Attorney for one of three cops charged with aiding and abetting in George Floyd’s death asks judge ‘what was he supposed to do, tell him to get off?’ as bail is set at $1million while memorial is held less than a mile away
- Floyd, 46, was killed when police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for nearly nine minutes on May 25 in front of fellow Minneapolis cops Thomas Lane, J.A. Kueng and Tou Thao watched
- On Thursday, the three cops charged as accomplices appeared briefly in court to have bail set at $1million
- Outside, armed police and National Guard patrolled the courthouse while hundreds gathered nearby
- The memorial for Floyd was held at North Central University which was 0.6miles away
- Chauvin remains in custody; prosecutors have asked that his bail be set at $1million
Bail has been set at $1million for each of the three police officers who did nothing as George Floyd died under the knee of Derek Chauvin after a tense court hearing which was heavily guarded by both army and police where one of the officer’s lawyer’s asked the judge: ‘What was he supposed to do? Tell Chauvin to get off?’
J Alexander Kueng, 26, of Plymouth, Thomas Lane, 37, of St Paul and Tou Thao, 34, of Coon Rapids, made their first appearances in Hennepin County District Court today. They have been charged with Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Murder – Unintentional – While Committing a Felony and Aiding and Abetting Second Degree Manslaughter, Culpable Negligence Creating Unreasonable Risk.
The disgraced former cops were escorted through an underground tunnel between Hennepin County Jail and Hennepin County District Courtroom 141 where they appeared before Judge Paul Scoggin at 12.45pm this afternoon.
Just a couple of blocks away mourners gathered at North Central University for a memorial service held by family and friends and led by Civil Rights leader Rev Al Sharpton.
The men appeared separately before a courtroom rendered sparse despite the high profile of the case due to social distancing measures. Each stood, masked, in regulation prison orange.
None of them spoke but Lane’s attorney argued that he’d only had four days on the job. He pleaded with the judge: ‘What was he supposed to do? Tell Chauvin to get off?’
L-R: Tou Thao, J.A. Kueng and Thomas Lane were all taken into custody yesterday. Their bail has been set at $750,000
Another angle of the arrest shows Chauvin with his knee on Floyd’s neck and the three other cops right beside him in Minneapolis last Monday
Thao was first in a hearing that lasted only a few minutes and saw little objection from his attorney despite their request for a bail of $200,000 or $100,00 with conditions.
Next the court heard from Kg’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett who asked for a bail of $200,000 and described his client as a ‘young African American man male who grew up with an absentee father and a single mother’ and had turned to law enforcement to make his community, ‘a better place.’
He said that the graduate of Henry Patrick High School was captain of his high school soccer team, had traveled to Haiti to build a school and that when his mother adopted 4 at risk children from the community and he had helped with their childcare.
George Floyd (pictured) said ‘I can’t breathe’ when Officer Derek Chauvin knelt on his neck for eight minutes
And he stated that the South Minneapolis native was no flight risk and had never lived any further than 10miles from the place of his birth.
Lane was the last of the three to take his place to the left of the judge in a stand partitioned off from the court by plastic and his attorney made an impassioned plea for a far lesser sum to be set.
His attorney referred to him as ‘a good guy,’ and pointed to Lane’s inexperience – he had been four days on the job when Floyd died – and Chauvin’s status as a 20-year veteran.
He reminded the judge that his client had asked repeatedly, ‘Shall we roll him?’ and it was his client and his alone who got into the ambulance and attempted to resuscitate Floyd with CPR.
He requested an interim hearing and the judge noted that he was setting bail as he had done for Thao and Kueng; $1million unconditional and $750,000 with conditions including that he have no contact with Floyd’s family.
However, in Lane’s case that may be reviewed pending a hearing regarding the strength of his case.
In setting the bail, the judge said that he had ‘struggled to find any comparisons’ for the cases but appeared convinced by Assistant Attorney General Matthew Frank’s assertion that the terrible nature of the crime and the high profile rendered each defendant a high flight risk.
The memorial service happened less than a mile from where the three cops had their hearing on Thursday afternoon
If convicted as charged the men face up to 40 years in prison on the first count, with the second carrying a sentence of up to 10 years and a maximum fine of $20,000.
Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison and Hennepin County Attorney General Mike Freeman announced the latest charges in a press conference Wednesday during which a further charge of Second-Degree murder was also added to the charge sheet of the already charged Chauvin, 44.
Speaking at Wednesday’s press conference Ellison said of the additional charge: ‘I believe that evidence available to us now supports the stronger charge of second-degree murder. We’ve consulted with each other and we agree.’
He added, ‘I strongly believe that these developments are in the interest of justice for Mr. Floyd, his family, our community and our state,’ Attorney General Ellison said. ‘We’re working together on this case with only one goal: justice for George Floyd. I want to thank, first, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman, who has been a true partner in this matter at every step of the way. His experience and insight have been invaluable and will continue to be counted on by the team.’
National Guard troops outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in Minneapolis on Thursday while the three officers’ hearing took place inside
There was an enormous police presence at the courthouse. Fencing was put up and the windows were boarded up
Dozens of cops were there along with the National Guard to protect the courthouse while the hearing got underway
A member of the National Guard outside the courthouse on Thursday
The courthouse is just 0.6miles from where a memorial was taking place for Floyd
The actions of all three officers appearing in Hennepin County District Court today have been set down in a detailed Statement of Probable Cause pieced together from surveillance footage, interviews with witnesses and the officer’s own body cameras.
Officers Lane and Kueng were the first to arrive at the scene at 8.08pm, May 25 when someone made a 911 call reporting a man for buying merchandise from Cup Foods with a counterfeit $20.
Floyd was parked in a car just around the corner when the officers arrived. There were three people in the car, with Floyd in the driver’s seat. As Lane began speaking with Floyd through his open window he pulled his gun and asked Floyd to show him his hands.
Floyd placed his hands on the steering wheel and Lane reholstered his gun.
The footage goes onto show Floyd complying with all the officers’ requests – getting out of the car, sitting on the ground, being handcuffed.
George Floyd’s family members surround his golden casket at the Lindquist Sanctuary at the North Central University on Thursday
The afternoon event was set for North Central University, where the civil rights leader the Rev. Al Sharpton was scheduled to be among those eulogizing the 46-year-old Floyd
Actor Kevin Hart and musician Ludacris are seen during a memorial service for George Floyd on Thursday
Martin Luther King III and his family pay their respects to George Floyd ahead of his memorial service in Minneapolis
Civil rights activist Reverend Jesse Jackson and his son Jonathan Jackson pray in front of Floyd’s coffin ahead of his service
Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar (left) and Minnesota Governor Tim Walz arrive ahead of Floyd’s memorial service
The probable cause statement notes that as he sat on the ground, ‘Floyd said, ‘Thank you man,’ and was calm.’
It was only when Lane stood Floyd up and tried to get him into the squad car that the man ‘stiffened’ and fell to the ground.
The statement said, ‘Mr Floyd told the officers that he was not resisting but did not want to get in the back seat and was claustrophobic.’
Chauvin and Thao arrived in separate squad cars at this point and all four officers began trying to push Floyd into the car as he, ‘repeatedly said that he could not breathe.’
At 8.19pm Chauvin pulled Floyd from the car and he went to the ground face down. Keung had his back, Lane held his legs, Chauvin placed his knee on Floyds neck in an act that has reverberated around the world.
Floyd said, ‘I’m about to die,’ he repeatedly called for his ‘mama’ and said he could not breathe but they held their positions as Chauvin pressed the life out of the 46-year-old father of two.
After five minutes Floyd stopped moving, after six he fell silent and stopped breathing. Lane said he ‘wanted to roll him on his side.’ Kueng check his wrist and found no pulsed.
Still they held their positions. Two minutes later at 8.27pm Chauvin finally relinquished his pressure. By then he was holding down a dead man.
Chauvin, who has not made bail posted at $500,000 is currently being held in Minnesota Correctional Facility in Oak Park Heights – a maximum security facility.
He was moved from Hennepin County Jail on the request of Sheriff David Hutchinson who said the move was made due to coronavirus concerns as well as safety fears because they anticipated a high number of people being booked into the jail due to the violence and looting sparked by the killing.
He is due to have his first court appearance on Monday June 8 after an earlier date was pushed as protests escalated.
The three other officers will next appear at a June 29 hearing.
All four cops were fired when the video surfaced last week but the three others were not charged initially, to the dismay of Floyd and protesters around the world who say they complicit because they did nothing to prevent Floyd’s death.
The case was taken out of the hands of Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman and handed over to Minnesota AG Keith Ellison earlier this week after a groundswell of outrage over how the case had been handled to date.
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