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US Video of Floyd's death offers clues into ex-Minneapolis officers' possible defense, say legal experts

18:02  05 june  2020
18:02  05 june  2020 Source:   reuters.com

Surveillance video does not support police claims that George Floyd resisted arrest

  Surveillance video does not support police claims that George Floyd resisted arrest Surveillance video from outside a Minneapolis restaurant appears to contradict police claims that George Floyd resisted arrest before an officer knelt on his neck. require(["medianetNativeAdOnArticle"], function (medianetNativeAdOnArticle) { medianetNativeAdOnArticle.getMedianetNativeAds(true); }); Floyd's death this week sparked protests across the country after video emerged that shows the 46-year-old black man handcuffed and on the ground saying, "I can't breathe," as a police officer holds him down with a knee on his neck.

(Reuters) - The video of George Floyd's death offers clues into how three former Minneapolis police officers charged with aiding and abetting his murder could defend themselves, from saying they didn't know excessive force was used to deferring to a senior officer, according to some legal experts.

Hundreds Of Protesters March In Minneapolis After George Floyd’s Deadly Encounter With Police

  Hundreds Of Protesters March In Minneapolis After George Floyd’s Deadly Encounter With Police Hundreds of protesters have gathered in south Minneapolis Tuesday night to protest the death of 46-year-old George Floyd, who died after a violent encounter with police Monday night. View from atop a church at the intersection of E 38th St and Chicago Avenue, where people are protesting the death of George Floyd. Speaker just told the crowd that a March will start soon.@WCCO pic.twitter.

A judge set bail of $1 million on Thursday for Tuo Thao, Thomas Lane and J. Alexander Kueng. The three men were with Derek Chauvin, the officer charged with second-degree murder after being recorded by a bystander kneeling on the neck of the 46-year old https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-protests/he-touched-so-many-hearts-george-floyd-remembered-at-memorial-service-idUSKBN23B1LX African American for nearly nine minutes during his May 25 arrest.

The video touched off global protests against police brutality, but it also provides a window into possible defenses in court, seven legal experts interviewed by Reuters said.

People are usually charged with aiding and abetting when they actively encourage a crime or participate directly, such as driving a get-away car.

Ellison expects charges soon against officers tied to George Floyd's death

  Ellison expects charges soon against officers tied to George Floyd's death Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison said Friday that he has “every expectation” authorities will press charges against the Minneapolis police officers involved in the death this week of George Floyd. In a live interview on CNN, Ellison attributed the lack of charges several days since Floyd died to prosecutors with the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office “trying to be careful” to make sure they have a case that is “air tight” and won’t fall apart because of pressure to file more quickly than the evidence allows.

"Here, however, you have police who are duty bound to help/protect their fellow officer," said Kurt Weinmann, an attorney with Garbarini & Scher. "To charge them you’d have to show they knew or should have known he was acting with excessive force."

According to court documents, Thao watched as Chauvin placed his knee on Floyd's neck, then turned to keep the crowd from getting too close.

Weinmann said Thao appears focused on controlling the growing crowd, as he is trained to do, and said prosecutors face a challenge of convicting him for failing to monitor Chauvin's level of force.

"Expecting an officer to do that would be asking him to go against all of his instincts and usual practice," Weinmann said.

Lawyers for Thao, Lane and Kueng did not respond to requests for comment. The officers were fired from the Minneapolis police department along with Chauvin.

The president of the police officers' union https://www.reuters.com/article/us-minneapolis-police-culture-specialrep/special-report-how-union-supreme-court-shield-minneapolis-cops-idUSKBN23B2LL, Bob Kroll, said in a letter to union members on Monday that the four "were terminated without due process" and he was working with the union’s labor attorneys to get them reinstated.

George Floyd's family calls for all officers charged, arrested: 'We cannot have two justice systems in America'

  George Floyd's family calls for all officers charged, arrested: 'We cannot have two justice systems in America' George Floyd’s family demanded Wednesday that all four officers involved in his death be arrested and charged before the memorial in his honor scheduled to be held in Minneapolis Thursday.The lead attorney for the Floyd family, Ben Crump, joined by Floyd’s son Quincy Mason, held a press conference Wednesday in Minneapolis in the same spot captured on video Memorial Day. Floyd is seen in the footage in custody with a white Minneapolis police officer’s knee to his neck and is heard saying, “I cannot breathe.

After Floyd's arrest, the officers briefly tried to put him in a squad car, but he refused and said he was claustrophobic, according to court documents. After a struggle, Chauvin pulled Floyd to the ground while handcuffed, the court documents said.

Lane and Kueng helped hold Floyd down while Chauvin kneeled on Floyd's neck, but the legal experts said they still had defenses, particularly Lane.

Soon after Floyd is pinned down, Lane asked Chauvin if they should roll Floyd on his side, and was told "no," according to court documents.

Lane also said he was worried that Floyd was suffering from excited delirium, an agitated condition.

"The case against Lane will be the toughest for the prosecution because the defense will say he actively tried to help Mr. Floyd by urging Chauvin to turn Floyd over at least twice," said Paul Callan, a former New York City homicide prosecutor.

Lane's attorney told the court on Thursday his client was following his training officer's orders and "he was doing everything he thought he was supposed to do."

Kueng held Floyd's back during the arrest, according to court documents, and may face the toughest case, partly because he remained silent during the arrest, the legal experts said.

They said Kueng will likely try to argue he was unaware of the extent of the force that Chauvin was using and could not determine Floyd's condition until it was too late.

Both Kueng and Lane were relatively junior officers, which also could work in their favor.

"They will say they weren't willing to go against the chain of command," said Joseph Friedberg, a defense attorney.

(Reporting by Tom Hals in Wilmington, Delaware; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Grant McCool)

In wake of George Floyd's death, Minnesota governor proposes police reform .
Following weeks of protests over George Floyd's death, Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz on Thursday said he will convene a special session of the state legislature to discuss comprehensive police reform. "Minnesotans have raised their voice," he said, noting many demonstrators have come to the state Capitol with calls for change. "The last three weeks have been some of the most tumultuous and painful in Minnesota's history." Walz was joined by House Speaker Melissa Hortman, Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, and members of People of Color and Indigenous Caucus, who will propose legislation.

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