Judge Rules Bodycam Footage Of George Floyd’s Death Can Be Released Publicly
A Minnesota judge has declared the bodycam footage from two police officers involved in George Floyd’s death should be publicly released.
In a ruling issued on Friday, August 7, Judge Peter Cahill confirmed media organisations and members of the public ‘may obtain copies’ of the video footage recorded by former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng on May 25.
Cahill did not elaborate on why he decided to allow the footage to be released publicly, or when it would be released, though some of the footage reportedly leaked last week.
Prior to Friday’s ruling, the Hennepin County judge had restricted the viewing of Lane and Kueng’s bodycam footage, allowing it to be viewed only by appointment in the county courthouse on July 15.
This decision was made after Lane’s attorney, Earl Gray, filed two bodycam videos as evidence for his motion to dismiss the charges against his client. This made the videos public data, according to state law.
Although allowing the videos to be viewed by appointment, Cahill did not allow it to be recorded or distributed – a decision the media coalition argued violated state laws governing public records, court rules and the First Amendment of the US Constitution.
The media coalition, formed by outlets to challenge Cahill’s decision, included American Public Media, the Associated Press, CBS Broadcasting Inc., Dow Jones & Co., Hubbard Broadcasting, and the New York Times Co., among others.
The motion, written by attorneys Leita Walker and Emmy Parsons and argued in court on July 21, said, as the Star Tribune reports:
The Media Coalition requests that the Court… immediately make the 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 footage includes more than 18 minutes from Kueng’s bodycam and 10 minutes from Lane’s. Kueng, Lane and officer Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter.
Chauvin is charged with one count each of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.
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