Trial of four cops charged over George Floyd’s death turn on each other turns to blame game
George Floyd, 41, was killed during a police arrest in Minneapolis on May 25
Four police officers – Sgt. Derek Chauvin, and officers Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao – are facing murder related charges in Floyd’s death
Chauvin, who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with first degree murder
The three other officers who participated in the arrest have been charged with second degree murder and manslaughter
As prosecutors pushing for a joint trial, the defense teams for the four cops want separate trials
The three younger cops claim they weren’t in charge, Chauvin was in charge and is to blame, they say
However, the most senior cop present, Derek Chauvin says his colleagues should have called an ambulance for Floyd before he knelt on his neck
Chauvin is blaming the fentanyl in Floyd’s system for his death, alleging, the victim died of a drug overdose and that he did not suffocate him
He now claims that the other cops should have called an ambulance for him
The four cops involved in the killing of George Floyd have now all turned on each other and are demanding separate trials, claiming each thought another one was in charge on the day of Floyd’s brutal death.
Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao have all been charged over Floyd’s death. Chauvin has been charged with first degree murder. He was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while the other cops held him down.
The others have all been charged with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and manslaughter.
Prosecutors say all four officers should be tried together because the nature of the charges and evidence is similar and ‘it is impossible to evaluate any individual Defendant´s conduct in a vacuum.’
The former officers are scheduled to appear in court Friday for a hearing on several issues, including the prosecution´s request to hold a joint trial.
Their lawyers, in legal documents before the hearing, say one trial for all four men would be problematic.
‘There are very likely going to be antagonistic defenses presented at the trial. It is plausible that all officers have a different version of what happened and officers place blame on one another,’ Earl Gray, Thomas Lane’s lawyer, said.
He previously blamed Chauvin and said Lane was a rookie just a few days into the job who was following orders.
Chauvin’s attorney said in separate documents that it was the fault of the three other cops for not phoning an ambulance for Floyd, who had fentanyl in his system, before he leaned on his neck.
He claims that Floyd died of a drug overdose and that his kneeling on his neck was not the cause of it.
Other issues that will be argued include defense requests to move the trial away from Minneapolis and to sequester the jury and keep jurors anonymous.
Defense requests to dismiss charges won’t be addressed at Friday´s hearing. A trial is scheduled for March.
Friday´s hearing will also mark the first time Chauvin is expected to appear in a courtroom. He is in state custody and has attended previous hearings via video conference.
Prosecutors say the case should proceed with one trial because the evidence – including witness statements, body-camera video and police department policy on use of force – is similar for each officer. Prosecutors say the officers also acted in close concert.
Derek Chauvin, Thomas Lane, J. Kueng and Tou Thao have all been charged over Floyd’s death.
Chauvin, who was filmed kneeling on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with first degree murder, while the three other officers have been charged with second degree murder and manslaughter
Derek Chauvin through his attorney is blaming the fentanyl in Floyd’s system for his death. Floyd died of a drug overdose and that he did not suffocate him, Chauvin said.
Furthermore he said, the other officers should have called an ambulance for him, while his junior colleagues however insist Chauvin was in charge and is to blame for the debacle.
They will attend court in Minneapolis on Friday for a judge to hear arguments. The courthouse has been boarded up in anticipation of protests around the premises.
All four want separate trials, as prosecutors are pushing for just one as they say that witnesses and Floyd´s family members would likely be traumatized by multiple trials, and it would be more efficient and in the interest of justice to hold one proceeding.
Giving the conflicting interets, the four defense teams are pushing for separate trials for their clients on the grounds that they are likely to offer ‘antagonistic’ defenses, and evidence against one officer could negatively impact another’s right to a fair trial.
The circular firing squad tactics are well underway in the court filing.
Attorneys for Lane and Kueng have argued that their clients were rookies, who were following Chauvin´s lead.
Defense attorney Bob Paule who is representing former officer Thao said that his client´s role was ‘absolutely distinct’ from the others, because he was on crowd control and was securing the scene. That he did not join thee the other three in restraining Floyd.
Eric Nelson, attorney for former Minneapolis Police officer Derek Chauvin filed a motion opposing a joint trial that would tie his case with three other defendants in the death of George Floyd.
Chauvin´s attorney also wrote that his client´s case is different.
Prosecutors Nelson said, must prove his client intended to assault Floyd, but they must also show that the other officers knew of Chauvin´s intent before it happened. As a result, he said, Chauvin will have to defend himself differently.
‘The other defendants are clearly saying that, if a crime was committed, they neither knew about it nor assisted in it,’ Nelson wrote. ‘They blame Chauvin.’
But Chauvin also points fingers at the others. Nelson wrote that Lane and Kueng – the officers who responded to a forgery call – initiated contact with Floyd before Chauvin and Thao arrived, and that Chauvin believes Floyd was overdosing on fentanyl.
Nelson wrote that while Lane and Kueng called for a paramedic and believed Floyd was ‘on something,’ they didn´t elevate the call to one of more urgency or give medical assistance.
‘Instead, they struggled to subdue Mr. Floyd and force him into their squad car, likely exacerbating his condition considerably,’ Nelson wrote, adding that Chauvin could reasonably argue that their inaction led to Floyd´s death.
‘If EMS had arrived just three minutes sooner, Mr. Floyd may have survived. If Kueng and Lane had chosen to de-escalate instead of struggle, Mr. Floyd may have survived. If Kueng and Lane had recognized the apparent signs of an opioid overdose and rendered aid, such as administering naloxone, Mr. Floyd may have survived,’ Nelson wrote.
Attorneys for all four men have also asked that the trial be moved from Minneapolis, saying that pretrial publicity has made it impossible for them to receive a fair trial.
Bob Paule, Thao’s attorney, said in a court filing that the state has tainted the jury pool by calling Floyd´s death a ‘murder.’
Paule also cites protests that caused millions of dollars of damage in Minneapolis, saying an impartial jury can´t be found in Hennepin County because jurors would ‘shoulder the weight of their decision creating further rioting and destruction.