St Paul, Minnesota – Monday 25 January 2022 marked the first day of the trial of J Alexander Kueng, Thomas K Lane and Tou Thao charged in the death of George Floyd. To be exact, Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are charged with one count of violating the Black man’s civil rights by failing to provide him with medical aid.
Mr Thao and Mr Kueng are also charged with failing to intervene to stop fellow officer Derek Chauvin’s use of force, after Chauvin knelt on his neck for more than nine minutes on 25 May 2020.
All three former Minneapolis police officers pleaded not guilty to the charges.
The federal trial takes place at the Warren E. Burger Federal Building and US Courthouse in St Paul, Minnesota.
This morning it could be seen that security had been reinforced around the courthouse.
Monday started with opening statements. Prosecutions and attorneys for each defendant delivered their opening statements.
Attorney for the prosecution started, during her opening statement, important facts were stated including the fact that George Floyd said “I can’t breathe” twenty-five times. The prosecutor said in the opening arguments that the three former officers “didn’t lift a finger”.
The prosecution highlighted that the defendants failed to follow a crucial “fundamental principle taught to all MPD”.
Tou Thao comment to the bystanders while George Floyd was losing consciousness was emphasized “this is why you don’t do drugs”. It was Thao responsabilité to provide Floyd with care.
The three former police officers on trial “watched as George Floyd died a slow and agonizing death” & failed to intervene as Chauvin knelt on his neck “for 9 minutes 29 seconds”, according to prosecutors.
The prosecution told jurors that the 3 officers failed in a “fundamental element of policing” to care for the Black man while he was in their custody and “chose not to act” to stop their fellow officer from killing him.
“These three CPR-trained defendants stood or knelt next to Officer Chauvin as he slowly killed George Floyd right in front of them,” the prosecutor said.
The defense plan on its opening arguments as clear : pinning everything on then senior officer Derek Chauvin and painting George Floyd as a villain.
Each defense attorney Earl Gray representing Thomas K Lane, Robert Paule representing Tou Thao and Thomas Plunkett representing J Alexander Kueng.
Prosecutors will have to prove that Tou Thao, J Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane “willfully” deprived George Floyd of his constitutional rights.
The defense noted that Flyod alledgly refused to coorporate, that drugs was found in his vehicle and later a pipe was found on his person. When asked about it, Floyd alledgly responded “I’m hooping”.
The defense emphasized on Floyd’s alledged “erratic” behavior. In his opening remarks, Paule argued that Mr Floyd refused to follow officers’ instructions and was “physically resisting” when officers arrived.
George Floyd died on 25 May 2020 outside a convenience store in Minneapolis during a deadly arrest over a suspected $20 counterfeit bill.
Derek Chauvin, a white veteran police officer of 18 years, knelt on Mr Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes until he lost consciousness and died.
The Black 46-year-old was heard begging for air saying “I can’t breathe” and calling out for his late mother in his dying moments.
Thomas Plunkett for J Alexander Kueng, gave a background of the defendant stating that Kueng wanted to be a better person by becoming a police officer.
Plunkett : “in the end, the evidence will not show that J Alexander Kueng is guilty”.
The attorneys stated that both Kueng and Lane were not trained to deal with the nech restraint situation. Kueng was a rookie and Lane whom was restraining Floyd’s legs couldn’t see Derek Chauvin’s knee on Floyd’s neck from his field of view.
Defense attorney Earl Gray stated that Kueng & Lane could not control George Floyd, that’s when Derek Chauvin took over and put him in the prone position.
Gray said that Lane asked if they could turn Floyd to a side position but that was denied.
Thomas Lane to Derek Chauvin : “Should we roll him over”? That’s what they taught at the academy.”
Chauvin :” no. He’s good where he’s at”
Lane : well, I’m concerned about excited delirium.
Chauvin : “he’s staying where he’s at”.
Gray argued that Lane wanted to get into the ambulance with Flyod after EMS left. He performed some chests compressions on Floyd – showing that there was no “deliberate indifference”.
Nevertheless, the defense arguments point to the fact that, senior officer Chauvin should have known better than the less experienced officers he was with at the time of the arrest.
The first witness to take the stand is FBI employee Kimberly Meline. Kimberly Meline took the stand for the prosecution. Meline works for the Multimedia Exploitation Unit. She says, the unit works to use audio, video, images to the best of its ability for the FBI.
Meline worked for St Cloud PD before working for the FBI. During that time, she was also working in video forensic analysis.
She has 18 years of experience in the forensic video analysis area. She also worked at St Paul PD doing similar work.
Meline’s goes through various videos sources that captured in arrest including several surveillance and traffic footages near the 38th & Chicago.
Meline synced videos from body cam footage or bystanders etc. Tou Thao body cam and Darnella Frazier’s videos showed the back and forth.
A video of the arrest from Thomas K Lane body cam was shown to the jury. It starts with partners Kuend and Lane arriving at the scene and ended with George Floyd’s dead body being hauled into the ambulance.
The EMS responder and Lane were seen attempting to revive Flyod ; Lane did do some chest compressions.
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