Friday, July 1, 2022

Tou Thao: One of the Other Cops in Geo. Floyd Killing is First to Testify in Civil Rights Trial | VIDEO

Tou Thao - Getty
Tou Thao – Getty

*(By Amir Vera and Bill Kirkos/CNN) — Former Minneapolis Police Officer Tou Thao was called to testify in his own defense Tuesday after the prosecution rested in the federal civil rights trial of the three ex-police officers charged with violating George Floyd’s civil rights.

Former officers J. Alexander Kueng and Thomas Lane have said they also will take the stand.

Kueng and Thao told US District Judge Paul Magnuson on Monday they planned to testify in their own defense.

Lane, the rookie officer who held down Floyd’s legs during the fatal restraint, told the judge Tuesday that he also planned to take the stand. His attorney Earl Gray had told Magnuson a day earlier he wanted to speak with Lane about it before giving a final decision.

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The federal civil rights trial comes more than a year after former Minneapolis officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck and back for 9 minutes and 29 seconds.

Much of Thao’s account of the incident was made public in August 2020 when video was released of FBI agents and investigators from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension interviewing the former police officer.

During the roughly hour and a half long interview, Thao described the crowd gathering around the scene as “hostile,” saying he had to tell people several times to get off the street and that he even had to push someone back toward the sidewalk.

Lane, Kueng and Thao are each charged with deprivation of rights under color of law as Chauvin restrained Floyd, and Thao and Kueng are also charged with willfully failing to intervene in Chauvin’s use of unreasonable force, resulting in Floyd’s death.

Thao Kueng Lane
Tou Thao, J. Alexander Kueng, and Thomas Lane are facing federal charges for violating George Floyd’s civil rights. – Getty

The three have pleaded not guilty to the federal charges and are being tried together. Chauvin admitted guilt in December as part of a plea deal.

All three former officers will face a state trial later this year on charges of aiding and abetting in Floyd’s murder.

Defense attorneys for the three former officers began presenting their case Tuesday.

Prosecution says Floyd could have survived

Prosecutors called more than 20 witnesses over the course of the 13 days of testimony. The prosecution prompted both high-ranking Minneapolis police officers and expert witnesses to testify that defendants had a duty to intervene and render first aid, under department policies.

Multiple witness also testified the three ex-officers made no attempt to get Chauvin off Floyd’s neck, or render medical care. Several medical experts testified this was “a survivable” event and that CPR would have saved Floyd’s life.

Many of the witnesses called by prosecutors also testified last year at Chauvin’s state trial, where he was found guilty of second-degree unintentional murder, third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter.

Testimony stalled for three days earlier this month after a defendant tested positive for Covid-19. A juror was also dismissed after disclosing that his son was dealing with a serious mental health issue.

The male juror was replaced by an alternate male juror, according to a pool reporter in court. The 12-juror panel still comprises five men and seven women. There are now five alternates: two men and three women.

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