A federal trial has begun at St. Paul’s courthouse for the three other officers at the scene of George Floyd’s arrest to determine their liability for not intervening to provide timely medical aid to Floyd before his death.
Two years after the death of George Floyd and nearly a year after former Officer Derek Chauvin was convicted on murder charges, the trial has now shifted to the three other now-former Minneapolis police officers who were at the scene – J. Alexander Keung, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao.
The three officers face federal civil charges related to Floyd’s death, including failing to intervene in Chauvin’s excessive treatment of Floyd while restraining him and providing necessary medical attention.
Prosecutor Samantha Trepel’s opening arguments highlighted the role of the officers to help those in need but that they refrained from interfering with Chauvin’s actions despite Floyd not being able to breathe.
“You’ll hear that the medical aid that would have saved George Floyd’s life was as simple as that — turning George Floyd on his side, so his heart kept beating,” she said according to court documents.
“For second after second, minute after minute, these three, CPR-trained defendants, stood or knelt next to officer Chauvin as he slowly killed George Floyd right in front of them. They chose not to protect George Floyd — the man they had handcuffed and placed in their custody,” Trepel continued.
At the time of Floyd’s death, Chauvin was kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes. Kueng reported that he didn’t have a pulse, and Lane asked whether they should flip Floyd over. Thao, meanwhile, was managing the crowd that had gathered on the sidewalk.
Defense attorneys argued that while Floyd’s death was a tragedy, the officers did not commit a crime.
Thomas Plunkett, Keung’s attorney, blamed the Minneapolis Police Department’s training and focused on Keung’s inexperience as a rookie police officer on his third shift.
“This case is about a tragic tale, about a rookie officer, less than three shifts into his career as a Minneapolis police officer, that was confronted with a complex, rapidly unfolding set of circumstances,” Plunkett said in his opening argument.
The three officers also face state charges in a separate trial to be held in June.
U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson expects the federal trial to last a month.