Attorneys of the four Minneapolis officers charged in the death of George Floyd are working to secure individual trials for each officer, but prosecutors say all four officers should be tried together because of the evidence and nature of the charges.
Derek Chauvin dug his knee against the neck of Floyd for eight minutes and 46 seconds on May 25. Screams of “I can’t breathe was loudly heard from Floyd before he became motionless on the pavement as civilians helplessly looked on.
Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder, and manslaughter. Thomas Lane, J. Kueng, and Tou Thao are charged with aiding and abetting both second-degree murder and manslaughter.
The strategy to get each former officer his own trial is to diminish their roles in Floyd’s death by pointing fingers at one another.
“Here, all four Defendants worked together to murder Floyd: Chauvin, Kueng, and Lane pinned Floyd face-down, while Thao stopped the crowd from intervening, enabling the other Defendants to maintain their positions. Defendants also discussed and coordinated their actions throughout the incident,” wrote prosecutors in a court filing.
Prosecutors also say witnesses and Floyd’s family members would face more traumatization from having multiple trials, while also citing it would be more efficient and in the interest of justice to hold one proceeding.
However, defense attorneys are saying evidence presented against one officer over another could negatively impact the officers right to a fair trial.
The attorneys for Lane and Kueng are arguing that their clients were rookies who were following orders from Chauvin. Thao’s attorney, Bob Paule, said that his client’s role was “absolutely distinct” from the others because he was on crowd control and was securing the scene – while the other three restrained Floyd.
Eric Nelson, Chauvin’s attorney, said Floyd’s death could’ve been prevented if the other three officers chose different actions.
“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.”
Chauvin is expected to appear in a courtroom for the first time on Friday (September 11). He is in state custody and has attended previous hearings via videoconference.
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