ST. PAUL (Minn.) — Prosecutors showed videos of George Floyd’s arrest at Tuesday’s federal civil rights trial. The three former Minneapolis police officers were accused of violating Floyd’s civil rights when fellow Officer Derek Chauvin shot him.
Tou Thao, Thomas Lane, and J. Alexander Kueng were charged in the federal case against former officers. They told U.S. District judge Paul Magnuson they didn’t plan to play all the video evidence in court but wanted it to be available for the jury to use during deliberations.
Many of Tuesday’s footage was taken from both police body cameras as well as street surveillance video. This footage was also used extensively in the state criminal trial, which resulted in Chauvin being convicted of murder. The footage shows Floyd fighting with officers to get him into a police car. Later, he is placed on the ground and then taken into an ambulance by officers. A growing number of observers watch as Floyd becomes more frustrated as he stops moving.
Kueng, Lane, and Thao are all accused of Floyd’s deprivation of civil rights while they were acting under government authority. Floyd died May 25, 2020 after Chauvin, a 46-year-old Black man, knelt down on Floyd’s neck for 9 1/2 mins while Floyd was facedown and handcuffed. Kueng placed Floyd on his back. Lane supported Floyd’s legs, while Thao kept the other bystanders at bay. Protests across the globe were triggered by the killing, as well as a reexamination on racism and police brutality.
Except for introducing the video content, there was no testimony. Prosecutors stated that they were simply playing the videos to guide the jury. They stated that they would review the videos with other witnesses later. Courtney Ross, Floyd’s girlfriend, was present in courtroom and rubbed her eyes at times. One juror appeared to also be dabbing her eyes.
Samantha Trepel, a prosecutor in the Justice Department’s civil right division, stated Monday that the videos would show that Chauvin “slowly murdered George Floyd right before them”. She also told jurors that she will ask them to “hold these men accountable.”
Chauvin was the senior officer on the scene and called “all the shots.” Tom Plunkett, Kueng’s attorney, stated that Chauvin was the one calling the shots. He also said that Minneapolis Police Department had not done enough to train officers to stop colleagues.
Robert Paule, Thao’s lawyer, focused on Floyd’s struggle to police before they restrained Floyd. Earl Gray, an attorney for Lane, stated that his client raised concerns regarding Floyd’s restraint but was denied.
Kueng, who was Black, Lane, who’s white, and Thao who’s Hmong American are all accused of failing to provide Floyd medical care. Thao and Kueng are also charged with failing to stop Chauvin (who is white). Both charges allege that Floyd was killed by the officers.
Both Thao and Kueng’s attorneys noted that the prosecution must prove that Floyd’s constitutional rights were violated by the officers. This is a high standard legal standard, which basically requires that the prosecutors prove that the officers knew they were wrong but still did it.
Gray informed jurors Lane would testify but it is not known if Thao and Kueng will.
In November, Chauvin pleaded guilty to violating Floyd’s civil right rights. Although it is not known if he will testify in the federal trial of his fellow officers, many experts speaking to The Associated Press think he will.
Magnuson stated that the trial could last up to four weeks.
In June, Lane, Kueng, and Thao will also be facing a separate state court trial on charges that they assisted and abetted murder and manslaughter.