As George Floyd struggled to breathe, repeatedly telling the three Minneapolis police officers pinning him down that he was claustrophobic and felt like he was about to die, one officer chided him that he was using “a heck of a lot of oxygen” to talk, body cam transcripts reveal.
Derek Chauvin, the fired officer charged with murder in the case, arrived on the scene on May 25 as J. Alexander Keung and Thomas Lane were trying to get Floyd into their squad car. It was Chauvin who ordered Lane and Keung to “get him on the ground,” and Chauvin who knelt with his knee on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes.
And it was Chauvin who told Floyd to just “stop talking” if he couldn’t breathe.
Keung, Lane, and Tuo Thao were charged with aiding and abetting in the case, as CrimeOnline previously reported. All four officers were fired after video of the event exploded onto the internet, launching country-wide protests that have continued throughout the summer. Although the body camera footage itself has not been released, the transcripts offer a glimpse into those hectic minutes, including what appears to be a frightened and nervous Floyd.
“I’m through, I’m through,” Floyd pleads. “I’m claustrophobic. My stomach hurts. My neck hurts. Everything hurts. I need some water or something. Please? I can’t breathe, officer.”
“Stop talking. Stop yelling,” Chauvin tells him.
“You’re going to kill me, man,” Floyd says.
“Then stop talking. Stop yelling,” Chauvin repeats. “It takes a heck of a lot of oxygen to talk.”
While the officers and bystanders talk over him, Floyd speaks six more times. “Come on, man,” he says. Then, “I cannot breathe. I cannot breathe.”
Next, he says, “They’re going to kill me. They’re going to kill me. I can’t breathe.” Again, “I can’t breathe.” Then “Please, sir, please.” And one final “Please.”
Minutes later, Keung responds to desperate pleas from bystanders to “check his pulse.” “I can’t find one,” he says.
The transcripts were released as part of a motion from Lane’s attorney to dismiss aiding and abetting charges against his client. Earl Gray noted that Lane, who was two weeks into the job after training, twice asked if the officers should shift Floyd’s position and was told no by Chauvin.
Gray also spoke with media outlets after filing his motion, a move that apparently perturbed District Court Judge Peter Cahill, who promptly slapped a gag order on the parties and attorneys in the case. The order does not restrict access to public documents, Cahill wrote.
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[Featured image: George Floyd/Facebook and Derek Chauvin/screenshot from bystander video]