Opening Statements in Federal Trial Over George Floyd’s Killing Begin

In Summary

Former Minneapolis police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane and Tou Thao were at the scene when Derek Chauvin put his knee on George Floyd’s neck and killed him.

Opening statements in the federal trial over George Floyd’s killing began Monday at the U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minnesota. A prosecutor made the case that the three former police officers J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas K. Lane and Tou Thao had a “moral responsibility” and “duty” to intercede as Derek Chauvin put his knee on Floyd’s neck, killing him in the process, according to The Washington Post

RELATED: Mostly White Jury Seated in Federal Trial Over George Floyd’s Death

“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,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Samantha Trepel said to the jury. 

Kueng, Lane and Thao are accused of violating Floyd’s federal civil rights. 

“For 9 minutes and 29 seconds, the three defendants didn’t lift a finger as Mr. Floyd repeatedly told them, ‘I can’t breathe,’” the assistant U.S. attorney said. 

There were still images presented to the jury of the officers at the scene, which highlighted Thao standing near Chauvin with Kueng and Lane placed at Floyd’s back and legs, according to The Washington Post. 

RELATED: State Trial for 3 Ex-Officers Involved in George Floyd’s Death Postponed

“They watched as Mr. Floyd suffered a slow and agonizing death,” said Trepel. 

The opening statements of this trial marked the first of two expected trials this year for the former officers as they face charges of assisting and facilitating murder and manslaughter in Floyd’s death. 

Kueng, Lane and Thao have pleaded not guilty in both cases. Through their attorneys, they will put the responsibility on Chauvin, who was convicted in April of 2021 and sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison

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