Officer Kueng said 'you shouldn't do that' and pleaded with colleagues to go easy on George Floyd, says lawyer
One of the four Minneapolis police officers arrested and charged in connection to the Memorial Day death of George Floyd tried to warn his peers during the arrest, his lawyer has claimed.
Derek Chauvin, Tou Thao, Thomas Kiernan Lane, and J Alexander Kueng have all been taken into custody following widespread protests and outrage over Floyd's death. The 46-year-old truck driver had been filmed lying on the ground begging for air as Chauvin knelt on his neck for close to nine minutes, with the video quickly clocking hundreds of millions of views around the world.
Chauvin has been charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter in Floyd's death, while Thao, Lane, and Kueng are all facing charges of aiding and abetting murder, as well as aiding and abetting manslaughter.
Speaking in court, Tom Plunkett, the lawyer for Kueng, described his client as a "rookie" officer and a "young African-American from North Minneapolis" who "wanted to make that community a better place."
He said Kueng, who had just received his license in August, had not even completed his third shift as a police officer at the time of Floyd's death but had still tried to tell the other three to exercise restraint and said, "You shouldn't do that."
Kueng had been in court along with Thao and Lane, with a lawyer for Lane similarly telling the court that his client was a rookie who was on just his fourth day on the job.
"What would your state of mind be if you work your rear end off to become a cop and four days on the job, you’re accused of murder?" Earl Gray asked the court, before insisting Lane did not aid the murder.
Gray said his client had twice asked Chauvin, his training officer who was a 19-year veteran of the force, "Shall we roll him over?" and had also expressed concern that Floyd may be in "delirium" but was ignored.
"You’ve got a 20-year cop on the front and my guy’s back there with four days," he said. "'Shall we roll him over?' and he says 'No, we’ll wait for the ambulance' twice. And then he says he’s suffering from a delirium? I don’t know what you’re supposed to do as a cop."
"What is my client supposed to do other than follow what the training officer said?" he added.
Lane and Kueng were the first officers to arrive at the scene on May 25 to investigate a report that a counterfeit $20 bill may have been used to purchase cigarettes at the Cup Foods grocery store. When Lane found Floyd parked nearby, he pulled his gun, had Floyd get out of his car, and handcuffed him, a criminal complaint said.
The 46-year-old was then put face down in handcuffs on the pavement, with Kueng holding down his back and Lane pressing down on his legs as Chauvin knelt on his neck. He eventually lost consciousness and became unresponsive, and was declared dead the same evening.
A medical examination funded by Floyd's family subsequently found that police officers' pressing on his neck and body cut blood and airflow to his brain, causing him to die by mechanical asphyxia.
Thao, Lane, and Kueng are all being held on an unconditional bail of $1M compounded with $750,000 of conditional bail and are facing up to 40 years in prison if convicted of their charges. Chauvin has not yet made his first appearance in court.