information by the UK’s Daily Mail, validates the points I made in my May 31 Houston Courant column defending Officer Chauvin. I noted the omissions of fact by the media and pundits in their zeal to condemn Officer Chauvin.
Now two questions remain and they are quite the opposite of the other.
One questions asks if the arrest-related-death of George Floyd is really an example of a brutal murder by police of an innocent man?
The other question asks if the arrest-related-death of George Floyd was exploited by political opportunists to sow chaos? Is it being used to make a prejudicial appeal for mob justice by stoking racial divisiveness; by inflaming the inherent hatred of police extant in certain quarters; and by the old tried and true method of “yellow journalism?”
The video clip published by the Daily Mail is 8:38 of Minneapolis Police Department bodycam footage taken by the officers who were tasked with investigating and apprehending a man, who was accused of stealing from a local store. This is important to note. The police were not there of their own volition. The police were summoned there by a citizen who said she was a victim of a crime.
A store employee called the police after George Floyd paid for merchandise using a counterfeit bill. When asked by an employee to return the merchandise he refused. The store employee then called the police. Here is what was said during the 911 call:
Caller: Um someone comes our store and give us fake bills and we realize it before he left the store, and we ran back outside, they was sitting on their car. We tell them to give us their phone, put their (inaudible) thing back and everything and he was also drunk and everything and return to give us our cigarettes back and so he can, so he can go home but he doesn’t want to do that, and he’s sitting on his car cause he is awfully drunk and he’s not in control of himself.” (emphasis added)
Remember this description of George Floyd’s behavior by the store employee as you watch the bodycam video and all the other videos of the arrest. Floyd was asked to return the merchandise and refused. She was frightened by his demeanor and noted that Floyd was “awfully drunk” and “not in control of himself.”
The bodycam video begins with Officer Lane and another officer walking towards the car in which George Floyd was sitting. He was in the driver’s seat with his windows rolled up. This too is important to note because Floyd will later claim he is claustrophobic and cannot be placed in the police car. But the police found him sitting in a car.
As the officer arrives at the driver’s side of the car he taps on the window and instructs Floyd to put both hands on the steering wheel. He repeats this command at least nine times. This goes on for about 30 seconds as Floyd starts acting irrationally. He makes incoherent statements about being shot once before and starts crying begging the officer to not shoot him. The officer clearly says he has no intention of shooting Floyd. After Floyd finally obeys the command and puts both hands on the wheel the officer holsters his weapon.
The officer instructs Floyd to step out of the car. Four times the officer has to tell Floyd, who is acting more erratically by the minute, to step out of the car. A female voice is heard telling Floyd to “stop resisting.” As one of the officers handcuffs Floyd and starts to escort him to a police car, one officer asks a female passenger why is Floyd acting “so squirrelly” and not getting out of the car. The woman responds he has “got some things going on.” She gestures with her index finger to her temple and makes a circular motion with the finger. This clearly indicates she thinks Floyd is not completely sane.
Floyd keeps arguing and pleading with the officers as they bring him to the car. It is there he becomes more agitated. He claims he is going to die even if he sits in the back of the car. He claims he has trouble breathing while still standing.
He pleads with the officers not to put him in the car. He repeatedly says he will die if he enters the car. The officer says he will roll the windows down for Floyd so he will not feel claustrophobic (This is odd since officers found Floyd seated in a car with the windows rolled up. So he was not claustrophobic then).
Another officer pleads with Floyd to start “working with him”’ and “get into the car.” As soon as Floyd enters the car he then fights with the officers once more.
What would you have done, all of you backseat drivers and Monday morning quarterbacks? Hindsight is 20-20. Maybe some things could have been done differently. But that is speculation, not fact.
One thing is certain- a police officer does not have the option of walking away. A police officer cannot say, “I think this guy is paranoid and delusional. He should be handled by a mental health professional. So I am leaving.” This is not to say that the mental health professional would have been better. A crime was committed. Crime victims’ lives matter.
Liberals like to say George Floyd was executed because he passed counterfeit money. The truth is he was not executed at all. Floyd’s death was not the fault of the police but rather the culmination of a series of bad choices that he made his entire life.
Perhaps someone will learn from his mistakes. Perhaps.