Defense: Chauvin called '˜all of the shots' when Floyd killed

  • 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

  • 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

  • CORRECTS ID OF PROSECUTOR TO SAMANTHA TREPEL INSTEAD OF SAMANTHA BATES - In this courtroom sketch, Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, makes opening arguments during the trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

    CORRECTS ID OF PROSECUTOR TO SAMANTHA TREPEL INSTEAD OF SAMANTHA BATES - In this courtroom sketch, Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, makes opening arguments during the trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP) Associated Press

  • In this courtroom sketch, Robert Paule, attorney for former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao makes his opening statement during the trial of Thao and former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane and J. Kueng are charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

    In this courtroom sketch, Robert Paule, attorney for former Minneapolis police officer Tou Thao makes his opening statement during the trial of Thao and former Minneapolis police officers Thomas Lane and J. Kueng are charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP) Associated Press

  • In this courtroom sketch, from left, former Minneapolis police Officer Tou Thou, attorney Robert Paule, attorney Natalie Paule, attorney Tom Punkett, former Minneapolis police Officer J. Alexander Keung, Minneapolis police Officer Thomas Land and attorney Earl Grey appear for opening statements for their trial in the killing of George Floyd in federal court on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd died May 25, 2020, after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

    In this courtroom sketch, from left, former Minneapolis police Officer Tou Thou, attorney Robert Paule, attorney Natalie Paule, attorney Tom Punkett, former Minneapolis police Officer J. Alexander Keung, Minneapolis police Officer Thomas Land and attorney Earl Grey appear for opening statements for their trial in the killing of George Floyd in federal court on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022, in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd died May 25, 2020, after Officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against his neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP) Associated Press

  • CORRECTS ID OF PROSECUTOR TO SAMANTHA TREPEL INSTEAD OF SAMANTHA BATES - In this courtroom sketch, Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, gives opening statements during the trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

    CORRECTS ID OF PROSECUTOR TO SAMANTHA TREPEL INSTEAD OF SAMANTHA BATES - In this courtroom sketch, Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, gives opening statements during the trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP) Associated Press

  • CORRECTS ID OF PROSECUTOR TO SAMANTHA TREPEL INSTEAD OF SAMANTHA BATES - In this courtroom sketch, Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, gives opening statements during the trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP)

    CORRECTS ID OF PROSECUTOR TO SAMANTHA TREPEL INSTEAD OF SAMANTHA BATES - In this courtroom sketch, Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, gives opening statements during the trial for three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights before U.S. District Judge Magnuson on Monday, Jan. 24, 2022 in St. Paul, Minn. Floyd, a Black man, was killed May 25, 2020 when Derek Chauvin pressed his knee against Floyd's neck as Floyd, who was handcuffed, said he couldn't breathe. (Cedric Hohnstadt via AP) Associated Press

  • FILE - In this image from surveillance video, Minneapolis police Officers from left, Tou Thao, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are seen attempting to take George Floyd into custody in Minneapolis, Minn 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 Chauvin, a fellow officer who was convicted of murder last spring. (Court TV via AP, Pool, File)

    FILE - In this image from surveillance video, Minneapolis police Officers from left, Tou Thao, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane are seen attempting to take George Floyd into custody in Minneapolis, Minn 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 Chauvin, a fellow officer who was convicted of murder last spring. (Court TV via AP, Pool, File) Associated Press

  • A pedestrian makes his way in front of a gated Warren E. Burger Federal Building as jury selection begins in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, Jan. 20, 2021. Jury selection began Thursday in the federal trial of three Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd's killing, with the judge stressing repeatedly that fellow Officer Derek Chauvin's conviction on state murder charges and guilty plea to a federal civil rights violation should not influence the proceedings. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)

    A pedestrian makes his way in front of a gated Warren E. Burger Federal Building as jury selection begins in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, Jan. 20, 2021. Jury selection began Thursday in the federal trial of three Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd's killing, with the judge stressing repeatedly that fellow Officer Derek Chauvin's conviction on state murder charges and guilty plea to a federal civil rights violation should not influence the proceedings. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP) Associated Press

  • Courteney Ross, the girlfriend of George Floyd, makes her way into the Warren E. Burger Federal Building as jury selection begins in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, Jan. 20, 2021. Jury selection began Thursday in the federal trial of three Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd's killing, with the judge stressing repeatedly that fellow Officer Derek Chauvin's conviction on state murder charges and guilty plea to a federal civil rights violation should not influence the proceedings. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP)

    Courteney Ross, the girlfriend of George Floyd, makes her way into the Warren E. Burger Federal Building as jury selection begins in St. Paul, Minn., Thursday, Jan. 20, 2021. Jury selection began Thursday in the federal trial of three Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd's killing, with the judge stressing repeatedly that fellow Officer Derek Chauvin's conviction on state murder charges and guilty plea to a federal civil rights violation should not influence the proceedings. (Elizabeth Flores/Star Tribune via AP) Associated Press

 
 
Posted1/25/2022 7:00 AM

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Prosecutors in the trial of three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating George Floyd's civil rights accused the men Monday of standing by as fellow Officer Derek Chauvin 'œslowly killed George Floyd right in front of them.'

But one defense attorney countered during opening statements of the former officers' trial that Chauvin called 'œall of the shots' as the senior officer at the scene and criticized the Minneapolis Police Department for doing too little to train officers to intervene when a colleague should be stopped. Another officer's attorney focused on Floyd's struggle with police before they restrained him. And an attorney for the third officer said his client raised concerns about the restraint of Floyd, but was rebuffed.

 


Former Officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao are broadly charged with depriving Floyd of his civil rights while acting under government authority. Floyd died on May 25, 2020, after Chauvin pressed him to the ground with his knee on Floyd's neck for 9 1/2 minutes while the 46-year-old Black man was facedown, handcuffed and gasping for air. Kueng knelt on Floyd's back, Lane held his legs and Thao kept bystanders from intervening.

Chauvin was convicted of murder and manslaughter last year in state court in the videotaped killing that triggered worldwide protests and a reexamination of racism and policing. Chauvin also pleaded guilty to a federal count of violating Floyd's civil rights.

'œFor 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,' prosecutor Samantha Trepel, who works for the Justice Department's civil rights division, told the jury during opening statements. "They chose not to protect George Floyd, the man they had handcuffed and placed in their custody.'

Tom Plunkett, Kueng's attorney, highlighted the rookie status of his client and Lane, and said both men deferred to Chauvin and called him 'œsir.'

"You'll see and hear officer Chauvin call all of the shots,' said Plunkett, who also hammered at what he called the Minneapolis Police Department's lack of training, including on intervention against the unreasonable use of force.

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Plunkett noted that Chauvin was Kueng's field training officer, and as such had 'œconsiderable sway' over his future. He also said that Kueng and Lane were not trained in the department's policy on neck restraint.

He also said that under department policy, Lane actually should have been in charge, because he was the most senior officer in the first car to arrive. Lane and Kueng were responding to a 911 call accusing Floyd of using a counterfeit $20 bill for a pack of cigarettes at a corner market. Thao and Chauvin responded as backup.

Earlier, Thao's attorney, Robert Paule, said Floyd's death was a tragedy, 'œhowever, a tragedy is not a crime.' He also said a widely watched bystander video of the arrest does not show everything, including Floyd struggling with officers who were trying to put him in a police vehicle.

Kueng, who is Black; Lane, who is white; and Thao, who is Hmong American, are all charged for failing to provide Floyd with medical care. Thao and Kueng face an additional count for failing to stop Chauvin, who is white. Both counts allege the officers' actions resulted in Floyd's death.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

'œWe will ask you to hold these men accountable for choosing to do nothing and watch a man die,' Trepel said.

Attorneys for both Kueng and Thao noted that prosecutors must prove the officers willfully violated Floyd's constitutional rights. It's a high legal standard; essentially, prosecutors must prove that the officers knew what they were doing was wrong, but did it anyway.

Trepel said videos will show Thao stood directly next to Chauvin, but instead of intervening, he taunted Floyd for using drugs, telling bystanders, 'œThis is why you don't' use drugs.

She said Kueng 'œnever once' told Chauvin to get off Floyd, even after Floyd stopped struggling and Kueng could not find a pulse. Instead, she said, Keung remained kneeling on Floyd.

Plunkett said Kueng told Chauvin that he could not detect a pulse.

Lane's attorney, Earl Gray, said Lane was at Floyd's legs and could not see Chauvin's knee on Floyd's neck.

Lane at one point suggested that they use a restraint called the hobble on Floyd, which would have meant Floyd would have been on his side 'œand no doubt he'd be alive today," Gray said. But he said Chauvin said no. Lane also suggested twice that they roll Floyd over, but was rebuffed, Gray said.

Gray also said Lane called an ambulance because of a cut on Floyd's lip and that Lane later had another officer increase the urgency of the ambulance code. Gray noted that Lane later got into the ambulance and helped perform chest compressions on Floyd.

"Mr. Lane, from the beginning of the time that he came into contact with George Floyd until the time he walked out of that ambulance, he was totally concerned and did everything he could possibly do to help George Floyd,' Gray said.

Later, prosecutors began introducing video taken from Lane's body camera that shows Floyd's struggle with officers, Floyd being held on the ground and the arrival of paramedics. The video shows Lane at Floyd's feet - at times he was holding one of Floyd's calves, at times his hands were not on Floyd at all, and at times he appeared to be squatting or standing.

Last week, 18 people were swiftly chosen for the jury; 12 will deliberate and six will be alternates. Two of the jurors - one expected to deliberate and one alternate - appear to be of Asian descent. The rest appear to be white. The court declined to provide demographic information.

U.S. District Judge Paul Magnuson told jurors that the trial could last four weeks. Gray said Lane will testify, but it's not known if Thao or Kueng will. It's also not clear whether Chauvin will testify, though many experts who spoke to The Associated Press believe he won't.

Lane, Kueng and Thao also face a separate state trial in June on charges they aided and abetted both murder and manslaughter.

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Associated Press writer Tammy Webber contributed from Fenton, Michigan.

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

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The spelling of Kueng has been corrected in all references. The attribution for the quote, '˜however, a tragedy is not a crime,' has been corrected.

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