US & Canada

George Floyd: What happened in the final moments of his life

George Floyd Image copyright Twitter/Ruth Richardson
Image caption George Floyd repeatedly told the police officers who detained him that he could not breathe

The US has been convulsed by nationwide protests over the death of an African-American man in police custody.

George Floyd, 46, died after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Footage of the arrest on 25 May shows a white police officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd's neck while he was pinned to the floor.

Mr Chauvin, 44, has since been charged with murder.

The key events that led to Mr Floyd's death happened within just 30 minutes. Based on accounts from witnesses, video footage and official statements, here's what we know so far.

It began with a report of a fake $20 (£16.20) bill.

A report was made on the evening of 25 May, when Mr Floyd bought a pack of cigarettes from Cup Foods, a grocery store.

Believing the $20 bill he used to be counterfeit, a store employee reported it to police.

Mr Floyd had been living in Minneapolis for several years after moving there from his native Houston, Texas. He had recently been working as a bouncer in the city but, like millions of other Americans, was left jobless by the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Floyd was a regular at Cup Foods. He was a friendly face, a pleasant customer who never caused any trouble, the store owner Mike Abumayyaleh told NBC.

But Mr Abumayyaleh was not at work on the day of the incident. In reporting the suspicious bill, his teenage employee was just following protocol.

In a call to 911, made at 20:01, the employee told the operator he had demanded the cigarettes back but "he [Floyd] doesn't want to do that", according to a transcript released by authorities.

The employee said the man appeared "drunk" and "not in control of himself", the transcript says.

Shortly after the call, at around 20:08, two police officers arrived. Mr Floyd was sitting with two other people in a car parked around the corner.

After approaching the car, one of the officers, Thomas Lane, pulled out his gun and ordered Mr Floyd to show his hands. In an account of the incident, prosecutors do not explain why Mr Lane thought it necessary to draw his gun.

Mr Lane, prosecutors said, "put his hands on Mr Floyd, and pulled him out of the car". Then Mr Floyd "actively resisted being handcuffed".

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Once handcuffed, though, Mr Floyd became compliant while Mr Lane explained he was being arrested for "passing counterfeit currency".

It was when officers tried to put Mr Floyd in their squad car that a struggle ensued.

At about 20:14, Mr Floyd "stiffened up, fell to the ground, and told the officers he was claustrophobic", according to the report.

Mr Chauvin arrived at the scene. He and other officers were involved in a further attempt to put Mr Floyd in the police car.

During this attempt, at 20:19, Mr Chauvin pulled Mr Floyd away from the passenger side, causing him to fall to the ground, the report said.

He lay there, face down, still in handcuffs.

That's when witnesses started to film Mr Floyd, who appeared to be in a distressed state. These moments, captured on multiple mobile phones and shared widely on social media, would prove to be Mr Floyd's last.

Mr Floyd was restrained by officers, while Mr Chauvin placed his left knee between his head and neck.

"I can't breathe," Mr Floyd said repeatedly, pleading for his mother and begging "please, please, please".

For eight minutes and 46 seconds, Mr Chauvin kept his knee on Mr Floyd's neck, the prosecutors' report says.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Derek Chauvin is due to appear in court in Minneapolis on Monday

About six minutes into that period, Mr Floyd became non-responsive. In videos of the incident, this was when Mr Floyd fell silent, as bystanders urged the officers to check his pulse.

One of the other officers, JA Kueng, did just that, checking Mr Floyd's right wrist, but "couldn't find one". Yet the other officers did not move.

At 20:27, Mr Chauvin removed his knee from Mr Floyd's neck. Motionless, Mr Floyd was rolled on to a gurney and taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center in an ambulance.

He was pronounced dead about an hour later.

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On the night before his death, Mr Floyd had spoken to one of his closest friends, Christopher Harris. He had advised Mr Floyd to contact a temporary jobs agency.

Forgery, he said, was out of character for Mr Floyd.

"The way he died was senseless," Harris said. "He begged for his life. He pleaded for his life. When you try so hard to put faith in this system, a system that you know isn't designed for you, when you constantly seek justice by lawful means and you can't get it, you begin to take the law into your own hands."

US protests timeline

George Floyd dies after police arrest

Tributes to George Floyd at a makeshift memorial
Image caption Tributes to George Floyd at a makeshift memorial Image copyright by Getty Images

George Floyd dies after being arrested by police outside a shop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Footage shows a white officer, Derek Chauvin, kneeling on Mr Floyd’s neck for several minutes while he is pinned to the floor. Mr Floyd is heard repeatedly saying "I can’t breathe". He is pronounced dead later in hospital.

Protests begin

Demonstrators in Minneapolis
Image caption Demonstrators in Minneapolis Image copyright by AFP

Four officers involved in the arrest of George Floyd are fired. Protests begin as the video of the arrest is shared widely on social media. Hundreds of demonstrators take to the streets of Minneapolis and vandalise police cars and the police station with graffiti.

Protests spread

Protesters lie on the streets in Portland, Oregon
Image caption Protesters lie on the streets in Portland, Oregon Image copyright by Reuters

Protests spread to other cities including Memphis and Los Angeles. In some places, like Portland, Oregon, protesters lie in the road, chanting "I can’t breathe". Demonstrators again gather around the police station in Minneapolis where the officers involved in George Floyd’s arrest were based and set fire to it. The building is evacuated and police retreat.

Trump tweets

President Trump tweets about the unrest
Image caption President Trump tweets about the unrest Image copyright by Reuters

President Trump blames the violence on a lack of leadership in Minneapolis and threatens to send in the National Guard in a tweet.  He follows it up in a second tweet with a warning "when the looting starts, the shooting starts". The second tweet is hidden by Twitter for "glorifying violence".

CNN reporter arrested

Members of a CNN crew are arrested at a protest
Image caption Members of a CNN crew are arrested at a protest Image copyright by Reuters

A CNN reporter, Omar Jimenez, is arrested while covering the Minneapolis protest. Mr Jimenez was reporting live when police officers handcuffed him. A few minutes later several of his colleagues are also arrested. They are all later released once they are confirmed to be members of the media.

Derek Chauvin charged with murder

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin after being charged over the death of George Floyd
Image caption Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin after being charged over the death of George Floyd Image copyright by Getty Images

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, 44, is charged with murder and manslaughter. The charges carry a combined maximum 35-year sentence.

Sixth night of protests

Demonstrators set fire to rubbish in New York
Image caption Demonstrators set fire to rubbish in New York Image copyright by Reuters

Violence spreads across the US on the sixth night of protests. A total of at least five people are reported killed in protests from Indianapolis to Chicago. More than 75 cities have seen protests. At least 4,400 people have been arrested.  Curfews are imposed across the US to try to stem the unrest.

Trump threatens military response

Trump posing with a Bible outside a boarded-up church
Image caption Trump posing with a Bible outside a boarded-up church Image copyright by EPA

President Trump threatens to send in the military to quell growing civil unrest. He says if cities and states fail to control the protests and "defend their residents" he will deploy the army and "quickly solve the problem for them". Mr Trump poses in front of a damaged church shortly after police used tear gas to disperse peaceful protesters nearby.

Eighth night of protests

George Floyd’s family joined protesters in Houston
Image caption George Floyd’s family joined protesters in Houston Image copyright by Getty

Tens of thousands of protesters again take to the streets. One of the biggest protests is in George Floyd’s hometown of Houston, Texas. Many defy curfews in several cities, but the demonstrations are largely peaceful.

Memorial service for George Floyd

Mourners gather to remember George Floyd
Image caption Mourners gather to remember George Floyd Image copyright by Getty

A memorial service for George Floyd is held in Minneapolis.  Those gathered in tribute stand in silence for eight minutes, 46 seconds, the amount of time Mr Floyd is alleged to have been on the ground under arrest. Hundreds attended the service, which heard a eulogy from civil rights activist Rev Al Sharpton.

International protests

Protester addresses crowds in Australia
Image caption Protester addresses crowds in Australia Image copyright by Getty

As the US saw another weekend of protests, with tens of thousands marching in Washington DC, anti-racism demonstrations were held around the world.

In Australia, there were major protests in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane that focused on the treatment of indigenous Australians. There were also demonstrations in France, Germany, Spain and the UK. In Bristol, protesters tore down the statue of a 17th century slave trader and threw it into the harbour.

Funeral service for George Floyd

Pallbearers bring the coffin into the church
Image caption Pallbearers bring the coffin into the church Image copyright by Getty

A funeral service for George Floyd is held in Houston, Mr Floyd’s home town. Just over two weeks after his death in Minneapolis and worldwide anti-racism protests, about 500 guests invited by the Floyd family are in attendance at the Fountain of Praise Church.  Many more gather outside to show their support.

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