The former Minneapolis police officer charged in the death of George Floyd held his knee to Mr. Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes, including for two minutes and 53 seconds after Mr. Floyd became unresponsive, according to a document released by prosecutors on Friday.
The document, a statement of probable cause used to support murder and manslaughter charges against the former officer, Derek Chauvin, also offered a window into the events that unfolded on the evening of Mr. Floyd’s death.
Mr. Chauvin, who is white, was taken into custody on Friday on charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter amid intensifying protests in Minneapolis and other cities over the death of Mr. Floyd and over a long and troubled history of conduct by white police officers toward black people. The charges carry a combined maximum sentence of 35 years in prison.
The probable cause statement, which was written by Michelle M. Frascone, a special agent of the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, describes how officers, including Mr. Chauvin, had come in contact with Mr. Floyd on Monday evening after responding to a report of someone trying to make a purchase at a store with a fake $20 bill.
Two officers approached Mr. Floyd, a former high school sports star who worked as a bouncer at a restaurant in Minneapolis, as he sat in a car not far from the store, the probable cause statement said. Mr. Floyd, who was in a car with two other people, was ordered out and arrested. But when the officers began to move him toward a squad car, he “stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic,” the statement issued by prosecutors said.
When two other officers arrived, including Mr. Chauvin, the officers “made several attempts to get Mr. Floyd in the back seat” of a squad car, while Mr. Floyd “struggled with the officers by intentionally falling down, saying he was not going in the car, and refusing to stand still,” the statement said.
While still standing, Mr. Floyd began to say he could not breathe, the document said.
Around 8:19 p.m., Mr. Chauvin placed his knee onto Mr. Floyd’s neck area, holding him on the ground while another officer held his legs. At times, Mr. Floyd pleaded, saying, “I can’t breathe,” “please” and “mama.”
“You are talking fine,” the officers said as Mr. Floyd moved back and forth on the ground, according to the probable cause statement.
At 8:24 p.m., Mr. Floyd grew still, the statement said. A minute later, one of the other officers checked his wrist for a pulse but could not find one. Mr. Chauvin continued to hold his knee down on Mr. Floyd’s neck until 8:27, according to the statement.
Preliminary results from an autopsy “revealed no physical findings that support a diagnosis of traumatic asphyxia or strangulation,” the statement said, adding that Mr. Floyd had underlying health conditions including coronary artery disease and hypertensive heart disease. “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,” the statement issued by prosecutors said.
Mr. Floyd’s family has called for first-degree murder charges against the former officer, more serious charges than Mr. Chauvin is facing. Meeting requirements for a first-degree charge would include proving that Mr. Chauvin intended to kill Mr. Floyd, said Richard Frase, a professor of criminal law at the University of Minnesota.
Mr. Frase said the case against Mr. Chauvin appeared to be even stronger than the one that Hennepin County prosecutors had brought against Mr. Noor, who was charged with the same combination of crimes — third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter — and was convicted of both.
Nicholas Bogel-Burroughs contributed reporting.
Source: NY times