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

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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.

Short presentational grey line

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 around 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 further attempt to put Mr Floyd in the police car.

During this attempt, at 20:19, Mr Chauvin pulled Mr Floyd out of 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.

Derek Chauvin, 44, is due to appear in court in Minneapolis on MondayImage copyrightREUTERS
 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 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 around an hour later.

Media captionMinnesota governor on George Floyd death: ‘Thank God a young person had a camera to video it’

On the night before his death, Mr Floyd had spoken to one 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.”

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