*This article includes information which may be sensitive for some readers*
by Tom Kingsbury
On the 25th of May, on the corner of East 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, Minneapolis, George Floyd died in police custody after an incident involving officer Derek Chauvin.
Chauvin, whilst detaining Floyd, kneeled on Floyd’s neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds. For two minutes and 53 seconds of this, Floyd was unresponsive.
What follows is a timeline of the events that unfolded that evening, informed by video footage and the incident report of George Floyd’s death.
8:01pm – Police are contacted by an employee of grocery store Cup Foods. They are informed that two men have used counterfeit money to purchase items from the store. The clerk tells the police that the two men, one of whom is George Floyd, are sat in a car opposite the shop.
8:09pm – two police officers arrive and approach Floyd’s car. One of the officers, Thomas Lane, pulls out his gun and orders Floyd to show his hands.
8:11pm – Floyd exits the vehicle and is handcuffed. He is seated against a wall, then brought across the street to the police car parked outside Cup Foods.
8:14pm – A Parks Department officer responds to a request for assistance. He is the only officer wearing a bodycam. The officer is sent to guard Floyd’s vehicle across the street.
8:17pm – Two more police officers arrive, one of whom is Derek Chauvin.
8:18pm – A struggle occurs on the passenger side of the police vehicle. There is no clear footage of what occurs, but the incident report states that Floyd indicated to the officers he was claustrophobic.
8:19pm – Chauvin pulls Floyd out of the passenger side of the car, causing him to fall to the ground.
8:20pm – Phone footage shows three officers detaining Floyd on the ground, with Chauvin kneeling on Floyd’s neck.
Floyd calls out: “Please, please, please, I can’t breathe. Please, man.”
8:22pm – Officers call for an ambulance, detailing a Code Two – no lights or sirens.
8:23pm – The request is escalated to Code Three – emergency situation, indicating the ambulance must reach the scene as quickly as possible. Chauvin is still detaining Floyd and his knee remains on Floyd’s neck.
8:25pm – Onlookers discuss with the arresting officers Floyd’s condition after it appears he has lost consciousness. They shout: “look at him, he’s not responsive”, and ask that the officers “check for a pulse”. Officer JA Kueng does so and cannot find a pulse as officers continue to detain Floyd.
8:27pm – An ambulance arrives at the scene.
8:28pm – Eight minutes and forty six seconds after starting to kneel on Floyd’s neck, officer Chauvin lifts his knee.
8:29pm – Floyd is placed on a stretcher and taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center.
9:25 pm – George Floyd is pronounced dead.
The following day the four officers involved, including Derek Chauvin, were fired.
Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder and manslaughter. All other officers involved in the incident now face charges.
The Minnesota statute on 3rd degree murder defines it as “perpetrating an act eminently dangerous to others” and “without regard for human life”, but “without intent to effect the death of any person”.
Chauvin’s charge has since been upgraded to second-degree murder and manslaughter, which is defined by the Minnesota statue as an incident where an individual “creates an unreasonable risk, and consciously takes chances of causing death or great bodily harm to another”.
George Floyd is the latest black person to die in police custody, but his death is by no means an exception. 1,252 black people have been shot and killed by police since the 1st of January 2015, according to The Washington Post’s database tracking police shootings. This does not include those who died by other means, such as Floyd.
A majority of deaths in police custody have not resulted in officers being convicted, with 99% of cases between 2013 and 2019 not leading to charges, as specified by mappingpoliceviolence.org.