The four men have said in court documents that they all thought someone else was in charge of the scene on May 25 – with rookie officers arguing they would submit to a veteran and the veteran said he was merely supporting an ongoing one Arrest. All have said in court documents that the relationship between the veteran officer – Derek Chauvin – and the others is at the heart of the problem, as each officer performed their role and who was responsible is very different. Chauvin was the officer shown with his knee to Floyd’s neck as he tried to inhale videos of the unfortunate arrest.
“It is very likely that antagonistic defenses will be presented in the process,”
Gray and Chauvin’s attorneys J. Alexander Kueng and Tou Thao have argued that the former officers’ cases should be segregated for judicial purposes, citing competing stories from their clients about the events that led to the death of the 46-year-old black man. The officials are due to appear in court on Friday if a judge takes up this question. Prosecutors have asked for a joint trial.
Minneapolis authorities are cordoning off the area around the courthouse due to planned protests on Friday. Windows on government buildings have been boarded up and police officers set up a perimeter to keep protesters at bay.
Floyd died May 25 when he was handcuffed and restrained face down on a street in South Minneapolis when police investigated an 911 call for a fake $ 20 bill posted at Cup Foods, a local supermarket , had been handed over. During a fight with the police, Floyd was laid on the floor where Chauvin held his knee on the man’s neck for almost eight minutes while Floyd complained of breathing difficulties repeatedly until he passed out and had no pulse.
Floyd’s death sparked a nationwide movement for social and racial justice, with protests in cities from coast to coast and a renewed and widespread push for police reform. Some of the protests have used social justice activists against those who support law enforcement officers.
While police often show solidarity in investigations into the use of force, Floyd’s case could be an unusual departure. The officers allegedly involved in his murder argued that other officers should be held accountable instead.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, said his client was unsure of what happened when he got to 38th Street and Chicago Avenue and saw Kueng and Lane struggling to get Floyd into a patrol car.
Nelson, who has argued that Floyd died from a drug overdose rather than Chauvin’s knee brace, accused the rookie officers in a motion filed this week of mistreating the scene and causing Floyd’s death. He said former officers were late in calling for an ambulance when they suspected Floyd might be using drugs or have a medical problem and that they had not done enough to reassure Floyd by putting him on the sidewalk instead or assisted the fight. “
“If EMS had arrived just three minutes early, Mr. Floyd might have survived. If Kueng and Lane had chosen to de-escalate instead of fighting, Mr. Floyd might have survived, ”wrote Nelson. “If Kueng and Lane had seen the obvious signs of an opioid overdose and provided assistance, such as giving naloxone, Mr. Floyd might have survived.”
Chauvin has been charged with murder and second degree manslaughter, while Kueng, Lane and Thao have been charged with accessory murder. All four have been released by Minneapolis police and are together with the City of Minneapolis on a civil death lawsuit filed by Floyd’s family. Justice Department officials are also investigating and, according to sources familiar with the investigation, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to speak publicly, are close to ruling on possible federal charges.
Chauvin is expected to appear in person for the first time in court on Friday. Since his arrest on May 29, he has attended all hearings at a state prison where he is being held on bail of at least $ 1 million. He is the only officer charged in the case who is still in custody.
Kueng and Lane attorneys, newcomers who had been on duty for less than a week at the time of Floyd’s death, have argued that their clients were following orders from Chauvin, a 19-year veteran of the division who had been Kueng’s field training officer and advised informally Lane during his probationary period.
Lane, who was holding Floyd’s legs, asked Chauvin twice if they should reposition Floyd – asking his attorney to prove he tried to intervene with a senior officer but was turned away. After Floyd apparently stopped moving, Lane told Chauvin he was concerned about the “excited delirium,” citing a term used by medical investigators to describe the sudden death of those under the influence of Drugs or in an upset state.
“That’s why we called for the ambulance,” Chauvin said to him.
“Okay, I take it,” Lane replied.
Attorneys for all four former officers have suggested in recent court records arguing that Floyd’s death was hastened by drugs in his system – including what the Hennepin County’s medical examiner told prosecutors in June, according to a recent fatal amount of fentanyl revealed Interview notes that were submitted as evidence in the case.
Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, wrote in a lawsuit this week that his client, who was holding Floyd’s back, was only on his third shift as a cop that day and that he had spent approximately 420 of his 730 hours of field training. “To be taught and assessed by Chauvin”, whom he had to call “Sir”.
Plunkett suggested providing evidence of how Chauvin Kueng trained – including “previous opinions and instructions” and “previous statements he made about dealing with an imprisoned issue”, which he described as “derogatory” to Chauvin’s defense.
“Kueng will blame Chauvin during the trial,” Plunkett wrote.
Chauvin, who was largely silent for most of the summer, has tried to reformulate his role on the scene in recent days to put the blame back on Kueng and Lane.
Chauvin and Thao, who were partners that day, have argued through their lawyers that they responded in support of the other officials Floyd first encountered while sitting in a parked SUV. Chauvin and Thao’s attorneys have described their clients as supportive officials who refused to allow Kueng and Lane to deal with Floyd, and that seniority and rank were irrelevant.
Thao and Kueng’s attorneys have announced that they will provide evidence of Chauvin’s history as a Minneapolis police officer. Last month, Thao’s attorney, Robert Paule, filed a motion asking the state to disclose “complete Minneapolis Police Department disciplinary records” to Chauvin – records the police department has refused to publish in detail, except for records that show it that he was the subject of 18 complaints, 16 of which were dismissed.
Thao has tried to dismiss his charges, shifting the blame to Chauvin, Kueng and Lane, who had more direct contact with Floyd. In a May interview with investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and the FBI, which was presented as evidence in the criminal case, Thao described his role at the crime scene as a “human traffic cone”. He said he was focused on controlling a growing number of viewers and didn’t know what was going on behind him.
Thao told investigators that he and Chauvin had been called in to replace the scene, but they had been canceled by mail. Thao said he decided they should keep going to Cup Foods anyway because Kueng and Lane are “so new” and the area is known to be police-friendly.
Police body camera footage shows that Thao advised other officers to take Floyd onto the street after trying to get him into a patrol car.
“Just put it on the floor,” Thao says to the other three officers who stick to it.
Although Thao is looking for a limp – a leg rest that will keep Floyd immobile and allow officers to lift their bodies off his – he and the officers eventually decide to skip the device and wait for the ambulance, believing that the limp would be more arduous than it was worth it. However, the ambulance, which was called without lights or sirens, was a few minutes late.
In his interview with investigators, Thao reiterated Chauvin’s argument that he believed Kueng and Lane were responsible for the scene because they were the first to arrive.
“This is the call from 320,” Thao said, referring to the police car number Kueng and Lane were driving that day.
Prosecutors have appealed against Thao’s motion to dismiss the charges, arguing that all officers have a responsibility to prevent another officer from committing a crime. They deny his claim that he did not know what was happening around him, citing footage from body cameras showing him shoving and yelling at viewers – including an off duty Minneapolis firefighter – who asked officers to give Floyd a pulse check, and that he ignored Floyd’s “desperate cries”.
Judge Peter A. Cahill, who presides over the criminal case, has announced that he will hear arguments on Friday on the issue of joint or separate proceedings, the proceedings of which are scheduled for March. He is also supposed to take up requests to dismiss and relocate the process from the Hennepin district, where defense lawyers say it is impossible to impanate a fair jury.