- J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane were two of the four police officers involved in George Floyd’s deadly arrest on May 25.
- Attorneys for the two men told a court on Thursday that they were rookies who had been on the job for less than four days and had no choice but to follow the command of their ranking officer, Derek Chauvin.
- Previously released police records, however, show that the two men were made full officers in December.
- Kueng and Lane’s attorneys also said the two men had expressed concern about how Floyd was being taken into custody.
- Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck, has been charged with second-degree murder.
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Attorneys for two of the police officers involved in George Floyd’s fatal arrest say they had been on the job for less than a week and both had expressed concern for how Floyd was being taken into custody on May 25.
Video showed Derek Chauvin, a senior police officer, kneeling on Floyd’s neck for more than eight minutes while he said he couldn’t breathe. Two other officers, J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane, held down Floyd’s back and feet respectively for at least part of the arrest, while another officer, Tou Thao, stood near his head.
Kueng, 26, and Lane, 37, appeared in court Thursday where their lawyers made arguments in a failed attempt to get their bail lowered. The judge had set unconditional bail to $US1 million apiece and $US750,000 apiece with conditions.
Both men, alongside the 34-year-old Thao, were charged Wednesday with aiding and abetting second-degree murder and aiding and abetting second-degree manslaughter.
The three officers turned themselves in to the police a week after they were fired from the force. Chauvin, 44, was arrested on charges of third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. Prosecutors have since upgraded Chauvin’s murder charge to second-degree murder.
According to the local news station WCCO, Kueng’s attorney, Thomas Plunkett, said he was on just his third shift as a police officer during Floyd’s arrest. Lane’s attorney, Earl Grey, said it was his fourth day as a police officer.
Previously released police records, however, say the two men were made full officers in December, according to the Associated Press.
Attorneys for both men said they raised concerns during the arrest.
Grey said Lane had asked Chauvin twice if they should flip Floyd onto his back and was told no. Lane also said he worried Floyd might be in a state of delirium, Grey said.
“What was my client supposed to do but follow what his training officer said?” Grey asked. “Is that aiding and abetting a crime?”
Plunkett said his client, Kueng, told fellow officers “you shouldn’t do that” as they were detaining Floyd, NBC News reports.
Plunkett added that Kueng became a police officer because he “wanted to make his community a better place.” Kueng was raised by a single mother on Minneapolis’ predominantly black north side.
Thao’s attorney did not argue about the allegations against his client in court on Thursday. Thao had been on the force since 2008, and Chauvin had been a police officer since 2001.
Kueng, Lane, and Thao’s next court appearance is scheduled for June 29. It’s unclear when Chauvin will next be in court.
The four men have not entered pleas yet. If convicted, they could face up to 40 years in prison each.
Floyd’s death has prompted thousands of people across the country to protest for the Black Lives Matter movement.
- Read more:
- Protests over George Floyd’s death continued for a 10th night following his memorial ceremony in Minneapolis
- A black Southwest Airlines flight attendant had an emotional conversation about race with a white passenger, not knowing he was the CEO of American Airlines
- NYPD detained a delivery person a few minutes after curfew, even though they are exempted under city guidelines
- A protester shared her experience on TikTok after being shot in the face with a rubber bullet
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