A judge has ordered the release of body camera footage from two former Minneapolis police officers charged in connection with the death of George Floyd, after a legal challenge by media organizations demanding the video be made widely available.
The media and public may obtain copies of the video from former officers Thomas Lane and J Alexander Kueng that shows Floyd’s May 25 death, Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill said Friday.
Cahill’s order did not specify how or when the footage would be released.
The footage was previously unavailable to the public and could only be viewed by appointment on July 15 in the county courthouse. Viewers also were barred from recording or distributing the footage. However, the Daily Mail published leaked portions of it Monday.
A coalition of media organizations challenged the restrictions, citing the First Amendment.
“The Media Coalition requests that the Court… immediately make the BWC [body-worn camera] footage available for copying by the press and public so that it may be widely viewed not just by those who have the time and wherewithal to visit the courthouse during a global pandemic but by all members of the public concerned about the administration of justice in one of the most important, and most-watched cases, this State — perhaps this country — has ever seen,” the motion reads, according to the Star Tribune, which was part of the coalition that filed the legal challenge.
Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, previously filed two body-worn camera videos as evidence to dismiss charges against his client. Lane and Kueng, rookie officers at the time, were the first to arrive at the Cup Foods convenience store after a complaint was made about Floyd allegedly trying to use a fake $20 bill.
The encounter escalated as two more officers — Tou Thao and Derek Chauvin — arrived. Footage recorded by bystanders showed Chauvin pressing his knee into Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes as Floyd repeatedly said he couldn’t breathe.
The officers appeared to ignore pleas from Floyd and onlookers begged them to stop. The video sparked a wave of global protests over police brutality and systemic racism that are ongoing.
All four officers were fired days after Floyd’s death.
Lane, Kueng and Thao are each charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter. Chauvin faces the most serious charges of second-degree murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.