Opening statements in the federal trial of the three former Minneapolis police officers who were involved in the death of George Floyd have begun.
On Monday (Jan. 24), the prosecution told the jury that ex-cops J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane and Tou Thao “made the conscious choice over and over again” not to rescue Floyd as he yelled that he couldn’t breathe while Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Samantha Trepel kicked off her remarks by reading a portion of the Minneapolis Police Department’s policy on how officers should treat people after they are taken into custody. “In your custody, in your care,” she said adding, that it’s “not just a moral responsibility, it’s what the law requires under the U.S. Constitution.”
Trepel said the defendants were all trained in CPR, however, they took no action to help save Floyd’s life while he was slowly dying. “Here on May 25, 2020, 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,” she said. The prosecutor said the three ex-cops made the “conscious choice over and over again” not to act to protect the 46-year-old Black man they had pinned to the pavement in handcuffs.
Thao, Lane and Kueng’s federal trial is expected to last two to four weeks. All three men are charged with failing to render aid to the victim, whose pleas to breathe were ignored. Kueng and Thao were charged with violating Floyd’s right to be free from reasonable seizure and for not intervening or stopping Chauvin when he knelt on Floyd’s neck for more than nine minutes.
Lane, Kueng and Thao have pleaded not guilty to the aforementioned charges. The men are also set to stand trial in June on state charges related to Floyd’s death.