One of the former police officers involved with George Floyd’s killing has argued that there isn’t enough evidence to show he committed a crime, but a transcript from his bodycam during the deadly encounter in Minneapolis on Memorial Day showed he was extremely hostile from the beginning despite responding to a report of a nonviolent crime. The revelation suggests Thomas Lane played much more of an aggressive role in Floyd’s death than his defense lawyer has been letting on.
The transcript was released on Wednesday, one day after Lane’s lawyer filed a motion to have his client’s charges of aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter dismissed. Lane’s lawyer suggested that the bodycam footage should be made public to help exonerate his client, but the transcript’s contents, as provided by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, might not be as efficacious as expected.
The transcript opens with Lane speaking with his partner and fellow co-defendant, J. Alexander Kueng, before they approach the car that Floyd was inside after he allegedly tried to use a counterfeit bill at a store. Lane tells Floyd to “let me see your hands,” but when Floyd — who apologized profusely and showered Lane with politeness — apparently doesn’t comply either fast enough or to Lane’s liking, the officer barks back: “Put your fucking hands up right now!”
When Floyd repeatedly asks what he was being accused of, Lane stuck to his script of anger, hostility and aggression. “Put your fucking hands up there!” Lane ordered, giving mixed signals and ignoring Floyd’s question. “Jesus Christ, keep your fucking hands on the wheel!”
Floyd then apologizes again and tells Lane that he “got shot the same way Mr. Officer, before.”
Lane response was absent of any empathy.
“Well, when I say ‘let me see your hands,’ you put your fucking hands up!” Lane fired back.
Floyd responded with yet another apology. “I am so sorry, Mr. Officer,” he said. “Dang man.”
As he was being removed from the car, Floyd kept begging Lane not to shoot him. To Lane’s credit, he kept telling Floyd that he would not shoot him. But once Floyd was out of the car, Lane yelled at him: “Put your fucking hands behind your back!”
Both officers accused Floyd of “resisting” despite Floyd saying, “I’m not going to do nothing.”
As they begin questioning Floyd’s companion in the car, identified as Shawanda Renee Hill, Lane’s words in the transcript begin to come across as a lot more calm and even-tempered than displayed earlier. Hill explained to Lane that Floyd has had “problems all the time when they come,” seemingly referring to the police, “especially when that man put the gun like that.” It was unclear if that meant that Kueng was brandishing his service weapon when the officers first approached the car.
Hill also denied that Floyd was “drunk” or “on something,” as asked by Lane. She said Floyd is “a good guy.”
Finally, Lane explains to Floyd and Hill that “someone passed a fake bill” and then accuses Floyd of “getting weird” when police approached. Ignoring Floyd’s complaints of being in pain, Lane again asks if he is “on something right now.”
Floyd says no but admits that he is “scared, man.”
Kueng accused Floyd of having “foam around your mouth” but Floyd said that was because he had been playing basketball earlier.
As the cops apparently tried to put Floyd into a squad car, he warned them that he’s “claustrophobic.” He begged them to “crack the window.” He went on to repeat that “I can’t breathe” 20 times before Derek Chauvin arrived. Chauvin is the officer who used his knee to apply deadly to Floyd’s neck for nearly nine straight minutes.
“You’re going to kill me, man,” Floyd tells Lane at one point.
Lane’s role in the deadly arrest that a medical examiner ruled a homicide will have to be sorted out by the courts. But the bodycam transcript suggests Lane’s unnecessarily aggressive behavior arguably did not help the situation and may have even contributed to Chauvin’s deadly response that ended up killing an unarmed Black man who was already handcuffed.
Lane’s lawyer, of course, denies his client had any culpability.
Lane has been free for nearly a month after he was bailed out of the Hennepin County jail on June 10 following Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison upgrading the charges against him and the other three former cops.
Earl Gray, who is defending Lane, said his client told Chauvin twice to “roll him over” in reference to Floyd lying on the street. Lane was still in his probationary period as an officer and deferred to Chauvin, the 19-year veteran who was training the new cop, Gray said.
Lane was bailed out just days after House Democrats introduced new legislation that would radically transform policing as we know it, including banning chokeholds as well as the deadly neck-restraining technique that Chauvin used to kill Floyd. His freedom also came one day after Floyd’s funeral and burial in Houston.
Aside from Lane, Chauvin and Kueng, another former officer on the scene — Tou Thao — was also facing the same charges.
Initial footage of the police homicide only showed Chauvin and a distressed-looking Thao as bystanders warned that they were killing Floyd. Days later it was revealed that Lane and Kueng were also on the scene, with Lane holding Floyd’s legs. Still, Lane is a free man as Floyd’s family mourns their loved one’s life cut short.