4 Cops in George Floyd Killing May Be Turning On Each Other

Former officers are seeking separate trials
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 11, 2020 7:17 AM CDT
Updated Sep 11, 2020 2:07 PM CDT
4 Cops in George Floyd Killing May Be Turning On Each Other
This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, shows Derek Chauvin, from left, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao.   (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP)

Four ex-cops charged in the death of George Floyd appeared in court in Minneapolis on Friday—but they would rather be apart. The four men—including Derek Chauvin, who knelt on the Floyd's neck for eight minutes as he struggled to breathe—are blaming each other for Floyd's death and seeking separate trials, the Washington Post reports. Chauvin's lawyer says the veteran officer was assisting an arrest already in progress, while lawyers for J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane say the rookies deferred to Chauvin. The fourth officer, Tou Thao, has told investigators he was focused on controlling bystanders. More:

  • Change of venue unlikely. The four men also want the trial to be moved out of Minneapolis, but former judge LaJune Lange doubts it will happen since the case is already notorious nationwide, CBS Minneapolis reports. "A change of venue motion would only serve to reduce persons of color and persons who have diverse experiences in the jury pool," Lange says.

  • Antagonistic defenses. "There are very likely going to be antagonistic defenses presented at the trial,” said Earl Gray, a lawyer for Lane, in a motion filed this week. “It is plausible that all officers have a different version of what happened and officers place blame on one another."
  • Prosecutors want one trial. Prosecutors say there should be one trial because the evidence is similar for each officer and they don't want Floyd's family to be traumatized, the AP reports. "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," they wrote in a court filing. Both sides made their cases Friday, and Judge Peter Cahill will issue a decision later.
  • The charges. Chauvin is charged with second-degree murder, third-degree murder and manslaughter. Lane, Kueng, and Thao are charged with aiding and abetting the killing.
  • First appearance for Chauvin. This was the first in-person court appearance for Chauvin, who is the only defendant still in jail. The other three former officers are free on bail. Chauvin appeared remotely for a court hearing on separate tax evasion charges Tuesday, reports the New York Daily News.
  • Chauvin's defense. Eric Nelson, a lawyer for Chauvin, argues that Kueng and Lane mishandled the May 25 arrest before Chauvin and Thao arrived at the scene. "If Kueng and Lane had chosen to de-escalate instead of struggle, Mr. Floyd may have survived," he said in a filing this week, per the Post. "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."
  • Victim-blaming. Lawyers for Chauvin and Lane have raised Floyd's criminal record and history of drug use, the AP reports. They argue that the 46-year-old died from a fentanyl overdose, not a knee on his neck, though the death was ruled a homicide. Ben Crump, an attorney for Floyd's family, says victim-blaming won't work. "When police do inexcusable things, the defense is always to kill the victim all over again by dredging up their history and assassinating their character," he says.
(More George Floyd stories.)

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