The life and death of George Floyd

While many are aware of one of the most recent deaths of a Black man in police custody in Minneapolis, there are a number of facts you may not know

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Many artists have depicted George Floyd as a result of his untimely death. *Image from Kolpaper.com, a free wallpaper website.

The following is the first installment in a series about the death of George Floyd and other deaths caused by police brutality against Black individuals in America.

On May 25, the Minneapolis Police Department received a call from a deli worker accusing George Floyd of attempting to purchase cigarettes with a counterfeit $20 bill. 17 minutes after the first squad car arrived at the scene, Floyd appeared to be unconscious with three officers pinning him to the ground and a fourth keeping the growing crowd at a distance.


George Floyd, a 46-year-old Black man, worked as a bouncer before his unemployment due to COVID-19. The six-foot, six-inch man grew up in Houston, Texas and played as a tight end on the Yates High School football team as well as a power forward on the school’s basketball team. Floyd was active in his church community and helped organize basketball charities, Bible studies, and other local activities, according to ABC News.

According to Harris County court records, Floyd had been arrested nine times for crimes including drug abuse, theft, criminal trespassing, and aggravated robbery. Each time, he was given a prison sentence. Before his death, the final time he went to prison was for five years due to an aggravated robbery in which he and several other men trespassed a woman’s home in search of money and drugs. In this situation, he held his gun to the woman’s stomach and threatened to shoot if she resisted.

It took two years to sentence Floyd, resulting in a total of seven years before he was released. Upon his final release in 2014, he moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota looking for a fresh start. From there, he worked security at a local restaurant, Conga Latin Bistro, for the next five years.

The owner of Conga Latin Bistro, Jovanni Thunstrom, said to ABC News, “You know, everybody loves him. My customers, my employees, he loves the music, loved the music.”

After his search for a fresh start, it seems as though Floyd had a positive impact on people everywhere he went, whether it was his hometown of Houston or his latest residency of Minneapolis.

A screenshot of George Floyd’s history of arrests from the Harris County Clerk’s Office.

After purchasing cigarettes with an allegedly counterfeit $20 bill at the convenience store Cup Foods, Floyd and an unnamed friend walked across the street to their blue SUV. Footage from a security camera at a restaurant across the street, Dragon Wok, helps stitch together the events that occurred at the scene.

At 7:57 p.m., two employees from Cup Foods approached the blue SUV in hopes of confronting Floyd and his companions about the allegedly fake cash. When they walked away, they were empty-handed, seemingly leaving the cigarettes in Floyd’s possession.

Four minutes later, the employees called the police. It is important to note that the report the employees gave on the phone call stated that Floyd was “awfully drunk” and “not in control of himself”. Soon, the first police car arrived at the scene.

Officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Keung approached the SUV after leaving their own vehicle, which was parked across the street and around the corner from Cup Foods. A man filming the confrontation from a car parked behind Floyd captured footage of Lane going back and forth with Floyd for over a minute before pulling him out of the vehicle and cuffing his hands behind his back.

Security camera footage from Dragon Wok shows that Lane removed his gun from his holster and aimed it at Floyd. The next morning, Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder sent a brief statement to reporters with the title “Man Dies After Medical Incident During Police Interaction”. The statement claimed that there were no weapons involved at any time on the scene.

While no rounds were fired, and Lane returned his gun to the holster moments after pulling it out, video evidence proves the statement to be false.

The footage from the man filming from the vehicle behind Floyd’s SUV shows that a small white bag was dropped onto the ground when Floyd was pulled from his car. This was later discovered to be cocaine.

From the time of the officers’ arrival to the moment where Floyd was sitting on the ground, leaning against the building of Dragon Wok, he had not acted violently or physically protested the orders given to him by Officer Lane. Security camera footage shows that Floyd already seemed to be in distress.

Later on, his autopsy results would prove that he was under the influence of fentanyl and methamphetamine at the time of the arrest. Floyd also tested positive for COVID-19 in April, according to CNN News; however, the virus did not play a role in his death.

Six minutes into the arrest, the two officers walked him back to their vehicle, and he fell to the ground within close proximity of the car. According to a report against another officer, Derek Chauvin (who had not yet arrived at the scene), Floyd said that he was claustrophobic and would not get into the car. The same report claims that he had turned his head to the officers, saying that he could not breathe.

At 8:17 p.m., nine minutes into the arrest, the final third police car arrived at the scene. Officers Derek Chauvin and Tou Thao stepped out of the vehicle. Both officers have 23 civil complaints between them and have past cases of police brutality.

Thao watched as the three officers struggled to detain Floyd in the back seat of the first vehicle. Camera footage from Cup Foods shows Chauvin eventually pulling him out of the back seat and onto the street. At this time, Lane and Keung helped Chauvin attempt to restrain Floyd by using their body weights on his legs, torso, and neck while he was face down on the pavement.

Two witnesses started recording the scene almost simultaneously, the first video shows the four officers gathered around Floyd.

At 8:20 p.m., Floyd finally spoke to the officers after asking for help, telling them, “I can’t breathe, man. Please.” The first video stopped when Officer Lane told the person filming to leave the scene.

The officers called for a Code 2, a request for non-emergency medical services for an injury to Floyd’s mouth. A minute later from his initial statement, the call escalated to a Code 3, a request for emergency medical assistance.

By now, another witness was filming the scene: 17-year-old Darnella Frazier. The footage captured on her phone shows Floyd continuing to tell officers that he can’t breathe. For another seven minutes, Chauvin kept his knee pinned on the back of Floyd’s neck. From this video, it’s unclear as to whether or not the other two officers, Lane and Keung, were still applying pressure to the rest of Floyd’s body.

One of the officers asked him what he wanted. Floyd said, “I can’t breathe. Please, the knee in my neck — I can’t breathe.” From here, an officer told him to “get up, and get in the car”, to which Floyd said he would. At this point, Officer Chauvin had not lifted his knee from Floyd’s neck. Within five minutes, Floyd had told the officers that he could not breathe over 16 times.

At 8:25 p.m., the growing crowd told Chauvin to get off of Floyd, who was then lying on the ground seemingly unconscious. Chauvin pulled his spray container of mace from his belt and pointed it at the crowd.

According to medical and police officials, the four officers committed several actions that violate the policies they swore to uphold when they became officers. And in this case, those violations became fatal.

The move Chauvin continued to do by pushing his knee into Floyd’s neck is a move that has been banned by several police departments. Minneapolis police department policy states that “the Conscious Neck Restraint may be used against a subject who is actively resisting”.

While waiting for the ambulance to arrive, the four officers made no attempt to give medical assistance to the unconscious Floyd. The crowd demanded that Officer Thao check Floyd’s pulse, which he actively refused to do.

According to the complaint report against Chauvin, Officer Lane asked him twice if they should roll Floyd onto his side. Chauvin said no, his knee still on Floyd’s neck.

Twenty minutes into the arrest, at 8:27 p.m., the ambulance arrived at the scene. The first responders checked Floyd’s pulse, and after another minute, Chauvin was told to stand. He complied with the instruction, having been kneeling on Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds, according to the complaint, and another two minutes and 53 seconds after he became unresponsive.

The ambulance left the scene, and the EMTs called the fire department for additional medical assistance. According to the fire department’s incident report and security camera footage, the fire engine arrived at the scene at 8:32 p.m. The report stated that the responders were given no clear information from the officers about Floyd’s current whereabouts nor the previous situation.

During the time when the fire department was unable to give assistance to the EMTs, Floyd was going into cardiac arrest.

A dispatch then came through, letting the MFD (Minneapolis Fire Department) know where the ambulance was and where it was headed. It took the MFD five minutes to reach the ambulance.

At around 9:25 p.m., Floyd was announced dead at a nearby hospital.

Two separate autopsies said that Floyd’s death was a homicide, but they came to separate conclusions on how it occurred. An independent coroner, hired by Floyd’s family and their lawyer, Ben Crump, came to the conclusion that Floyd died of “asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain”. However, these results differ from those of the autopsy done by Hennepin County, which states that he died of “cardiopulmonary arrest [which complicated] law enforcement subdual, restraint, and neck compression”. More commonly known as cardiac arrest, cardiopulmonary arrest means that Floyd’s heart failed.

To read or learn more on what led to Floyd’s death and to learn more about his life, watch the video at the beginning of Timeline: The impact of George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis and beyond and 8 Minutes and 46 Seconds: How George Floyd Was Killed in Police Custody. The Mav intends to publish additional articles to detail national and worldwide protests, police reform, and helpful information for those who want to assist in movements to support what appears to be a modern civil rights movement.