EXPLAINER: Will Chauvin testify at trial of 3 other cops?

  • FILE - In this April 15, 2021, file image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, address Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. As the federal trial for three former Minneapolis officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights is set to begin Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, some wonder whether Derek Chauvin '" the officer already convicted of Floyd's murder '" will take the stand. (Court TV via AP, Pool File)

    FILE - In this April 15, 2021, file image from video, defense attorney Eric Nelson, left, and defendant, former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin, address Hennepin County Judge Peter Cahill at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. As the federal trial for three former Minneapolis officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights is set to begin Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, some wonder whether Derek Chauvin '" the officer already convicted of Floyd's murder '" will take the stand. (Court TV via AP, Pool File) Associated Press

  • FILE - This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on  June 3, 2020, shows, from left, former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. A state court trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd has been rescheduled for June 13, 2022, after both the defense and prosecutors requested a postponement.  (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP, File)

    FILE - This combination of photos provided by the Hennepin County Sheriff's Office in Minnesota on June 3, 2020, shows, from left, former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao. A state court trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged in the death of George Floyd has been rescheduled for June 13, 2022, after both the defense and prosecutors requested a postponement. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP, File) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this image from police body camera video former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin stands outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, on May 25, 2020, with a crowd of onlookers behind him. The image was shown as prosecutor Steve Schleicher gave closing arguments April 19, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis.  As the federal trial for three former Minneapolis officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights is set to begin Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, some wonder whether Derek Chauvin '" the officer already convicted of Floyd's murder '" will take the stand.  (Court TV via AP, Pool, File)

    FILE - In this image from police body camera video former Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin stands outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, on May 25, 2020, with a crowd of onlookers behind him. The image was shown as prosecutor Steve Schleicher gave closing arguments April 19, 2021, at the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis. As the federal trial for three former Minneapolis officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights is set to begin Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, some wonder whether Derek Chauvin '" the officer already convicted of Floyd's murder '" will take the stand. (Court TV via AP, Pool, File) Associated Press

  • FILE - This image from video shows Minneapolis police Officers Thomas Lane, left and J. Alexander Kueng, right, escorting George Floyd, center, to a police vehicle outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, on May 25, 2020. Three former Minneapolis officers headed to trial this week on federal civil rights charges in the death of George Floyd aren't as familiar to most people as Derek Chauvin, a fellow officer who was convicted of murder last spring. (Court TV via AP, Pool, File)

    FILE - This image from video shows Minneapolis police Officers Thomas Lane, left and J. Alexander Kueng, right, escorting George Floyd, center, to a police vehicle outside Cup Foods in Minneapolis, on May 25, 2020. Three former Minneapolis officers headed to trial this week on federal civil rights charges in the death of George Floyd aren't as familiar to most people as Derek Chauvin, a fellow officer who was convicted of murder last spring. (Court TV via AP, Pool, File) Associated Press

 
 
Updated 1/21/2022 4:14 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- As the federal trial for three former Minneapolis officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights is set to begin Monday, some wonder whether Derek Chauvin '" the officer already convicted of Floyd's murder '" will take the stand. Many legal experts say they don't anticipate that. If he does testify, he could face some hard questions.

WHAT IS THIS TRIAL ABOUT?

 


Tou Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Kueng are broadly charged in federal court with depriving Floyd of his civil rights while acting under government authority as Chauvin used his knee to pin the Black man to the street for 9½ minutes on May 25, 2020.

Kueng and Lane helped restrain the 46-year-old Floyd. Kueng knelt on Floyd's back, and Lane held Floyd's legs. Thao kept bystanders from intervening in the videotaped killing that triggered worldwide protests, violence and a reexamination of racism and policing.

The federal indictment alleges that Kueng, Lane and Thao willfully deprived Floyd of the right to be free from an officer's deliberate indifference to his medical needs. Thao and Kueng also are charged with willfully violating Floyd's right to be free from unreasonable seizure by not intervening.

DETAILS ABOUT CHAUVIN

Months after his conviction in state court, Chauvin pleaded guilty to a federal civil rights violation.

During his federal plea hearing, he admitted he knew what he did to Floyd was wrong and he had a 'callous and wanton disregard' for Floyd's life. The plea agreement also says Chauvin 'was aware that Mr. Floyd not only stopped resisting, but also stopped talking, stopped moving, stopped breathing, and lost consciousness and a pulse.'

by signing up you agree to our terms of service
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Chauvin did not testify in his state trial.

WILL HE TESTIFY NOW?

Legal experts who spoke to The Associated Press say it's possible, but probably not: The prosecutors don't need his testimony because they have powerful video evidence, and defense attorneys likely don't want Chauvin in court.

'My guess is that neither party will call him,' said F. Clayton Tyler, a Minneapolis defense attorney not connected to the case. He said prosecutors may call Chauvin if their case is going poorly, but 'you can imagine how the other attorneys are going to be able to jump on him. It could get ugly if he gets on the stand.'

Tyler said the defense won't call Chauvin as a witness unless they know he's going to testify in their favor.

'They're going to point the finger at him anyway, without him being there," Tyler said, noting that Chauvin was the senior officer on the scene and that Lane and Kueng were rookies just a few days into their jobs as full-fledged officers.

IS HE REQUIRED TO TESTIFY?

Federal defendants sometimes agree to testify or offer 'substantial assistance' to prosecutors in hopes of getting a reduced sentence. Nothing in Chauvin's plea deal or other public documents indicates an agreement like this was reached.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Chauvin's attorney, Eric Nelson, declined to comment. Prosecutors are not commenting beyond the court filings.

ARE THERE ANY HINTS IN THE PLEA AGREEMENT?

Mark Osler, a former federal prosecutor and professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law, said Chauvin's plea agreement was actually crafted in a way to limit his usefulness to Kueng, Lane and Thao.

Chauvin's agreement says he knew that officers - regardless of their rank - are trained to intervene if another officer is using inappropriate force, and that Chauvin didn't threaten or force any of the three officers to disregard that duty.

The agreement also says that Chauvin did not observe Thao or Kueng do or say anything to try to get Chauvin to stop. It says Chauvin heard Lane ask twice whether Floyd should be rolled on his side, but that Chauvin 'did not hear or observe Officer Lane press the point, and did not hear or observe Officer Lane say or do anything else to try to get Officer Kueng and the defendant off of Mr. Floyd.'

Osler said those details are unusual and 'quite intentional.'

'There must be some fear that he would fall on his sword and say, `It was all on me, not these other guys,'' Osler said.

___

Find AP's full coverage of the killing of George Floyd at: https://apnews.com/hub/death-of-george-floyd

0 Comments
                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Article Comments
Guidelines: Keep it civil and on topic; no profanity, vulgarity, slurs or personal attacks. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. If a comment violates these standards or our terms of service, click the X in the upper right corner of the comment box. To find our more, read our FAQ.