A lawyer for a police officer charged in George Floyd's death says Floyd 'killed himself' by dying from an overdose and a heart condition

Stephanie Keith/Getty ImagesA mural by the artist Kenny Altidor depicting George Floyd on a wall of a C-Town Supermarket in Brooklyn, New York.
  • A lawyer for Thomas Lane, one of the four former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death, told the Los Angeles Times that he planned to argue that Floyd “killed himself.”
  • He told the Times that Floyd died from a fentanyl overdose and an underlying heart condition and that the police officers involved in Floyd’s death on May 25 were just “doing their jobs.”
  • “None of these guys – even Chauvin – actually killed him,” he said, referring to Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes.
  • The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, saying his heart stopped when police officers restrained him by putting pressure on his neck.
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A lawyer for one of the former Minneapolis police officers charged in George Floyd’s death said he planned to argue in court that Floyd “killed himself” by dying of a fentanyl overdose and an underlying heart condition.

After a judge last month lifted a gag order on the case against the four officers, Earl Grey, an attorney for Thomas Lane, spoke with the Los Angeles Times about his defence plans.

“None of these guys – even Chauvin – actually killed him,” Grey said, referring to Derek Chauvin, the officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nine minutes on May 25. “He killed himself.”

Grey told the Times that he’d base his argument on toxicology and autopsy reports that determined Floyd had a heart condition and opioids in his body, as well as on body-camera footage.

He added that he hoped to show that his client and the other officers “were doing their jobs.”

In court documents obtained by the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Grey argued that Floyd had struggled with addiction and that body-camera footage at one point showed a white spot on Floyd’s tongue, which Grey suggested was “2 milligrams of fentanyl, a lethal dose.”

The Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office said it did find signs of fentanyl intoxication during Floyd’s autopsy, but it wasn’t listed as a cause of death. The medical examiner ruled Floyd’s death a homicide, saying his heart stopped when the officers restrained him and put pressure on his neck.

Lane, Tou Thao, and J. Alexander Kueng have been charged with aiding and abetting murder and manslaughter. Chauvin has been charged with murder.

Floyd’s aunt, Angela Harrelson, and uncle, Selwyn Jones, told the Star Tribune that they were disappointed by Grey’s court filing, saying Floyd’s history of addiction had nothing to do with his death.

“It’s a sign of desperation,” Jones said. “I want to know: When did police officers get their law degrees, when did they get voted into being judges, and when does four people do the job of… [a] jury?”

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