US jury deciding fate of ex-cops involved in George Floyd murder

By: AFP
Published: 11:04 PM, 23 Feb, 2022
US jury deciding fate of ex-cops involved in George Floyd murder
Caption: US jury deciding fate of ex-cops involved in George Floyd murder.
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A Minnesota jury on Wednesday began deliberating the fate of three former police officers charged with violating the civil rights of George Floyd, the African American man whose murder sparked nationwide protests.

Tou Thao, 36, J. Alexander Kueng, 28, and Thomas Lane, 38, are on trial in federal court in Saint Paul for their roles in Floyd's May 2020 death in the sister city of Minneapolis.

"It's your duty to find the facts," Judge Paul Magnuson told the jury of eight women and four men, "and then apply the law."

"Don't allow sympathy or prejudice to influence you," the judge said before sending the jurors off to begin their deliberations. 

Prosecutors and defense attorneys for the three men wrapped up their closing arguments on Tuesday after a one-month trial.

Former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for nearly 10 minutes until he passed out and died, was convicted of murder last year and is serving 22 years in prison.

Thao, Kueng and Lane were the other officers involved in the arrest of the 46-year-old Floyd for allegedly using a fake $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes.

While Chauvin knelt on Floyd's neck, Kueng was on his back and Lane held his legs. Thao kept back bystanders who were pleading with Chauvin to get off the visibly distressed Floyd.

Floyd's death, which was filmed by a bystander, sparked months of protests against racial injustice and police brutality.

Thao, who is Hmong American, Kueng, who is Black, and Lane, who is white, are charged with showing "deliberate indifference" to Floyd's medical needs.

Thao and Kueng are also accused of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin's use of "unreasonable force" against Floyd.

Lane does not face the second charge. Video of the arrest shows that on two occasions, Lane suggested that Floyd be rolled over on his side.

Make no mistake, this is a crime

In her closing argument, prosecutor Manda Sertich said all three officers failed to provide medical assistance to Floyd.

"The officers knew that George Floyd couldn't breathe, didn't have a pulse and was dying," she said. "Make no mistake, this is a crime."

LeeAnn Bell, another prosecutor, said "this happened because Thao and Kueng did not intervene, and all three failed to provide medical aid."

"They didn't do the right but a difficult thing," Bell said.

Lawyers for Kueng and Lane stressed that the two officers had only been on the job for only a few days and deferred to Chauvin, a nearly 20-year veteran, and the senior officer on the scene.

Earl Gray, the lawyer for Lane, said his client did show concern for Floyd when asking Chauvin whether Floyd should be placed on his side.

"Chauvin doesn't say anything, he ignores this person over here, he's just a rookie," Gray said of his client.

The defense attorney also noted that Lane asked Kueng to check Floyd's pulse and administered CPR after an ambulance arrived.

"All of that is being concerned about George Floyd's medical needs," Gray said.

Thao, Kueng and Lane are to face Minnesota state charges in connection with Floyd's death in a trial that is scheduled to begin on June 13.

But in a sign of the importance of the case, federal prosecutors also charged the officers with violating Floyd's constitutional rights.

AFP

Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.