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Ex-policemen charged in Floyd death ‘chose to do nothing’ — prosecutor

A combination photo shows the officers charged in George Floyd's death: from left, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP)
A combination photo shows the officers charged in George Floyd's death: from left, Derek Chauvin, J. Alexander Kueng, Thomas Lane, and Tou Thao. (Hennepin County Sheriff's Office via AP)

Three former Minneapolis police officers charged with violating the civil rights of George Floyd chose to do nothing, as the 46-year-old Black man suffered a “slow and agonizing death,” a prosecutor says.

Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane are on trial for their roles in the May 2020 death of Floyd, whose fatal arrest was filmed by a bystander and sparked months of protests in the United States against racial injustice and policy brutality.

Former Minneapolis policeman Derek Chauvin, who kneeled on the neck of a handcuffed Floyd for nearly 10 minutes until he passed out and died, is serving 22 years in prison after being convicted of murder.

Thao, Kueng, and Lane were the three other officers on the scene involved in the arrest of Floyd for allegedly using a fake $20 bill to buy a pack of cigarettes.

While Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, Kueng was on his back and Lane held his legs. Thao kept back bystanders who were telling Chauvin to get off the visibly distressed Floyd.

In opening arguments, prosecutor Samantha Trepel says the defendants ignored their own training and pleas from bystanders who were concerned about Floyd’s welfare.

“They watched as Mr. Floyd suffered a slow and agonizing death,” Trepel says, urging the jury to hold the three men accountable “for choosing to do nothing and watch a man die.”

“They chose to ignore what they saw and heard,” she says.

The indictment charges Thao, Kueng and Lane with showing “deliberate indifference to (Floyd’s) serious medical needs.”

Thao and Kueng are accused of failing to intervene to stop Chauvin’s “use of unreasonable force” against Floyd.

Lane does not face the second charge. Video of the arrest shows that on two occasions, Lane suggested Floyd be rolled over on his side.

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